While the wife and I were traveling, I got a very interesting email from Derrick Story, photography evangelist of Lowepro. He asked me in the email if I would like to have a first look with a bag that hasn't been out yet. I said "yes" of course! It's not only the iPhone that gets me excited! Having a first look at a product from a quality bag maker such as Lowepro is something that can also be thrilling.
Enter the Lowepro Urban Reporter 250!
This is a classy bag and has a lot of good things going for it.
When you first hold the bag, you would think that Lowepro made a bag out of ... jeans! The bag feels good to the touch. And, like a good old pair of pants, I believe this material will weather nicely. However, the bag isn't made up of ordinary cloth. The cloth that makes up the bag is actually a synthetic material that will let rain drops glide over it. So, even if it does not have a rain cover, you can be assured that the bag will protect your gear from the rain. Just don't go swimming or go under strong waterfalls with it.
On either side of the bag are two roomy pockets. Both pockets are roomy enough for an external speedlite or a bottle water. I was even able to put a Canon Powershot G15 inside one of these pockets. Inside the pocket is another stretchy pocket that's good for filters, a phone or your business cards.
At the back of the bag is a pocket that's big enough to house an iPad. However, this is not a padded compartment so I don't really recommend putting an electronic device there. You can put a book, a magazine, or even an ExpoImaging FlashBender in there. However, the true purpose of this bag is revealed when you unzip the zipper at the bottom: when you do this, you will be able to slip the telescopic handles of your luggage into the pocket. This will free up your hands and you won't have to carry your gear anymore, perfect when you're zipping through an airport.
Next, when you open the flap, you are presented with the front, main pocket that's also big enough for an iPad, maps, or a magazine. You could, technically, put a speedlite there though, because of the thick dimensions of the speedlite, the front pocket will be bulging...
When you open the bag fully, you'll be surprised to find a covered camera compartment. Yes, there is a cover under the front cover. This is because the camera compartment can be a stand-alone storage for your camera gear. This thickly padded section can actually be removed and what you are left with is a messenger bag which can be used for your daily commute. Without the compartment, the inside of the bag is roomy and you can even use it as a weekend bag.
There is a laptop compartment inside the bag and you can put a 13-inch Macbook Pro in there. Well, I rarely bring my laptop outside anymore, so what I have there instead is my full-sized iPad. The depth of the laptop compartment is deep enough to enable you to insert the iPad vertically. Yes, my iPad was standing inside the bag when I took the photo.
Now, the main compartment designed for camera storage is a roomy one. I was able to squeeze my Canon 7D mounted with a Canon 70-200 f/4L lens and with that set up, the padded top only bulged a little. Now, a 70-200 f/2.8L lens is an inch longer than the one that I have so you won't be able to squeeze it in if it's mounted to a camera. However, the bag is deep enough to house a 70-200 f/2.8L on its own... Or, if you really want to put that mounted 70-200 f/2.8L in there, then you can do what Derrick did here; it's a different bag, but you get the gist. Derrick is a master at manipulating his bags to suit his needs. :)
Oh, one thing I love: buttons! Yes, Lowepro decided to go retro with this bag so to lock the front cover and the side pockets, all you need to do is button the covers up. And I love the leather accents also! This bag has one classy design.
So, all-in-all, you can put a DSLR with a mounted standard zoom lens, a couple of extra short lenses, a couple of speedlites, a laptop in the laptop compartment, an iPad in the front pocket, a point-and-shoot camera and a bottle of water. That's a lot of gear!
What's one thing that I like changed? Just one thing: the padding for the strap. The padding is thin for my taste and I would have wanted a thicker one, like the one in the Lowepro Pro Messenger 180 which I reviewed here. For me, that bag has one of the best strap and strap padding there is.
And finally, to test out the bag, I decided to test it in one of the best places to test it: The Chicago Oktoberfest! It is an urban bag after all, and it is the perfect bag whether for use in the office, a walk-around bag, or even attending a beer-soaked festival! The look of the bag will enable you to blend with the crowd and its low-profile look will hide the fact that you have camera gear inside. From afar, you can't even tell the Lowepro bag from other messenger bags - perfect for photographers who want to remain anonymous. :)
The wife and I prepared a short video of the bag. Hope you like it.
This bag is Highly Recommended!
So get yours here!
Special thanks to the wife, Reina Reyes, for shooting the stills and video clips.
Special thanks to Derrick Story and Suzanne Knowlton for trusting me with their secret. Thank you for giving me the first look of this bag!
Gear used to make this post:
-- Canon 5D Mark II (article)
-- Canon 24-105 f/4L IS USM Lens (Long term review)
-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)