Traveler's Gear Box: Hitting The Trail With Lowepro's Rover Pro 45L
Lowepro camera backpacks are my gateway to freedom and getting off of the busy roads of Yellowstone, into the backcountry.
I am a photographer, and hiking without cameras is not an option. But finding a backpack that is comfortable and sturdy, carries and protects my camera gear, and is designed for the few extras that might be needed on a long hike or overnight, is not easy. Not until my Lowepro Rover Pro 45L arrived.
The majority of camera packs that I have run across have been great for protecting equipment, but not so for comfort and carrying the extras that are needed when spending time out on the trail, such as sunscreen, bug repellent, bear spray and snacks. And, I can't count the number of times I have wanted to spend the night in the back country, to be in place for sunrise, but couldn't figure out how to safely carry camera and camping gear without breaking my back or risking damage to the equipment.
The Rover Pro 45L, with its padded, adjustable waist and shoulder straps that keep the weight off of my back and shoulders, two padded bags for camera equipment, H2O compartment, and secure tripod compartment has finally eliminated all of my excuses for not getting out of the car and roaming about to find those special, hidden moments in nature.
But, I still had an important decision to make when taking this pack out for the first time. What about my new, precious big lens that I suddenly could not live without? It turned out that my Nikon 500mm ƒ4 fit in the pack nestled next to the smaller of the two compartment bags, just fine and as well-protected as when wrapped in an extra fleece.
In the small padded bag I put my Nikon D800 camera body, the 1.4 teleconverter in its case, and my 105 2.8 macro. In the matching pouch that comes with the pack, I put an extra battery, memory cards and camera remotes. In the large padded bag I put my Nikon D600 with the 17-35mm ƒ2.8 attached, rain cover, and a small cleaning kit, and placed it in the top portion of the pack, with a light jacket underneath, zippered side up for easy access. For simplicity, I purchased a 1 liter Platypus dromedary bag, which fit nicely in the water compartment.
I put a few snacks and a piece of fruit in a zippered plastic bag inside the top pocket, along with sunscreen, bug repellent and lip balm in another bag. A trail map in the front pouch, keys, phone and glasses in the zippered pouches on the waist straps, and my Sirui tripod with Wimberly head mounted on the side opposite the big lens.
To my amazement, nothing was left behind and I had everything I needed to spend a day along a lake, photographing otters. Granted, with the 500mm lens and the larger of my two tripods, the pack was heavy, but not uncomfortable to carry. After climbing straight up a hill, I did decide to remove my tripod from the pack, mainly because it made everything a little lopsided, but this situation was corrected on my next hike.
Once at my destination I was able to photograph otters until they went to hide in the den and, while waiting for them come back out, I photographed wildflowers and landscape, ate some lunch, and took a nap. The perfect day outdoors, not wanting for anything.
I have not yet tried an overnight trip with the Rover Pro 45L but it was clear that by carrying one camera body, my 80-400mm and 17-35mm lenses and my smaller tripod, I would have plenty of space for a lightweight tent, sleeping bag and a few camping essentials, all of which could be carried safely and comfortably in this pack.
And the pack's attached rain cover ensures that I would not have to worry about my equipment getting wet if the weather changes while out on the trail.
Because of chronic back problems, and seven surgeries, the first thing I look at in a backpack is the support it provides in keeping the weight off of my lower back, neck and shoulders. This pack, with its trampoline-style suspension system, keeps the weight off of my back and allows air to flow through. And its lightly padded, adjustable straps did not cause any strain on my back, despite the weight inside, which is an incredible feat.
The straps were easy to fasten and adjust, even with the pack on, and the zippers worked flawlessly. The only difficulty that I had with this pack was with the chest strap, which pulled loose if I tried to make it tighter. The clip easily went back onto the pack each time this happened and I found myself deciding not to mess with the adjustment.
This pack was so perfect for my needs that, except for making the chest strap more secure, I would only offer one suggestion - increase the length slightly and add a lightweight padded pouch for a 500mm lens. In doing this it might be good to add a suspension layer between the top and bottom portions of the pack, for added gear protection, but if packed correctly, would not be a necessity.
The Lowepro Rover Pro 45L has finally given me the freedom to safely roam the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park, while allowing me to meet all of my photography needs, from landscape to wildlife.