First, allow me to preface this review by saying it's a work in progress. As I get more use from the bag I will edit this review with updated thoughts and opinions. To those considering the bag, or just curious, please feel free to ask questions or request additional photos. I will do my best to respond.
And please standby for photos. I'll get them up ASAP.
I'm a fan of Lowepro and always investigate their offerings first. I had considered the ThinkTank Retrospective 20, opting for the Lowepro as I preferred its looks. I bought the Lowepro Pro Messenger 180 AW a few weeks ago and I've had a chance to put it though its paces.
Below is a quick breakdown:
- Looks great
- Very well-made
- Lots of pockets, pouches, and places to store gear, personal items, etc.
- Excellent protective padding
- Comfortable ergonomic padded strap
- Handy top handle
- Easy to remove/put away gear
- Front flap features large velcro fasteners; uses magnets when in "quiet mode"
- Water-resistant (proof?) all-weather cover
- Zippered panel for sliding over rolling luggage telescopic handles
- Dedicated, windowed business card slot
- Bulky if overloaded, though this is the case for all bags
- Depending on load, can be a bit top-heavy; tips easily without balanced load
- Nylon fabric wears rather easily after repeated contact with clothing, ground surfaces, etc.
- Relatively expensive, though priced similarly to competition
- Internal velcro dividers can be a bit of a **** to position, but that's always the case, isn't it?
- Cat hair magnet
The main compartment has two full length vertical dividers, effectively creating three sections, and two smaller horizontal dividers. There are also two pockets on either side of the interior and one zippered pocket for lens caps, cleaning accessories, condoms, lip gloss, whatever.
The bag will accommodate a pro body with grip and 70-200 attached (hood reversed) in the main compartment plus four smaller primes, or four smaller zooms, or two more 70-200 in the side sections. You'd likely have room left over for one or two flashes in the side sections and a might even be able to shove a second pro body in the front pocket. It'd be tight and uncomfortably heavy, though.
The front exterior pocket is quite deep and has a secondary pocket for accessories, a credit card-sized pocket, two memory card pockets, and two slots for pens.
The bag's exterior is flanked by two stretchy pockets, each capable of holding a large bottle of water or additional lenses and/or flashes. In addition, each side features six fabric loops for attaching even more crap.
Given the most commonly complaint levied on messenger and shoulder bags is that they're uncomfortable when loaded down, I feel compelled to remind people to wear the bag as it was intended: with the strap across your chest and the bag positioned in the middle of your back. This will better distribute the weight of the bag and alleviate most of the discomfort.
Finally, Lowepro describes the bag "slate grey" but it's more of a green-grey.
Overall, I'm quite happy with the bag thus far. It's a good-looking, protective, functional, and comfortable carry solution. Please feel free to assault me with questions and I'll do what I can to respond ASAP. Again, please standby for a photos.
Recently returned from four full days in Chicago. Had the bag with me most of the time, lugging it around town on foot, to a Cubs game, into restaurants and shops, in bars, on the subway, etc.
I carried a gripped 60D, 17-55, 55-250, a 50 1.8, and a handful of accessories. At times there was a water bottle jammed into one of the exterior stretchy pockets. I even balanced a Slik Sprint Pro travel tripod across the top of the bag, under my arm.
I wore the bag across my chest, at my lower back, above my ass. Only at the end of the fourth day did I begin to notice the slightest discomfort. I had no issues getting my gear in or out of the bag. The weather was good so the only time I used the AW cover was at the Cubs game, to protect it from spilling beer.
Very happy with the bag's performance. Comfortable and inconspicuous. Never got in the way. Highly recommend it.