26 August 20119,179 viewsOne Comment

Lowepro Pro Runner 200 AW Review

by Katie Dix, August 2011

As we all know choosing a bag nowadays is rather difficult, with a wider variety than ever before we really are spoilt for choice. Knowing what you want from the bag is essential and why it will benefit you more than the other choices. A bag is a vital part of a photographer’s journey and has a massive impact on how effectively we can deal with our day to day tasks. There is a bag for everyone and every subject, it really comes down to personal preference and what best suits you as a person and a photographer as well as the context and environment that you’re out shooting in.

Why I chose the Lowepro Pro Runner 200 AW

Sometimes less is more

Photography should always be enjoyable and never a chore, it should in no way be stressful or tiring to the point where taking photos ruins your holiday, but if you’ve got the wrong bag or a few too many lenses it’s very easy to get fatigued constantly rummaging through an ill fitting bag, juggling around your gear and making compromises. With a memory of travelling along Route 66 with constant stop and go, there were times when I felt I had too much kit and a far bigger bag than I needed. It took the edge off trying to capture some awesome landscapes. With a couple of holidays planned this year, all of which have a hot climate, I didn’t want to make the same mistake! My recent trips have encouraged me to think long and hard about what I should include in my kit and what sort of bag to take with me. 

Exterior and interior of the Lowepro Pro Runner 200 AW

Size does matter

For me, it’s all about size and convenience, which is where the Lowepro Pro Runner 200 AW fits in perfectly. Whilst appearing small from the outside, unzip the Pro Runner 200AW and you have your very own personalised Tardis. Like with most of the Lowepro bags, you have the option to customize the interior to suit your needs, which you can do by manipulating the Velcro pads. I have to admit, when I first wore the Pro Runner 200 it did feel a little weird, not uncomfortable but like the rest of it was missing and it took some time for my body to adjust to its size. In terms of its weight, the bag still feels light even when it’s packed full of gear and doesn’t hinder your flexibility to move around quickly in any way. The shoulder straps are well padded and can be adjusted to suit your body. There are also extra support straps to fit around the waist and chest to help spread the load evenly.

Capacity

The Pro Runner 200 can securely store a DSLR with attached lens (up to 70-200mm f/2.8) plus 2-3 lenses, and a flashgun. On the inside in the main compartment there are two memory card pockets and a zipped meshed pocket to hold small personal items such as a purse, spare batteries, card reader, lens cloth and a thin compact camera. On the outside there is a hidden pocket on the lid which can hold an Apple iPad 2 plus small accessories or a notepad, mobile phone, pens, and a light jacket or cardigan. The two mesh side pockets on the outside of the bag can hold a small bottle or can of drink.

Design and bonus features

1. Creature comforts – the bag has a padded mesh back-pad and adjustable padded shoulder straps to ensure the bag is as comfortable as it is protective. To help distribute the weight evenly the bag has tucked away straps which can be pulled out and clipped into place around the waist and chest.

2. Colour – The pine green and black colour combination is attractive but doesn’t shout ‘camera bag’, (also available in black).

3. Airline carry on – This is a bag that definitely won’t get in your way when walking through all the crowds, neither will it attract unwanted attention to you. The two mesh side pockets are deep and secure to keep important items to hand such as a passport or flight tickets.

4. Versatility – The three SlipLock attachment loops allow you to attach extra pouches to the backpack, so if the inside isn’t quite big enough you have a backup solution and can always attach more on the outside.

5. Protection – There is a hidden All-Weather cover tucked away at the bottom which is quickly accessible when needed to protect your well loved equipment from the elements. When out and about in busy cities it’s also a good idea to use it to stop any pesky pick pockets!

6. Tripod Mount System – The icing on the cake for me was one feature which I didn’t expect this bag to have due to its size, and that’s a tripod mount system. Using the compression strap and the hidden away foot holder you can, with no hassle at all, attach a small tripod or monopod.

The hassle-free tripod mount system & the All-Weather cover in use

Who is the bag aimed at?

This bag is for people who like to keep things small, simple and only take the essentials. Whether you’re on the move, either on short excursions or in a busy city, its streamlined body makes it more versatile. I would definitely recommend it for those who like their holidays hot, where the elements are predictable and where carrying a large jumper or coat isn’t needed. If you like to keep things to a minimum, you’re not in a rush and don’t have masses of gear then this is the bag for you.

The verdict

The Lowe Pros. Overall I was very impressed with the Pro Runner 200 AW bag, it does everything you expect a bag to do. The materials used are comfortable, padded and lightweight offering full protection to your gear and making it ideal for fast movers who don’t need masses of equipment with them. There’s plenty of room inside and it’s full of hidden compartments so you can organise all of your personal belongings and keep them separate from the main compartment.

The Lowe No’s. Although it’s great for short trips where you’re constantly moving about, it’s not ideal for long outdoor walks where the weather is unpredictable as the pocket at the front isn’t big enough to hold a large jumper or coat. It’s not designed for people who always need quick access to their equipment and swap lenses on a regular basis. If this is something essential to you then a bag with a rotational Slingshot action would be better. For those with a lot of gear then this bag will be a compromise between size and space. Admittedly, I don’t have huge amounts of gear so for me this bag was a no brainer, although recently I’ve considered buying a laptop which unfortunately the Lowepro Pro Runner 200 doesn’t have a compartment for. If a laptop is essential to you, then you’ll want to go for the higher Lowepro series range; Pro Runner 350 onwards.

The Pro Runner Series range

The Lowepro Pro Runner 200 AW is the smallest out of the six Pro Runner series, the higher the model number the bigger they get. The six Pro Runners include the Pro Runner 200 AW, 300 AW, 350 AW, x350 AW, 450 AW and the x450 AW. From the Pro Runner 350 AW onwards there is a hidden compartment especially designed for laptop users and will hold a 15.4″ widescreen laptop. For added convenience the two Pro Runner x350 and x450 backpacks can be converted into roller bags. Both include a spring loaded handle as well as smooth operating wheels and can take a 17” laptop.

Ratings

Style 8/10 Practical, stylish, & attractive yet doesn’t shout ‘camera bag’
Build 8/10 Typical high quality Lowepro craftsmanship with comfort always in mind
Design 9/10 Lots of handy compartments with an extremely well padded interior inside
Handling 8/10 Streamline & compact to ensure easy access.

Overall score:
8 Good things really do come in small packages!

About the Author

Katie has worked for Wex Photographic for over three and a half years and has a strong passion for photography – there’s rarely a moment when she doesn’t have her camera with her! Although Katie has loved exploring the outdoors since she was a kid, it was only once she studied Art at High School that she grew to love capturing those moments on camera.

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