A few days before leaving for a photo trip to Shenandoah National Park, a Manfrotto PR representative contacted me. She knew that I had recently reviewed the Pelican 1637 Air Wheeled Hard Case and wanted to know if she could send a product from the same category, the Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 Roller Hard Case, for review.
My initial thought was that, with eight new lenses sitting on my desk, I didn't have time for a case review. However, moving further into the thought process revealed the need to transport those lenses to SNP, and photo trips are perfect for testing new gear.
I already had a couple of similarly-sized Pelican 1510 and other hard cases that would get the job done. However, upon reviewing the Manfrotto PRO Light Reloader 55 specifications, the low-weight spec caught my attention. The Tough-55 is only 0.3 lbs (136g) heavier than the similar-dimensioned Pelican 1535 AIR Hard Case, an ultra-light hard case model.
The customizable padded dividers were the next design attribute to catch my attention. These dividers could be configured similarly to those found in camera backpacks, optimizable for camera gear.
Those positive attributes convinced me to say "Yes" to the review sample. The Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 Roller Hard Case arrived as I was packing. I quickly loaded two cameras and eight lenses into it, snapped a phone pic of the contents, and put the case in the trunk.
Let's take a quick tour of the case.
The top of the case, as viewed with the case on its feet, features an attractive diamond-plate appearance with strong Manfrotto branding.
Four reinforced sections accommodate the feet from another same model case, permitting secure stacking. On the sides of each of those reinforced areas are small metal rods that permit attachments. Specifically, the included tripod holder and strap can be attached to this side of the case.
The Tough-55 hard case lid is slightly flexible but quite sturdy.
Rolling the case over to the front reveals a pair of two-piece latches. The latches require a firm pressure to open and close. One doesn't want doubt about the state of latch closure, and these latches confirm this by snapping loudly (unless carefully dampened).
Outside of the latches are a pair of metal hasp-covered holes for optional padlocks. In addition, a pair of non-hasped holes are provided inside the latches.
In the center of the case is a purge valve, allowing positive pressure out of the case.
Also in the center of the case is a nice pivoting rubber-coated handle.
Rolling the case over reveals the aforementioned feet and the full-length trolley handle cover secured by ten large screws.
The handle cover has cuts on each side near the handle, providing enough flex to be pulled out to release the handle. When the handle is used retracted, it locks into a grove on the handle cover to prevent slipping out. To release the handle after using it for lifting requires pressing it slightly into the case to unlock the tab.
The back of the case features significant reinforcing and a pair of metal-pinned hinges.
Standing the case on end is normal for traveling, avoiding the need to bend over to pick it up, but notably missing on this end of the case is a center-positioned handle. The top of the extending handle works for this task, but this handle is not centered over the case. This handle must be held out slightly from the body to create the clearance needed for walking.
Provision for identification is included on this side of the case.
The Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 Roller Case has spoke-type wheels that roll smoothly on a full-length heavy-duty steel axle. If you ever had a wheel or axle on a case or piece of luggage break, you know what a problem that creates. That event seems unlikely with this case, and this design makes replacing any damaged parts easy.
"The new Pro Light Reloader Tough H-55 has an internal removable camera organization unit that can be customized using the Manfrotto CPS adjustable dividers." [Manfrotto]
Manfrotto's padded divider system was a strong attractor to this case. The included high-quality, nylon-covered, high-density foam-padded, touch-fastening dividers permit a broad range of configurations.
The long, stylish Manfrotto-red divider is especially flexible in its use. This divider has a cutout on each end to accommodate the slightly raised interior molded-in handle area.
The overall insert is also designed to accommodate the handle area as well as the wheel areas.
Egg crate foam is provided for lid protection. Worth noting is that the lid foam is sized to snuggly fit into place — it does not fall out when the lid is opened (I've returned cases for this annoying behavior).
Also worth noting is that the foam does not consume the entire lid depth, providing strong protection while providing maximum storage space. The bottom divider section is taller than the bottom section of the hard case, smartly adding protection for gear making use of the extra space provided in the lid.
Remove the entire padded divider, and the full interior dimensions become available. I often use empty hard cases to carry cased gear, such as cameras and lenses in toploader cases or a small camera backpack.
|Exterior||21.65 x 13.78 x 8.86"||55 x 35 x 22.5 cm|
|Interior||19.68 x 10.24 x 6.69"||50 x 26.01 x 16.99 cm|
|Weight||10.14 lb||4.6 kg|
|Measured Weight||10.45 lb||4.74 kg|
|Measured Weight Empty||9.00 lb||4.08 kg|
The exterior dimensions are just under the review-time-current carry-on luggage size limit, and this case is a great option for that use. When forced to gate check a case full of camera gear, such as when flying on a regional jet, this is the case I want to protect my gear.
While the weight of this case is above that of even larger backpacks, the Manfrotto hard case offers far superior protection. Still, compared to other hard cases, this one is very light.
Note that a low lid version of this case is available.
"The new Pro Light Reloader Tough H-55 case for DSLRs and premium CSCs is designed for professional traveling photographers and videographers." [Manfrotto]
The interior dimensions provide just the right capacity for many popular camera, lens, and accessory kits. The 5.3" (135mm) padded divider section depth (and the lid foam compresses) is ideal for a large percentage of cameras and lenses, and Canon 1-series pro camera bodies will snuggly fit while positioned upright.
"The case can fit a pro DSLR with a 400mm f/2.8 lens attached, a second camera body and 3-4 additional lenses depending on sizes." [Manfrotto]
Note that the 400 f/2.8 hood diameter exceeds the provided storage depth.
"This case is Made in Italy with heavy-duty materials, based on lightweight and military standard, with an original Manfrotto style."
"IP67 testing approved: no ingress of dust and temporary immersion in water for 30 minutes." [Manfrotto]
When traveling with kids, pets, or others who don't understand or respect the need to protect your kit, this crushproof lightweight case has your back.
The Pelican brand has been synonymous with indestructible hard cases, and the Pelican 1535 AIR Hard Case is a primary alternative to the Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 Roller Case. While neither of these cases are constructed as rigidly as the ultra-popular Pelican 1510 Hard Case, both are considerably lighter, and both are still practically undestroyable.
The Manfrotto case has a better-designed and higher-quality padded divider set. The Pelican 1535 has two rubber-coated handles vs. one, is available in four colors, and has a modestly lower price tag.
The Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 Roller Case (or a set of them) fills a need most photographers and videographers have. Consider using one (or several) of these highly protective cases on your next outing.
Bringing you this site is my full-time job (typically 60-80 hours per week). Thus, I depend solely on the commissions received from you using the links on this site to make any purchase. I am grateful for your support! - Bryan