Deal 5: Natural Light: Our best-selling ebook
The LowePro SlingShot 302 AW fits a niche in the photo bag market, specifically for quick outings with essential gear. This bag is one of three in the line of SlingShot AW (All-Weather) bags and is the biggest brother in the updated line. The SlingShot concept is that, with only employing a single strap, the bag can be quickly brought around from the back to the front for easy camera and storage access. Indeed, the bag has a side zippered entry for the main camera area which, when slung forward, faces up, making camera storage and retrieval simplified.
Before using the bag for a couple of weeks, I posted a quick first impression video on my blog, listing out some of the key features. For those who enjoy video over reading, take a look. It gives a good first impression when I took the bag on its first four mile hike on the beach.
As I mentioned the SlingShot 302 AW is the biggest brother of the three newer SlingShot AW bags. This bag is intended to store a full-sized SLR and 70-200mm comparable lens attached. A battery grip can also be attached to the SLR and all will still fit nicely.
The bag has a side opening for quick access to a camera without opening the entire storage compartment. The compartment can be fully opened when laid flat on its front and has room for 4-6 more lenses, flashes or accessories. The compartments can be fully customized with LowePro’s standard velcro dividers and a second or third large lens can be stored if desired. Also inside the main compartment are two built in flash card holders as well as a microcloth for cleaning and a pouch for storing a point and shoot camera.
On the back of the bag is a zippered pouch which can hold filters, pens, cell phone and the like. Up top is a larger space which includes a strap to hold down an external storage device, a mesh pocket and a zippered pocket on the outside of the opening. On the right side of the bag is a hideaway tripod/monopod holder. There is a small pouch which tucks away when not in use which holds the footings of the tripod as well as an adjustable strap up top. This feature is meant to hold smaller, compact units and not a medium or full sized tripod. Along this side of the bag, and on the rear, are attachment points for LowePro’s SlipLock system of accessories to augment the bag’s storage.
The bag employs what LowePro calls easy-glide zippers as well as an all-weather cover with its own hideaway pocket. There is also ample padding for the main compartment on all sides.
(Click on photos for larger version)
I found the bag easy to pack with the main compartment opened fully. The upper pocket does not hold much more than a full 40oz (1200ml) water bottle , headlamp, pocket knife, and GPS, but it does fit. The upper outer pouch will hold a few snack bars and a compass. The rear pocket zips most of the way open (which is actually handy to ensure items don’t slip out the other side) but could use a bit more room or special pocket for batteries. Otherwise, I was able to stuff two in the rear pouch and they usually stayed in place, but sometimes got loose.
In all I used the bag for three hikes totaling 15 miles (24.1km) as well as around town with many quick trips in a car. I found the bag easy to put on but I was not as graceful when removing the bag, until I figured out the shoulder strap unclips at the lower bag attachment. This made things smoother.
During the hikes, one that included rain, hail and snow, my main point of slight discomfort was the top of the shoulder strap. While the strap is well padded (and takes a while to dry out) it can use just a bit of contouring at the top. What I mean is, the padding on the strap did not lay perfectly flat against my chest and shoulder. Instead, the inside edge made more contact than the outside. This meant more weight was placed on the inside. I never experienced any rubbing or soreness and my longest hike was 8 miles (12.8km). It seems slightly reworking the angle of the strap would help someone of my size.
The hipbelt is a what makes this bag work so well. Why did the shoulder strap not bug me much at all? Because the weight was held firmly by the hipbelt as it should be. My initial worry was the single shoulder strap would cause an inbalance and soreness. This was never the case when the bag was weighted on my hips first. It truly felt like a normal two strap backpack when on the trail thanks to the generous padding and ample size of the hipbelt. The belt also contains enough extra strapping material to fit a wide range of hips (with convenient loops to hold unused material).
Swinging the bag into action is as easy as unclipping the hipbelt and giving a push to the opposite side. The bag feels secure and well placed when slung to the front and is out of the way enough to still allow shooting. The two clips near the side of the bag help ensure the side flap is not opened too far, causing stored lenses and flashes to fall out. As the sides of the convertible interior dividers extend all the way to the top, there is little danger in equipment falling out of the side opening is left open while the bag is slung to the back (I did this a number of times while trying to get a quick shot and was happy to see my equipment still in place, while noting small items, like a filter, can make their way out if the bag is jarred too much).
The bag is constructed from quality ripstop nylon and while I have only used it a few weeks, my experience with the same type of material on LowePro bags has shown them to be longlasting. LowePro also backs the bag with a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner. The zippers are, indeed, easy-glide and make the bag a breeze to utilize, even when I got sand caked on the outside from sliding down a hill.
The all-weather cover is stowed nicely on the wearable side. A quick pull of the velcro opening and the cover envelops the entire bag, as long as no tripod is attached. With a quickdraw cord at the top, fitting is a cinch. My only complaint with having the cover sewn into the bag is drying time. I’d prefer to be able to remove the cover once it is wet and lay it out, without the bag, to dry.
Lastly, if the main compartment is not fully loaded on the bottom end, the bag loses a bit of rigidity when placed standing up on the ground. With a lens or two in place, the bag sits well on the ground and doesn’t feel as if it might tip over.
This bag is a breeze to use and fits its place in the market well. The construction is up to LowePro’s typically solid standards. I do have some minor complaints, such as the one rear clip, meant to keep the main compartment from opening all the way, often gets in the way of the top zipper (dropping down into the main compartment) and it would be nice if the nice all-weather cover was removable for drying. These are minor things which will not keep me from using the bag, though.
This bag makes for a great around town tool that will pack all you need for a day of shooting on the trail or in the city. It is also a perfect size for a carry-on bag and stows easily under a seat on an airplane, with space in the upper compartment for important documents and a couple of books.
My feeling is you like this bag if you:
On the flip side, you might not like this bag if you:
Buy the Lowepro SlingShot 302 on Amazon – where it is currently 45% off retail.
August 14, 2012 09:37 am
Can anyone tell me, I'd like some info on the top chiro because I need the best, I wanted reviews or feedback on Dynamic Health & Wellness 6119 Northwest Hwy # B Crystal Lake, IL 60014 (815) 356-6388
June 25, 2011 10:33 am
I Use the Kata 3n1-10. It´s much better.
June 24, 2011 05:24 am
I have had a 100 AW (smallest version, no tripod carrier) that I bought with my first DSLR (a T1i) and have loved it. At the time I only carried the camera, its included 18-55mm lens, spare batt/charger, SD cards, and various cables. With such a small load, it was perfect to carry toiletries, one spare pair of underwear/socks and/or my usual pocket stuff like wallet/passport/etc. I loved being able to wander hands free, without the bulk of a full backpack. I have since added more gear and have outgrown it, but my next one will soon be this 302AW. In 2 years of use, I have had none of the issues of the bag padding failing or poor fit. Granted my use of the bag is not all day everyday. I would agree with those above advising others to try it on with full gear before you buy to make sure it fits you. Is it made to care the full gear of a professional photographer through a week in a war zone? No. They make other bags for that. Is it perfect for that week of wandering Paris? Sure. This bag is a compromise of size, comfort, fit and ease of use. If it fits you physically and fits your likely uses, then this is the bag for you.
June 16, 2011 09:33 am
Good review. I have a similar model and usually really enjoy it. I agree, though, about the clips getting in the way of the zipper. I don't care for that at all!
June 14, 2011 11:56 pm
I have backpacks that fit me fine, I am aware of the need to adjust the straps However I can adjust the waist length on those. This bag does not have that ability so the hip belt forces the bag to sit higher on me and therefore no adjusting of the straps will make it any better.(unless I want to choke myself) I really wish this could be fixed because I wanted the bag for it's flip feature.
If you are taller or not short waisted it is probably a good bag for you.
June 11, 2011 12:19 pm
I spent 4 weeks walking around Malaysia with this bag on my back, as long as all the straps are done up properly it was very comfortable (although like all types of back pack in the tropics sweating is an issue).
I'm so happy with it I plan on climbing Lowes peak on Mt Kinabalu with it on my back in October.
June 8, 2011 08:15 am
I have had this bag for two years and love it. I two am female, with a bust, and don't really find it uncomfortable there. Let's be realistic ladies, any backpack-type bag will have some small issue there. I think that most of the negative reviews were likely from people who didn't take the time to get the proper fit of the strap and hip belt. On quick trips through the airport I fore go the hip belt, but on day hikes the hip belt allows me to carry my D3s with my 70-200 VR II attached, my backup D3, a 24-120 VR, an 80mm micro, a fisheye, and various filters, plus my small SB 400 for fill light. I'm not a young or robust woman, but this bag lets me carry this equipment with no back, neck or shoulder fatigue. My advice is to take the time to get the straps adjusted properly, it may take some experimentation. And spend a little time learning how to get in on and off.
June 6, 2011 05:42 pm
I have used the smaller version of this bag for about 2 years (there are three sizes as far as I am aware, and I have the "middle" one - I can't remember the code or anything useful - sorry!).
Initially I thought the bag was excellent - it allowed fast access to the camera, and enabled me to get some shots off a lot faster than in my conventional shoulder bag which I had to either put down or juggle precariously. It felt comfortable for a day's sightseeing and carried everything I really needed (bar my large tripod - which you can actually get on the bag - but it bumps along a bit).
However, I have been doing more and more walking/trekking recently (up to distances of 20-30km at a time) and the bag just doesnt quite cut the mustard so easily for full day hikes.
The main issues (and I am aware I am referring to the smaller model) are that there is no large space for anything else that I need to carry - water, snacks etc - on a full day hike it is impossible to leave these at home, so I am currently looking for a bigger, more conventional, back pack that also caters space for other items. I woudl be glad to hear a recommendation if anyone has one?
A second issue in my view is the one shoulder approach which simply pulls on that one shoulder, twisting your body ever so slightly and dragging the shoulder bearing the load down. Whilst over shorter distances this is acceptable, for a full day hike this can cause real problems - it just isnt all that comfortbale to wear over longer distances and ergo long periods of time. I find my body being slightly twisted by the weight of the bag as the day wears on and as there is one strap, I can't even change shoulder to even the balance/damage/weight.
I think it is a great product for what it is intended for - which for me is sightseeing, or a fairly small walk of 10km or under - but for a serious walking/hiking enthusiast walking a significant distance, I would recommend a larger pack with two shoulder straps, that would double as a conventional backpack.
Hope my experiences with this product helps people make a more informed choice.
June 5, 2011 10:05 am
I have the older version of this bag. Nice for light duty... but when full of gear the weight is just too much for the bag to ride comfortably. After about a year the padding loosens up and the bag deforms from the weight resulting in the shoulder strap pulling regardless of the hip belt being used.
While I could carry gear for hours when I first got the bag, it is now unusable (i.e. painful) after ten to twenty minutes. I recently had to go back to the car, dump most of my gear, and carry what I could in pants pockets (cargo pants).
I would not suggest using more than half the slots for glass, as this bag just cannot handle that much weight without pulling on your one shoulder. Probably fine at half capacity.. but then whats the point.
June 4, 2011 07:44 am
The 7D and 5D Mark II are both the same size. The 28-300mm mentioned in the post is larger than the 24-105. It is untrue that a 5D Mark II and 24-105 would not fit in this bag.
As for the 17-40, I have not tested the particular lens.
June 4, 2011 02:57 am
Well I may as well weigh in too. Got this bag last year for an Alaskan sea/land trip. Spent a LONG time researching all the various bag options - learned that we probably spend more time choosing a gear carrying medium than the gear itself! I use this sling bag along with the Black Rapid R Strap. The combination works wonderful (I'm right handed). With the R Strap, the camera hangs on my right hip. When I need to change lenses or get into the bag, it pivots on my left shoulder down in front of me without interfering with the camera. Lens changing is relatively easy - and I'm real careful with my glass. I will say that after a long day out, the shoulder that has been doing the "heavy lifting" knows it's been at work. The waist strap does help in keeping the shoulder load more distributed, just have to make a conscious effort to re-buckel it each time you've gotten into the bag. LowePro has put a lot of thought and design into this bag and it is well made. It will be my carry bag this summer in London too. And for anyone who hasn't looked at the Black Rapid R Strap, I would HIGHLY recommend it as it is SO comfortable carrying even a 50D with a 70-200, f4. No neck pain at all.
June 4, 2011 02:52 am
FWIW, I took a look at the reviews on Amazon.com.
One of the user provided pictures for the Slingshot 302 AW had comments saying that the Canon 5D Mk II with 24-105 didn't fit and that the 17-40 lens caused the cover to bulge a bit.
Anyone with this body and lens experience similar results with the 302 AW?
June 4, 2011 01:36 am
I bought this bag because of the flip feature but I, too, have had issues with it not sitting properly across my chest because I have a bust. I also have a problem with the waist strap because I am short waisted and the strap fits down too low. It is a great bag but I would really urge you to try it on in the shop (with your camera in it optimally) and walk around with it before you buy it. There is no use buying it if it doesn't fit your body.
June 3, 2011 11:07 pm
I have the 200 version and use it always. My 7d with the 100-400 on it fits in the up/down position fine. It carries all my stuff and at times some of my kids things :)
Only con is that it has no belt or clip to secure my tripod or mono pod to the side. I have to carry it separate. Thus meaning it does not always come with me because of the is my canon lenses have. I even made a sniper strap on it and used it on safari walks! The 7d with my 100-400 combo is nice to carry around like that in the bush! (one downside it has is that you have to unclip a lot to get into the bag for a fresh cf card
June 3, 2011 09:15 am
It took me a while to figure out exactly how it was meant to be put on. I like it because I can carry almost everything I own in one bag. The smaller bag (model 200 or something) has a cross stabilizing strap that I wish this one did have. But if you're going on a long trip, you can have everything on your back with this bag. I'm a "senior citizen" and feel like a mule going through the airport, but once I'm at my destination I'm set. I also have a shoulder bag for when I only need a few things. But I will take all my stuff to a shooting assignment in this bag, park it by a friend or my wife, and it's my base of operation for the entire shoot.
June 3, 2011 06:50 am
A lot of people do love them, as evidenced by the amazon ratings. But it's a definite no go for me. I even tried it again a few times, including last night. If you dont strap it on tight, it hangs weirdly. The strap is just bonkers for me. The backpack version of this concept has the access area on the opposite side. Im looking to try that out this afternoon, and its amazon ratings are just as high. In the wealth of positive comments about this bag in the post, you will see several that say pretty much what i'm talking about here.
June 3, 2011 05:57 am
I have the 200AW and love it. It is my travel bag of choice when I am just bringing a camera. If I also need a laptop I use a different bag.
@edo you must not be putting it on right. Everyone I know that has this series of bags loves them and are all right handed. The strap crosses your body diagonally in the front. To access you unclip belt and rotate it from back to front without removing it from your body.
June 3, 2011 02:19 am
I have the 202 AW; It is just right for me.
June 2, 2011 02:21 pm
This bag is absolutely horrible. i have the 250 version sitting right here (waiting to be returned). the bag itself if great- but it seems to have been designed by a left handed person, hanging on the wrong shoulder. The boxy build of the bag is rather stupid as well it just doesn't distribute weight well and feels like you are holding a brick high on your back. Basically, everything regarding the straps is just messed up- a shame because the bag itself is nice and well built.
I was glad to find that i could set up the camera section to hold a 24-105 with hood on straight on an xsi body, along wiht a 55-250 with hood extended, as well as a 70-200 f4 IS, hood reversed. There was even space enough all the items to stick an ipad in. flash unit gets tossed into the top. Great, if it wasnt an overall disaster.
Someone will like this bag. not sure who, but someone out there will. too bad its strap design is appalling.
June 2, 2011 12:00 pm
That is the bad I used for a while and while it does not look good and scream 'CAMERA BAG' all over the place, it works very well and I have suggested it to a lot of my friend.
If you find it too big, take a look at the smaller version.
June 2, 2011 08:44 am
I have this bag and have used it for about a year and a half and absolutely love it. I have a big back pack camera bag that can hold ALL my gear. I find myself packing up this bag though when I know what all I'll need.
June 2, 2011 08:39 am
Kata makes a couple of similar lines. The 123 family and 3N1 family, each comes in different sizes and they have customizable shoulder straps. They are great bags, I've had mine since Christmas and is very comfortable over long and short trips. They have a removable weatherproofing bag and can be used on either shoulder. If you want a sling bag it is perfect.
June 2, 2011 08:07 am
I love this bag . . . but being a woman it was too uncomfortable for me across the chest. I was so disappointed because I love everything about this bag but I personally can't use it. It is gathering dust sitting in my closet.
June 2, 2011 08:00 am
P.S I then bought the Kata 3n1 which goes on either shoulder and it is great.
June 2, 2011 07:59 am
I had the small one and it did everything I wanted it to do - at least it would have done on the other shoulder.
As a right handed woman I carry a shoulder bag on my left shoulder (to keep my right hand free) and my right shoulder just couldn't take it . So it had to go and i sold it on ebay.
June 2, 2011 07:47 am
I love my LowePro Slingshot. I have this model, the biggest, and I'm glad I can't get any more stuff into than I do because then I couldn't pick it up ;)
My only minor complaint is with the hip belt, the excess "tails" don't stay in the elastic loops very well. But overall this bag is really great.
June 2, 2011 07:16 am
Nice. I have the Slingshot 200 and love it.
June 2, 2011 07:10 am
I have the smaller version of this bag and have gotten 2 years of hard use out of it. Great design, easy to use.
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook
Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE
GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed