Gear Review: Lowepro Pro Roller AW and a Story of Luck

I have no idea why, but when it comes to photography I am a bag nerd.  I have tons of camera bags for all different purposes.   So I write not with a wealth of knowledge on bag manufacturing, but lugging, tossing, filling, and flying.

As a destination shooter, I need a solid bag.  A bag that can stand up to airlines, airports, bathrooms, and of course venues.  I also like the same bag to be my storage bag when at home.  A place for all my cleaned, organized, formatted, and ready gear to be stored.  In one spot.

So a million years ago in Florida, I purchased the LowePro X200 Pro Roller bag.  It was literally the perfect bag.  Size was TSA-compliant for carryon.  It fit under the seat of the little regional jets and turbo props that link Portland with Seattle.  And it was well built and full of features. But alas, I sold it after a few years and never really looked back.

Fast forward to last Fall when I decided I needed it back in my life again.  I quickly ordered the same bag of Amazon - at least what I thought was the same bag.

When it arrived, I was literally blown away by the horrible changes in the bag.  It was literally a total piece of junk and I was really shocked at how a solid product could actually devolve to that point.

First things first, the overall quality "feel" was gone.  The fabrics seemed light weight, the build of the bag was unsubstantial.  

Second, the "floor" of the bag had the two ridges to accommodate the telescroping handle.  Gone were the days of a flat floor. Now my camera gear would be off angle, clunking around on plastic.

Third, the dividers were flimsy, cheap, and ill-fitting.

The dividers are thin and the velcro on the sides is not made into a perfect 90 degree angle.  So the velcro cannot fit flush which resulted in poor adhesion.  Another issue was now that the ridges in the floor were there, the dividers could not fit flush to the floor. As you see below, my Pelican SD card wallet was able to slide in, under the dividers.

The dividers are thin and the velcro on the sides is not made into a perfect 90 degree angle.  So the velcro cannot fit flush which resulted in poor adhesion. 

Another issue was now that the ridges in the floor were there, the dividers could not fit flush to the floor. As you see below, my Pelican SD card wallet was able to slide in, under the dividers.

So, needless to say I was bummed.  A lot of the features of the original bag were gone (removable backpack, angle stand, cable lock, etc)and the quality has taken an absolute nosedive.  I returned it to Amazon.

The next day I decided to look into other offerings from Manfrotto, to Think Tank.  Some were nice, but expensive, and reviews were questionable.

So I decided to use "Search all of Craigslist" and guess what!  I found an original LowePro Pro Roller X200 for sale in Ohio.  Even more amazing?  It was new and still had tags on it.

So I wrote the least-scammy email I could, asking if the owner would ship to Oregon, and how I could pay for shipping.  Believe it or not, we both trusted total strangers and my money order crossed paths with my new-old bag.

My new/old bag arrived as promised - still with the tags attached. 

My new/old bag arrived as promised - still with the tags attached. 

I quickly unpacked the bag and started moving in.  It was the same super-high quality I remembered.  The thicker dividers added structure and protection.  The floor was flat.  The laptop compartment closed with a zipper.  

All in all I am really happy to have this bag back again.  It is the best roller bag out there. I am just really bummed Lowepro ditched quality in the newer models.  Avoid it at all costs and scour Craigslist for the older model!

All my gear, in its happy place.

All my gear, in its happy place.