In Brief: Lowepro Pro Roller Lite 150 AW: A True Airplane Carry-On
Traveling by plane these days is certainly no joy, a bad situation made worse for photographers who never check their precious gear. Traveling on regional jets, and especially international flights, means not being able to lug large backpacks or roller cases filled with gear on board. And with flights so jammed airlines have gotten even stricter about carry-ons, despite the fact that their policies now make everyone want to carry on rather than shell out the extra bucks. It’s getting pretty nasty out there.
Camera bag and luggage companies have begun to respond to the situation with new designs that combine portability, trolley rollers, and smaller size to meet the reality of travel demands. And because they are first and foremost camera bags (but can serve as great “overnighters” as well) interiors offer well-padded dividers, exteriors are weather resistant, and one can travel knowing equipment can stay close and be protected at the same time. One such bag we recently traveled with is the Lowepro Pro Roller Lite 150 AW ($324.99 list price on the Lowepro site; average $260 on various sites).
First, the specs. According to the American Airlines website, “You can bring one small bag (plus one personal item) per passenger as long as the carry-on bag fits comfortably in the sizer (editor emphasis) without being forced and does not exceed overall dimensions of 45 inches (length + width + height).
“The maximum dimensions cannot exceed any of the following measurements: 22” long x 14” wide x 9” tall. All carry-on items should be stowed in an overhead bin.” And, in general, the packed bag must not weigh more than 40 lbs.
The new Lowepro Pro Roller Lite 150 AW is 18.8x14x7.3” on the exterior, which means it makes it just fine on the dimensions and weighs in at 7.8 lbs, leaving you 32 lbs of gear to pack. While the interior might seem lean, the clever pull-out handle design does not intrude on the interior space like other bags of this sort. There is also no protruding carry handle on the long sides (there is on the top) to intrude on the side space.
For those who do a lot of heavy-duty travel with a fair share of cobblestones thrown into the mix, the wheels are quite sturdy. If they come loose they can be replaced by the user with a simple tool—an Allen wrench. Having lost a wheel on a bag a while back I can attest to why it might be wise to carry an extra wheel with you on extensive trips.
Inside, the case has spacious, well-padded customizable dividers, a security flap for holding important documents and memory cards as well as a zippered compartment for a 15” laptop. As mentioned, the trolley handle does not intrude on these compartments, so all the space that’s available is exploited. The company dubs this setup the ProTech Trolley System and it’s comprised of rails that angle out of the back of the roller via a telescoping handle. When not in use, the handle is covered by an outside magnetic flap.
The first time I saw the Pro Roller Lite 150 AW I immediately thought of about six trips on which it would have saved me considerable packing anxiety. Traveling with it makes you feel like you have a small suitcase or large briefcase, but with rollers. And that can make all the difference in feeling secure about traveling with gear, about lowering stress and back pain getting from place to place and being able to keep precious gear close and out of the hands of the airlines on smaller planes and international flights.
For more information, visit Lowepro’s website at: www.lowepro.com.