Reviews |Manfrotto PRO Light L Backpack

Manfrotto PRO Light L Backpack Review

The ultimate large capacity camera backpack for professionals

Manfrotto Pro Light backpack review
Review

Price when reviewed

£299

$329
Check current price

Our Verdict

Designed for professional photographers and videographers, the Manfrotto PRO Light Fexloader is the backpack you want on your world travels or simply if you’re a day-to-day jobbing photographer.

Loaded with an array of standard kit, including; two camera bodies, 24-70mm, three fixed primes, flash, filters, tripod on the side, lighting stand on the other, mic’s, batteries, and a few other essentials and the bag is comfortably full.

On the back of the pack, there’s a slot for your laptop, away from the main section. But then this is the Flexloader, so there’s more. Unzip around the laptop slot, and the bag expands further to reveal a larger slot pocket large enough to hold a gimbal.

The bag’s design is ingenious and functional; it’s a carryall workhorse of a bag. I’ve used the previous iteration of the Pro Light on several trips and was impressed by the function of the bag, but this is in another league.

If you need a backpack that can carry and protect a serious amount of kit, then the Manfrotto PRO Light Flexloader backpack provides capacity and quality you can depend on.

For

  • Large capacity backpack
  • Expandable storage
  • Incredibly comfortable

Against

  • Tripod side pocket places weight above the top of the bag
  • Incredibly heavy once loaded with gear

What is the Manfrotto PRO Light Fexloader backpack?

The Flexloader is designed for professional image creators like the previous Manfrotto PRO Light. The interior space offers plenty of width and height to accommodate mirrorless cameras, DSLRs and even larger camcorders such as the Canon EOS C100 MKII or Sony PXW-FS7.

Checking over the bag and the zips, inner and outer materials all feel robust. There are also features such as the slip pockets and handles that highlight that this bag is the one to be grabbed on your next assignment.

Checking over the bag and you have the usual side slip pocket at the front for a few personal effects. There’s also one of the most robust rain-covers I’ve ever seen on a bag of this size.

Then to ensure that the bag is easy to carry and move around, there are grab handles on both sides and the top. These handles are all identical, which is a great feature, so you get to know the feel for the bag’s layout even when lights are low or you’re hauling the bag out of a vehicle or holdall.

Manfrotto Pro Light backpack review

If you’re travelling, you’ll spend a lot of time carting this and other bags and kit around; thankfully, Manfrotto has seen fit to include a trolly hoop on the back. Useful for popping onto a trolly and a good preventative measure to halt the opportunist thief.

Then there’s the built-in lock. This features a four-digit number combination and wire loop. It won’t stop a decent set of snips for long, but again it stops the opportunist from getting to your kit.

Essentially it has plenty of storage in the main cavity; the shoulder, chest and waist straps are large enough to enable you to comfortably carry the pack even when it’s fully loaded and then there’s the Flexloader bit.

This section separates this model from the standard and is essentially an expandable back pocket that lets you slip in a gimbal. One of Manfrotto’s larger models, not a slimline compact alternative such as the ZHIYUN M3 by the gimbal.

Manfrotto Pro Light backpack review

The pocket sits in front of the laptop slip pocket, so the weight is kept close to the body.

The Pro Light Flexloader Backpack L offers an impressive amount of carrying space. Great, but fully loaded, it can be insanely heavy.

Specification

  • Weight : 3kg
  • Internal Dimensions: 26 x 15 x 47 cm
  • External Dimensions: 36 x 35 x 56 cm
  • Volume: 26.5L
  • Laptop Compartment Dimensions: 27 x 2.5 x 46 cm
  • Number Of Lenses: 8
  • Material: Nylon, Synthetic Fabric
  • Gimbal pocket: Yes
  • Laptop slot: Yes
  • Tripod connection: Yes

Performance

As the backpacks go, the Manfrotto Pro Light Flexloader weighs in at quite a bit, 3kg, before it’s filled. It is, after all, aimed at pros, and pros are tough, or at least have assistants who are youthful, energetic and not yet broken by the weight of heavy kit bags.

Loading up the bag, there’s plenty of room for two Sony A7 bodies, six lenses, a ProFoto A1X, wireless mics, a Tascam DR-40, Manfrotto gimbal, and a 16-inch laptop.

Then there’s space for a tripod on one side, not just the travel variety, a water bottle on the other and a slider on the back. That’s an incredible amount of kit crammed into one 26.5L bag.

When you are off on a shoot, this bag enables you to pack everything in one neat package, which has proven useful on several occasions in the last month.

Manfrotto Pro Light backpack review

Used in the first instance as a kit transported, the PRO Light Flexloader Backpack Large is spot on. The pack’s construction enables you to load it to a back-breaking weight and lug it from the house to the car and then from the car to the location at the other end. Much further than the 100 yards or so at each end, and I think I’d be in trouble!

However, stripping down the kit, on and in, the backpack, and you have an almost perfect everyday working photo backpack.

I used the PRO Light Flexloader backpack on several commercial shoots, with the first being a typical corporate events photoshoot.

In the bag went two Sony A7 bodies, a 24-70mm, 85mm and 35mm, tripod in the case and ProFoto A1X flash. Packed and loaded with batteries, cards, a jumper and some food, there’s still space and the weight was quite respectable. However, with the laptop slipped in the back, the pack was starting to feel a little weighty, but once on and the strap adjusted, weight was evenly spread, and the bag was incredibly comfortable.

Through the event, the laptop and tripod were left in the office, and the bag stayed for the most part on my back. Most of the test was carried out through January and February, and to be honest, the weight helped to keep me warm.

Through the event, the front access proved effective for accessing lenses. There are also two zipped pockets on the waistband, ideal for batteries and memory cardholders. I also found that it was pretty easy to access the water bottle from the side pocket.

The small loop lock was also good for quickly securing the pack in a cloakroom during part of the shoot.

One of the great features is that the shoulder straps are incredibly sturdy, so attaching a camera using a PGYTECH Beetle camera clip.

Manfrotto Pro Light backpack review

The next trip was to test the latest LEE Filters Elements Big and Little stopper; this time, I kitted up with a trusty Manfrotto 055 with head on the side, LEE FILTERs packed inside along with a Sony A7 III with 12-24mm and 24-70mm.

There was no doubt with all the kit the pack was starting to weigh quite a bit; and although the bag wasn’t overly full, it was getting close to the maximum weight I would normally find comfortable to carry.

Lifting the bag in and out of the car, those side and top handles come in useful, with the bag being extremely easy to shift and manoeuvre as needed.

Getting to the location and strapping the pack onto my back, the design of the shoulder and waist straps instantly transformed what was a heavyish bag into something far less weighty.

Manfrotto really knows how to design a pro kit pack, and this bag enables you to carry it all. The design of the weight-bearing structure also enables you to carry that weight without the discomfort that you can start to feel with other bags.

When it comes to accessing your kit the bag needs to be laid down on its back. The actual access through the front of the bag is excellent. There are pockets and space for all the kit – it feels well planned out and in use provides you with all the spaces you need to hold batteries, cards and anything else you can think of.

The only issue is that the bag laid on the ground can get wet or damp depending on the conditions. The weather was mainly overcast and rainy through this test, so the ground was guaranteed to be wet; it also meant that I was wearing a rain jacket, so a wet bag back wasn’t an issue.

There is, of course, the rain cover that can be pulled out and used as a groundsheet. Gaining access to this takes a while, but as rain covers go, this one is pretty robust and certainly does the job.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a professional looking for an excellent day-to-day backpack then there is little to fault with the Manfrotto PRO Light Flexloader Backpack L.

As large professional backpacks go it does the job of holding plenty of kit and ensuring that it stays safe and secure. There’s a good amount of padding and protection and the outer materials are ultra-tough and weather resistant.

Manfrotto Pro Light backpack review

What makes this pack stand out however is the Flexloader feature. Transporting gimbals can be faff, with all the arms and axis that are easily damaged if just thrown into a hold-all. This backpack provides the space for the gimbal to be slotted in and held safely.

When it comes to having the gimbal and laptop slot next to each other, I would be a little dubious about carrying both at the same time, just encase there’s too much weight pressure being transferred through the padded divide, but for transporting kit it’s ideal.

Used to transfer all your kit from one place to another the Pro Light works well, with the robust build, carry handles and trolly hoop making it easy to carry and move even when full laden.

In the field as a working backpack, the large waist and shoulder straps take the weight and enable you to move with ease and freedom.

As professional working backpacks go the Manfrotto PRO Light Flexloader Backpack is excellent and looks great too.

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