My go-to day to day backpack for shooting landscapes. First of all, let’s take the boring stuff, ie the official specifications (these comes from Lowepro.com)
Pro digital or 35mm SLR; 3-4 additional lenses (up to an 80-200mm f/2.8); tripod or monopod, memory cards, cables and personal accessories.
13W X 9.6D X 21.1H in./
33 X 24.5 X 53.5 cm
Camera Compartment Inner Dimensions:
11.8W X 6.9D X 8.7H in./
30 X 17.5 X 22 cm
Top Compartment Inner Dimensions:
11.8W X 7.3D X 12H in./
30 X 18.5 X 30.5 cm
A short description:
The DryZone Rover is a waterproof daypack/camera backpack with included hydrations system (by Hydrapak). The backpack got two separate compartments, one upper for personal gear, and one lower for camera gear. The camera gear compartment is the part of the backpack which is waterproof and is fitted with a Tizip zipper. There are also two Sliplok hoops on the shoulder straps for extra pouches. In the lid of the camera pod there are two small pockets for the memory card.
Since we’re now done with the boring part let’s push on with why I chose the Lowepro DryZone Rover as my go-to day-to-day bag? The answer is multi parts.
1. It looks cool! It’s black and yellow like a wasp. It’s waterproof. Ever since I first laid my eyes on the DryZone series I thought they looked cool as heck. Plain and simple, but just because a bag looks cool, doesn’t make it a good bag.
2. I needed a new backpack that would do a better job, and that was more comfortable to carry over longer distances than my Lowepro Flipside 400 AW. When it comes to hauling a lot of gear and maybe a laptop, I use my Lowepro Vertex 300 AW, but Vertex doesn’t take much in terms of personal gear, thermos, and hydration system. Also it is not as protected against moisture and water as the DryZone Rover.
To get all that stuff with me in the Vertex 300 AW, I use SlipLok pouches, a SlipLok Lens Case 3 for my thermos with coffee (coffee is my aqua vitae, which I must have on longer hikes), and I must skip the hydration system and use a bottle in a SlipLok bottle pouch (the laptop compartment is used to store my rain layers). Since this is my backpack for landscapes, I seldom bring along my Tamron SP 70-200 mm f2.8. That leaves me with the option to use a smaller bag. Also I don’t need to haul my laptop with me for landscapes.
3. I live on the west coast of Norway in the second wettest part of it (it’s more rainy in Bergen), so to have a bag that can take the moisture is great. Even though it’s not raining, the ground can often be very wet, so with the DryZone I don’t need to worry about it at all. Also to use the All Weather cover that Lowepro fits to their bag is often awkward with a tripod attached to the bag since the cover is fastened to the bottom of the bag.
To be honest, I disliked the bag at first when I bought it. I thought the two compartments were not set up like I was used to with other camera bags from Lowepro. The camerapod was ok, but the top compartment had no pockets to stash small gear, keys and such. Just a large mesh pocket for the hydration system. Also, the zipper was hard and almost impossible to close without using force. Even though the waist belt fitted nicely there were no SlipLok hoops for me to attach my pouches, and the outer pockets were too small to either hold my filters or my filter system. A real downer. So I ended up putting it away in storage with all the other bags I don’t regularly use. I kept on using either the Vertex 300 AW or the Flipside 400 AW.
Then after a while I decided to check the bag again. I lubricated the zipper just to see if that would change things. What a difference! The stubborn zipper no longer needed much force to be closed, and that really changed it. Because it was mostly the stubborn zipper that had put me off from using it. The bag got a new life. Now, when I need to go “light”, I leave the Flipside at home and take the DryZone Rover instead. The harness on the DryZone Rover is much more comfortable then the Flipside 400 AW with more adjustment to be made to make it fit snugly to my back.
The DryZone is no mule that will haul tons of load plus your grandma for you. So if you need a bag that will take two pro DSLRs bodies, big fast glass, speedlights, laptop and accessories, you are better off with some of the other larger bags that Lowepro offers, like the Pro Trekker Nature AW-series. Also if you are a wildlife photographer that needs a bag that is quick to enter, this is not the bag for you. For those purposes I would recommend looking for another system. The largest glass that will fit into the DryZone Rover is either an old Nikon AF 80-200 f2.8D or the Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 without the VR. As I’ve also mentioned earlier, there’s no SlipLock hoops on the side of the bag to attach a larger Lens case to, a feature I would like to see in the future.
But if you are on the lookout for a bag that will take a Pro DSLR with battery-grip attached, a 28-75mm f2.8, a speedlight, two small prime lenses, teleconverter or a large macro lens like Tamron’s SP 90mm plus some extra accessory besides personal gear then this is the bag for you. The tripod-holder takes both a tripod and a monopod at the same time with ease, even though it’s just specified to take just one of them. The included hydration system is just ok. It’s not a Camlebak and it’s not the largest (1,5 litre or 50 fl oz). It is also not the most convenient backpack to be worked out of since you can’t place it flat on the ground and get a clear overview of your gear.
The harness of the bag is good and with the mesh lining on the belt and straps, makes for comfortable carry. It’s easy to adjust, but it’s not well suited for those with a short back
What is in my DryZone Rover?
To give you an idea of what to haul in this bag, I will present you with what I have in mine.
1. Nikon D800
2. Nikon MB-D12 Battery grip
3. Tamron SP 28-75 mm f2.8
4. Nikon SB-28 Speedlight
5. Nikon AF 50mm f1.8 D
6. Nikon AI 28mm f3.5
7. Sekonic L-358 Light Meter
8. Sekonic NP-Finder 1° Spot Attachment and reflective attachment
9. Battery Tray for Nikon MB-D12
10. Redged RTA-428
11. Formatt Hitech 85 modular filter holder
12. Pouch with small bits and pieces.
13. Hahnel Cable release
14. Lumiquest Softbox III
15. ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket
16. Black umbrella
17. Small LED torch
18. Filterwallet for the Formatt Hitech 85 ND Grad filters
19. Lowepro Filter Wallet with Formatt Hitech ND filters and Kenko Circular Polarizers
20. Mosquito/bug net
21. LED head torch
I also have with me a Lowepro D-Rez 25 camera pouch with my Nikon Sprint IV 8×21 binoculars, and what I call my survival pouch (a SlipLok Pouch 60 AW, with basic survival kit, first aid kit, energy tablets, and a bright signal vest.
Update 2023: This backpack is now been discontinued. So if you want to get hold of this you’ll need to buy it second hand.