As I said in the other two Slingshot reviews, I'm always looking for additional and better ways to carry and protect my gear. The Lowepro Slingshot cases have quickly become very popular, so I tried all three models currently in the line to find out if they were right for me. Over the last several months, I've been using them along with the Lowepro Toploaders that I most frequently use (at least at this time) for my light gear needs.
Characteristic of a sling type of case is the single padded and liberally adjustable shoulder strap that goes over the head and hangs on a shoulder. The Slingshots are designed to hang from the right shoulder. Unique to the Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW is the full weight-supporting waist belt instead of the small side strap found on the 100 and 200. A handle is provided for carrying the Slingshot off-the-shoulder.
Like the 100 and 200 ... To access the case contents, unclip the waist belt and rotate the case and shoulder strap down under the left arm until it is easily accessible in front. At this point, a double-pull zipper will open to access only the side of the case which is pointing up - similar to how a Toploader is accessed - with the lid opening away. Unclipping two clips will allow the same double-pull zipper to continue until the entire flap opens - as is shown below. You don't want the bag hanging from your shoulder with a fully open main compartment as the gear is at high risk of falling out - the clips for preventing this from accidentally happening are a good idea.
The Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW is shown above with the near-largest camera and lens combination that fit in the designed location. This a Canon 1-Series pro body (the Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR) with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens attached (with lens hood reversed).
There is a lot of room in the 300 - it is essentially a backpack without one of the shoulder straps. Outside dimensions without the strap are 17.5" long, 12.5" wide and 7.5" deep (445mm x 320mm x 190mm). The main storage compartment is 10.5" wide, 12" high and 6" deep (265mm x 300mm x 150mm). Divider pads in the main compartment are held in place by strong hook-and-loop fasteners and are reconfigurable. Though significantly larger than the Slingshot 100 or 200, the 300 AW still does not have a great number of alternative configurations that maintain the basic way the case is designed to work. The two primary divided sections measure 3.5" x 8" (90mm x 200mm) (wxh) without their 2 middle dividers in place. With the small dividers removed, either side can hold a horizontal-positioned Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens or Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L USM Lens with their lens hoods reversed. Since the case is somewhat flexible, you can stretch the dimensions I provided somewhat. A Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens will fit vertically in a divided slot. A Canon 580EX II Speedlite Flash will also fit vertically in its straight 180-degree position.
Similar to the Slingshot 200 design, there is a decent amount of space available beside the camera body as seen in the above picture. I haven't found a great use for this space as there is no protection provided between the camera and this area. There is also nothing to keep an item stored in this area from falling into the camera lens section while actively using the camera.
A nice amount of additional storage is provided under the zipped-closed area on the right side (as pictured above) of the case. It measures 11" x 5" (280mm x 125mm), but the depth and width are tapered strongly toward the narrow end of the case - from 6" (150mm) down to 2.5" (64mm) in depth.
A hook-and-loop-closed flap on the inside of the large lid opens to numerous CompactFlash-sized compartments. A zippered pocket on the outside of the main lid also has a few small/thin slots for storing small things. Like the Slingshot 100 and 200, small elastic-closed pouches are found in each of the two larger compartments. In addition, the Slingshot 300 has a hook-and-loop closed flap over a third pouch in the smaller storage area. The one in the main storage section is behind the camera body in the above picture - this one has a lens cloth sewn into it.
Two external SlipLock attachments are provided - one can be seen to the left side of the Lowepro logo in the picture above, another is on the lid shown opened in the same picture. Lowepro provides many pouches, lens cases ... that can be attached here. When the case is on your back, these attachments will be upright - but they will be sideways when accessing the case hanging on your shoulder. The smaller Slingshot cases have a third Sliplock loop, but this case stores plenty inside and can be heavily loaded by itself.
The AW portion of the product name refers to the "All Weather" protection provided by a just-the-right-size rain jacket stored under the padded section of the back of the case and held in place by hook-and-loop fastener. Pull it out when needed.
The Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW pads and the case itself are very protective - very typical for Lowepro gear. Quality construction is also typical Lowepro. The external material is a strong, durable Nylon. The case itself is relatively light.
I personally find Slingshot 300 too large for this style of case - I would rather use a true backpack that distributed the weight better. The 300 can certainly hold a lot, but the size and weight of this configuration is more than I like hanging on one shoulder (the waist belt can help this) or swinging under my arm for accessing. Yes, I can get to the gear without removing the case - this is an advantage.
As I've said before, we all have different preferences and needs when it comes to carrying our gear. The Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW can carry a large amount of gear, but give serious consideration to a backpack when making your decision.
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