After seeming to struggle mightily with how to transport the fragile, odd shape of the modern drone, first with this bizarre unprotected “toolbox” look and then with this hard shelled perplexing design, Lowepro seems to have finally come up with a design that not only makes sense and is the best iteration they’ve attempted yet, but is also likely the best option currently available. The DroneGuard BP 450 AW is a solid, well-designed product that makes the previous two iterations look just plain silly.
The DroneGuard takes a page from the popular ProTactic design book, and the result is a pretty rousing success. The hard-shelled exterior mixed with traditional backpack elements (like a soft, padded back and zippered side and top pockets) makes for a backpack that not only keeps your drone from rattling around and deflects impact, but also feels comfortable to wear.
After carrying-on the DroneGuard multiple times, and traveling around the world with it, I have amassed hundreds of hours with this bag on my back and at the ready and I have to say, it does an absolutely spectacular job at housing not only my drone, but all the accessories I carry with it.
Firstly, this is the only bag I’ve ever had from Lowepro that actually seems just a tad bit scarce on the storage space. Usually Lowepro backpacks have an overabundance of side pockets and sleeves, but they went with a more minimalist approach with the DroneGuard. Due to the odd shape and fragile nature of the cargo, the choice to go less rather than more does indeed make sense, you just have to get used to being a bit more frugal with your gear selection when you head out. The exterior has a few very small side pockets that are good for things like maps and keys, and of course the top compartment which I use to hold anything from sunglasses to batteries, but that’s about it for the “extra” space the DroneGuard offers, which at first seems strange given the size of the backpack.
It’s not small. It’s actually kind of huge, but just on the cusp of what I would consider acceptable to wear on your back.
Inside the pack are only four total pieces of rearrangeable pockets/dividers. That has to be some kind of a record for any bag company, as there are usually about 15 too many in modern cases. This only requires four: two zippered pouches and two protective dividers.
The pouches and dividers work together to form the “home” for your DJI Phantom or 3DR drone, which sits neatly between them. Once in place, a small elastic strap will hold the top of the drone securely, though it’s rather superficial as the drone doesn’t move at all once the back is zipped up.
As far as I am concerned, this arrangement works excellently. My Phantom 4 never moves once it is in position, and it has remained snug and secure across multiple hikes and flights sitting in the overhead bin.
The top of the main compartment has eight slots to hold the four required blades for flight as well as four backups. These blades do not come in contact with anything in the main compartment, which was a major complaint we had with the original DroneGuard design. Lowepro listened, and this iteration is perfect in that regard. There is also one zippered pouch here as well, bit it’s very small on its uses are quite limited. I would suggest putting filters there, but they tend to be fragile and the pouch offers little to no protection.
The two zippered pouches that sit at the top and bottom of the bag are removable, but I don’t see a point in removing them. They’re the only pouches that would really work in this bag thanks to their semi-circle design, and they also have Velcro on the bottom, which keeps them from moving around (so they’re pretty specific to this bag). They do have belt loops on them, so you could theoretically remove them from the bag and use them on your hip, but that would look somewhat dorky and there are better options out there if you insist on doing this.
The pouches are there specifically for additional batteries for your drone as well as the controller unit. The batteries and controller for the Phantom 4 all fit extremely well, but it should be noted that due to the size of the 3DR battery as well as the way that controller is designed, it doesn’t fit quite as nicely. It does fit, but just not as cleanly as the Phantom does.
Personally, I keep three batteries and my controller strap in one pouch, and the controller and a set of filters in the other.
I use the other dividers as a space to keep things like JOBY Gorillapods, external batteries for my tablet/phone, stabilizer for my phone, and any other odds and ends that I want to take with me when I am planning on flying my Phantom. You can fit a surprising amount in there, it’s just not as neat as with previous bags from Lowepro. You sort of just pile it all in and hope for the best. Yes, it works, but I like an insane amount of organization with my gear and this sort of just makes me “wing it.”
There is a final zipped sleeve on the top of the bag that fits a tablet, up to a full size iPad (not the iPad Pro though). It works as intended, and it’s where I store my iPad that I use exclusively with my Phantom 4.
I have seen some people put a laptop in this bag as well, but that would require placing it between the main compartment and the main zippered lid, and there isn’t any real protection there and the blades would bang against the laptop. If you insist on bringing one, it’s theoretically possible. I just don’t do it myself.
Aside from successfully carrying all the things you need when traveling with your drone, the way the bag feels on your back is of utmost importance. In this regard, the DroneGuard succeeds in my book. Though it lacks shoulder customization, the bag does fit well over my back and doesn’t pinch or drag in any place while wearing it. It’s comfortable to hoist, and thanks to the usually quite light cargo, never feels like I’m overburdened. The way Lowepro also designed the padding on the back makes sure that it breathes well, so I don’t get overly sweaty back there.
The waist clasps are rather limp and though they can help more than not having them, I do wish they had some kind of interior sturdy ribbing that actually maintained form and relieved more stress from the shoulders. Instead they’re kind of weak and don’t do much more than the chest strap does to relieve pressure from my neck and shoulders. This is a regular complaint of mine on Lowepro bags, and only on the Whistler did they make any real strides in beefing up the waist strap. It’s disappointing that those advances weren’t carried over to the DroneGuard.
Though it’s not the most original design, as there are several bags like it you could find on Amazon, I think it’s the best iteration of the concept. It’s not what I would call “stylish,” but it’s not ugly either (c’mon Lowepro! Let’s get some color on there next time. Maybe some of that Lowepro orange!).
Price-wise, the DroneGuard is acceptable, but a bit high. Competitor products (which I have no doubt are not made quite as well) are around $100 less, and even the higher-end brands like Manfrotto are only $150. The DroneGuard is $237 on B&H and retails for $250 on the Lowepro website, and I think it’s worth it for the quality of the product.
All in all, the DroneGuard is a solid success. I regularly sing its praises, and my friend and colleagues who see the bag usually seem impressed with its design. Those that don’t immediately ask me who makes it, generally look at it carefully and with greed in their eyes (stay away, it’s mine!). Through numerous climates, rain, dry sand and fluctuating humidity, the DroneGuard BP 450 AW has served me extremely well. It’s built tough and leaves me incredibly satisfied. My Phantom 4 lives in this bag now, and I can easily grab it and go in a hurry. There have been several instances where I needed to get to my drone quickly or risk missing a shot, and the way the DroneGuard is organized has made getting my drone from totally unpacked to up in the air happen in less than two minutes.