Manfrotto’s new Pro Light Reloader 55 bag is not only designed for professional photographers, it’s also been built with the avid traveller in mind.
Manfrotto’s new roller bag is a solid piece of kit which has been constructed to meet most airlines’ international carry-on size limits so that you can safely pack away your gear and keep in close proximity during your travels – but check your airline’s restrictions before flying.
On the outside of the bag, Manfrotto has used a robust nylon fabric which is water repellent, while the corners and bottom of the bag feature thick, black plastic coverings to help reduce wear.
What’s more, the 84mm wheels are removable and can be replaced over time.
On the back of the bag is a 17in pocket with about 0.5in padding in which you can store laptops. This pull-to-open pocket features a raised element that hooks into a tight band at the end of the zipper, keeping the pocket closed securely.
On top, a retractable handle extends about 13in making the Reloader 55 easy to wheel through airports.
Opening the Pro Light Reloader 55 reveals a customisable interior with thick, 1in padding in every direction. What’s more, the walls of the Reloader 55 have been reinforced and are completely rigid. Despite trying my best, I couldn’t bend or tilt the sides of the bag, even using two hands.
Despite its thickness, the grey and red padding is soft and cradles your gear gently, whilst remaining rigid. And because of the many different ways you can customise the bag I was able to easily fit a tripod into the bag and still had room to include my camera with a standard lens mounted, another lens, a premium compact that I’m testing and a flashgun with room to spare.
I shoot with a CSC, but inside there’s also room for double-gripped cameras like the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1DX Mark II with a 400mm f/2.8 attached.
Five more pockets on the inside of the Pro Light Reloader 55’s lid offer secure places to store extra memory cards, batteries, chargers and cables.
Two straps on either side of the lid connect back to the interior of the bag, in theory holding the Reloader 55 open upright for you. A small niggle was that these straps aren’t adjustable and it felt like they needed to be ever-so-slightly longer so that the lid, rather than standing at a 90-degree angle to the bag, leaned slightly further back at about 95 or 100 degrees to the bag.
Instead the slightest movement of the bag meant the lid kept closing down on my hands. In the end, I simply unclipped the straps and tucked them into one of the pockets. Problem solved.
Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader 55 review: verdict
Despite a balancing act with the two straps connected to the lid, the Reloader 55 offers a wonderful, versatile design that should appeal to a lot of photographers. That I was able to fit such a diverse range of kit in one bag and still have space left over offered a lot of freedom.
I hate carrying tripods and often eschew them. With the Reloader 55 allowing me to pack one away so efficiently, I could see this becoming my go-to bag for city breaks and day trips even if I wasn’t taking an airplane.
What’s more, its rigidity and the high-quality padding really gave me a feeling of confidence that I could entrust the Reloader 55 to baggage handlers or a turbulent flight and my gear would remain perfectly safe.