A Small Profile Sling Bag That Actually Fits a Full Frame DSLR
If you’re looking for a lightweight sling bag for your DSLR camera on your travels, the Lowepro Passport Sling camera bag might be exactly what you’re looking for. Learn more about the product below in this gear review.
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Life Carrying Heavy DSLR Gear
After you’ve decided long and hard about whether to bring your camera gear or not, you then have to figure out what bag you want to bring to carry it and then the amount of gear itself.
Now for my Epic 2012 trip to Asia, I just couldn’t see myself not bringing anything so I decided to go with my usual combo of:
- Lowepro Primus AW backpack
- 24-70 F/2.8L
- 16-35 F/2.8L
- 2 batteries
- Circular polarizer filters
- Lots of memory cards
- Colorspace HD backup
- Carbon-fiber tripod
Okay so I won’t go into the details of this set up and all the things I packed for my 3 month trip to Asia but I will say this. I still can’t see myself NOT bringing a camera on that trip but I sure paid for it with lots of sweat (nice salt stains) and a tired back. It was a lot of gear to carry around and towards the end I definitely found myself getting lazier and lazier with shooting. All I wanted to do at the end of my 3 months was use a nice point and shoot.
Search For A Lighter Street Bag
Now let’s get back on topic of what I wanted to talk about today. For my last trip I decided I still wanted to bring my camera gear but I didn’t want to bring the hardcore backpack again. I wanted something with less bulk and could pass off more like a normal street bag. At the same time I needed a bag that could not only carry camera stuff but also other stuff I pick up along the way like souvenirs or other knick knacks.
Key Requirements for a Day Pack when Travelling with a Camera
- For travel, you really only want to bring 2 lenses max + body. Anything more and you’re really asking for trouble
- Needs to be able to hold some basic camera accessories like the memory, battery, filters
- If you’re going to bring a tripod, does the bag itself have a tripod holder so you don’t have to hold it in your hands the whole time?
- The big one for me always is can it carry anything else. There are too many bags out there that are so camera-centric that they don’t even have pockets or zippered spaces that can allow you to stuff things you pick up along the way in the day like souvenirs, food, etc.
- Will it be comfortable to carry on your shoulders the entire day
- The bag doesn’t make you look like a camera pro (you really don’t want to paint a big red bullseye on your back when you’re travelling. Blend in!)
- Easy access to the camera (the Primus AW was awesome because it had a side zipper so I could pull out the camera in one hand without ever having to take off my backpack)
- One big thing you always have to factor in is that if you have this day pack, it will count as the one piece of carry-on luggage you’ll be bringing on the plane. The question you have to ask yourself is will this bag be enough to bring all the stuff I want to on the plane? For example, for my summer trip I knew I was bringing my Macbook Air so a lot of bags just didn’t make sense for me except for the Primus AW that I could use the front slot to store my laptop.
I started my search on Amazon and soon decided on the sling bag concept. The way I hunt for things through Amazon is I always look for items with the most number of reviews. Eventually I landed on the Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag. The design looked pretty good and was well received as well so I then went on to figure out where I could get it locally. Turned out that Henry’s carried these line of bags so I made a trip to check it out myself.
At Henry’s, I thoroughly inspected the bag and my first reaction was that it was too small. It looked like I could definitely fit my 5DMK2 with 24-70 but another lens was pushing it. Still, the price was acceptable ($59.99) and I thought I might be able to manipulate the bag a bit more at home to get it to fit one more lens. Armed with a good return policy I figured I’d buy it and if anything I could return it.
A change I did make with the gear this time around was that instead of the 16-35 wide angle lens I wanted to make use of my rarely used 70-200 F/4 L IS lens. The barrel of this lens is much more slender and so back at home I played around with the various velcro compartments, added a few additional velcro pieces from the Primus AW backpack and in no time I was able to configure it so that I could have my body and 2 lenses fit in there with extra room to spare.
What I was able to pack the following:
- 24-70 F/2.8L
- 70-200 F/4L IS
- 2 batteries
- 1 polarizer for the 24-70
- Lots of memory cards
- Phone charger/cable
- Swiss Army documents holder
Okay enough of my blabbing. After all was said and done, this is how well the bag performed and my thoughts on the bag.
Performance on the Road
- I felt much more comfortable bringing this sling around for this trip. It felt more lightweight because the big bulk of the backpack was gone and I felt a little less like a tourist because it just seemed like I had a normal city sling bag.
- Much less pressure on the shoulders. Has a sliding shoulder rest which was nice to have.
- The bag has a expansion zipper built in. I never had the zipper closed up so that it was in it’s “compressed” form. It was fully expanded the whole time.
- Pulling the camera out was relatively easy when I wanted to shoot. All I had to do was unzip it and pull the camera up from the bag and shoot.
- I will admit that closing the zipper was sometimes hard because you had to fit everything the right way in order for it to close up. It was able to fit everything in but that does not mean it was particularly spacious.
- When shooting with the 70-200 lens I definitely couldn’t close the bag because my body was sticking up way too much.
- The bag was fantastic at being able to carry other things as well. It had a water bottle holder I could use on the outside. There are also two side slots on the outside (front and back) that allowed me to put in an assortment of random things that I could also easily take out to use whenever I wanted to.
- Sturdy and well constructed. Never had any problems with the quality itself as it held up to a solid week of abuse.
- I thought it looked pretty good. Black and sleek.
- Had adjustable strap length which allowed me to fix it so the bag sat just right near my butt when I was walking.
Things to Consider
- The main problem with the bag is that it is small. I would have liked it to be a little bigger but I was able to make it to work. Tight fit if you have a lot of big camera items but if you have a smaller one and just one lens, this bag should be able to handle it no problem.
Other Uses Too
- After coming back home, I’ve actually been using this bag as my normal city sling bag. I took out all the velcro foam innards and commute downtown with it carrying my laptop, note folders, Kindle etc. 2 in 1 baby!
I was very happy with the Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag for the trip and even beyond. If not I would’ve returned it to Henry’s instead of keeping it. It’s versatile which is what I like about it and capable of handling my camera needs for a 1-2 week trip. The perfect solution if you’re going to somewhere like Europe and you’re just roaming around the city.