Why do I need Lowepro's RL x450 AW II?
On the days that I shoot personal work in Tokyo, I don't need more than a small bag to hold my Fujifilm X-T1 and a couple of lenses. But, when I am shooting an assignment for a client who wants all of the bells and whistles, I tote around a lot of gear that won't fit inside of my man purse. For those bigger productions, I must have a bag that isn't a burden.
I realize that it is largely unnecessary to take a lot of gear to any shoot. Despite this, I usually show up for assignments bogged down with a ton of gear. As a photographer who also happens to have a bad back, it is essential for me to have a bag that carries a decent amount of photographic equipment without causing me a lot of physical strain. Considering this, Lowepro's Pro Runner RL x450 AW II is the bag I choose when I need a lot of gear without the hassle.
Lowepro's RL x450 AW II Runner is the perfect size for me; not too big, not too small. I can easily carry a couple of flashes, a camera with a 70-200mm strapped as well as an extra body and four or five prime lenses. This gear, matched with my laptop, external hard drive and phone, fits nicely into the bag with room to spare. But I don't worry about my gear even when I do have to cram it into the bag. The RL x450 AW II has built-in suspended impact protection which safeguards my devices from making love to each other within the bag.
The RL x450 was designed with us all (not just the photographically inclined) in mind. The design incorporates many pockets and compartments to fit all of your necessary gear. But more, the bag has removable storage built into the main compartment. If you are the kind of photographer who likes to leave their bag to the side, having the ability to pull a small bag of accessories out from its snug velcro home is an added design feature you will love.
The RL x450 AW II is ready for the elements. While the bag isn't sea worthy or built to withstand torrential downpours, the reserve weather protection system is quite handy when transitioning from A to B. The all weather cover is easily accessible and eliminates my worries about rain while I am in transit. While other bags often come with weather protection, it is hard to find larger gear bags that have built in weather resistant coverings.
Yet, the main feature of the AW II Runner's design relates directly to it's namesake. The Rl x450 is a runner bag for the photographer on the go. Whether you are a portrait, travel, editorial or commercial photographer, this bag is crafted for the working professional who needs to move a significant amount of gear easily.
The wheels make the Lowepro Runner feel more like a suitcase than a gear bag. However, you are not locked into rolling the bag if that isn't your thing. Within the bag are cleverly concealed straps that will convert the AW II Runner into a backpack. Within seconds, you can transfer from a roller on smooth surfaces to a rather comfortable pack when you encounter terrain that is a little more bumpy (or in my case, an incredibly packed street in Tokyo).
A Bag With Cargo Space
I am an advocate of carrying a light gear kit while traveling. But sometimes, a photographer needs to take the kitchen sink along with them. I found myself in that very situation this summer. Away from Tokyo for six weeks, I had several diverse portrait sessions planned in America. With engagement, fashion and lifestyle shoots on my calendar, I needed to take pieces of gear that would allow me a bit of artistic flexibility as well as the ability to work on personal projects.
The Runner AW II was the perfect size for such a long trip. The bag allowed me to carry as much gear as a photographer could possibly handle without packing hard cases. As my carry-on, the bag also had enough room for those personal items I wanted to keep close by.
Inside My Bag
If you don't yet believe in the actual cargo capacity of the Pro Runner AW II, perhaps a list of what I filled the bag with will settle the issue. For a diverse line-up of portrait assignments, I managed to pack the following:
- Fujifilm X-T1 Mirrorless body (not pictured)
- Fujinon 14mm f/1.4
- Fujinon 35mm f/1.2
- Fujinon 56mm f/1.2
- Canon 5d Mark III
- Canon EOS 24-105 f/4
- Manfrotto MT293C4 with mounted 494 Ball Head
- (3) Canon 430ex ii Speedlites
- Manfrotto boom head
- Sigma 35mm Art f/1.4
- Rogue CTO gel pack
- Tiffen Filter Case with 8 filters
- (3) SMDV flash receivers
- SMDV flash trigger
- Memory card holder stocked with cards
- Insignia remote release
- Fuji battery charger
- Canon battery charger
- Extra Fuiji and Canon body batteries
- Canon EOS 3000 film camera body
- (13) rolls of film (Ilford Delta 100, Ilfrod Panf Plus, Porta 400, Rollei RPX 25)
- Extra AA batteries
- 6 inch triangular prism
- Lens wipes
- A slew of hardware
- Blackrapid DSLR strap
- The Ugly Americans by William J. Lederer
- 3 Industry trade magazines (Digital Photo Pro and Rangefinder)
- Iphone and charger
- Writing Journal
- Uniball pens
- Fisherman's Friend cough drops
- Business cards
- Passport and money case
- Macbook Air
- Transcend 1TB external harddrive
The RL x45o does surprisingly well around the town. I have used the bag to haul gear to a variety of shoots and it has saved my back from a lot of wear and tear. In fact, for the assignments that do require a lot of equipment, Lowepro's Runner is my bag of choice because of its ease. Navigating public transportation with equipment has never been smoother as the bag is versatile and can fit nicely on the upper racks of Tokyo's railcars, in my lap or on my back.
In the airport, the bag really proves its worth. The roller functioning proves to be a tremendous asset as the Lowepro's Runner system allows for an easy glide to the gate. Getting on the plane is just as easy. I can roll the bag straight to my seat and, with a heave, am able to place my gear in the overhead compartment without any smashing or gnashing.
While Lowepro's RL x450 AW II Runner is the bag for me, it would be silly to say that the bag is absolutely perfect. There are a few minor issues with the bag that keep me from giving the bag a five star rating.
A slight design flaw for the Pro Runner is the fastened pulls on the zippers. With any more than a gentle tug, the guide strings will come loose as will the zipper itself. This is a problem with many bags across the market and is not specific to Lowepro's AW II Runner. If you care to keep your zippers and tracts in tact, do not yank on the zippers. While this is not a huge inconvenience in an overall sense, it is a small frustration immediately felt.
There is room from improvement in the design of the wheel housing.. My primary complaint is that the wheels are fixed and do not swivel. This means that the bag is prone to tip on its edges. With any trot to your step, you will find your bag on its side forcing you to stop and get rolling again. While the bag is called a Runner, it would be more appropriately called a "fast walker."
Another drawback is the weight of the Runner. Coming in a 4.6 Kgs (over ten pounds) the bag itself is quite hefty. While the bag's weight is not too cumbersome on assignment, it does need to be considered when traveling. Any extra weight in the air could mean that you have to leave some gear behind. More worrisome is the likelihood that the bag will be weighed when boarding an aircraft. Packed full, the bag will certainly exceed any airline's carry-on weight. This fact should not be necessarily held against Lowepro but should be considered before purchase.
Like weight, the size of the bag can also be problematic. It is quite obvious that the Pro Runner AW II won't fit under the seat in front of you on any airplane. Even If you could manage to cram it partially under a coach seat, you would be riding with your knees in your throat. For those who are flying shorter routes routed with small planes, go ahead and mentally prepare to be separated from your gear as the bag will most certainly need to be gate checked.
4.5 Out of 5 Stars
All things considered, Lowepro's RL x450 AW II Runner is a helluva bag. Whether on assignment in Tokyo, in the air or traveling for an editorial, the bag carries all the necessary gear I could possibly need to make most shoots happen. The versatility of the bag and the smart design make this Runner my go-to bag for larger photographic productions. Professional photographers and serious hobbyists with both will appreciate the bag's potential as the "big daddy" in their bag collection.
Do you have experience with Lowepro's Runner Series? I would love to hear your thoughts about the bag in the comments section.
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Who Is Andrew Faulk?
With over a decade of experience in living and working in Asia, Tokyo photographer Andrew Faulk specializes in portrait, editorial, event, and commercial photography assignments. He works with individuals, families, publications, and corporations to create timeless images under any deadline. His work is frequently featured in a variety of international travel and lifestyle publications. He is a husband, father, and lover of fried food. Get in touch with Andy today to discuss your photography needs in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.