Truly a professional camera backpack for all photographers needs

I’ve always had a strong interest in photography. I’m no pro-photographer…semi-pro maybe, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying taking tons of photos or using lots of gear when doing so. I’ve recently been researching different DSLR lens, what they can do for my photography, and adding lenses to my collection. That being said, I am constantly looking for a bag that can handle all the gear I track around with me. In addition to just carrying the gear around, I want something that can be versatile enough for meetings and conventions. It’s a delicate balance between form and function and I feel like camera bag designer, Lowepro might have what I need in the ProTactic 450 AW.

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack REVIEW

DETAILS
The ProTactic 450 AW is a professional-grade, urban-inspired camera backpack. It’s got a semi-hard shell to it so you know that your gear is safe inside. The backpack is set up so that you can access it from four points — the top, either side and the back. ProTactic has an “ActivZone System”, which provides targeted support at the should blades, lumbar, and waist for comfort. There is a waist belt included for additional support and two zippered hip pockets for quick-grab items. The ProTactic has the option of five modular accessories — water bottle pouch, accessory case, tripod cup, and two cinch straps for securing tripods. The interior has padded, adjustable dividers that allow you to pack as much as you possibly can into the bag. There is a special CradleFit pocket for laptops up to 15 inches in size. The ProTactic comes with an All Weather cover that will provide added protection for your bag from environmental elements like rain and snow.

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack REVIEW

The bag is a larger backpack and measures 13.7 x 10.6 x 19.2 inches. Even though it’s substantially protective for gear, the bag is actually fairly lightweight. When it’s empty, the ProTactic only weighs 5.72 pounds, which isn’t bad for a backpack its size. The ProTactic 450 could potentially be accepted as a carry-on bag for travel. The current TSA guidelines for carry-on bag sizes is 9 x 14 x 22 inches. Even though the backpack measures slightly larger in some dimensions, specific airlines might still allow it.

According to the specs from Lowepro, the ProTactic 450 AW will fit 1-2 Pro DSLRs (one with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached), 8 detached lenses/speed lights (such as Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II or Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II) 15″ laptop, tripod, and accessories. The bag will also hold the DJI Mavic Pro drone. This was particularly interesting to me as an option since I have a Mavic and love to take it as many places as possible.

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack REVIEW

USER EXPERIENCE
When the ProTactic arrived, I immediately started working with the different variations of the dividers to accommodate my gear. I was instantly impressed with how much space there was and how easy it was to fit different sized objects inside the main compartment. I found very quickly that the ProTactic 450 AW is an outstanding bag for my photography needs. It can handle plenty of lenses, filters, camera bodies, and various tools for any type of photography outing. I’ve used the backpack out ‘in the field’ several times.

One outing was to a wildlife preserve area. This was quite literally in the middle of a field. I wanted to take my Mavic Pro away from city buildings and this area was quite ideal because it was open and there was lots of natural scenery. I wanted to capture the drones take off and landing along with some action shots. The ProTactic backpack ended up being absolutely ideal for this project. I was able to not only store my camera body and several lenses safely, but I also loaded down the main compartment with various accessories including a small air blaster, cleaning cloth, lens filters, extra camera batteries, and even a GoPro Hero 5 and its pole. The ProTactic kept everything organized and clean. There was a lot of dust in the wilderness area that day and I didn’t have any issues with my lenses getting dusty or dirty.

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack REVIEW

Another experience I had was to take the loaded ProTactic with me to Louisville, KY and take a short walk with it. We found an outstanding overlook in Louisville that allowed you to see the entire downtown area from above the city (it’s in Iroquois Park if you want to see it for yourself). In order to get to the overlook point, you have to take a short walk down a paved walking path. It was slightly elevated in places, but wasn’t a particularly difficult trek. The walk was about half a mile and I found that the ProTactic’s weight was evenly distributed and the ActivZone technology kept my back and shoulders cool and well-supported. In addition to the overlook expedition, we spent the rest of the day in Louisville shopping and visiting local shops in the area. It was here that I discovered that the size of the ProTactic 450 can get in the way a bit. I was trying to maneuver around in a small used camera shop and kept bumping into shelves. So the larger, rigid backpack style of the ProTactic is not really conducive to close quarters.

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack REVIEW

The ProTactic looks amazing. It’s got a great tactical feel to it and the protection it gives my gear while in the field is outstanding. There was only one small issue I found with the bag for my particular needs — the ability to store items other than photography gear. As I mentioned above, one of the reasons I sought this backpack out was for use at conventions and meetings. This is not the only use, but it’s an important distinction since I carry my gear with me for the purposes of capturing video interviews and demonstrations with products. For this type of use, I like to have a flexible bag that makes it easy to not only carry gear with you, but it will also provide space for collecting materials from vendors and storing other personal items. Unfortunately, I found that the ProTactic 450 AW fell just short of this need. There is plenty of storage space, but not a whole lot of compartment room for odd items. I love the backpack for field work, but for my convention needs, I’ll probably turn to Lowepro’s Fastpack BP 250 AW II, which has the best of both worlds. 

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack REVIEW

SUMMARY
The Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW is really a photographer’s dream bag…and more. You can easily load down the bag and still be comfortable carrying it. It’s easy to reach everything in the bag even when you are wearing it. I always felt that my gear was safe and well-protected from all types of elements. I do wish that the straps were a bit more cushioned. They breathe very well, but I found that after a few hours of actively wearing the bag, that a little more padding would have really been helpful.

I was looking for a camera bag that could handle lots of stuff tossed around and really take a beating while protecting my laptop and lenses. The ProTactic 450 AW excels at that. It’s perfect for special photography assignments and will really serve semi-pro and pro-level photographers well.
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