Lowepro’s Tried and True Primus AW Review

August 31, 2011
Lowepro’s Tried and True Primus AW

The Good

  • Easy open side zipper for on-the-fly camera access.
  • All weather cover.
  • Good interior padding and a durable shell.
  • Made primarily from recycled materials.

The Bad

  • The water bottle pouch contents push in on the camera storage area.
  • The thin rain fly.
  • The inner compartment foam lining doesn't hold shape under loads.

The Lowepro Primus AW is a durable camera bag that I have trusted on many backcountry photo shoots. One of its best features is the zippered side panel, which gives immediate access to my camera without having to take off the pack. Made mostly from green materials such as Cyclepet (recycled plastic bottles), the fully padded interior of the Primus is well built to withstand the abuse of wilderness travel.


The Lowepro Primus AW is designed with the backcountry photographer in mind. The pack’s upper and lower compartments easily separate your camera and lenses from additional photo and all-purpose gear. The pack comfortably holds my camera body and two lenses without feeling the need to force things into place.  Sometimes I have also packed both lens hoods on the lenses, but under heavier loads, it gets too tight. The upper compartment corrals strobes and extra layers, and an exterior pouch works well for hydration systems and snow shovels. The flexible interior padding does give generously under pressure and has caused the space around the camera equipment at the bottom of the pack to condense.

On all kinds of terrain, from trails and cliffs, to snowy slopes, the side access zipper with its rigid zipper pull and c-curve opening has proven crucial to impromptu shooting. After wearing the bag for a while, I could instinctively reach to my side for the camera while keeping my eyes on the subject or negotiating terrain to get in position for the shot. You just have to remember to close that compartment before you’re back in motion, or you risk dumping a lens.

Zippers on the back of the pack provide elevated access to the entire interior (one zipper for each compartment), which helps keep dirt and snow out while you’re in the pack. As far as actual loads and on-trail performance, most recently I loaded the pack with a camera body, 2 lenses, flashes, triggers, batteries, a light stand, clothes, water, food, climbing shoes and a chalk bag to take on a bouldering shoot. The suspension was easy to adjust for travel up and down long switchbacks, and the thick waist belt and shoulder straps stayed comfortable over a few miles of hiking and scrambling.

Whether bouncing off rocks or scraping along tight passages, the burly exterior has repeatedly shielded the pack’s contents from less than forgiving surfaces. And the stashable pouch on the front has been used to carry tripods, which it fits better than stands, with an adjustable strap to lash it tight against the pack.
While the seam sealed cover is good at repelling water, it left the surface against my back unprotected and prone to absorbing runoff. It is also very thin and I have torn it in multiple spots. Thankfully, the fabric of the pack itself is resistant enough that you should really only need the rain cover in a downpour.


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