This will be a hands-on review based on my use of the Lowepro X200 AW Roller bag over a number of months.
As a Unit Stills Photographer on Film and TV shows my work takes me to a large cross section of locations from luxurious hotel lobbies to the dust and dirt of the Australian outback.
To this point I have been using cases that are great for camera protection and security but fall away in mobility and adaptability. The X200 AW adds these last two features which is the reason I chose this bag to review.
I have no affiliation with Lowepro. If I don’t like an aspect of the bag I will say so, I’m not here to convince anyone to buy it over the plethora of choices on the market.
All that out of the way, let’s get into it.
Lowepro Pro Roller x200 | Specifications
Weight: 5.8 kg (12.7 lbs)
External Dimensions: 35.5 x 22.9 x 55.9 cm (14 x 9 x 22 in.)
Internal Dimensions: 32.8 x 16 x 51 cm (13 x 6.2 x 20 in.)
Laptop Compartment Dimensions: 30 x 3 x 42 cm (11 x 1.1 x 16.5 in.)
Vibration-absorbing, urethane wheels with ABEC-5 rated bearings (ABEC scale measures the accuracy and tolerance of the bearing in a scale if 1-9, nine being the highest) 5 is the norm for a standard skateboard wheels bearing.
Removing the bag from its packaging it was clear that it’s well-made. Strong YKK zips and Ballistic Nylon outer shell. (Yes, Ballistic Nylon is a real thing first developed by the DuPont company for use in Flak jackets worn by airmen in WW2)
The Polyurethane wheels roll smoothly and give approximately 3cm of clearance. The underside has rigid plastic plates as additional protection against the inevitable scrapes that will occur due to uneven terrain or steps. Similarly, the corners of the bag adjacent to the wheels are protected with the same material.
It has padded carry handles both on top and on one side. They are stitched and riveted in place. The rigid plastic stand on the underside of the bag acts as another handle. In conjunction with the top handle, this allows the user to lift the bag horizontally and lay it flat.
A 19cm x 28cm zippered stationary pouch at the front of the Lowepro X200 AW Roller bag for pens, notebook, business cards, keys etc. Behind that is a sleeve designed to accept a laptop up to 17”.
On the rear is a small zippered pouch which contains a rain cover in a recessed compartment. It also has a clear window for an address label. The AW in the bags name refers to All Weather.
On top of the X200 AW under a zippered cover is the two-stage roller handle. The handle has two release buttons to cater for both right and left-handers. Depressing either of the buttons collapses the handle.
The two main zips have the facility to be locked by either a pad/combination lock or the TSA approved lock or both.
On the side of the are two removable straps that are designed to hold a small tripod.
I like the fact that it doesn’t look like a camera bag. Its low key design resembles a regular luggage bag and won’t attract attention to itself.
According to Lowepro’s website the bag is designed to accommodate 1-2 Pro DSLR’s with grips and 6-8 lenses up to 600mm.
Its MaxFit system is comprised of seven styles of dividers. Two 400mm x 160mm main dividers, four 160mm x 150mm and five 160mm x 130mm padded dividers with seven thinner 160mm x 80mm nylon covered dividers.
Finally, there is a 330mm x 160mm divider with U shaped cut-outs to accommodate two cameras with lenses attached if desired – if not there are two pieces to fill the U shapes and form a solid wall.
Inside the lid of the X200 AW are four zippered accessory compartments. Additionally, there are two 160mm x 100mm x 60mm zippered nylon accessory bags.
With the lid closed, you can unzip the inner compartment and remove it from its outer shell. The inner compartment then becomes a basic camera backpack. There is a secondary zippered cover attached to the outer shell which allows the use of the shell as a stand-alone rolling camera bag.
The MaxFit system is designed to allow the user to individually position each piece gear within the Lowepro bag and then position a divider firmly against it. The hook tabs are stitched to the divider in a way that allows them to fold out of the way.
This design avoids the hassle of the hook and eye materials coming into contact prior to the divider being in its final position. Once in place, the tabs can be unfolded and pressed against the walls of the bag.
I like the fact that there are ample dividers, with my final configuration I still had seven spare dividers.
I mentioned earlier that X200 AW is designed to hold pro-level gear. These days pro-level gear comes in all shapes and sizes. No longer is it restricted to Nikon and Canon DSLR’S. The smaller mirrorless cameras from Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus and others are becoming more and more popular amongst pros.
This being the case finding the best configuration for your gear is a trial and error process. There are a few examples of how Lowepro sees the bag configured on their website but these are rough guides only.
I shoot Fuji and own a GFX-50s with battery grip and GF45mm f/2.8 prime. Two X-H1’s with battery grips, two zooms and five primes. It took me three goes to get it right. The Fuji mirrorless gear is smaller than any Pro DSLR and I quickly realised some thinking outside the square was necessary to get the fit right.
With a depth of 160mm on the X200 AW to accommodate the diameter of the large DSLR’s telephoto lenses, I was going to have to come up with a way to pack my lenses so they were still easily accessible and secure. The Fuji primes measure between 80mm and 125mm in length with most down towards that lower end.
My solution was to cut foam packing to place under the lenses, this resulted in the lenses not only becoming more accessible but also more cushioned. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this.
By adding the foam packing the bag’s centre of gravity when standing vertical was now too far forward. Adding my 15” laptop to the front pouch had it teetering and the lightest touch caused it to overbalance and fall forward. Removing the laptop helped but a reconfiguration of the contents was also necessary.
Repacking the X200 AW, I placed the heaviest items lower in the bag and the lightest higher. I also did what I could to distribute the weight deeper into the bag. This definitely helped but adding the laptop still made the bag too front-heavy so for me the front pouch is for my A4 sized white-balance card.
Main Compartment Lid
The main compartment lid on the X200 AW has four see-through zippered pouches. Two 14cm x 12cm at the top, a 28cm x 12cm pouch in the middle and a 28cm x 20cm at the bottom.
Because of their smaller size and the position of the zipper access to the top pouches is awkward.
I believe Lowepro would have been better off doing away with these smaller pouches and going with two of the 28cm x 12cm pouched instead of one.
The larger pouches are useful and can accommodate a large range of accessories. I carry filters and cleaning cloth in the middle pouch and my tether tools cable in the lower.
I have managed to pack everything I need on set neatly into the X200 pro roller. I have reduced my cases from two to one and I no longer need the trolly to transport them.
The case now weighs 20kg, it’s heavy, which for me is perfect. I want to put it to the test on location.
If I have a choice of sealed road or grassy hill to get to location I’ll put it to the test and take the tougher of the two.
My first location is a hospital set, the floors inside are flat and even. The polyurethane wheels of the x200 just glided over the surface, smooth and quiet. The carry handle extends and contracts smoothly without issue.
Location two is a 200m walk up a hill on a tarred road and then over a stretch of grass and finally an unsealed dirt driveway. I was keen to see how the wheels handled the grass then the rocks on the driveway.
The Lowepro bag handled as expected through the grass, it was slower going but easily completed. The small rocks on the driveway weren’t a problem. There was no pitting or any other adverse effect on the wheels and once inside the ride was as smooth as it was in the hospital set.
In the same area was a grass hill that I took it across. I would have guessed the hill had a 35 degree incline. There were points where the bag did over balance due to the uneven terrain but I was able to hold it in check by twisting the carry handle to bring the bag back onto two wheels.
In doing this I exerted some force to the carry handle but it suffered no ill effects and seems stronger than I may have given it credit for.
Stairs were the X200 AW’s next obstacle and again it performed well. The lower plastic plate came into play and did its job taking the scratches and protecting the nylon outer shell.
I took the opportunity to test the backpack option on a 500m climb up a small hill.
With space at a premium, the padding on the straps is almost nonexistent and there is no waist strap. Considering this the comfort level was better than expected and a whole lot more than it would have been if the interior pack was not an option and I had to cart the whole bag up the hill.
I also had my hands spare to carry my tripod. So all in all a terrific bonus for when you really get off the beaten track.
A location job over four days gave me the opportunity to use the outer shell as a rolling luggage bag.
Arriving at the hotel I swapped out the clothing for the inner backpack, zipped it up and was away the next morning to location.
Airline Cabin Suitability
Having done some research here the practicality of taking the X200 as cabin luggage is limited.
It fits within the size limits of all airlines that I have checked, but still, weight is the issue.
According to Qantas the carry-on weight limit for domestic flights irrespective of class flown is 10kg apart from the Dash 8 aircraft which is 7kg. Qantas International flights have a limit of 7kg per piece, again, irrespective of class flown.
According to the ‘My Baggage’ website the following allowances apply for carry on luggage.
British Airways 23kg, Singapore Airlines 7kg, Emirates 7kg, Air New Zealand 7kg and Cathy Pacific 7kg,
Virgin Atlantic, 10kg, Air France 12kg a small sample but apart from BA well below what the x200 will weigh full of gear. Especially as the bag weighs 5.8kg empty.
The rule here is to check first.
As strong as the X200 AW is, I don’t believe it is designed or built to travel in the hold for any flight, international or domestic.
Paramount for me in any piece of equipment is it’s build and flexibility. Will it handle what I, or my locations, throw at it?
The Lowepro Pro Roller x200 AW fits this requirement. It’s a strongly made well-designed bag with ample room that will suit a large cross-section of photographers and videographers.
Whether you are using the largest of the current DSLR’s and their lenses or the more compact mirrorless models the design of the Maxfit divider system speeds up the configuration process and allows the user to snuggly encase their equipment without the hook and eye sides coming into contact until required.
The addition of the inner backpack takes it to a very welcome level of flexibility.
The ability to quickly transition from roller to backpack to get to that tricky location is a huge plus.
It’s depth can be a bonus, or a challenge to work around, depending on your gear and attitude.
For me it’s better to have that depth and not need it than the other way around. Who knows what your next gear purchase may be.
The polyurethane wheels make it a dream to wheel around on smooth surfaces and on rougher, uneven ones it performs as you would hope, not getting caught up on small rocks or other debris.
The only question I have is the bag’s suitability to be taken on aircraft as cabin luggage due to its weight.
I have enjoyed using the Lowepro x200 AW roller bag over the last couple of months. It’s definitely an improvement on my previous.