Lowepro have a long history of making quality bags, packs and pouches and their current range provides many options for protecting high tech gear. Often the biggest difficulty is choosing which product is the right one for your needs. The Flipside 200 is a compact gear backpack with a slightly unorthodox design but with a wealth of features.
Since returning to Melbourne I have been trying to work out the best way to transport my gear. I have various cases and bags and I can often just pack the things I need into whatever bag I have available, but I have found this increasingly frustrating as I sometimes forget certain things or find it difficult to find pieces of gear in a hurry, so I decided to buy myself a dedicated kit bag for location recording.
I have used Lowepro products in the past, my old portable DAT still lives in a Lowepro camera bag, and I also had a Lowepro slip case for my Camera before I lost it in Japan. (just the case, the camera was in my hand at the time). They seem to have a good reputation, and after owning a couple of their products I can see why. Not only are their bags very well constructed being tough and practical, there are a huge range of designs to choose from that really increase your chances of finding what you need. I also did have a slight issue with a Lowepro a few years back and the service response to my issue was pretty impressive, so overall I was happy to put them at the top of my list.
Again I looked through a range of Camera equipment bags as these are designed to protect high end equipment and help store it in a logical and practical fashion so it was ideal for my audio gear. I spent about ten minutes checking various bags in the store and then realized the best option was to come back with all my gear and find something that worked exactly, so that's what I did. The Flipside bag comes in two sizes, but I really wanted to keep the size down for ease of movement when I am out in the field. The 200 model seemed big enough for my gear without being cumbersome. It has several Velcro dividers that could reposition to create slots for various mics and a smaller zip compartment that was perfect for my leads. The side pocket has specific pockets for SD cards and pens as well as enough room to carry a bunch of spare batteries. What I liked the most was that the zipper opening for the main compartment is against your back when you wear it, so it is practically impossible for things to fall out, or for hands to sneak in making this an excellent choice for security. It is also a very comfortable backpack. Lastly the back of it has a special clip to attach a tripod onto with a flip out pocket to place the tripod legs into. This clip can easily hold my tripod and my microphone blimp setup.
So far this bag is doing a very good job of holding everything I need it to, I have taken it on planes in the overhead lockers, hiked fair distances with it and used it in a range of conditions without any real issues. There are still a few things I would like to put it through to see how it copes with adverse conditions, but so far its been a real winner.
Size(Interior): 7W X 5D X 15H in./17.8 X 12.6 X 38 cm
Size(Exterior): 8.6W X 6.2D X 16.5H in./21.8 X 15.7 X 42 cm
Well it doesn't seem to matter what size bag you get, you will always fill it and need more space. Having said that, the Flipside is coping admirably with the amount of stuff I pack into it (probably better than my spine is). One of the best thinsg about Lowepro bags is that you really can stuff them to capacity and not worry about if the zips are going to break, or the stitching split. Its nice to have a product that can actually cope with doing its job.
I have found the Flipside 200 to be very comfortable to wear for long periods of time and the added chest strap makes it possible to run when necessary without the pack moving much at all. I would still have liked a couple more of the Velcro dividers inside, but that really is the only issue I can find for this piece of gear. Oh one last point, I carried this with me on my recording trip on 22/11/09 to a classic car display and it was absolutely pouring with rain all day. I got soaked, any gear I was carrying in my hand got soaked, but absolutely everything inside the Flipside was bone dry. I wouldn't recommend immersing it in water, but apart from that, I suspect it will deal with just about any level of rain.
Should come with more dividers