Friday, November 24, 2006

Product Review: Lowepro CompuDaypack

Yes, I am reviewing even bags. Why? Because I don't buy bags for no reason at all. My purchase of a bag is usually dictated by a particular need and for that reason, I treat them like my gadgets - long research and comparisons between models and brands.

The Lowepro CompuDaypack backpack. Your laptop, camera gear and others in one compact bag.

I have long had the desire to buy one that will allow me to pack my laptop and camera gear in one bag. Earlier this year, I almost bought a CompuTrekker in Manila but fortunately for me, the shop selling it (in SM Megamall) accepts only locally issued credit cards. I said "fortunately for me" because I had slight reservations into buying it. Despite being small it still looked rather large to me which made me a little wary on whether it will pass-up as hand-carried luggage. I wouldn't want my precious gears to be checked-in, would you?

The camera gear compartment at the bottom of the bag.

Anyway, I learned of the CompuDaypack from an advertisement in a photography magazine and it seemed to be just what I've been looking for. It can accommodate most 17" screen laptops (mine has only 15" so I'm sure it will fit with room to spare), a pro-body camera (I assumed my EOS 20D with battery grip attached would be about the same proportions as a Canon EOS 1D series), and about 3 lenses plus a few other accessories. And - it's got a separate compartment with multi-pockets for your everyday personal stuff. I checked on the price and it's nearly half the price of a CompuTrekker. Perfect!

The camera gear compartment can accomodate my EOS 20D with battery grip attached plus my 3 lenses, speedlite and battery charger.

I have a colleague who just came back from vacation in Singapore. Knowing Singapore's reputation as a tech savvy city, I'm sure a CompuDaypack can be found easily and purchased there cheaper. They say, if you can't find it in Singapore, it does not exist. So I asked him to get one for me and true enough, the price is about 25-30% cheaper than what I have researched.

'Got 17" screen laptop? No problem, that will fit in the laptop compartment.

Now, as soon as I got the bag, the first thing I noticed was how small it looked. It was no bigger than an ordinary back-pack and I had no doubt that it will pass-up as hand-carried cabin baggage. So after a little rearrangement of the camera compartment dividers, I started loading it with stuff - EOS 20D body with battery grip and EF-S 17-85mm lens attached, an EF 75-300mm lens, an EF 50mm lens, Speedlite 420EX, flash diffuser, 8 pieces of AA size NiMH batteries and battery charger - they all fitted in the camera gear compartment. To proceed, I loaded my every day stuff in the accessories/personal stuff compartment and there's still plenty of room. I took the HP laptop from it's original bag and inserted it in the laptop compartment, no sweat - fits perfectly well. There's a document pocket as well. Hhmmm . . . no pocket was provided for the AC adaptor and cable but fine, they can still fit in the personal stuff compartment. All of those plus a few cubic centimeters to spare.

Up front is the compartment for your laptop or more camera accessories or simply for your personal stuff.

Then I lifted the bag up to sling it on my shoulder - Oh maannn!!! I thought I just broke my back! Okay, that's rather exaggerated but the resulting weight is something I did not expect. I had no idea it could weigh that much when carried in one package. I happen to have a weighing scale at home so I put the bag on top of it to see how heavy it is, fully loaded. It was a staggering 10 kilograms heavy. I guess it won't qualify anymore as a hand-carried cabin baggage. I began to wonder how heavy would a fully loaded CompuTrekker weigh. And I asked myself, "Do I really want to carry this much stuff walking - during a photoshoot?"

My daily stuff in the accessories compartment. Still got plenty of room in there.

In fairness, the CompuDaypack was everything I expected it to be. I want a bag to contain my laptop and single body camera gear, the CompuDaypack accommodated that. It's well made, thickly padded where it needs to be, well sized and the external fabric is weather resistant. Generally, I like the bag. Now if I could only have a lighter laptop and camera gear . . . .



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