LowePro Pro Roller x200 Bag [REVIEW]

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Overview

The LowePro Pro Roller x200 is a bag that tries to be many things to many people. It has room to carry multiple SLRs, lenses, flashes, notebook, laptop and more. The main compartment also removes from the outer casing to allow the roller section to perform double duty as a checked bag or for storage.

Let me state up front I am not a fan of roller bags and I never have been, photography specific or otherwise. But I do have an open mind and wanted to see how this type of system worked. I was also curious if the Pro Roller could be used as a weekend bag with half camera gear and half clothing/life needs. I will mention the use of both types of travel in this review because not all photographers have a need for the massive amount of gear this bag can fit.

Features

Let’s start off with the features I found most useful (for a list of the standard features, LowePro’s site has you covered).

  • Dual button handle. This is one of those small things and it’s nice to have included. The handle retraction mechanism is controlled by buttons on either side of the top of the handle, making left or right handed compaction easy.
  • The simplicity of the card holders, and their ability to show full or empty card status, is something LowePro should incorporate more often. That one little flap, which shows a full or empty card, is genius and very useful. Having a spot for three cards is also nice.
  • The wheels are top notch by my standards. I placed them through the paces on two flights and around town on a number of assignments. While I can’t speak to the longevity of the wheels, they have a smooth feel and are easy to remove and replace when worn.
  • The beefy handles are serious and comfortable. They feel like part of the bag and let’s me know my gear will move when I move and not go flying if I jerk the bag around.
  • In backpack mode, the bag is actually comfortable. I have backpacked for 20 years and didn’t expect a (mostly) flat backed pack to be wearable for hours on end, but it works well.
  • The extra integrated plastic handle on the bottom of the unit makes hoisting the bag very comfortable.
  • The tripod mount can fit on the back or the side. While it can’t be stored overhead on a plane in this manner, it is a good solution to bringing along a tripod and elegantly done. I suggest the side location so as not to interfere with opening the bag.

In Use

My test case was a weekend flight from Seattle to San Diego for a couple of workshops over the weekend. I took this bag as my only bag.  I also brought it on assignments around town as well as a 3 day weekend to Vancouver, BC. The customizable interior was able to fit my camera (Canon 7D with grip and 26-300mm L lens attached, Canon EF 10-22mm lens and one flash for this trip) and a weekend’s worth of clothing. I felt the camera was secured adequately and I could use the keeper straps to help hold things in place if need be.

On a weekend trip, access to my laptop was not as easy as I’d like (see first impression video at end of this review). In the very front, smaller pouch I had stuffed my note book and a reading book for the trip. That put pressure on the laptop compartment. The laptop compartment has a divider inside (to separate, say, a laptop and a large notepad) and all this fabric also made it hard to remove as the feet of my laptop would grab onto the nylon. The zippers at the top also were a pinch point and rubbed my knuckles more than once. With nothing in the very front pouch, the laptop is easy to remove.

I tried out the cable lock and liked its ease of use and sense of security. The lock is a unique bit of equipment that is TSA compliant. It sits on the side of the bag and is attached to the hard shell of the outer bag. A button on the bottom of the lock releases the cable, which is snaked through all the zipper pulls (they are specially made to integrate the loop with the main zipper) and into the top side of the unit. A three digit combo releases the cable. I got asked more than a couple of times what it was for, followed by approving nods. Will it stop a professional thief? No way. But it will make things harder for a advantageous thief.

I found the handle easy to retract before shoving the bag into overhead bins, although with the light stand adapter in the pocket covering the handle (see image at right), it feels a bit odd. It is appropriately sized and fit well on Boeing 737s flown by Alaska Air. Likewise, the zippers all move easily, even the zipper to detach the the backpack for the main bag. Inside, the adjustable compartments are easy to adjust to my equipment needs, including a longer slot for larger lenses.

For the gear mongers out there, this will easily fit a full sized body with grip with 70-200 mm style lens (typically 11-12”/26-30.5cm long lens) in one end and a full body and shorter, 7”/17.7cm lens in the other end. There are then six compartments to place other gear and if you have other LowePro gear, you can use those dividers as well. While a Canon 580EX II flash (at 7.5”/19cm) can stand upright, it will place pressure on the lid and is not advised. The pockets are 6.6”/16.7cm deep.

Lastly, while I only fiddled with the light stand mount on top of the handle, I can see how, in the right hands, this would be a handy feature. By no means is it meant to replace a tripod, especially with a full sized camera, but it works well for a point and shoot (although a little low) as well as a remote flash.

What Didn’t Work So Well

Not every bag is perfect and here are the items that had me singing the blues.

  • The laptop sleeve is too small. While I can fit a 13” laptop into the compartment, pulling it out typically left my knuckles scrapped if anything at all was in the outer most pocket, or if something inside the bag was pushing outward.
  • The kickstand is a bit of a joke. It does hold the bag up, but once you start touching the bag, it wobbles a lot, to the point of making me concerned about gear inside. It works to keep the bag out of mud, though.
  • The bag in the handle cover, on top of the unit, was not big enough to comfortably fit the light stand mount and strap while being pressed down on the handle. It felt awkward to make all this fit in.
  • While there are ample pouches inside the door of the bag, they are all a bit tight. I’d rather have a few smaller pockets as well, for batteries and the like.
  • I’d be hard pressed to fit both a reading book and a journal in this setup, making travel less comfortable. While it is styled nicely, the overall size and amount of  features makes the breathing room (ability to stuff many things in) not that great.
  • When not used, the tripod foot holder takes up space inside the bag (but it can be left at home if not used).

Conclusion

For this roller bag virgin, I found the LowePro Pro Roller x200 ease to maneuver and rugged to my liking. The outer covering is ripstop nylon familiar to those who have used LowePro’s packs before and it wears well over time. The bag barely worked for me to store clothes and gear for a weekend away (although, to note, I could have removed the inner bag and used the outer for clothes quite easily, but the inner bag would not fit under the seat on a plane and thus, would not be allowed) but it did work. I could not, however, use it for all my wedding shooting gear and clothes, except for using the outer bag as instructed, which works well for around town.

For an around town shooting bag for those with heavy gear, this bag works well. It can carry two bodies and eight lenses (depending on size) easily and having the wheels would be a relief with that much gear. I am sure others can find a use for the outer bag and there are some interesting ideas on LowePro’s site. This bag works well as a dedicated shooting bag that handles loads and terrain stylishly.

Below is a video I shot for my own blog back when I received the bag. It is a first impression long before I had a chance to take the bag on some trips, but it shows different features not completely mentioned in this review.

First Impression: LowePro Pro Roller x200 from Peter West Carey on Vimeo.

Get a price on the LowPro Pro Roller X200 at Amazon.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Morocco, Seattle, Los Angeles and more. He is also the creator of 31 Days to Better Photography & 31 Days of Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

  • robert gardner

    I have a roller bag and I took it to England not only to get my gear through the airport, but as a bag I could download from. After walking around London with my 5d and a couple of lens I was wiped out at the end of th day. I then started to bring along the roller bag every day. What a life saver. I just I’m just getting old, but I need all the help I can get.
    Keep in mind that a roller bag isn’t worth a darn in dirt. Cities are fine trails are not.

  • T hart

    How tall are you? I have problems with a regular rolling carry on because I’m 6 ft tall, and the handle just isn’t long enough for me to pull it without bending, and hitting my heals as I walk.

  • TED GOODMAN

    I USED THE “LO PRO 200″ FOR MY TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST (ONE MONTH TRIP) TO CARRY ALL MY CAMERA EQUIPMENT. I HAD A 7-D, 30-D, CANON 100-400 LENS, 70-200 LENS, ALL THE CHARGERS, CANON FLASH, AA CHARGER FOR MY FLASH BATTERIES AND MANY OTHER GOODIES. THE BAG WORKED OUT GREAT AND I MADE MANY USABLE COMPARTMENTS FOR ALL THE GEAR. WE USED THE COMPUTER COMPARTMENT FOR OUR ” ANAZON KINDLE” AND MAGAZINES.
    IT ALSO FIT INTO THE AIRPLANE OVERHEAD LUGGAGE COMPARTMENTS WITH NO PROBLEMS.

    IN HAVE A LO PRO BACK PACK WHICH WORKS GREAT FOR MY 2 LARGE LENS, BATTERY CHARGER, EXTRA CHIPS AND 7 -D

    I WOULD RECCOMMEND IT FOR LOTS OF GEAR AND TRAVELING

  • Ken

    I bought LO PRO 200, and I am a huge fan, very good bag for all my gear. One unfortunate thing is that the wheels didn’t survive a trip in my car, where the bag, for obvious reasons was placed on top of all over luggage. However, customer service for the company is awesome and sending me new wheels, but they did give some advice, since the wheels are easy to replace. They suggested if I wanted more durable wheels I could use Inline Skate wheels (76mm). While they are sending me new ones, I think I’ll upgrade them just the same and keep the ones the send as a spare.

    This bag is awesome and customer services is great!

Some Older Comments

  • Ken August 19, 2012 11:15 am

    I bought LO PRO 200, and I am a huge fan, very good bag for all my gear. One unfortunate thing is that the wheels didn't survive a trip in my car, where the bag, for obvious reasons was placed on top of all over luggage. However, customer service for the company is awesome and sending me new wheels, but they did give some advice, since the wheels are easy to replace. They suggested if I wanted more durable wheels I could use Inline Skate wheels (76mm). While they are sending me new ones, I think I'll upgrade them just the same and keep the ones the send as a spare.

    This bag is awesome and customer services is great!

  • TED GOODMAN September 2, 2011 10:22 am

    I USED THE "LO PRO 200" FOR MY TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST (ONE MONTH TRIP) TO CARRY ALL MY CAMERA EQUIPMENT. I HAD A 7-D, 30-D, CANON 100-400 LENS, 70-200 LENS, ALL THE CHARGERS, CANON FLASH, AA CHARGER FOR MY FLASH BATTERIES AND MANY OTHER GOODIES. THE BAG WORKED OUT GREAT AND I MADE MANY USABLE COMPARTMENTS FOR ALL THE GEAR. WE USED THE COMPUTER COMPARTMENT FOR OUR " ANAZON KINDLE" AND MAGAZINES.
    IT ALSO FIT INTO THE AIRPLANE OVERHEAD LUGGAGE COMPARTMENTS WITH NO PROBLEMS.

    IN HAVE A LO PRO BACK PACK WHICH WORKS GREAT FOR MY 2 LARGE LENS, BATTERY CHARGER, EXTRA CHIPS AND 7 -D

    I WOULD RECCOMMEND IT FOR LOTS OF GEAR AND TRAVELING

  • T hart September 2, 2011 08:16 am

    How tall are you? I have problems with a regular rolling carry on because I'm 6 ft tall, and the handle just isn't long enough for me to pull it without bending, and hitting my heals as I walk.

  • robert gardner September 2, 2011 01:20 am

    I have a roller bag and I took it to England not only to get my gear through the airport, but as a bag I could download from. After walking around London with my 5d and a couple of lens I was wiped out at the end of th day. I then started to bring along the roller bag every day. What a life saver. I just I'm just getting old, but I need all the help I can get.
    Keep in mind that a roller bag isn't worth a darn in dirt. Cities are fine trails are not.

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