Lowepro Toploader Pro 70 AW Bag Review

The Toploader Pro 70 AW is a high-quality shoulder bag which can carry a pro-DSLR (Canon 1-series or Nikon D2/D3) or a standard digital SLR plus battery grip, with a standard f2.8 zoom lens attached. The classic topload design has been refined by Lowepro to include a few surprises…

Lowepro Toploader Pro 70 AW

What Can It Carry?

The bag has three sections: The main compartment for a camera & lens, a top compartment for memory cards & small items, and a deceptively large front pocket. An initial glance at the Toploader Pro 70 AW suggests the front pocket can only accommodate accessories such as batteries, cables & filters – however it can actually fit a mid-sized hotshoe flashgun like the Nikon SB-800, although the larger Nikon SB-900 or Canon 580EX II may be quite a squeeze.

The main compartment is tailored to carrying a large digital SLR with a 24-70mm f2.8 or 17-55mm f2.8 lens attached. Standard f2.8 zoom lenses designed for APS-C sensors can just fit with the lens hood fitted in the correct position, whereas Canon & Nikon’s 24-70mm f2.8 lenses require the lens hood to be reversed. I found the combination of Nikon D200 + 17-55mm f2.8 AF-S DX lens to fit perfectly with the huge HB-31 lens hood attached, allowing quick ‘bag-to-shoot’ reaction times with the lens cap removed and the easy zip arrangement (Canon’s EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM lens is the same length).

Lowepro Toploader Pro 70 AW Bag 1

The Design

The Lowepro Toploader Pro 70 AW is clearly suited to action & reportage photography thanks to the easy access main compartment. A large zipper runs around 3 sides of the bag and the top flips over to the side (from right to left when wearing the bag). There’s a buckle for the main compartment for additional security when speed isn’t required.

Opening the main compartmentOpening the main compartment

The exterior is tough & durable, with excellent stitching along the seams – this bag won’t be falling apart any time soon, a fact Lowepro are confident in too; they offer a lifetime warranty to the original purchaser against any defects in material or workmanship.

Back to the exterior; there are four attachment loops which are used for the shoulder strap (via the top 2 loops) or the optional chest harness. You can also feed an optional Lowepro belt through the rear of the bag, which is ideal for reducing the weight on your shoulders during extended trips.

There’s a carrying handle at the top nearside of the bag, which is useful except that the bag is quite unbalanced given the handle’s position. The carrying handle could have been placed across the centre of the top flap, but this would render it useless when the main compartment zip is undone. The handle position is a minor niggle and it’s preferable to the sight of flying cameras as owners mistakenly pick up their open bag in a hurry…

The details and build quality are fantasticThe details and build quality are fantastic

One element of the design I’m firmly in favour of is the Sliplock attachment loop located on the side of the bag. This allows you to extend the bag with a lens case or pouch when a single lens isn’t enough, opening up the option of carrying a 70-200mm f2.8 lens alongside a 24-70mm f2.8 attached to your camera, using Lowepro’s Lens Case 4 (smaller sizes are available for shorter lenses).

Tucked away at the side is the All Weather (AW) cover which provides extra rain protection. At least it should, in theory. I found the AW cover to be particularly inconvenient to fit and it took me over two minutes to begin with, which isn’t ideal if you’re caught in an impromptu downpour (unlike the excellent cover on my Nova AW which takes about 10 seconds). The shape of the cover itself has two sections; one for the torso of the bag and another for the top section, which allows you to access the main compartment without removing the entire cover. The accessibility is a trade-off against total protection and ease of fitting. To add to the AW cover’s woes it has ‘thoughtful’ holes for the shoulder strap or chest harness (yes, holes… in a rain cover). These access points are fine if you intend to setup the bag for rainy conditions whilst indoors. However, in the field it’s impractical to reconnect the straps whilst you’re getting soaked.

Conclusion

I found the Lowepro Toploader Pro 70 AW to be comfortable and the interior layout is perfect for a large digital SLR with a standard f2.8 zoom lens, precisely as Lowepro promised. The design of the All Weather cover is flawed, but it will provide some protection from the elements (if you need total protection try a Lowepro Dryzone Rover). My favourite part of the bag is how flexible it can be; adding a lens case saves you from a cupboard full of different bags for a different number of lenses, and the chest harness & belt loop add carrying options.

Pros: Fast access, Lowepro build quality, Sliplock & strap options

Cons: Terrible All Weather cover design, carrying handle position

Rating: 4.5

Lowepro Toploader Pro Range

The Toploader Pro range consists of three different sizes:

Toploader Pro 65 AW
Capacity: 1 Pro DSLR with a wide angle or standard fixed lens (14mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8)
Interior Size (W x D x H): 17 x 17 x 19cm
Exterior Size (Wx D x H): 20.3 x 20.3 x 22cm

Toploader Pro 70 AW
Capacity: 1 Pro DSLR with a standard zoom lens (24 – 70mm f2.8, 14–24 mm f2.8)
Interior Size (W x D x H): 17 x 17 x 21cm
Exterior Size (Wx D x H): 20.5 x 20.3 x 26.3cm

Toploader Pro 75 AW
Capacity: 1 Pro DSLR with a telephoto lens (70-200mm f2.8)
Interior Size (W x D x H): 17 x 17 x 29cm
Exterior Size (Wx D x H): 20.3 x 20.3 x 32.5cm