Lowepro’s Pro Roller x-Series was launched a year or so ago with a range of three differently-sized wheeled camera cases - the x100, x200 and x300 – to replace the earlier Pro Roller 1, 2 and 3 cases. A smaller model, the Attache x50, was added to the range more recently. This Nikonians review concentrates on the mid-sized x200 model, though many of the features described are common across the range.
Lowepro class the x200 as airline carry-on compatible*; I measured it as 23.6in by 15in by 10.3in (60cm by 38cm by 26cm) overall, including protuberances like handles and wheels. It is very sturdily-constructed, with a stiffened outer shell made from what I imagine is ABS plastic or similar, covered with ballistic nylon that comes in... “any colour you like as long as it’s black”. Although the material is described as “water-resistant”, there is no separate “AW” cover, nor are the zippers of the waterproof type.
So what does this bag look like? FIGURE 1 shows it standing on its base with the pull handle fully extended. When retracted, the handle disappears into the rear of the bag in the normal way and the top opening is covered by a small zippered flap. Inside the flap is a tiny pocket which might take a pen or two, but I use it to hold the tripod retaining strap (see later...). The pull handle does its job well and is comfortable to grip, but is a bit “wobbly” compared with some wheeled luggage I own. It does have an auxiliary use, though... under a rubber cover on the top of the handle is a ¼-inch threaded socket. A male-male adapter is provided to allow anything with a standard ¼-inch tripod socket to be attached. Lowepro say this allows the bag to be used as a makeshift tripod, but whilst it might be physically possible, I’m not sure I’d trust it with a pro camera and heavy lens! On the other hand, use as an emergency light stand is well within its capabilities; FIGURE 2 shows a Nikon SB-900 Speedlight attached in this manner.
Also visible in these pictures are a nicely-padded grab handle on the top (there is another on the far side) and two “SlipLock” loops on the near side, for attaching any of the large range of compatible Lowepro accessories. The base of the bag has substantial feet to allow it to stand vertically, and a moulded grab handle so that it can be lifted with two hands – which is what my doctor always tells me to do...! The all-important wheels are as widely-spaced as possible for stability, and are removable (using an Allen key – not supplied) to reduce the overall size slightly or to replace them if they were to get damaged.
The interior is accessed through a side-hinged “door” which makes up the whole of the front panel, but let’s finish inspecting the exterior first. On the outside of the door is a zippered laptop pocket which is lightly padded. This pocket is probably meant to take a 17-inch laptop, but my ancient 15-inch model is quite thick (at 4cm) and it was a bit of a struggle to get it in and out (FIGURE 3).
I imagine a more modern, slimmer device might be less problematical. A second thin compartment within this pocket is sized to take A4 or Foolscap papers – but again, not too many of them...! Also on the front door is a second slim zippered pocket; this one is gusseted but still doesn’t have a lot of room. It would perhaps be useful for travel documents or filters, and offers a tethered key clip.
In the lower edge of this second pocket is a pull-out webbing loop where the supplied lower tripod holder can be attached. The tripod sits against the front face of the bag as shown in FIGURE 4, secured by the adjustable strap mentioned earlier (FIGURE 5).
|FIGURE 4||FIGURE 5|
To give you an idea of scale, that’s a 3-series Gitzo model with 4-section legs. The bag still manoeuvres comfortably with the tripod attached, and as long as there is some weight inside the bag it will stand on its feet without tipping over. Obviously, the tripod needs to be removed before the front door can be opened properly, so Lowepro offer the option of attaching the tripod holder to the aforementioned SlipLock loops on the side. Access to the interior is then easier, at the expense of a slight loss of stability when pulling the bag.
The back of the bag is pretty featureless apart from a clear pocket sized for an address or business card, and one other novel feature – a hideaway prop. When extended, this allows the bag to be left standing at a 45-degree angle for easier access to the contents. The prop is shown in use in FIGURE 6.
The final exterior feature is another useful one; what Lowepro call their “Lock Go System”. This is a TSA-compliant and Travel Sentry-approved 3-digit combination lock with a tough extendable cable. The cable can be threaded through all the main zip pulls and then secured back in its housing, as shown in FIGURE 7. It can also be looped around any convenient fixture to provide additional security and stop someone walking off with the whole thing. FIGURE 7 also shows one of the tough-looking corner reinforcements.