Editor’s note: Our friend and Loweprofessional Nick Didlick is a photographer, photo consultant and web designer who has tested and worked with our bags for many years. We relied on his expertise when we began the concept of our Flipside 500 AW in 2008. The Olympic Winter Games seemed like an ideal venue to test the mettle of a rugged, roomy and secure outdoor photo backpack, and Nick’s input was invaluable to the creation and reception of this purpose-built carrying solution. Here he shares the story behind the design.
“Back in 1984, while covering the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo, I realized that backpacks are the only way to go when covering major winter sports. Since then Lowepro has been on my back for some of the most memorable winter and summer sporting events.
In 2008, Tim Grimmer (Lowepro director of marketing and product management) came to my home in Vancouver, British Columbia on a research trip. His mission was to talk to me (really, he grilled me!) on what would be the best design for a backpack for sports photographers. The discussion was lively and included all aspects of what a winter sports photographer does and the changing roles of sports photography.
I wanted a bag that would let me ski down an Olympic Downhill course in the morning, walk up an Olympic Bobsleigh course in the afternoon, and then travel by bus and cover an Olympic Figure Skating final in the evening—all the while keeping my gear safe and dry while shooting and travelling between events. It was a challenge that I thought was going to be impossible for Tim and the team. ‘Oh, and I need this bag to carry hand warmers, sunglasses, extra gloves, crampons, and monopod,’ I added.
Tim asked what camera gear I would need to carry in it, which was really the point of the backpack and this was a difficult one to answer, because different winter sports require different lenses, and different photographers carry different lenses to the same sport. I thought about this for a long while, reflecting on all the sporting events I have covered and the sports photographers I had worked with around the world at events.
The bag, I concluded, would have to carry the following:
2 Pro DSLR bodies
A big lens: like a 400mm f/2.88, 500mm f/4 or 600mm f/4
2 or 3 extra lenses
Spare batteries, CF/SD cards and a few other accessories
The backpack had to have a different way of opening to protect the gear inside from blowing snow. And I didn’t want a million pockets as they are difficult to manage with cold or gloved hands. ‘Oh yeah Tim, one more thing: I need the bag to fit in the overhead baggage area of an airplane!’
I introduced Tim to my friend Paul Morrison, a Whistler-based photographer who covers extreme skiing and with whom I have spent many hours on the side of a mountain waiting for an event to start. Paul and I have different views of what a bag should be, but I always find his insights to be valuable. And we have the common vision that being ready for the picture is what counts, and that should be the primary function of the backpack. And so the challenge was laid down.
Lowepro took all of this information that Paul and I provided and months later produced the Limited Edition Flipside 500 AW. They shared these backpacks with more than 700 pro photographers who covered the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. And now, the Flipside 500 AW is available to all pros and photo enthusiasts who need a backpack that’s ready for those big moments. After all, it’s really ‘the picture that counts’.”
To learn more about Nick Didlick, please visit his web site.