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If you have a lot of photo gear, not just a little, check out the Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW (photo above) and Pro Runner X300 AW. They’re combination rolling bag-backpacks with integrated weather shields. For serious amateurs and many pros, one of these bags will hold every camera, lens, and accessory you own. They’re even deeper than the similar, older Lowepro Rolling CompuTrekker bags and they’re even less likely to fit into an overhead bin on the airplane.
The Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW ($290 street) measures 20 x 14 x 13 inches (HWD) and weighs 10.4 pounds. Empty. It lets you carry a digital SLR (DSLR) with an attached lens as big as a 300mm f/2.8 (you may be able to fit a 400mm lens, too), 4-6 more lenses or flashes, a tripod or monopod strapped to the outside, and a laptop up to 15.4 inches, Lowepro says, though I was able to squeeze in a 17-inch notebook by omitting the protective sleeve, which you probably shouldn’t do. The dividers let you move around equipment as needed. The fabric is a rip-stop polyester.
With the x450, I found there was no off-site photo shoot where I didn’t have enough space for my gear, and in most cases, I appreciated all the room that let me not have to jam in my gear, which made it harder to pull out when I was on location. It’s a heavy beast with all my gear onboard, nearly 40 pounds, which means you’ll appreciate its rolling feature. The backpack straps are big and well-padded. I see them being used where you have to lug the bag up multiple flights of stairs.
Slightly Smaller Pro Runner x350
If you want a big rolling backpack bag but not quite as big, you may find your needs filled by the Lowepro Pro Runner x350 AW ($230, inset photo), which measures 18 by 13 x 11 inches and weighs 9 pounds. It holds a camera with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached (probably the 300mm, too, though Lowepro says not), 3-4 lenses or flashes, and a 15.4-inch laptop.
As a Carry-on Bag? Fuggedaboutit
The typical carry-on bag limit is 22 x 14 x 9 inches (20 x 14 x 9 on some international flights), so neither one is going to fit because they’re too deep. Since that’s the case, if you’re torn between the two, I’d suggest: Go with the bigger bag, the Pro Runner x450 AW. In the trunk of a car, there’s little difference if how much space they take up.
But Is This the Bag to Buy?
Both are big bags. It’s unlikely either would be your only bag. (You’ll need a smaller shoulder bag or backpack bag as well.) In addition appealing to pros and serious amateurs, a moderate enthusiast who lives in an apartment or small condo might appreciate having all his or her equipment in one place, rather than scattered among several bags and on the back shelves of closets.
The Lowepro Pro Runner bags are a lot like the LowePro Rolling CompuTrekker AW (18 x 14 x 9) and Rolling CompuTrekker Pus AW (21 x 14 x 10) bags. That’s an earlier Lowepro line with slightly more rounded shoulders on the bags and a bit less depth. (The same CompuTrekker names without the word “Rolling” applies to backpack-only bags, no wheels, that hold laptops.) The Rolling CompuTrekker AW bag is small enough that it should fit on an airplane. If you’ve got a Rolling Computrekker bag now, no need to buy a Pro Runner x300 or x450, because old and new are so much alike. If you’re buying now, go with the newer Pro Runner bags because of the extra depth. Get it as long as you’re pretty sure you’ll need the backpack straps, which add about two inches of depth to the bag, and that’s what keeps them from fitting on planes.
If your needs are mostly urban and the bag travels over flat surfaces outdoors but seldom into the woods or across uneven grassy surfaces, you might want to consider a rolling bag with no backpack attachment. Lots of companies make them. For the same size, you’ll fit in a lot more gear. Lowepro calls its line the Pro Roller and the x100 should fit on planes (with the laptop sleeve removed), and maybe the x200, but not the x300 (26 x 19 x 11).
Pros: One bag holds all your gear. Can be a rolling bag or backpack bag. Easily reconfigurable. Rugged, weatherproof.
Cons: Too big to fit on planes (x450 or x350). Depth added by backpack harness keeps bag from fitting on airplanes. A rolling bag of the same size (without backpack straps) holds far more.
Bottom Line: One well-built bag serves multiple roles for photographers, even serious amateurs, with lots of gear. But the only way it flies is as checked baggage.
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