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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.
Let’s start off with the features I found most useful (for a list of the standard features, LowePro’s site has you covered).
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.
Not every bag is perfect and here are the items that had me singing the blues.
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.
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