The wife and I went to Seattle, WA for a week (my posts about that trip can be found here and here). I realized that I'll be bringing my camera and laptop and I realized further that my shoulder wouldn't be able to carry that load for an extended period using a shoulder bag.
I've always wanted to have the Fastpack 250 but for one reason or another I always end up with something else. For this trip, I didn't want to settle for anything else.
The Lowepro Fastpack 250 is made up of very good materials and the construction is top-notch. The zippers glide easily and there are strings at the end of each zipper that makes it relatively easier to tug and pull even if I was wearing gloves.
The top compartment is huge! You can even put another body in it albeit without any paddings. During my walks in Seattle, when I felt warm enough, I put my gloves, winter hat and scarf in it. I also have a book there, Dane Sanders' book Fast Track Photographer and a small notebook which I can read and write to, respectively, during down times. Hey, there are a lot of coffee shops in Seattle. :)
The pocket under the flap can house passport, batteries and other small stuff.
The business part, the camera compartment, can handle my Canon 5D Mark II kit, a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 and two Canon 430EX II flash. The pocket is deep enough that, in my opinion, you will be able to put a gripped DSLR in it. The thing that I noticed about this bag, though, is that the camera compartment is big but it is not big enough to house the second lens with hood on.
The laptop compartment is big enough to house my old but trusty 15-inch MacBook Pro. I noticed, though, that the laptop compartment is not enough to house my computer plus David duChemin's book Within the Frame. You can push it in but I think the added book will put too much pressure on the laptop. It's a nice touch that you can hide the laptop zipper under a flap and an untrained eye won't know that there is a laptop there. It'd be heavy though, so the weight might be a give-away.
The bag is nice to have for those times that I need to have my laptop with me. However, I don't think it's suited for those times you'd wanna add to your street photography photos. I was able to weed around Pike Market Place with this bag though I hoped, then, that I had a smaller bag with me. Take note also that when it is fully loaded, the bag may be a little harder to swing to get your camera.
The straps are very comfortable to wear and I didn't feel the weight of what I was carrying even if I walked for several hours around the city. It might have been cool those extended times I was using the bag in Seattle, but, whatever the case, my back didn't feel any hotter because of the bag. This is one comfortable bag to use.
Lastly, there might not be an all-weather cover but the material the bag is made up off was enough to repel the showers of Seattle and the snows of Princeton when the wife and I came back.
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