I wanted a Lowepro bag I could hike with that would hold my 300mm f2.8L IS with the hood in firing position and a body attached. After searching these forums I didn't find much that looked like the right fit, so I turned to the sales department at B&H. They suggested the Photo Trekker AW II; which I hear just came out not too long ago. I took their word for it and pulled the trigger.
When UPS dropped it off my first thought was "this is definitely a monster bag!" I immediately pulled all of the dividers out and got to configuring. The 300mm/hood straight out and 1DMKII attached fit with room to spare Actually, I can even put a 2xTC on as well, but it gets a tad difficult to zip the bag up.
In typical Lowepro fashion, I cannot complain about the build quality. There are a bunch of adjustments to find the right comfort spot with this loaded bag on your back, but once you do it goes from being pretty heavy to feeling like only a few slight pounds. It balances quite well!
With that said, on to pictures (they speak louder than words):
All shot with a SD550 for those of you who care.
I wish the shoulder straps were slightly thicker because I'm a bit stocky, but I think they'd be just fine for someone with an average chest size.
It also comes with a day-pack for packing clothes or whatever else. The day-pack can also serve as a stand-alone backpack for various activities. Lowepro provides a single shoulder strap with the ability to stash the backpack straps in the backside of the day-pack. If you wish to attach it to the main bag, it simply straps on to the top and you move your tripod holster to the side. The tripod holster moves easily because it is one velcro attachment that slips through the various holster slots on both sides and the front.
Just to show how much stuff is crammed into the main compartment:
- Canon 1DMKII (with POTN strap )
Canon 1.4x Teleconverter
Canon 300mm f2.8L IS with hood straight and Optec cover
Left side from top to bottom (your right bottom):
- Zenitar 16mm f2.8 Fisheye
Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro
Canon 24-105mm f4L IS
Canon 2.0x Teleconverter
Canon 35mm f2
Right side from top to bottom (your left bottom):
- Canon 20mm f2.8
Canon Off shoe flash cord
Hood for 24-105mm
Epson P2000 in case
Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS with hood loosely attached
Front slot compartments:
- B/W 77mm Circular Polarizer
B/W 77mm -10 stop ND filter
Canon remote shutter cord
4 Energizer batteries
2 SD cards
Spare 1DMKII battery
Spare Epson P2000 battery
Additional rear/front lens/body caps
I filled the bag up simply for this review. I wouldn't take this combination of stuff into the field.
Pros: Large enough to hold a body with a super-telephoto attached. With the hood reversed more stuff can certainly fit. Rain cover and other standard Lowepro features. Daypack. Comfortable under a full load.
Cons: Shoulder straps could be thicker. I wish there was a way to stow the waist strap when working out of the car or making short walks. Rugged/tough zippers can be a tad tedious to close (guess this is a good thing too). Very few small compartments for stowing smaller items.
Experience so far: I've had this bag out 3 separate times now. Once for a 2 mile hike (birding) and twice to work out of the car (birding/landscaping once and at the race track once). Hiking, I loved it! It was very comfortable and I never felt fatigued from the bag - the 90 degree heat was another story. Out of the car it was a little cumbersome to work with because of the zippers, but that really wasn't a big deal.
Summary: I'm looking forward to using this bag more - not only because it means I'm playing with the 300mm, but because it is a great hiking bag. I don't think I'll ever use my Tamrac Expedition 5 on a hike again - this is much more comfortable. It is also nice to have something that fits the 300mm so well and still gives me great flexibility in other glass selection for the field. It is easy to take on and off, so working out of the bag is easy enough. I recommend it to people with a 300mm or 500mm Canon super-tele (500 with hood reversed) who want to bring another body and some extra glass. It balances well with a tripod and monopod attached too.