Lowe Pro Inverse 100 AW review (well sort of)

There are a lot of very good photographic back packs on the market. It seems to be the growing trend in camera bags, even more than the problem solving sling type.

The problem with them is quite often, no matter how well made, clever or durable they are, they are only made for a day trip or extreme sport event. As a long term hiking pack, they are nearly useless as they prioritise camera gear over survival gear, leaving only a small area for food, camping and trekking gear, almost as an after thought.

What if you need to carry a small “at the ready” camera kit and a heavy expedition pack?

Peak Designs and others offer a lot of handy clips and straps, but that still does not cover the slightly bigger kit (2 lenses, filters etc) some shooters need at hand when trekking. It is desirable for some to be able to take a serious image quickly, with all their options at hand without taking off their heavy pack each shot and/or they like to have their camera protected in a padded bag, not out in the elements.

Some people even skip a good shot out of effort induced laziness….not mentioning names.

Here is a little solution I came up with a few years back when re-purposing my bag stash for an anticipated trip to Nepal. My 80L pack was going to be full, but obviously camera gear would be the bulk of the point of going for me, so I needed the big pack and a separate, but integrated camera bag solution.

The Lowe Pro Inverse 100 and 200 bags have been around for a while. To be clear this is NOT a new bag review, but different concept and application for an old bag.

No, it’s not thirsty. The tongue hanging out is it’s weather shield cover.  It also comes in basic black and a fetching Cobalt blue.  Note no fanny pack wings, just bag. The clips at the front are the restraining straps for the front flap pocket. When pushed out fully the gap created can hold a camera body or lens while changing things out or expand the capacity of the front pocket. If the rain cover is removed, the pocket will hold even more as the two pockets occupy the same space.

No, it’s not thirsty. The tongue hanging out is it’s weather shield cover. It also comes in basic black and a fetching Cobalt blue. Note no fanny pack wings, just bag. The clips at the front are the restraining straps for the front flap pocket. When pushed out fully the gap created can hold a camera body or lens while changing things out or expand the capacity of the front pocket. If the rain cover is removed, the pocket will hold even more as the two pockets occupy the same space.

They are bulky extreme sport “bum bags” or “fanny packs” by design, but can double up as shoulder bags and in doing so provided a solution to my problem. The thickly padded “wings” can tuck away in a large padded waist loop at the back. To be honest I hated to do that as the bag became very deep, almost round, especially the 100 model, so it fell into disuse.

Very big and well padded. The wings that fold into this are also quite thick and heavy. You can also see where the shoulder strap attaches. It is slightly off angle to make the bag better for cross body wear than shoulder use. Once attached, the bag can be moved anywhere on the front or side hip as needed. Another small bonus is the padded waist loop can cover the bigger pack’s waist strap clip, adding comfort.

Very big and well padded. The wings that fold into this are also quite thick and heavy. You can also see where the shoulder strap attaches. It is slightly off angle to make the bag better for cross body wear than shoulder use. Once attached, the bag can be moved anywhere on the front or side hip as needed. Another small bonus is the padded waist loop can cover the bigger pack’s waist strap clip, adding comfort.

Looking at the impossible combination of a waist mounted bag, sharing the same waist as the support strap for a heavy expedition pack, I had a rare light bulb moment. Taking one of my wife’s quick-unpick tools, I unpicked the stitching from the wings. They came off neatly. The wings had tightening straps that as fate would have it, neatly met each other in the middle of the bags back, allowing them to act as designed, tightening the bag in or loosening it off when the front flap is deployed for added work area.

Under the strap at each end is the standard water bottle pocket which could be used as small lens pouches with some padding added.

Under the strap at each end is the standard water bottle pocket which could be used as small lens pouches with some padding added.

The basic bag holds my expanded day shooting landscape kit, with options.

Inside; A Pen F with mounted 12-100+hood (this can be mounted face down also, but I have lost one of the matched dividers), 75-300 and filters/batteries/accessories in the front flap. The front pocket can be pushed out giving the user an extra spot to put detached hoods or lenses etc. when fiddling.  In the past it held a 5dII with 17-40 f4L and 70-200 f4L (hood inverted). The 200 model has basically the width of another large lens or body extra and can even hold a body with large FF superzoom or pro tele mounted. The capacity can also be expanded if Domke thin walled dividers are used.

Inside; A Pen F with mounted 12-100+hood (this can be mounted face down also, but I have lost one of the matched dividers), 75-300 and filters/batteries/accessories in the front flap. The front pocket can be pushed out giving the user an extra spot to put detached hoods or lenses etc. when fiddling. In the past it held a 5dII with 17-40 f4L and 70-200 f4L (hood inverted). The 200 model has basically the width of another large lens or body extra and can even hold a body with large FF superzoom or pro tele mounted. The capacity can also be expanded if Domke thin walled dividers are used.

The above combination is an example of a landscapers “day” kit. If using it for an expedition trekking, it would be an OMD with 75-300 and OMD with 12-40 both mounted and ready to go. Plenty of room for spares in the main pack, but this would be enough to handle anything I come across while trekking. Full frame or APC users could easily do a body with super zoom (28-300) and fast prime or wide zoom and macro tele/portrait lens and a compact camera.

Handy tripod, monopod or jacket strap. This is the usual overly hopeful accessory option for big tripods, but with light weight M43 cameras with gentle electronic shutters, I actually can carry a useful tripod here.  Notice how big the side pockets are potentially. The right one is a big water bottle size, the left a thinner, mobile phone or note book size.

Handy tripod, monopod or jacket strap. This is the usual overly hopeful accessory option for big tripods, but with light weight M43 cameras with gentle electronic shutters, I actually can carry a useful tripod here.

Notice how big the side pockets are potentially. The right one is a big water bottle size, the left a thinner, mobile phone or note book size.

Optionally, if travelling light, it can still be supported by a smaller day pack or simply worn cross-body on it’s own. Ed. The waist belt from my Pro tactic 350 with extra pouches also works if the fanny pack configuration is desired.

Working in the industry, I am more than aware of the ridiculous range of bags available. This exercise reminded me that when you have enough bags (more than enough according to my wife), the needed option is probably close at hand with a little lateral thinking.

Problem solved for me. Maybe an option for you to.

There are also plenty of images and reviews of the bag on line in it’s natural form.