Whilst I already have a number of more specialised camera bags like the excellent Vanguard Skyborne 45 that I usually take with me on longer safaris, for this trip I was going to be travelling a lot lighter, with far less camera equipment than what I usually take with me. So what I needed was a bag that I could use as my bay carry on board hand luggage bag for the flight and be able to easily pack away my fairly small bridge camera, a compact pair of binoculars, my phone, tablet and a few other bits and pieces that I would need on day-trips whilst on holiday.
Lowe Alpine Vector 25
Described by Lowe Alpine as a versatile, all-round trail day pack or a city bag for everyday use, the Vector 25 looked to be just what I was after for this trip and so I decided to order it. Below you can read my full review and findings of this daysack bag after having tested and used it over a number of weeks:
Main Features & Specifications
- Two Main Zipped Compartments
- Audio Storage Pocket
- Two Mesh Bottle pockets
- Internal valuables pocket
- Daisy Chain Lash points
- Padded Airmesh Back
- Chest Strap
- Capacity: 25 liters
- Weight: 0.67kg (1lb 8oz)
The Lowe Alpine Vector 25 has two main compartments and one smallish "audio storage pocket", all of which can be zipped closed.
At 39cm deep, the front compartment is slightly smaller and shallower than the rear as it does not reach down right to the bottom of the bag, it also has a slightly smaller and less robust Zip. The Zipper has two sliders with loops on them, so you can thread a small padlock through them to lock the compartment.
Inside this front compartment, there are also two more separate pockets, both of which are once again shallower than the compartment. The first one is 19cm deep and is easily accessed as it cannot be fastened closed.
Internal Valuables Pocket
The second one is called the internal valuables pocket, it is 17cm deep and sits in front of the first pocket and can be zipped closed. This is the perfect place to keep smaller valuables like keys, passports and wallets and there is plenty of room to do so.
The rear compartment is the main storage area of the Vector 25 carrybag and is the one that you will most probably access and fill up the most and so it is good to see that Lowe Alpine have anticipated this, by using a bigger and much more robust looking double zipper. Like the front compartment, there are two sliders to open and close the Zip, which you can loop a small padlock through to lock this compartment.
This compartment is about 45cm deep and contains a elasticated pocket on the rear part which is 30cm deep.
Audio Storage Pocket
On the top part of the bag and marked with an icon of a pair of headphones is what Lowe Alpine call an "audio storage pocket". It is about 15cm deep and is accessed with a single zip. Inside the pocket there is a tethered strap with a quick release clip on it that you can fix to any equipment that you store in here for a little added security.
The pocket is lined with a much more finely woven fabric that almost looks like that of a rain jacket and whilst I don’t think it is fully waterproof, it will definitely protect whatever you have in there from light to fairly heavy rain.
I mostly used this pocket to keep my phone in and on a couple of occasions used it to store my compact binoculars as it is a great place to keep smallish, valuable objects that you want quick access to. I can also see it as the perfect place to keep compact cameras or even the smaller tablets or reading devices like the kindle.
The Vector 25 Daysack has two mesh bottle pockets (One on each side of the bag). As the name suggests these are ideal for storing a water bottle, but these quick access pockets are also perfect to keep a lot of other stuff that you want to be able to get at very easily.
Whilst they are elasticated, they are not 100% secure and so you can be sure that whatever you put in there will not fall or be taken out, so I tried to resist the temptation of putting valuable gear like my camera or binoculars in them, even though they are so easy to access even with the bag still on your back.
Daisy Chain Lash Points
For example you could roll up and carry a towel if you are going to the beach or sleeping bag if you are on an overnight hike and traveling very lightly. To attach objects like these to the lash points you could use something like a bungee cord or shock cord, or even just a short length or tough string or thin rope.
I sometimes used this area to carry a light weight tripod for my camera with me. In this instance, I attached the tripod to the lash points using a carabiner (metal loop connector with spring-loaded gates) that mountaineers often use, which worked really well.
Exterior Back Panel
The entire back panel of the Vector 25 bag (the part that rests against your back when carrying it) is lightly padded and made from what Lowe Alpine call an Airmesh material. This is designed to allow more air to circulate and thus in theory make you sweat less.
In practice I found that on hot days and when the bag was fairly heavy, that I would still sweat, but do feel that it was less than if the surface been made from a flat non mesh type material.
Whilst the padding on the back is fairly light in comparison to my camera backpacks, I never really had a problem with comfort. Also to ensure that the bag was as comfortable as possible, I would also make sure that I kept soft objects, like clothes in the rear compartment and the harder objects like my camera towards the front of the bag.
Volume Compression Straps
I found the best way of using these was to connect them once I had fully packed the bag and then would pull it tightly which would compress the bag. If I had packed the bag full of a lot of soft objects like clothing, this does make quite a big difference, making the rucksack quite a lot more compact and as well as secure.
Like the exterior back panel of the bag, the inner face of the shoulder straps that rest against your body is made from an Airmesh material that enables it to breath a little.
These shoulder straps are also quite lightly padded, especially when compared to my larger camera backpacks that I own.
This does help keep the overall weight of the bag down, but is obviously less comfortable when carrying heavy loads.
For me there was just enough padding for the general amount of weight that I was carrying about in it. Which usually consisted of a water bottle, a few items of clothes, a bridge camera, a pair of binoculars, my phone, my tablet, my wallet a few other small items and a few books.
The straps can be adjusted in length by using buckle sliders in the usual way, which I measured from a minimum of 40cm to a maximum of 90cm long, which should mean that they accommodate most people.
Each shoulder strap has an adjustable strap attached to at right angles about halfway down (see on image above). These are also elasticated and can be connected to each other using quick release buckles to form a chest strap.
Once connected, this chest strap works really well if you are carrying a reasonably full bag over longer distances as it keeps the shoulder straps together and thus prevents them from sliding off your shoulders, making it much more secure and comfortable to carry.
Connected at the top of the bag at the same point as the the tops of the shoulder straps, there is a fairly tough looking carry strap. The loop is big enough to accommodate most peoples hands, but it is not padded and so it would probably only be comfortable to use if the bag is filled with light gear or for short durations, which it basically what it is designed for.
Lowe Alpine advertise that the main material that their Vector 25 is made from is called SRP450, which after a little digging, I was able to discover that all their fabric codes use numbers which correlate to the weight of the yarn used or it’s denier which is a unit of textile measurement. This means that this bag uses a 450 denier yarn, which is made from a tough ripstop, polyester fabric that they say offers an excellent price to performance ratio.
Below is a walk-around video that I took of the Lowe Alpine Vector 25 Daysack and in it I demonstrate the main features on the bag:
Other Size & Colour Options
As well as this black 25 litre capacity bag, the Vector Series is also available in 18 and 30 litre bags depending on weather you have more or less stuff to carry or to put it another way as I always end up filling my bag no matter the size: how you much you want to restrict yourself and so make your bag lighter or heavier to carry!
It is also available in a range of colours including green, blue, terracotta, red, purple and velvet that should suit most peoples tastes.
Just a quick note here about colours: If you are looking for a bag to take with on safari, especially a walking safari where you will be using the bag as a daypack, I would suggest, just as with your clothing, to keep the colours to neutral, earthy shades that will just make you stand out less in the bush. So in this instance the black, green and terracotta bags would work best.
The opposite is true if you want it as a bag to go cycling with – then, for your safety, you probably want to stand out to let motorists see you as easily as possible.
In the UK they cost around £40, whilst in the US they are available for about $45, which considering the quality of the bag and just how versitile and useful it is, I think it makes for a very good value for money travel bag:
The Safari Guide Verdict
The Lowe Alpine Vector 25 is a great lightweight bag, which for me worked well as a hand luggage bag for the flight and as a general daytrip back whilst on holiday. It is also perfect on hikes and walking safaris where you only need to carry enough water, clothing and equipment for that day.
Should you need a bag for longer overnight hiking and walking safaris, you will probably need a bag with a lager capacity.
Weak Points? The padding on the shoulder straps is pretty thin and whilst I appreciate that this does help keep the weight and bulkiness of the bag to a minimum and to be fair it was comfortable enough when loading it normally with some camera gear, some clothing and a little water. However for some, it may just be a little on the thin side if you were to fill the whole bag with heavy gear.