WANTED: A versatile daypack to keep camera gear and other daily essentials secure, accessible and protected while I’m out actively exploring the world.

FOUND: Lowepro Photo Hatchback AW.

I’ve been scaling back lately on the amount of stuff I lug around. But whether I’m headed off for a day of adventure at home or an extended trip, there are certain items I carry with me: camera gear, a jacket, water bottle, small notebook, sunglasses and a mobile phone, for example. 

A recent trip to Switzerland inspired the search for a down sized daypack that could also serve as a second carry-on for air and train travel. 

And because I’ve replaced my bulkier 15-inch MacBook Pro laptop with a sleek 11-inch MacBook Air, I can travel lighter than ever before. 

In the language of backpack design that meant I could go down the equivalent of two dress sizes - from a 26L bag to a 22L.

Digital nomads that don’t need the extra processing power of a laptop and carry only a tablet device could get away with the 16L Photo Hatchback and still have room for extras.  

Truth told, even though I’m a longtime Lowepro user, it took me a while to settle on the 22L Photo Hatchback. But I’m just back from a 3-week trip of all-day use, and couldn’t be happier with the choice. It turned out to be the perfect casual carrying solution. Here’s why….

1. The body-side accessible camera compartment meant photography equipment was securely stowed away in it’s own space with everything - external drive, memory cards, cords & cables - padded and protected, yet easy to access.

Better still, for days when all that equipment isn’t necessary, the removable compartment makes additional storage space available for, let’s say, an extra pair of shoes or souvenir purchases. Very travel-friendly.

2. The dedicated tablet pocket provided easy access at airport security or for en route entertainment purposes. And with its deep vertical orientation, my travel document holder and Kindle could be stored there, too. Making everything that I’d want or need to grab quickly, within reach. Once I’d gotten to my destination and unpacked the laptop, I used the pocket to carry extra layers like a fleece or hat.

3. The two stretch side pockets on either side of the pack were well situated for carrying a water bottle, gorillapod or small umbrella.

4. Its roomy interior offered plenty of space for personal items (snacks, jacket, sunglasses, etc.) and includes a zippered pocket for items (wallet and hotel room cards) you want to tuck away securely; a built-in key fob; and two stretch-mesh pockets perfect for keeping a mobile phone and ear buds, for instance, from getting buried.  

5. The casual profile blends in easily and doesn’t scream camera bag. But don’t be fooled by the good looks. It’s still a Lowepro and designed for maximum comfort, durability and protection. Its padded, mesh-covered backpad breathes well and was easy on the shoulders and back, even after a long day on the trails or urban exploration. 


On the trail in Switzerland with Photo Hatchback 22L. Photo by Gigi Ragland

Keep in mind that this is a casual carrying solution. If I need to carry a a full arsenal of pro camera equipment, it’s the larger Lowepro Stealth Reporter that I still turn to.  

Part of Lowepro’s camera backpack collection, the Photo Hatchback AW is available for purchase in 16L and 22L at www.Lowepro.com or at The Travel Store at EllenBarone.com powered by Amazon. Available in grey, orange and blue. Suggested retail price; 22L $119.99; 16L $99.99.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".