It’s exciting to see more people exploring the field of photography as a fun spare time and also as a possibility of a career. The lines are blurring for most, and probably are not making too many of the pro shooters happy. But however you see it, the importance of casual urban look, small size, universal design, and accessibility have become key on our market.
Lowepro is long known for making some of the most popular camera bags on the market, but they never really focused on the urban shooter who wants a stylish bag that looks like a casual bag to compliment your Levi’s Commuter outfit.
Lowepro Streetline seems to me like a more advanced alternative to Chrome Industries cycling bags, just this time you can bring your favorite a6300 with you. So a few weeks ago I decided to test out the new camera bag line and see for myself how worthy of an investment those are.
In the review there will be two bags from the line: a StreetLine BP 250 backpack and a StreetLine SH 180 messenger bag. They share similar characteristics, but also have their differences. So for the most part I’ll be talking about both but also point out unique features of each.
I’m very pleased to see this direction for LowePro. ThinkTank for me didn’t go far enough to be a real urban “hipster” alternative. Other than that you mostly have smaller boutique brands so to speak, Tanner Goods, HoldFast Gear, Filson, Billingham, Ona Bags, and a few others. In the past I did reviews on all these, so you can take a look at more bag reviews here: Best Camera Bags.
Even though you hold in hands an unusual kind of Lowepro, it still has those long lasting features and characteristics that show that this brand can make thousands of bags with precision and quality level that lasts a long time. These bags keep the Lowepro standard, even though there are a few questionable features.
Both bags are pretty slim and light. The texture of the material is nice and I like the internal colors and materials. It really seems that these bags are geared towards cyclist San Francisco shooter who doesn’t want to buy Peak Design everyday messenger for some reason.
You can expect not much padding, but quite enough security for your cameras. The back sides of both bags are well padded and the messemger bag has a travel rolling bag slider option like normal briefcases for weekend travel use.
I liked the zippers, locks, placement of pockets for the most part. The bottle holder pocket on the outside of the messenger bag is not really deep enough or holds bottles well, it’s more for smaller items.
The backpack has a few quick access compartments and also a big zipper to get inside the main section on the go. I like that there were not too many pockets all over the place and you can stay as flat with both bags as you want.
When you get to use both bags, some very vivid differences become obvious. First of all, the camera insert in the backpack is in the strangest place possible. If you load in your gear to the max, the bag doesn’t close, you get a ton of empty space in the bottom that you need to stuff, and also not sure what to do with the top outside of just putting a sweather there maybe.
The design of the camera insert is interesting, reminds me of Peak Design again with that origami vibe. The color is great, not too distracting and not making it difficult to find stuff inside. I like that these have bottom that’s not flat so you don’t lose space. But the two camera pockets that you get don’t have velcro attachment in between them, so yo’ve got two independent pockets wobbling around, at least in the backpack. There you can remove the insert. In the mesenger bag you can just flatten it.
You can see that these pockets are not deep enough for a tele lens and a camera body, but you can put a Hasselblad inside, a Leica, or any of my Sony A7RII or a6300 fit really nicely as well. That’s my usual combo, at least two of these four make it into my bag. Both bags fit 13″ laptop.
Personally, I think the design ideas for this bag line work better for the messenger bag. The backpack seems odd with the camera insert being in the middle.
The straps on both bags are slim, but you can see that they tried to do something unisual with curved strap placemented and widened areas for support. It works, don’t know if that was really necessary of more of a design choice.
When it comes to ergonomics, I think the messenger bag is the way to go between these two. You need to really get used to the backpack to start enjoying it properly. Both bags are not made to carry much camera gear. It’s just the essential 1-2 cameras that can make it in.
One thing that disappointed me in the messenger bag was the top handle. Once you grab it and let’s say the bag is quite heavy, the whole bag loses the shape and bends all over. I’ve had a few messenger bags in my time and this is the first one like that.
I like that you can keep camera pockets flat. I’m sure not too many people have the daily need to carry a camera, and so the bags can be more versatile.
The new Lowepro Streetline definitely has a very clear kind of buyer in mind. The series has a cool look and choice of materials. I think this is the first real shot in this new direction from the biggest camera bag brands on the market.
Of course, there are things to improve and some personal preferences that affect what I liked and didn’t like. But Lowepro keeps the price tag right and you know these bags will last. So then you need to pick the one bag you like out of this line.
My personal favorite was the StreetLine SH 180 messenger bag. It just felt more intuitive to me and easier to use. I loaded a lot of things inside and it did fine except for the top handle use. The StreetLine BP 250 backpack is one of those spacial cases where you love it or hate it.
Overall, the Streetline has a lot of potential and it would be nice if they got to read reviews like this one and kept perfecting the series. Make sure to see other bag reviews on the blog before you pick your winner.