I read a few reviews of the Lowepro Whistler packs while looking for a backpack which would allow me to carry kit for long weekend trips but also to hike in to remote locations in comfort. I found many reviews which talked about camera carrying capacity but less which reviewed how well it did so while in a mountainous environment.
The first weekend trip for the pack was in the North West of Scotland to climb Ben More Assynt and Conival. I took my Canon 5DS with 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses so it was not full of camera gear but perhaps just under half full.
Some reviews comment on the weight of the pack empty but I didn't find this too bad and not dissimilar to my usual mountain pack (Deuter Guide pack).
The day was a good Scottish summer day which means that I had sunshine, rain and hail stones so the front compartment (non-camera gear) had food, a camelbak (around 1.25l in it), a goretex jacket and pants, a fleece, first aid kit and emergency kit. The hood pocket had gloves, hat and more snacks.
When I started on the trail it was raining so I had gore-tex on and the rain cover on the pack but it quickly dried up and became very warm. With everything in the pack it was very full but I found housing some food, gloves, etc in the camera section helped and I used the zip to expand the front section.
What really pleasantly surprised me was how comfortable the pack is to wear. I reckon that it is more comfortable than my mountain pack with wider buckles so that you don't have a small pressure point at the chest or waist strap. The shoulder straps are well contoured and I always prefer a pack with a waist strap pouch, which the Whistler has (left side. Right is gear clips). The internal dividers in the camera section are really well designed with several velcro closing pouches and the side pocket has sections which were perfect for housing my Cokin filters.
If I were to be really critical, the only negatives that I could find were that the straps on all the buckles are really long and I would have preferred if they had some form of band (elastic or webbing) to keep the end in line with the main strap to avoid loose ends flapping or entangling. I would also have preferred if there was a tab where I could hand my camelbak or a sleeve for this. There are very few negatives that I could find for this pack though and I could have bought the 450 version if I thought I would constantly need more space.
When looking for a new pack I considered Fstop and Lowepro with a natural preference for Lowepro after using a variety of their cases for over 20 years. I am delighted to have bought the Lowepro with a very positive first impression. Fabrics are very abrasion resistant giving me confidence that I will be using this in 20years time, as I still do for the very first Trail Runner I bought in 1995.
I use the pack around Edinburgh, hiking up Arthurs Seat and Salisbury Crag to take firework photos at night and again the pack has been stable and brilliant. My next main trip will be to Iceland where I will load up the pack with the same gear as above but with the addition of a Fuji XT-1 with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses so I will update the review if I have anything worth adding following that trip.
I bought mine from Wix which arrived within around 2 days.