When I first saw the Lowepro Passport Sling III, I though it was odd looking. I definitely didn't think it'd be a bag I'd end up owning. Yet I kept coming back to it on Amazon. I kept looking at it. And then I hit "buy now"...
A month and four countries later, and I'm glad I did.
I've always had an affinity for gear bags. Last year I found a heavy-duty bag for those times when I wanted to have everything with me — the Incase DSLR Pro Pack.
Unfortunately, I haven't had the same luck with casual travel bags. I've went through several and have never found one that was comfortable to carry around for long periods of time and fits all my needs:
- Fits a mid-size DSLR and 1-2 extra lenses
- Fits a full sized iPad
- Fits some personal items such as a wallet, keys, water bottle, and whatever other crap I may accumulate throughout the day
- Weather proof or at the very least, water resistant
- Comfortable to carry for a minimum of 6 hours each day
- Under $200
Then I found the Lowepro Passport Sling III.
I'd heard of Lowepro but had never owned any of their bags. I couldn't find many reviews on the Passport Sling III but the strange design piqued my interest. I wondered if it was something that made the bag more versatile or more comfortable for longer periods of time.
I only had a few weeks to make my decision before my next trip but, for under $50, I figured I didn't have much to lose. So, I purchased the orange and gray version.
A few days later it arrived on my doorstep.
When I unboxed it, it really didn't look as strange as it did in photos. The inside has a mesh zip-up pouch to put smaller items and your wallet so they're extra secure. There's also a hook for keys or anything else you may want to secure to the inside of the bag. The spacers looked pretty much useless for any midsize or large DSLR, but they'd come in handy for a point-and-shoot or mirror-less camera.
Overall, however, it was smaller than I expected. Knowing how much crap I wanted to shove in it, that made me nervous. So, I tried putting my Nikon D-7000 and the largest lens I travel with in the dedicated camera compartment. Then I loaded up the rest of my other gear. All told, I ended up with:
- Nikon D-7000 with Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens attached
- Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S DX lens
- Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR lens
- Slim wallet
- Hand sanitizer
- Real glasses in case
- iPad Air 2
- In-ear headphones
- iPhone 6 Plus
- Very thin zip up jacket hoodie
- Hat and gloves (set on the very top when not wearing)
- Almost always had a water bottle in the larger outside pocket
Despite the size, it all fit without a problem. Impressive. Then I realized there was a zipper along one side of the bag. If you unzip it, you are automagically given an additional 30% of storage space. Most impressive!
To test how comfortable the Passport Sling III was, however, I had to travel with it. I committed to taking this bag and only this bag on my trip.
For two and a half weeks the Passport Sling III went with me on airplanes, trains, buses, trams, subways, and everywhere in between. I carried it up the Cliffs of Dover, all around the countryside in Belgium and the Netherlands, and on walks that spanned several miles through downtown London and Paris. Here are the important things I learned about this bag:
- It never felt heavy to me, even when packed full
- The strange shape lets you shift the weight around and carry it differently throughout the day if you need to
- The small form factor makes it great on planes since I could get into it underneath my seat easily and even pull it into my lap without disturbing the person in front of me
- The pockets on the outside don't zip, so you can't put valuables in them which is slightly annoying but not a deal breaker
- The larger outside pocket makes for a great place to carry a bottle of water or other drink
- I walked for 25 minutes in non-stop rain and all my gear was perfectly fine
I can finally say I've found the perfect casual travel bag for my gear, and it's the Lowepro Passport Sling III. It's versatile, comfortable, weather resistant, and discreet. It also won't break the bank, which is an added bonus.
I'll be traveling with the Lowepro Passport Sling III on my side for a long time to come.
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iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.