The LowePro DryZone Rover
backpack is ideal for those who want to carry a reasonable selection of camera gear in a backpack and yet still have room for "water and some sandwich-based sustenance (... avocado, tomato, a bit of spinach and red onion...)"! The LowePro website (linked to above) provides information and technical specifications about this backpack so I will just concentrate on my personal impressions. I have included a few photographs but haven't strived to attain the high standards set by Gordon's reviews on this site!
The DryZone Rover is a medium sized backpack which has all the adjustments you might need for maximum comfort. If you are travelling over rough terrain (or need a little extra support for the corporation!) there is a belt strap and another strap near the collarbone to stop the shoulder straps slipping down. Here is a picture from the back.
The camera compartment takes up half the height of the backpack while at the top there is room for more personal bits and pieces and a hydration system. That takes the form of a plastic bag with a drinking tube coming out of the top of the backpack. For those who don't want to wander around doing Borg impressions this system is easily removed.
Here we can gain a better idea of the "personal" space available in the top compartment. I have unzipped and partially folded down the top.
I have included a spectacles case to give an idea of scale. You can see the water bag behind the mesh. There is certainly enough room here for a day's hiking but you might have to cut down on the sandwiches if you also want to pack a light waterproof jacket. I think that trying to pack even an Ultra-Mobile PC in this space would be pushing the boundaries so notebooks are out.
With its protective flap raised out of the way I have partially unzipped the bottom compartment.
As you can see this is technology more at home on a dry-suit. My initial impression of this zipper was very negative as it was extremely stiff to operate. However, once you have unzipped it and then opened the camera bag inside you find a tube of lubricating gel which, once applied, eases operation of the zip considerably. The only reason I can think of for not pre-lubricating the zip is to do with the lubricant drying out should the bag remain unsold for a long time. Even so, it seems perverse to hide the gel in the compartment accessed by operating the zip.
With the zip fully opened you can gain access to the camera compartment by folding down the top half of the backpack.
The camera, lenses etc. are stored in a removable bag which can, of course, be unzipped while left in place.
I have left my spectacles case beside the bag to give an idea of scale. There is room for several lenses as well as the camera and a few accessories or, if you are careful with the crumbs, an extra sandwich or two.
There are a couple of zippered mesh pockets on the outside top half of this backpack as well as a tall thin pocket sealed with a Velcro flap. Outside that pocket there is some stretchable cord tied in a sort of loose shoelace pattern. This can be seen in the first photograph of the review and I guess this is an option for carrying a tripod.
As a way of carrying extra camera gear safe in the knowledge that it will remain dry even in a downpour worthy of Fiordland in NZ or a British summer this backpack can't be faulted. However, if you want quick access to your camera then you need additional storage. I use a LowePro Topload Zoom 2
The only feature that I will miss is the lack of a mesh pocket on the side of the camera compartment section. Very useful for stowing the dog's leads in! Construction seems to be first rate, it is comfortable and, even though expensive, I believe it represents good value for money. As always, it is definitely worth shopping around as there are some marked differences in advertised prices. It is also worth checking your national LowePro website to see if there are any promotional offers available.