|The Lowepro Classified Sling 220 AW|
Lowepro has had a lot of success with their line of Sling and SlingShot photo gear bags. The SlingShot models are built around the teardrop silhouette of traditional outdoor wilderness photo backpacks. The Sling models however have a sleek rectangular shape and come in two sizes. The larger Classified Sling 220 AW is the subject of this review.
While the SlingShots look more like bags for a hike in the woods the Classified Sling 220 AW carries a little more swagger and style. Resembling a more rectangular shape, this bag takes on a sophisticated urban flair, and is offered in black in a very simple and elegant design with hardly a strap dangling from it to spoil its classy looks. Only the over-the-shoulder strap and two discrete grab handles on the top and side are visible. Since this bag offers such clean lines it is the right choice for the events photographer, street shooter, or the photographer who is logging a lot of commercial airline miles. In fact, according to the hangtag this bag is designed to meet “airline-compatible size according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (as of Oct. 08)”.
Continuing on with the style elements of the Classified Sling 220 I would like to point out a few other appointments that make this bag really nice. The front of the bag is accented with two black leather panels opposing each other with one having the Lowepro logo embossed on the surface. All the exterior zippers have leather pull tabs. The exterior is covered in a high quality water resistant ballistic nylon fabric. The body of the bag is rigid helping to keep the clean lines always looking sharp with well defined corners – like a just-made bed in a fine hotel. The back panel is well padded and has a molded arrow showing the user which way to strap on the bag. This is a good idea in my opinion since I have always been a little “sling bag challenged”. Sometimes I’m not so sure which way to mount the bag on my shoulder; this arrow gives me a subtle heads-up.
On the outside, there are three hidden components to this bag. At the bottom is a fully adjustable waist belt (Lowepro calls it a stabilizing strap) tucked away in two pockets on either side. The ability to store the belt away is a great feature for those who are considering carrying this bag on a commercial airliner. With the belt tucked away you don’t have to worry about getting it caught on something, or heaven forbid, slapping one of your fellow travelers with the belt strap as you hoist up the Classified Sling into the overhead compartment. Secondly, there is a stored tripod mount on the side opposite to the interior access area. Just pull on the opening in the pocket secured by Velcro and pull out the mount. When you aren’t using a tripod simply store it away and it is totally out of sight. While adding this feature is a nice touch, realistically it is limited to a light tripod that can be collapsed to no more than 22 to 24 inches including the tripod head. Anything larger and it will seriously disrupt the balance of the bag. Finally, the All Weather AW Cover is also stored in a similar way. This pocket is located at the bottom-rear of the bag. The all weather cover is attached to the bag with a strip of fabric so you never have to worry that you will lose it.
Inside, the Classified Sling 220 AW is roomy and can handle a good sized 35mm camera kit. Lowepro has taken full advantage of the interior space using a few clever spacers, compartments, and pockets. Once again the styling inside is clean and straightforward, in keeping with the simple lines of the exterior. Lowepro has included enough dividers and pockets to keep everything in a secure and accessible location. The main compartment is accessed from the top side. As you swing the bag forward in front of your chest the opening is directly in front of you making it easy to peer inside and get your camera and lenses out without having to take the bag off your shoulder. The zippered cover flap features a large zippered pocket for accessories and three mini-pockets for memory card storage. What struck me immediately about the design of the Classified Sling is the inclusion of visual cues to help the photographer maintain order in a fast shooting situation or in low-light conditions. There is, of course, the aforementioned molded arrow on the back for mounting the bag but in addition the inside has pull tabs and zipper pulls colored a bright orange. The memory card pockets have memory card icons printed on fabric flaps that allow you to choose between a solid orange colored silhouette or a frame image of a memory card. These icons can be used to either indicate which pockets are empty or to remind you which cards are full and which are empty and ready for use.
A small side compartment is also accessible in the forward position. Inside there is a pocket for a cell phone, pens, a notepad, and a few small items and possibly a filter pouch. Along the flap you will find another small zippered mesh pocket. This compartment can also be accessed from the main compartment through a divider.
Other compartments include one on the front of the bag large enough for a map, a GPS, or other travel needs. Finally, there is a compartment that will fit a 15” laptop easily. If you don’t travel with a computer you could use this space for a small collapsible light reflector.