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Lowepro Whistler Vs Powder Rugged Backpacks Comparison

We compare 2 large photography rucksacks designed for outdoor pursuits from Lowepro - the Whistler BP 350 AW and Powder BP 500 AW.

|  Lowepro Whistler BP350 AW in Bags, Cases and Straps
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When you need a backpack that's going to keep your gear safe in an outdoor environment, as well as providing storage and carry solutions for a wide range of personal gear on the hills, it can be difficult to find something that's right for your needs.

Lowepro makes a couple of bags with different specs designed for this very purpose - so to help you choose, we've compared Lowepro's Whistler BP 350 AW backpack with the Powder BP 500 AW backpack. Both are designed for wintery and harsh environments on the hills, offering carrying solutions for things such as skis, snowboards and climbing kit as well as lots of room for pro camera kit. 


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               Whistler                                                                                         Powder                      


The Whistler BP 350 AW can hold a DSLR with large zoom lens attached, and 3-4 extra lenses along with other accessories such as a flash gun and battery packs. On the rear of the access flap, there are memory card holders and mesh pockets for small accessories. There's space at the front for personal accessories with a large zipped pocket that can fit spare trainers and a small tabletop tripod. There's a top pocket that can be used for small personal accessories. Walking poles can be attached to the outside of the bag and on the straps, there is the ability to attach climbing accessories such as ropes and carabiners. The bag is designed to carry everything you'd need for a day out on the hills. 

The Powder BP 500 AW can also hold a DSLR with a large zoom lens and 2-3 extra lenses, as well as a flash and a battery pack. Alternatively, the bag can hold a small drone with a control unit and a 360/action camera. There's a dedicated slip for a 15-inch laptop too. The bag is designed to carry more outdoor kit, with the ability to fasten skis or snowboards to the sides and fronts. Alternatively, you can attach a tripod and walking poles or climbing accessories. There's a front pocket that can hold a snow shovel, as well as several smaller pockets on the top and sides for personal accessories. You can also fit a water pouch which feeds through to the rear so you can keep hydrated on the move. 

Verdict - Both bags feature a fully removable camera compartment and space for personal effects but overall, the Powder has more space and options for carrying various kit and personal items. 




The Whistler's camera compartment is accessed through the back of the bag via a large twin-zipped panel. This is the only way to access your kit - it's not designed for quick access. On the front of the kit section, there is also a further zipped flap to help protect your gear from the elements. The top and front zipped pockets are more easily accessed and on one side there is a vertical zipped pocket. The waist belt also offers a zipped compartment for small accessories such as a smartphone. 



The Powder is built with the same in mind, as far as the camera compartment goes. It's accessed from the back only. There is a large upper compartment which is secured by clips and a drawstring, ideal for your personal kit. The lid itself also offers some storage solutions for smaller pieces of kit. The lid needs to be unclipped to give access to the front zipped compartment. There are elasticated mesh pockets on both of the straps and zipped pockets on either side of the waistbelt. 


Verdict - Both bags open from the rear for the main kit and are designed to keep your gear safe in harsh weather. The Whistler gives better accessibility thanks to its easy to use zips, whereas the Powder feels a little complicated when you're in a rush. 




The Whistler offers you the ability to remove the camera kit compartment and use the bag for other things. There's an extender zip running around the edge, which will give an extra inch or so of space if you need it. There's a large but slim front pocket and a small top pocket for your personal accessories. Various types of photography and walking kit can be held on the front and sides of the bag thanks to the clips, making it quite versatile in that respect. 



The Powder also offers the ability to fully remove the camera compartment and use the bag for different pursuits. It has more space for your personal kit, with a roomy upper compartment and plenty of space for smaller kit built into the top flap and side pocket. It also offers more ability to carry varied kit on the outside - from tripods to skis, climbing picks and more. 


Verdict - The Powder definitely offers you more versatility in terms of what you can comfortably carry and offers you more space for your personal kit - making it the better bag for a multi-action day out. 




The Whistler offers 4 back pads and has an ActivZone system to help ventilation on the move. The straps are quite thin but densely padded, with an almost memory foam-like feel. The same goes for the waist belt padding. It feels well balanced when worn and the straps give plenty of options for adjustment to give the bag maximum comfort for any body type. 



The Powder has ridged back panels, which are quite thick and the shoulder pads have holes in the foam under the fabric to give a little more breathability too. The straps are more flexible and the bag offers the same amount of adjustment options as the Whistler. Depending on what kit you carry with it, there is the potential for it to feel a little top-heavy.


Verdict - The Whistler offers more comfort and a snug feel when worn - whereas the Powder can feel a bit top heavy. So if you can live without the extra space and carrying solutions, the Whistler offers more comfort.



The Whistler weighs 2.97kg, and the Powder weighs 2.4kg. The Whistler is made of waterproof and abrasion-resistant 420 denier TPU coated rip-stop nylon and seems more padded overall than the Powder, which might be one cause of the extra weight. The Powder uses 100D & 210D fabrics, which also have the abrasion and tear resistance of nylon. 


Verdict - The Powder is the lighter, larger backpack however it doesn't feel as rugged as the Whistler. So it depends what you want out of the bag - more space or more reassurance.




The Whistler features rear access for the main camera compartment, and this is further secured by the second zipped door of the camera compartment itself. This makes it virtually impossible to get to kit while the bag is worn. There are straps around the front of the bag which restrict access to the front pocket - you have to unclip these to fully access the pocket, acting as a further deterrent. The top zipped pocket opens around to the rear, making it difficult to access when worn. 



The Powder also has rear access to keep your kit secure when out and about, and straps as well as the clip on lid to restrict access to zips on the move. There is a front pocket on the Powder that could be easily opened, and there is also the possibility that the lid could be fully unclipped and either stolen or lost. 


Verdict - Both bags keep camera kit really secure, with rear access and a double-door entry. But the Whistler offers less vulnerabilities, making it the more secure bag out of the two. 




The Whistler's front pocket is designed for wet kit such as trainers or ropes, which features drain holes and a waterproof barrier to keep your valuable camera gear safe. The camera compartment has a sturdy and padded exterior. There are special edition orange MaxFit dividers which have a pocket inside of them for extra protection in extreme conditions, as well as maximising space. All the dividers feel thick, well padded and are easily moved to create space for your gear. The bag also comes with a rain cover for extra peace of mind and the bottom of the bag is made from Hypalon, an extremely tough and waterproof material that Lowepro refer to as 'rhino-tough'. 



The Powder also has a well padded and sturdy camera compartment. The main vertical dividers are amply padded and the bag also has the orange MaxFit dividers allowing you to house smaller kit in a protective pocket. The horizontal dividers are thinner, to maximise space. This could leave you feeling that there's a lack of padding between kit elements, depending on what you're using the bag to store. There's an all-weather cover included. 


Verdict - The more robust outer material and thicker dividers of the Whistler make it the best choice for optimum protection. 



The Whistler is available for £239, while the Powder is available for £309.95. This makes the Powder better value, with more room for kit and 50% of its space dedicated to personal effects as well. Both feel really well made and there is good attention to detail. 


Verdict - The Powder has more space and is better value, but for only £30 more the Whistler offers tougher exterior.


Lowepro Whistler BP 350 AW 

The Lowepro Whistler is a robust, tough backpack offering lots of storage space for a DSLR, multiple lenses and other accessories. It's a well thought-out design that will keep your kit safe during outdoor pursuits. It offers plenty of support when worn, and offers excellent security with the main access from the back. For someone who wants a really rugged backpack offering good versatility for carrying climbing, walking or winter sports kit too, it's a quality option. 

+ Pros

  • Really tough, rugged exterior
  • Carries lots of kit 
  • Can attach skis/tripod front/sides
  • Well padded camera compartment
  • Snug, comfy fit


     Buy now 

- Cons

  • On the heavy side at almost 3kg empty
  • Not much inner space for personal items


Lowepro Powder BP 500 AW

The Lowepro Powder offers you plenty of space for both camera kit and personal gear, as well as the ability to attach large kit such as skis, snowboards and walking poles. It's a large rucksack which is ideal for longer trips where you'll be out on the hills for a long time and need to carry a variety of kit. It offers a breathable ridged rear and straps to keep you cool on the move.

+ Pros

  • Plenty of space for a variety of kit
  • Well ventilated back and shoulder pads
  • Can attach skis/snowboard/tripod to sides


      Buy now

- Cons

  • Feels a little top heavy
  • The top compartment can be fiddly to open


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

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