Gear: Roller Bags

After many years of slouching in front of a computer, both at work and at home, I developed a slipped disk. When I took up photography I noticed very quickly that carrying a camera over my neck was not the best. I tried the Black Rapid Sport Strap which is better than just carrying the camera with a neck strap, but after walking around for 4-5 hours I still experience a lot of discomfort. That’s why I bought the Lowepro ProTactic 450, which is a fantastic bag. The disadvantage is of course how much slower it is to access your camera, but it is one I have to live with.

For my natural light photography  I really do not need that much equipment anyway, but I wanted to start using off camera flash and all of a sudden I needed to bring a lot more equipment. The killer probably being the weights I use to secure my light stands. You don’t want the flash to hit your subject over the noggin do you?

I tried to carry all this in my Lowepro ProTactic 450 and it all fits, but it did get rather heavy. Had to have a emergency burger after the shoot just to have the energy to carry it all back home. This made me think I should try one of those combo roller backpack bags. I went down to my local camera store, Calumet, and bought myself a Lowepro Pro Runner RL 450 AW II. Try saying that quickly ten times in a row.

I have a photography trip to Porto booked for October and I wanted to see if I could fit all the clothes and gear I needed for that trip. Travelling with carry on luggage only for some reason. The Lowepro Pro Runner RL 450 AW II (not typing that again) fit everything nicely as you can see. There are plenty of tiny pockets for organising your smaller items and you also get plenty of dividers for endless customisation. I was confident I could also pack all my gear for a on location photo shoot with an off camera flash as well.

Everything I need for my trip to Porto fit neatly into the backpack. Apologies for the pants.
Everything I need for my trip to Porto fit neatly into the backpack. Apologies for the pants.
Light stand and umbrella attached using the very convenient tripod pocket and straps.
Light stand and umbrella attached using the very convenient tripod pocket and straps.
  • X-Pro2 with XF 16-55mm
  • Lee Filters
  • Some batteries, cleaning stuff and memory cards
  • Clothes for 3 days

When it came to actually handling the bag it did really well in roller mode, but when I tried to use it as a backpack I was disappointed. As I already have a busted back it is important the bag is both comfortable and has the right support like a waist belt to take some of the weight of the shoulders. The Pro Runner does have this but to make room for the wheels it was so high up it felt more like a bra to be honest. This was a deal breaker for me.

I went back to Calumet, who took the bag back with no questions asked, and got myself a Peli 1510 roller case instead. With the Pro Runner it felt like it was too much of a compromise to have both roller and backpack capabilities. With a dedicated roller case I can’t really use it for my trip to Porto as I need to have a backpack during the day to carry my gear in. But, for bringing my flash kit, light stands and modifiers to location for a portrait shoot the Peli 1510 will do just fine. As it is still carry-on compatible it is not super roomy and it did prove just a tad too small for my two Godox WITSTRO flashes, cables, mounts and batteries. I had no problem fitting just my YonGnuo 560 though.

On location for a portrait shoot and camera, flash, modifiers and light stand fit either inside or strapped to the bag.
On location for a portrait shoot and camera, flash, modifiers and light stand fit either inside or strapped to the bag.
I was able to strap my lightstand and umbrella to the outside of the Peli 1510.
I was able to strap my lightstand and umbrella to the outside of the Peli 1510.
Moved the ELB 400 Twin Action kit into the Peli 1510 and it fits nicely, but I put an octa box in there instead of the charger.
Moved the ELB 400 Twin Action kit into the Peli 1510 and it fits nicely, but I put an octa box in there instead of the charger.

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