- James Clarke
Gear Review - LowePro Whistler BP450 AWII
Have you ever bought something really mundane and boring out of necessity rather than out of desire but it turned out to change your life?
Well that was exactly what happened when I bought my new camera bag. And I love it so much I wanted to tell you about it!
In video production, time really is everything. And recently I knew I needed to streamline much of my process of equipment storage and transport to make the most of my days filming.
This was to ensure I was providing maximum value to my customers on shoot days.
Before I bought the LowePro Whistler
Previously, I had stored all of my lenses, cameras, audio gear and more in loads of large, cumbersome Peli style cases that, for one person, was just absolutely unfeasible to store, transport and keep track of efficiently.
As cool as you look turning up to a shoot with 7 massive boxes filled with camera gear, it's just not a realistic thing to do for one guy, especially when shooting on remote locations.
So I set out to find a solution to the problem and in turn massively improve my on site filming efficiency.
The best solution I could muster up was to compress my equipment down to exactly what I know I need to complete a video to a high standard and squeeze it all into one robust backpack.
By doing so I planned to fit the equivalent of 4 Peli boxes into one smaller, more manageable bag that was super easy to transport and can be used efficiently on set.
Enter the LowePro Whistler BP450 AWII
LowePro's marketing material describes the bag as "4-season ultra-resistant backpack for outdoor photography equipment and essential wilderness gear". Sounds good.
Then you get to the pictures where the bag is loaded with a cinema camera, lenses, sound gear along with a gimbal, climbing rope and a snowboard. Yes - a full size snowboard on a camera bag.
As soon as I saw how much this bag could hold I knew this was the one for me so I pulled the trigger and picked one up.
I could talk to you about camera gear for days, so to cut this short, I've broken down my five absolute favourite things about this bag:
Loads, absolutely loads.
As I eluded to in the introduction, there's so much space in this bag. I could honestly take all of my photography gear along with a weekends worth a camping supplies and still have space for some extras.
I just can't even tell you how well LowePro have used the space inside the bag to give you the maximum amount of room to fit all of your equipment.
This means that I have managed to compress a number of large boxes worth of gear into a relatively small and manageable space that is all really accessible through the three main compartments for maximum efficiency. Here is how I have my kit laid out: Main Compartment; Sony A7iii with cage, Lumix GH5 with cage, 4x Samyang Cine primes, 1x Canon 16-35mm L lens, Feelworld 5" monitor with mount and 2x HDMI cables, Top handles for cameras, 4x spare batteries for cameras + 2x batteries for monitor, Zoom H6 sound recorder, Sennheisser G3 lavaliere mic, memory card box, ND filters, spare caps. Plus there's enough space for either 3 more lenses or another camera body and lens! Front Compartment; Rode shotgun mic, Sennheiser headphones in hard case, 3x battery chargers, 10m XLR cable, 3m XLR cable, 1m XLR cable, XLR to 3.5mm converter cable, 2x lavalier cables, a number of cable adapters. This has all been added without loosening the straps to enable additional storage. Top Compartment; Tilta Nucleus Nano wireless follow focus, 2x USB power banks, rain protection for the bag, pens, spare AA/AAA batteries.
That's not to mention I could strap a medium tripod and a DJI Ronin S to the sides. There's also a laptop sleeve in the top compartment.
A big part of previously keeping my equipment in Peli cases was the fact that they protect your equipment from almost anything.
I've never had any issues with anything being damaged when transporting one. That means that naturally the quality of this bag and its ability to keep all of my equipment safe from the Welsh elements was important.
And I can attest that it really holds up well. I've used it in a number of different scenarios and I've never felt that I've needed to rush it into cover to protect it. LowePro advertise that the outer canvas uses their top of the range All Weather technology to protect the bag along with abrasion resistant materials to ensure the absolute safety of the stored items.
Add on that they include a protective rain jacket in case it really chucks it down, you can be sure your gear is safe.
To my surprise, the BP450 is shockingly lightweight for its size, which is really important if you're going to be loading it with loads of equipment.
According to LowePro's website it weighs a smidge over 3kg, which for something this robust is awesome.
The Whistler uses LowePro's tried and tested ActivZone padding system along with a chest strap and a load bearing waist strap (with an additional storage pouch and Molle tags) to maximise all day carrying comfort. And I have to be fair, it really works.
I've used it for long periods a few times now and have never felt uncomfortable wearing it and have found it really breathable on my back. The only thing I had to do was work out the best configuration for my kit to ensure an equal weight distribution.
I use the bag regularly for both video and photography. Having the ability to easily change the layout of the camera storage area into effectively infinite layouts is such a great feature.
Previously I've had other bags from LowePro and ThinkTank that have had a similar design to the Whistler, but the padding supplied wasn't easily adjustable like it is on this bag.
One of the most ingenious ways of using the space effectively is where they have incorporated padded pockets into the dividers, which adds additional storage in the main compartment for smaller items. I use these for my lavaliere mics.
Are there any cons?
There are a couple of issues I have with the bag, such as the location and design of the waist strap.
It sits directly in the middle of the main panel, blocking the zips to access the main compartment and just making it that little bit more fiddly to get to your cameras. But this is minor and nothing major.
I also understand that for some people it could be quite difficult to manage a bag of this size. These issues do not come close to outweighing the positives of the bag though.
The LowePro Whistler BP450 AWII is categorically the best bag I have ever owned for cameras and I'm sure will last me many years into the future.
The quality, robustness, flexibility and just sheer storage space put this bag in another stratosphere to the many other bags I have owned in the past.
It's solved my problem of efficiently downsizing my film making equipment into one manageable space that I can use in confidence in a real world environment.
If you want a bag to literally do everything and go anywhere with, this is the one. Pick one up here and support local!