AS A documentary photographer, I tend to carry a lot of gear on assignment. Having said that, I have been caught wanting a few times when I have thought: “I wish I had brought that lens with me.” As my gear has expanded, so my camera bags have grown in size, and so, of course, has the weight. Covering a road trip or travelling by the comfort of a train is no problem. Lugging heavy equipment through an airport terminal poses a different set of challenges.
I have been seeking a camera bag that would fulfil most of, if not all, my needs, and then my eyes fell on the Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW II. This convertible roller/backpack has been purpose-built to organise and protect a multitude of gear, and also provides a couple of options for manoeuvering through busy airports and crowded streets. I normally carry two bodies and a selection of lenses, large and small, tripod, and multiple accessories including spare batteries, chargers, lens cleaning kit, filters, plus 15” MacBook Pro as well as an iPad for convenience.
Sturdy YKK zippers on the Pro Runner provide a smooth operation and allow for a TSA lock for security and peace of mind, although this is not included. The telescoping aluminum trolley handle which is housed in the centre channel is a great innovation, and added to that are vibration-absorbing and sturdy urethane wheels which easily assist in maneuvering through crowded spaces such as airports and hotel lobbies.
The pack is constructed with 3D mesh padding on the back panel, contoured shoulder straps and a removable waist belt. The tuck-away shoulder straps can be quickly pulled out should the time come when you need to wear it as a backpack when mounting stairs or trekking across rough terrain. Inside is a handy removable, zippered accessory case with see-through mesh outer and two internal Velcro pockets to house an assorted array of easy-to-grab items. There is also plenty of space to store smaller devices and accessories in three zippered, transparent, built-in pockets. There is plenty more space on the exterior, with two tall zippered slash pockets, one with a clip for keys, and offering easy access to items during travel. Adjustable tripod straps will hold a pro-sized tripod, and discreetly housed at the bottom of the front section is zip access to an all-weather cover… a really useful addition.
The Pro Runner is both modern and stylish, and with the system of dividers I found it easy to keep my gear snug, protected, in order and easily removable. A dedicated zone has spaces for three screen devices, so no problem there then with taking my laptop and iPad, with room to spare.
According to LowePro, the Pro Runner has been sized to meet standard carry-on requirements, although it is always advisable to check with your chosen airline for their current size and weight restrictions. As you probably already know, they do tend to differ, and the last thing you want is for you precious equipment to be placed in the cargo hold.
I already have a Peli 1510 case, which I currently use for at-home storage. Although this, too, has a pull-out handle and wheels, and is pretty much bombproof, this tends to stay at home and therefore I am not using it as a comparison. As for the Pro Runner, I love the all-round versatility of this dual purpose pack, with its construction being second-to-none. With an RRP of £299.00, have a trawl around the Internet, as prices do vary.