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Lowepro FreeLine Vs Protactic Backpacks Compared

We take a look at the Lowepro FreeLine BP350 AW and Lowepro ProTactic BP350 AW II backpacks.

|  Lowepro Freeline BP350 AW in Bags, Cases and Straps
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Choosing a camera backpack that's perfect for your needs can be a tough decision. To make it easier, we're comparing similar backpacks from Lowepro so that you can make a more informed decision. 

Here we're looking at the Lowepro FreeLine BP 350AW and Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AW II, both bags have a similar gear capacity and are ideal for those travelling with DSLR or pro mirrorless kit as well as drones and accessories. 

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                                                                             FreeLine                                                                               ProTactic                                                 

Gear

The FreeLine BP 350 AW has space for a DSLR or mirrorless body with 70-200mm lens attached, as well as a laptop of up to 15 inches. There is also room for a small drone (such as DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom), several small personal items and a medium tripod. The bag features new 'QuickShelf divider system' technology - enabling you to easily fold in and slide the 3 tier shelves out of the bag. Vertical padded dividers are provided to help you customise the bag for your needs. The insides of both pockets provide space for smaller kit such as memory cards and cables with zipped pockets. On the strap there is also a dedicated phone pocket.

The ProTactic BP 350 AW II is also designed for Pro mirrorless or standard DSLR kit. It can hold a DSLR/mirrorless camera with 24-70mm lens attached, a small drone, (DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom), and a medium tripod with room for a couple of extra lenses or accessories such as battery packs, action cameras or filters as required. The dividers can all be moved to suit kit as necessary. A laptop can be held to the rear of the bag, and there are zipped compartments for your smaller accessories. Extra carrying solutions can be attached to the front and sides of the backpack and the bag comes with a couple of these included - a zip-up bag, drawstring bag and tripod sling. 

Both bags give you the opportunity to use the space for personal effects as required, and offer additional modular zipped bags for smaller kit. 

Verdict - The ProTactic offers more dividers and gives more options for a variety of gear, thanks to its modular exterior attachments. The Freeline's shelving system is great for larger elements of kit such as drones, if you're not looking to carry lots of little things.  

 

Accessibility

The FreeLine BP 350 AW has access to the main compartment through a top zip, and two large side flaps. Because of the shelving system, every aspect of the storage can be accessed through these means. Towards the back at the top there is a separate zip for the laptop/tablet storage. There is a narrow front pocket for your documents. To each side there's an expandable elastic pocket and strap. On the front are two straps that can be used for a tripod. 

The ProTactic BP 350 AW II has a zip-down panel to the rear of the bag giving complete access to the rear. There's also a zip around the hard top shell which gives quick access to a camera kit. On each side there are two small zipped flaps giving access to select kit. There are two small zipped pockets above there for smaller accessories. On the bottom is access to a rain cover. A slim laptop or tablet can be stored inside the rear flap. There is a waist belt with small zipped pockets and the optional modular bags can be fitted to give extra storage.

Verdict - Although the ProTactic does give you the rear flap for full access, the FreeLine actually gives easier and complete access through its three entry points and clever shelving system. Plus, the laptop is accessible through a seperate pocket so you don't have to flash all your kit to retreive it. 

 

Versatility


 

The FreeLine BP 350 AW gives you the option to quickly fold in the shelves and remove them through the top zip of the bag, allowing the space to be used for anything you wish. These shelves also have the ability to bend in three places and be secured at any angle to accommodate your kit. There are also a couple of vertical dividers provided so you can split the space as necessary. There is also a zippable padded and removable case which can be used for various smaller pieces of kit to keep you organised. 


 

The ProTactic offers you a more traditional camera bag system, with lots of internal padded dividers that you can move around to suit your kit and remove as necessary to create space for larger or personal belongings. The extra versatility that you get with this bag is in the modular attachments you can add to the front and sides - these give you more space for extra kit. 

Verdict - The FreeLine offers the more versatile system for different kinds of kit and personal items that you might want to carry. Although the ProTactic does give you more options on the outside of the bag, this system isn't as neat. 

 

Comfort


 

The FreeLine has ridged back panels for added breathability. It also has flexible, if quite firm shoulder straps that mould to the body well. There is a waist strap, though this isn't padded. There is a chest strap. This gives you a good level of comfort when out and about though it is on the firmer side when it comes to padding.


 

The ProTactic offers thicker shoulder straps and mesh covered back panels with cutouts for breathability. It also has a wide, padded waist strap to help take the weight of the bag. 

Verdict - The ProTactic offers more shoulder padding and a sturdy waist strap, making it the comfier bag when worn.

 

Weight

The FreeLine BP 350 AW weighs 1.874kg, while the ProTactic BP 350 AW II weighs 2.12kg. So the FreeLine wins on lightness, by around 300g. But if you want the extra padding, you might forgive the extra weight of the ProTactic. 

Verdict - The FreeLine is the lightest bag of the two, but the ProTactic offers more padding and dividers for the extra 300g. 

      

Security 


 

The three-entrance system of the FreeLine and positioning of the closed zips means that it's difficult to gain access to the bag when worn - the pockets open towards the body, which is also good for security. The separate laptop pocket is quite hidden near the back of the bag and is virtually unreachable when worn. Overall it's a very unassuming bag with a plain yet quality look, that doesn't shout 'camera bag', which is also a plus. 


 

The ProTactic only has small side pockets which give access to select kit and the top zip curves around the hard shell top in such a way that the zips are difficult to pull when the bag is worn. The main access is at the rear of the bag so when worn there's no way that access can be gained to the majority of kit. Using the modular bags which can be attached to the outside are a little more risky in terms of security and probably shouldn't be used to store anything of great value. It also looks a little more specialised, which might draw attention to it. 

Verdict - Both bags rate very highly in terms of security, however the ProTactic offers less access from the sides and top, making it the safer option in a crowded space (minus the use of exterior modular add-ons).

 

Protection

The dividers in the FreeLine's QuickShelf are quite thin, and although sturdy, don't give much padding for your kit. The vertical dividers offer more padding. The shelves are suspended and so give some flex to movement, but you wouldn't want to shake or bash the bag around too much. The top and sides are partially padded. The bag comes with a rainproof cover but is also made from super high-grade nylon 66, giving it protection from water and abrasions. The zips also look fairly water resistant. 

The ProTactic features thicker dividers, which feel sturdy, and the outside of the bag is also fully padded. The addition of the hard shell top gives the bag an extra edge for keeping kit safe - it's also made from robust material and features a waterproof cover for adverse weather.

Verdict - The ProTactic has the edge on protection thanks to its hard shell top, thicker dividers and fully padded outer material.

 

Price

The FreeLine BP 350 AW is available for £239.95, and the ProTactic BP 350 AW II is available for £209.95. This is only a £30 difference, and is probably due to the fact that the FreeLine is the newer bag. It also features the tougher outer material that's heavily water resistant as well, plus the innovative QuickShelf system. 

Verdict - The ProTactic offers better value - giving more camera storage opportunities and better protection for your kit.   

 

Lowepro FreeLine BP 350 AW 

The Lowepro FreeLine is a stylish and sleek looking backpack that has a very forward thinking feel - the innovative QuickShelf system is handy for easily adjusting the layout of the bag. It has 3 large openings to the main compartment, making accessing your kit simple. As a day pack for a variety of kit, it's a great choice. 

+ Pros

  • Sleek, simple design
  • Innovative Quick Shelf system
  • Tough, water-resistant outer material

 

         Buy now 

- Cons

  • Padding isn't very thick
  • Divider system won't work for lots of smaller kit
 

 

Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AW II

The Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AW II is a surprisingly compact backpack for the amount of kit it can carry. There is full entry to the main compartment to the rear of the bag and plenty of smaller entry points for select kit. The ability to attach extra storage solutions to the front and sides of the bag is also a good idea. It's a comfy bag, with plenty of padding for your kit too.

+ Pros

  • Varied access
  • Well padded dividers
  • Plenty of room for kit
  • Hardshell top
  • Extra storage can be added to sides and front

 

          Buy now

- Cons

  • Very specialised - not as versatile as some bags
  • Not as inconspicuous
 

 

Looking for more bags? Have a read of our complete buyer's guide to camera bags.


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