At the recent PhotoPlus Expo in New York City, I as usual spent a lot of time in the Lowepro booth checking out (drooling over) their always-excellent gear. Tim Grimmer, Lowepro's Product Manager, spent some time with me, demonstrating their newest gear and some of the old. What caught my attention most was the Lowepro Pro Roller x200. It is Lowepro's largest pro-grade rolling case that is US airline carry-on compatible.
At this time, I usually use my Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW for airline carry-on - and it is excellent for this purpose. However, there are times when a roller would make travel far more comfortable (such as having to run 89 gates with nearly 40 lbs in my 400 AW as was the case on my last trip).
My request for a Lowepro Pro Roller x200 evaluation case was granted and I greeted the box with a smile as I love camera cases - and this is a great case. At review time, the x200 is part of a 4-member family of rollers as shown below.
Here is a table of Pro Roller x sizes:
|Pro Roller™ Attaché x50||Pro Roller x100*||Pro Roller x200*||Pro Roller x300|
Exterior Rolling Attaché:|
16.3W x 9D x 16H in.
41.3 x 22.9 x 40.6 cm
Interior Rolling Attaché:
Exterior Reserve Shoulder Bag:
Interior Reserve Shoulder Bag:
11.4W x 6.6D x 15.7H in.
29 x 16.8 x 40 cm
12.2W x 6.6D x 19.8H in.
31 x 16.8 x 50.5 cm
14.5W x 6.8D x 21.8H in.
37 x 17.5 x 55.5 cm
*US Airline carry-on compatible. Check with specific airline for most up-to-date weight and size restrictions before you travel. A laptop in the x200 may increase the dimensions enough to disqualify it as carry-on.
Here is another look at the larger three Pro Roller cases:
Size is one of the most important and most basic features to look at when selecting a case. I do not often travel light, so I want a case to hold as much gear as possible. I also want the option to use my cases as airline carry-on which makes the x200 the qualifying compromise.
Here is an example of how I would typically load the Lowepro Pro Roller x200:
A Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L USM Lens and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM Lens are mounted to the DSLRs with their hoods reversed. This camera and lens pair creates a tight but adequate/usable fit in this case. The L-Plates put a squeeze on the side-to-side fit and the height of the pro DSLRs is just adequate for the case to comfortably close (without anything thick in the opposing lid pocket).
The top row of the case shown in the above image holds a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens with tripod ring and the hood reversed, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens with the hood reversed, Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II Tilt-Shift Lens with hood removed and a laptop power supply.
The bottom row of the case holds a Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 ZE Distagon Lens with hood reversed, six filters in boxes, three Canon LP-E4 batteries and a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS L USM Lens with tripod ring and hood reversed. Space remains in the main section of the case for additional small items.
Note that a small pouch, about 5 padded dividers and a thicker pad (to fit around the mount end of a large lens) are included but not shown in the above configuration.
The Lowepro Pro Roller x200 is shown below in a similar load configuration with the lid and its abundant pockets visible. The two large zippered interior lid pockets will hold up to 5 portable hard drives the size of a Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1.5TB Portable Hard Drive - or anything else up to this size. The larger of the two pockets is gusseted on the bottom, allowing gear such as the hard drives just mentioned to fit comfortably into the edge of the pocket. Note that something hard in these pockets meeting a pro-sized camera's hotshoe directly below may be cause for concern.
Additional pockets hold memory cards (three designated Velcro-closure pockets with empty/full indicators), pens and other small items. Two zippered pockets on the front of the lid hold maps, papers, small electronics and, most importantly, an up-to-15" laptop. My at-review-time-current laptop is a Dell XPS 15z - it fits nicely. You could stuff this case full enough to make this laptop a tight fit, but with proper packing, the pocket is the right size.
Starting out at 13.1 lbs (5.94kg), the x200 can be stuffed full enough for it to become quite heavy (you will have to watch the airline limitations). Heavy weights are no problem for this case structurally as this is a rugged, solidly built case that shows no signs of stressing under heavy loads. The longest padded dividers in the case are stiff, giving the case good crush-protection.
The outside of the case is very solid and the water-resistant 1680 denier ballistic nylon exterior of the case appears ready to withstand airline travel abuse. The 3" wheels, surrounded by a rugged housing, roll smoothly and are easily replaceable with only an Allen wrench. The wheels are mounted at an outer-most position to avoid the case tipping when being pulled.
The case sits solidly upright when requested to do so. Top and side padded handles along with a molded-in bottom handle are available for lifting and carrying the case. The retractable pull handle is well-made (nicer than even the decent carry-on luggage I have) and zippers out of sight into the case.
Review the images below to tour additional features available on this case.
"Lowepro-designed oversized zippers with high-density pulls connect universally via a retractable cable to an official TSA LOCK with a 3-digit combination—creating our exclusive Lock & Go System." All of the zippers on this case work smoothly.
A 1/4"-20 threaded accessory mount can optionally be inserted into the handle to hold a flash or something similar (note that Canon DSLRs have 3/8" threaded inserts). I don't see myself using this feature, but - everyone is different.
The x200 comes with a Hideaway Tripod Mount for use on the front or side of the case as well as Slip-Lock attachment points for attaching other Lowepro pouches and cases.
Need the case to sit at an angle as seen in some of the tour pictures above? "The hideaway prop foot allows the bag to be placed at a stable 30-45° angle."
Perhaps my favorite Lowepro Pro Roller x200 feature is the Reserve Pack backpack insert. When flying from the nearest airport, I am often on a small RJA (Regional Jet Aircraft). Standard maximum carry-on sizes are no longer in effect and many carry-on-qualified cases must be gate/ramp/tarmac-checked.
I have flown with the Lowepro Pro Roller x200, but am not sure if it will fit under the aisle seats (the similarly-sized-but-less-rigid Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW does). I strongly dislike the idea of checking my primary gear - even gate checking it. If required to check the x200 roller, simply zip the Reserve Pack backpack out of the hard roller shell, zip the cover over the shell and let the airline check the roller without fear.
The Reserve pack looks a bit odd, but it is quite functional. The reduced size should allow it to easily fit under RJA aisle seats. The minimalistic backpack straps are reasonably comfortable and consume little space.
This is not the backpack I would want to use to carry heavy gear over miles of rugged terrain (it will definitely not replace my Trekker 400 AW), but it is convenient to use at your destination when the roller is no longer convenient.
The x200 backs up its rugged character with classy looks. Appearance is an important part of success and the x200 will present a best-available reflection on the photographer using it.
For some, the Lowepro Pro Roller x200 will provide storage and transportation for their entire kit. For others (myself included), the x200 will be the go-to transportation case when a serious backpack is not needed.
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