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The best Lowepro camera bag for airline carry-on?

I love Lowepro bags and I own several of them, but in Jan this year I had to return my Computrekker AW Plus for a small repair to one of the zip pockets inside. Sadly 2 months after! I was told by the distributor that the bag was discontinued and they didn’t have a replacement bag in stock neither the new bag [Pro Runner 450 AW] that is supposed to replace the Computrekker AW Plus. So I started looking at the new range trying to find out a suitable replacement for a carry-on bag.

Below is a comparison between the old and the new bags that are a close match to the maximum carry-on dimensions that most airlines use.

Model
Interior Dim. Exterior Dim. Int. Capacity Linear Ext. Laptop Com.

Weight Width Height Length Width Height Length
(W+H+L) Width Height Length
Computrekker AW Plus (disc) 2.75 33 13.5 48 35.6 23.1 50.3 21384 109 29.5 4.75 47.5

6.06 13.0 5.3 18.9 14.0 9.1 19.8 1305 43 11.6 1.9 18.7
Computrekker AW (disc) 1.54 28 12.5 38 34 21.6 45 13300 101 30.5 4 38

3.4 11.0 4.9 15.0 13.4 8.5 17.7 812 40 12.0 1.6 15.0
Omni Trekker (disc) 2.45 33 13.5 44.5 34.5 16.5 45.5 19825 97 no
5.4 13.0 5.3 17.5 13.6 6.5 17.9 1210 38 no
Pro Runner 450 AW 2.7 31 17 47 34 29 50.5 24769 114 31 4.5 39.5
5.95 12.2 6.7 18.5 13.4 11.4 19.9 1511 45 12.2 1.8 15.6
Vertex 200 AW 3.32 30 16.5 44 32 26 47 21780 105 30 5 42
7.32 11.8 6.5 17.3 12.6 10.2 18.5 1329 41 11.8 2.0 16.5
Vertex 300 AW 3.7 31 16.5 52 33 26 55 26598 114 30 5 50
8.16 12.2 6.5 20.5 13.0 10.2 21.7 1623 45 11.8 2.0 19.7
Metric (cm,kg,cm3) Note: Although the Omni Trekker does not have a laptop compartment you can still squeeze a 13” screen laptop in the harness compartment.
Imperial (in,lbs,in3)

The increase in height [from 23.1. to 29 cm] in the Pro Runner 450AW means that it is above most airlines limits, although in linear cm/in it does meet the maximum linear dimensions [see below]. The height issue also applies to the new Pro Trekkers 300 and 400 AW and this is why they were not included.

Both the Vertex 200 and 300 AW are good matches [height slightly above the limits, but I am sure they can be squeezed in]. The Vertex 300 AW also meets the maximum linear dimensions.

The now discontinued Computrekker AW Plus is nevertheless lighter than any of the Vertex bags and it is slightly wider which allows you to pack a Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 on the middle of the bag and still have space on both sides to pack the bodies and lenses, it is a tight fit but I have done it. The same packing will not be possible with the Vertex bags since they are 3cm/1.2in smaller in width, although the extra length of the Vertex 300 will compensate to some extent.

What the manufacturer does not tell you is that most mountaineering backpacks out there offer much better load distribution and comfort than any of these camera backpacks on medium/long treks. If this your case buy a backpack that provides easy access to the middle of the pack [like some rescue mountaineering backpacks] and fit a smaller camera bag inside the backpack if you want.

Of course there is still the question of the weight with the bag loaded [which will for sure exceed the maximum allowed in most airlines]. The following tips will also help for a trouble-free check-in:

  • Wear the backpack casually on one shoulder. It gives the impression that is light and you are less likely to be asked to put it on the scale [this is also why I do not travel with roller bags for carry-on];
  • Wear a photo vest under your jacket. If they ask you to weight your backpack you can always transfer a considerable part of the heavier stuff into your  jacket and photo vest pockets, hopefully meeting the limit;
  • If you still don’t meet the limit, kindly argue that you are carrying valuable, delicate equipment and point out that the European Directive [in Europe, obviously] foresees such exceptions;
  • If the ignominious bastard still insists that you check the backpack, ask him if it is possible to hand it in at the gate [of course, get rid of any bag tag he might have put in between];
  • If the above doesn’t do the trick and you are still being asked to check it in, as a last resort ask him to call the airline person responsible, get the names of both bastards [no, you can not kill them! It's against the law, although it shouldn't be] , take as much as possible of the valuable gear with you, file a written complain to the airline and take them to court if any of your checked gear gets damaged or disappears.
Airline
Exterior Dim. Linear Ext. No. of pieces [Economy]

Weight Width Height Length (W+H+L) (basic or no Freq. Flyer card)
British Airways Not Specified 45 25 56 126 1 + Laptop or other small item


17.7 9.8 22.0 50
United Not Specified 35 23 56 114 1 + Laptop or other small item


13.8 9.1 22.0 45
KLM 12 35 25 55 115 1 + Laptop or other small item
26.46 13.8 9.8 21.7 45
Finnair 8 45 25 56 126 1 + Laptop or other small item
17.64 17.7 9.8 22.0 50
Singapore Air 7 40 25 50 115 1 + Laptop or other small item
15.43 15.7 9.8 19.7 45
Lufthansa 8 40 20 55 115 1 carry-on
17.64 15.7 7.9 21.7 45
Emirates 7 38 20 55 113 1 carry-on
15.43 15.0 7.9 21.7 44

Note: The table above only applies for international flights from Europe.

In Conclusion:

  • The Computrekker AW Plus [if you can still find one] as well as the Vertex bags are, as far as I am concerned, the best Lowepro options for carry-on if you are planning to take a reasonable amount of gear.
  • Whenever possible opt for a friendly airline [like BA, United, KLM and others like them], one that is less likely to hassle you at check-in with carry-on and excess luggage charges.

PS: In the end I decided that my Computrekker AW Plus was still the best option for me, succeed in tracking a shop with one in stock, informed the Lowepro distributor and got it as a replacement.

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14/03/2010 - Posted by | Photo Equipment Reviews, Tips | , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Hello i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace,
    when i read this post i thought i could also create comment due to this good
    article.

    Comment by best carry on luggage under 300 | 23/01/2014 | Reply

  2. Hello, I desire to subscribe for this web site to obtain most recent updates, therefore where
    can i do it please help out.

    Comment by Pablo | 13/07/2013 | Reply

  3. I have Lowepro´s Omni Trekker and I relly like it.My photogear + laptop fits on it, AND Omni Trekker fits in Ortliebs waterpoof messengerbag!

    Comment by Esme | 15/03/2010 | Reply


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