Packing tip, camera bags and more

Camera Bags. Lowepro ProRoller X Series 200 & Fastpack 350.

Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. My photographic journey begins with first packing my equipment  before the trip. I used to search for a perfect bag to contain all my equipment into one bag. I soon realized that there was no perfect bag because I need more than one bag.

I bought my first Lowepro Pro Trekker camera bag in September 1992 ( for S$160/-) and  used it for 20 years when I carried only camera, lenses and film. But now I have to bring a MacBookPro, external hard drive, cables, batteries and a few sets of chargers to connect all the devices. Traveling with so many equipment has never been easy until recently when we get to use Lowepro ProRoller X Series 200 & Fastpack 350 for our photographic expeditions to explore wildlife and nature in Asia. The bags have made our photography assignments in the remote forest of Asia enjoyable, comfortable and with peace of mind. We have recently brought the new bags to:

  • China for Expose Asia II
  • Sri Lanka for Leopard Photo Safari,
  • Sabah for Borneo Bird Festival & Danum Valley
  • Sarawak for Kuching Bird Race & Borneo Highlands and Kubah National Park.The bags have helped our equipment organization and protection from rain in the rainforest and dust in dry leopard country.
  • Thailand for photographing birds at Doi Inthanon National Park and Kaeng Krachan National Park.

Why we need more than 1 bag ? One for transporting equipment to location and the other one for accessing the equipment on location.

My faithfull Lowepro Pro Trekker in the field for 20 years

My 15 year old Lowepro Pro Trekker in Kanha National India shooting tiger in March 2007.

1) The Transport Bag-Lowepro Pro Roller X 200
This is for moving equipment from point A to point B especially during flights and road journey. I prefer the transport bag to come with rollers so that I can trolley my equipment from terminal to terminal in the airport with ease. In the safari, I use them as my working bag. They should ideally fit the cabin as I always hand carry my equipment and put them into the transport bag. I use the Lowepro Pro Roller X 200.  In this spacious bag, I carried 2 D-SLR bodies, 3 lenses and a flash. My 15.4 inch MacBook Pro also fits in the special compartment in front. I have one less equipment to think about.

The one single thing I love about Lowepro Pro Roller X 200 is that it can be converted into backpack on location. Lowepro called it “Reserve Pack”  feature which provides a dual carrying feature. Lowepro Pro Roller X 200 looks just like an ordinary trolley bag, without attracting unnecessary attention. You can also mount a small camera on the handle as a “tripod”.

2) The Backpack-Lowepro Fastpack 350

A second  smaller companion that I carry in the field is the Lowepro Fastpack 350 (One DSLR, two lenses and flash). It has comfortable support and provides extra space. It has also a compartment for a 15.4 “ widescreen and water bottle. I carry this bag when I conduct an outdoor photography workshop in Singapore

LowePro backpack & roller

My new combo Lowepro Fastpack350 and ProRoller X200


LowePro ProRoller X200 & FastPack 300 Boarding a small aircraft

My journeys are normally within Asia using budget airlines. There is a restriction on the weight and size of the carry- on luggage. The Lowepro ProRoller X 200 meets the size requirement for budget airlines. It even fits the small aircraft under the seats.

I used to think that money should be spent on camera and lenses only to get the best quality image. But with proper camera bags, they not only give me quick access to my equipment easily, they also protect my equipment from rain and dust in the field.

Lowepro ProRoller X200 in Udawalawe Nat Park Sri Lanka


John with Asia Exposed II Crews in China ( LowePro Fastpack 300)

John with Asia Exposed II Crews in China ( Lowpro Fastpack 350)

LowePro ProRoller X200 & FastPack 350 on 777

The bag fits the smaller aircraft under the seat

The bag fits the smaller aircraft under the seat

LowePro ProRoller X200 fits under the seat of smaller aircraft

Lowepro ProRoller X200 fits under the seat of smaller aircraft


7 thoughts on “Packing tip, camera bags and more

  1. How do you manage to get past the “7kg and 1 piece of carry-on luggage” restriction on many international carriers? I usually get asked to check in the ProRoller if I already have a backpack

    • Hi Kenneth, Yes 7 Kg is the limit specified by most budget airlines. There is no hard and fast rule sometime they allow up to 10 kg. I normally have no problem for international flights but get questioned sometime on internal flights. I would normally show them what I have inside the bag, take out one of two items and they let me go. The most important thing is that the bag must fit the airline carry-on specification. In this case the Lowepro ProRoller does.

      Most of the time, two of us travel together. Otherwise I have to check in the other backpack.

      • I see what you mean – that makes sense. I’m looking at a carry-on (I’m currently using the Thinktank Airport Security v2.0 that is a little too big for carry-on, according to some airlines) that would conform to specifications.

        The ProRoller seems to make sense, I’ll have a look at it and see if I can somehow squeeze everything into it 🙂

  2. I have found that the enforcement of weight regulations is getting stricter. I have a TT Airport International that for years I used to get away with it weighing 17kg because it did not look like a heavy camera bag.
    Now I get challenged and have switched to a wheeled Pelican that is carry on compliant just in case I get forced to check it in – the Pelican provides the best protection bar nothing yet made. I always check it in at the Fragile counter and explain the nature of the contents.
    I should add that I try hard to avoid checking it at all but sometimes they force you. The weight limit is almost impossible to hit with a reasonable pro DSLR kit – a Nikon D3s and 2.8 70-200 weighs more than 50% of the weight limit alone!

    • Hi Marcus,
      It is not easy to know when someone will stop you from carrying into the cabin. It depends on airlines, route (international or domestic), class (economy or business). I know it is important your bag must fit the airline dimension requirement. Usually they allow you to hand carry your camera equipment. In fact for Air Asia they encourage you NOT to check in the camera equipment.

      The Lowepro Proroller X200 fits the requirement. I have 2 DSLRs, 1 300mm, 50-200mm, flash, cables and a laptop in one single Proroller.

      There was a rather funny situation that once I was stopped as my bag was about 15+ kg. I took out my long lens and handheld it through the screening gate and then packed it back into the Proroller.

      I have been very happy with the bag and travelled to many places in Asia.

  3. Hi John, Thank you for the wonderful tips on traveling along with the photographs. This gives a very good idea on the real life situations where the bag will fit. It is hard to judge in a store on the bag size in relation to cabin spaces. I am always nervous traveling in small planes even with my smaller backpack. But this article is very helpful. Do you use the same bag for trips in the jungle? I noticed in Lowepro website that this bag has in fact, a backpack inside. Also are you able to fit your 600mm with hood reversed?
    Thanks, Raj

    • Hi Rajesh, You are right that the Lowepro Proroller X200 could be converted into a backpack just by unzipping. This makes the Lowepro Proroller X200 with dual functionality. Between airports I would trolley the Lowepro Proroller X200. On location in the jungle I would convert into a backpack with a 600mm fit snuggly (without the body). I try not to put too many things when I have to backpack. The convertible concept is an excellent idea for multiple purpose usage.

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