Streamline 250 vs Photo HatchbackYup! Switched again! Did that dangerous thing again and went by the camera bag display in BestBuy when all I was looking for was a simple memory card reader. Spotted some bags I hadn't seen before, one from Case Logic. Right below that $89 bag was the Lowepro Photo Hatchback. I'd looked at this bag before and dismissed it because the main camera gear compartment opening is on the back. Now, that sure makes it secure, but also, I reasoned, hard to get to or, at least, requires one to take the bag off to ge to your gear. OK, I thought, this bag, normally $89, is on sale for $54.99 and I just happen to have a $15 Rewards certificate that was to expire on May 17th (that's tomorrow where I am.). Hmmmm? Maybe I was a little hasty before. Removable Camera CompartmentNow, I am not a total addict. I didn't buy the bag...then. I went home and did some research. Derrick Story (of http://thedigitalstory.com) has talked about this bag favorably and even though he is an "evangelist" for Lowepro, I trust his advice. He has an article with parts written by a student who used this bag and loved it. I also watched a few videos by other reviers, such as  Gear Diary (http://youtu.be/rkonrfhmdk0), that were favorable and I learned a few things about the bag I hadn't realized on the occasions I had looked at in stores. For one thing, the bag has that hidden rain cover that pulls out from the bottom. A nice feature I've missed since my old Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW ("all weather"). Rain Cover stuffs in bottom.I also didn't realize that the camera compartment unit is removable and has a pull up piece that tugs tight to close over your gear. And this compartment has two straps, so you can carry it kind of like a lunch box full of camera and lenses. This, then, opens up the main bag to be used as a regular backpack. Nothing something I'm particularly looking for, but nice to know I can do it. Story points out that this can be useful when traveling as you can store the camera gear compartment in hotel safe and use the backpack for walkabouts.

Well, clearly, I need this bag, right? Of course I do. And I'll tell you why. After using the Lowepro Streamline 250 shoulder bag (Change of Mind: The Lowepro Streamline 250) for several weeks now, I realize that I just don't really like shoulder bags of that type. Now, its size is nice (though it is getting a bit stuffed and I plan to buy the 75-300mm lens in a month or so, so I will need even more space. The Streamline 250 just won't work.) and it is not a pain to carry. But I realized that my very first preference is a sling type bag, such as I had with the Streamline Sling (Gallery of Streamline Sling Interior Pockets) and my Lowepro Fastpack 350 (Advantages of Sling Type Bags over Regular Backpack Bags). Since the Streamline Sling is also now too small and my criticism of it was the need to remove things to get to other things, that only leaves (for me) a backpack like bag. I tend to wear backpacks over one shoulder anyway so getting to my gear shouldn't be an issue.

Photo Hatchback and gear that goes in itMy plan with this new bag - oh, didn't I tell you? I bought it, yes, couldn't pass up the deal, right? So, as I was saying, my plan is to store my flash and lenses in the camera compartment and put my camera with the lens I'm currently using in the top compartment. That top compartment is quite roomy . I use two small Eagle Creek accessory bags (one green, one red) to carry my battery chargers, extra AA batteries, a power pack that I can use to charge my mobile devices and my memory cards (the green bag), as well as bandaids, hearing aid batteries, business cards, and other miscellaneous things (the red bag). The red bag is more flexible and fits nicely in the mesh solid, zippered pocket in the top compartment of the Photo Hatchback (I don't zipper it). The green bag fits on the "floor" of that compartment and I can squeeze my Patagonia Houdini rain cover (for me) beside it. My extra camera batteries and a headlamp fit in two mesh pockets on the front side of the top compartment. I can stash my camera with long or short lens right on top of the green bag.

Photo Hatchback Front PocketsThe front of the bag has a zippered opening with two compartments. The larger rear one is perfect for my iPad and the front compartment holds my Flashbender diffuser. The Hatchback as side pockets on both sides and currently I have my monopod in one and my Lollipop tripod in the other. However, I can see putting a nice slim water bottle in one of those pockets instead of one of the stands. Another nice add-on with this bag is a carry strap. This is like a handle and allows you to carry the bag in one hand for those times when you don't want to put it on your shoulder or back. Each shoulder strap for the Hatchback as a loop onto which you can attach other gear containers. On one I have put a Tamrac memory card holder so I can see if I like it there. If so, I will move my memory cards from my little, green bag to this holder.

Once again, time will tell whether this is the right bag for me, but so far I'm thinking it is a winner. Stay tuned, as you know how things can change!

PS: check out the gallery post of several additional shots of this bag: http://www.infotor.com/blog/lowepro-photo-hatchback-image-gallery/.