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Accessories Reviews

Lowepro Pro Roller X200 review by brian

Brian Tilley (briantilley)


Keywords: lowepro, roller, x200, bag, non_nikon

Show pages (3 Pages)

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.

FIGURE 1

FIGURE 1

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.

FIGURE 2

FIGURE 2

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).

FIGURE 3

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

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.

FIGURE 6

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.

FIGURE 7

FIGURE 7

Moving on (finally, I hear you say...) to the interior of the bag. On the inside of the main door are two clear pockets for thin things like cables or papers – I like the way their zippers have little triangular pockets to cover the metal pulls when closed, to lessen the chance of scratching your equipment; a thoughtful touch. Above these pockets are three little compartments sized for Compact Flash cards. Each of these has a neat flip-over flap arrangement to indicate whether the card is full or empty, as can be seen in FIGURE 8 – the one nearest the hinge side is showing “empty”. Behind these compartments is a slim open pocket, and this part of the bag is completed by a flap concealing another card holder and several slots for pens or similar (FIGURE 9).

FIGURE 8

FIGURE 9

FIGURE 8 FIGURE 9

The single main compartment measures 19.5in by 12.2in by 6.3in (49.5cm by 31cm by 16cm) internally. That makes it a touch smaller in height and depth than Lowepro’s official figures, but it’s still capable of holding a “pro” body like the D3 series. Some wheeled cases struggle in this area because of the depth lost to the pull handle housing, but not the Pro Roller x200. The interior has substantial padding, which is covered entirely in the “loop” half of the expected hook loop material. This lining and the extensive selection of moveable dividers supplied are finished in fetching shades of “Lowepro Grey”; these can be arranged in a variety of ways to suit different combinations of equipment.

FIGURE 10

FIGURE 10

FIGURE 11 Annotated

FIGURE 12 Annotated

FIGURE 11 FIGURE 12

I’ve put the bag to use on two types of outing so far. FIGURES 10 and 11 show the bag configured for a trip to an outdoor sporting event, with two pro bodies and a range of lenses from a 16-35mm to a 300mm with 1.4x TC. FIGURE 12 shows the same basic configuration but with some of the smaller dividers re-arranged to hold a smaller set of lenses together with four Speedlights and accessories, for a portrait shoot. I still had a few dividers left over, together with a nice U-shaped piece of padding which would be useful to surround a smaller lens in the central area and stop it moving around. Also shown is the supplied stash pouch, which can take all those little essentials like spare batteries, caps, Nikonians microfibre cloth and so forth.

 

 

When fully loaded, I’ll warn you that the bag is pretty heavy – with the sports kit shown, it tips the scales at 15.4kg (34 pounds). It’s a good job I can wheel it around all day and don’t have to carry it! In fact, the bag itself is no lightweight, being about 6.4kg (14 pounds) when empty of equipment. I guess that’s what would be expected for such a solid item, especially given the “surprise feature”...

Oh, did I not mention the surprise? Sorry about that!

A zipper running around the front edges of the bag looks as though it might allow the front to expand by an inch or so, much like some expandable luggage. A good idea, I thought – but no. Undo this zipper and the whole of the interior compartment and its front door lifts out of the bag’s outer shell. Turn this insert over, and tucked away – as shown in FIGURES 13 & 14 – is a basic but functional backpack harness.

FIGURE 13

FIGURE 14

FIGURE 13 FIGURE 14

It has to be said that this harness is only lightly padded, not very ergonomically-shaped, and lacks a waist belt or sternum strap, so I wouldn’t want to wear it for a long hike, but for short distances it is reasonably comfortable – you can see it in use in FIGURE 15.

FIGURE 15

FIGURE 15

But that’s not all - when the insert is removed, a thin flap is revealed which can then be used to close off the front of the outer shell, allowing that to be filled with other gear, as can be seen in FIGURE 16. I imagine this would be great for a trip by air, where the shell could be packed with clothing and personal items and checked in, while your photo gear goes in the insert as carry-on* Then once you’ve reached your destination, the clothing can be removed and the two parts of the bag are reunited.

* Regarding carry-on dimensions, please check with your airline/airport before travelling

FIGURE 16

FIGURE 16

The Lowepro Pro Roller x200 is thoughtfully designed and constructed, and well able to perform its primary function as a wheeled case.  The alternative backpack carrying option is a bonus, but does make the bag larger and heavier overall than one designed for a single mode of transport.

The bag’s quality is certainly up there with the best available from other brands (I’m a bit of a bagaholic and have owned several from Lowepro, Tamrac, Crumpler, ThinkTank, F-Stop and others over the years), and from this short but active test I can definitely recommend it if you’re in the market for this type of case.  If your kit is smaller or larger, I imagine the x100 or x300 would be just as worthy of consideration (but please note that the x300 is NOT of carry-on size).


PRO’S

  • Thoughtful design
  • High-quality materials and construction
  • Strong outer shell and well-padded interior
  • Versatile divider system
  • Easy to manoeuvre and lift (strength permitting...!)
  • Valuable secondary backpack option

CON’S

  • Heavier and bulkier than a simple wheeled case of similar capacity
  • Laptop pocket might be a rather tight fit
  • Pull handle perhaps not up to its secondary use as a camera support
  • Not much space for personal items if they aren’t thin

On behalf of Nikonians, my thanks go to Lowepro UK for the review sample.

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Show pages (3 Pages)

Originally written on May 4, 2011

Last updated on April 22, 2016

Brian Tilley Brian Tilley (briantilley)

Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Paignton, United Kingdom
Basic, 30235 posts

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