An expedition camera backpack, the LowePro DZ100

The Lowepro DryZone 100 is a medium-sized waterproof photo backpack. It’s an expensive bag but well made and I got one at a heavily discounted price. I bought it in July 2007 and have since travelled extensively with it. It is an expedition bag, suitable for wet environments. For general photography, shoulder bags are more convenient.

My Lowepro DZ100 camera backpack in the field. The yellow stuff is sulphur (on a volcano).

Product description

The Lowepro DryZone 100 (DZ100) is essentially a waterproof bag, with a special waterproof zip and a padded inner bag. I estimated the internal volume at 13 L. Mass is specified 2.36 kg (and I wish it was lighter). The outer cover has a large external pocket, handy for fast access but not waterproof and not padded. On the front are straps for securing a tripod and a stowaway pocket for the tripod feet. The bag comes in two colour schemes: Yellow/Black and Grey/Black.

The DZ100 can pack a lot of gear. I’m a birdwatcher and my full kit includes binoculars, GPS, digital SLR camera, standard zoom lens, telephoto lens, filters, Minidisc recorder, microphone, maybe a lightweight tripod, sometimes a field guide, water bottle, etc. This bag can pack more than 10 kg. I was once challenged at an airport because my DZ100 exceeded the cabin baggage weight limit. At the time I had my Acer netbook packed as well!

Review

The DZ100 fits well and is reasonably comfortable to wear except that it’s not a full length pack and doesn’t sit on the lumbar region of my back. The waist strap tends to ride high. Overloading and long walks will result in sore shoulders. The waist and chest straps are only required for scrambling and climbing. When not used, the straps hang untidily and I tuck them into the outer frame.

The DZ100 can be reversed and carried on my chest if I am walking with two packs. This is bearable for short walks and over level ground. I have tried attaching a shoulder strap but this bag does not carry well over the shoulder and one of the SlipLock ring attachments broke. I also damaged one of the shoulder straps, being careless, which I repaired with some strong cotton.

Tripods tend to pull away the cover of the outer pocket and it is difficult to fold back the outer pocket with a tripod attached. The outer cover secures with an adjustable strap on top, which can snag and come loose in the bush. The tripod straps also snag and I have lost one that was not closed.

A lubricant for the TIZIP is supplied with the bag and should be used regularly, perhaps once a month. I have experienced no problems with dirt. The zip is waterproof for sure but I would not swim with this bag. After three years of use, there’s a gap in the TIZIP over the final 6 cm. Lowepro bags have a useful life of 3 to 5 years, in my experience.

The DZ100 can be difficult to clean. The back padding has an open mesh which catches seeds, sand grains and other junk. This is so troublesome that I am thinking to cut off the padding and mesh! Dirt and debris can also hide between the padded bag and the outer waterproof skin.

To prevent humidity problems, do not seal damp items inside the bag. Dry out the inside of the bag as soon as possible and repack with a
fresh desiccant before sealing.

Modifications

The first DZ100 modification I made was to shorten the waist and chest straps according to my body size. I also shortened the tripod straps and set them up for easy adjustment of length. The DZ100 has a grab handle on top that is poorly balanced. I cut off the handle to reduce weight. I also removed the labels and branding on the outside.

Conclusion

The Lowepro DryZone 100 is good for bush walking but too bulky and slow to access for street and travel photography. I have now purchased a medium-sized shoulder bag for general photography and reserve the DZ100 for expeditions. When the DZ100 dies, I’ll be looking for a plastic hard-case.

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One Response to An expedition camera backpack, the LowePro DZ100

  1. Hi, I check your blogs regularly. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

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