Lowepro PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III: Tested

By Aus Geo ADVENTURE 16 August 2023
Reading Time: 6 Minutes Print this page
Is this the best large-capacity adventure photography backpack? After months of testing in the wild, we have the answer.

Have you ever wondered how our photographers and cinematographers manage to both participate in, and document the epic and remote adventures we share with you? Well, the simple answer is they often forego spare gloves for camera lenses, upsize their pack, and then just suffer in the name of their art. When last year Lowepro threw a sparkling PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III our way with instructions to, “see how far it will go”, we knew just the man for the job. In fact, Australian Geographic Adventure’s resident happy-snapper ‘Watto’ emailed sketches and a wish-list of must-have features for a multi-day adventure-photography backpack to Lowepro back in 2014. Now it seems those dusty sketches might have made it into the right hands for the PhotoSport PRO 70L has 22 of Watto’s 28 Point wishlist. So, is this the golden egg of rucksacks? The Swiss Army knife of backpacks? The one pack to rule them all?

Months of tough testing, from a winter traverse of the alpine regions of NSW/VIC, to camping, ski-mountaineering and loads more, the Lowepro PhotoSport PRO 70L was put through its paces.

To find out, AGA threw Watto, and the pack, into a brutal Aussie winter. Loaded with a tent, sleeping bag, food, ice axes, crampons, skis and split-boards he ventured out on more than a dozen trips, including camping, snowshoeing, ski-mountaineering, snowboarding and more. We’ve since knocked off mountain biking, motorbike touring, trekking and everyday endeavors as well. Some excursions were overnight, others for ten days. We froze the pack, waterlogged the pack, overloaded the pack, and dragged it over rocks, grass and through sodden forests… here’s what we found.


The Lowepro PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III is a full-featured 70-litre all-season photography-oriented pack designed for multi-day backcountry excursions. Weighing 3.2kg, with internal measurements of 34 x 19 x 73cm this sizable pack hits the sweet spot for a multi-day pack; providing space for tent, bedding and survival gear, in addition to camera kit. Included is a padded removable GearUp Pro XL Camera Insert, accessible via either front or rear zip panels.  Quick-release straps allow the GearUp Pro XL to double as an external chest pack and a removable shoulder strap turns it into a standalone camera-tote.  The PhotoSport PRO 70L is a Green Line label, made from 86 per cent recycled fabric, and utilising 100 per cent recycled materials. The 420D Nylon Oxford and 420D Nylon Diamond Ripstop with carbonate exterior is therefore good for both your gear, and the planet. Both Oxford and Ripstop fabrics provide ample weatherproofness and durability, but an all-weather (AW) cover is included for when weather turns really nasty. 

Lowepro’s ActivLift™ harness is adjustable and comfortable, incorporating airflow channels for breathability and provided in two sizes S-M and M-L whilst a pivoting waist belt retains range of motion whilst reducing strain on the back and torso. The backpack offers an incredible four access points including drawstring top, zippered front and rear, and a separate zip enclosure at the base of the pack. Also included is a removable lid with two zippered pockets and extra gear loops, three-litre hydration pocket, rope strap, Ice-axe loops, side and bottom compression/accessory straps, expandable front sleeve, two mesh side pockets and a removable shoulder-phone pocket. 

In the field 

At 70 litres, the Lowepro PhotoSport PRO 70L AW III hits the nail on the head for multi day pack size… any smaller would limit space for camera/camp/snow/survival kit whilst any larger and wieldiness becomes an issue. The volume allows for missions of four to five days, but you’ll need to be frugal with your kit. The base pocket is sizable enough for a compact alpine sleeping bag and sleeping pad at a squeeze (A nifty trick is to slide a foldable Fozzils bowl and cup in the base for added protection and extra waterproofness). For multi day expeditions, the main compartment houses a GearUp Pro XL with camera kit (For Watto it was a Nikon Z9, 80-200mm f/2.8 lens, 14-30mm f/4 lens and DJI Mini-3 pro with controller). Internally, camera kit is accessible via the rear zipped panel, however a favourite setup was to convert the GearUp Pro XL into a chest pack, attaching it to the ActivLift™ harness via the supplied quick release strap and buckle system. The GearUp has both top and side zips enabling access as a protective insert and a chest mounted case or shoulder bag. Lowepro’s modular system is a huge win, opening the pack up to multiple uses, and our only improvement might be a two-way side-zip on the Gear-Up to enable easier access to camera gear when in vertical ‘chest pack’ mode, and to provide an all-weather cover for the Gear-Up.

Internally, the Gear-Up insert secures inside the main compartment via the same quick release buckles used for the chest pack. There is ample space surrounding the camera-insert for essentials. Our alpine missions included food, water, camp stove, fuel, crampons, Avalanche probe, PLB, 1st aid kit, emergency survival kit, spare gloves, rain/snow gear & spare insulating layers in the main compartment. All this kit was accessible via the full front zip or drawstring top of the main enclosure. 

The removable lid is a nice feature but was too small for our liking, so we’d love to see it double in volume, however it was enough to house a few snacks, a multitool and goggles. Externally, the front pocket is large enough to fit a snow shovel but whilst the side pockets are large enough for water bottles, we found them too taut to be useful when the pack was heavily loaded. The base straps are long enough to affix a four-season tent and the oversized side compression straps handled skis, poles, bindings and more. 

Initially, we found the hook and loop fixing of the ActivLift™ harness rather disconcerting, but alloy buckles backed-up the system and after two months of solid use it remained solid, trustworthy and most importantly comfortable. The heavy-duty face fabrics performed admirably, keeping kit dry and protected whilst the grey/black/orange colour appealed to the eye, as well as ensuring the pack stood out from ‘the rest’. The bright orange All Weather cover is a bonus in white-out conditions and helped protect gear from real nasty weather, and even fit over external gear strapped to the pack.

Whilst Watto fell in love with the PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III, as usual, there’s always a few niggles we’d like to see addressed. Mainly, we’d like to see weatherproof covers for the GearUp Pro XL and a larger capacity lid for the main pack. We’d like to see a tweak to the ActivLift™ harness and reinforced shoulder straps to strengthen it during loading and unloading. We’d love to see the side pockets better able to be used when the pack is fully loaded and also sewn-in ice-axe loops (the bungee tends to fall off if you’re not careful). One day we might get solar-panel integration (no. 24 on our list), but for now we’re happy with what we’ve got.

The final word on the Lowepro PhotoSport Backpack Pro 70 AW III

Whilst there might be a few personal tweaks we’d like to do to make this pack even better, we consider the Lowepro PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III a 9.5/10 and hard to fault. Kudos must go to the design team at Lowepro for they listened to their users (well to Watto) and have arguably delivered one of the best, if not “the best”, adventure photography backpack on the market to date.

RRP: $935 (Note pricing varies considerably across online retail outlets) See Lowepro for more info on this and other camera packs and bags.