The Lowepro Stealth 550 AW is one of the largest bags we own, and addressed the problem of carrying around a Canon EOS camera with lenses and macro accessories which formed the core units of our product photography. As we expanded more and more into this area, it was inevitable that the gear requirements expanded along with it. Canon gear is by no means small when compared with much of the other kit we have, so it soon became obvious that we needed something big to transport it in.
The dimensions of the 550 AW meant that it would easily swallow up the body, 20mm, 100mm macro and 28-135mm zoom lenses, along with a MT-24EX Twin Macro Flash, other remote flash units, focus rail, laptop and a host of smaller items. And there was room for expansion.
The build quality is typically Lowepro, being constructed from water-resistant 600D TXP™ ripstop and 2000D ballistic nylon. Such high grade material is fairly light but the bag’s mass still results in it weighing in at 2.26 kilos empty. Once the gear was added it turned into a monster that I was pleased I only had to carry to and from the car and onto customer sites.
The bottom of the bag and internal partitions in the main storage area provided a lot of protection and it was an easy enough task to re-arrange the inserts to accommodate the gear snugly. Doing this freed up a lot of space that could easily take two or three more lenses or another EOS body with lens attached.
The front of the bag has three pockets that provide space for a large selection of smaller items such as batteries, chargers, memory cards, filters, cleaning kits, mp3 player, notebook/pen etc. We have a lot of accessories for this system, but never managed to fill the pockets.
The flap that forms the top of the bag is secured in place by a high quality zip and adjustable plastic buckle, similar to that found on good quality back packs. A neat feature of the main flap is that it has a further zip running from one end to the other, allowing quick access to all gear in the main compartment without having to unbuckle it.
A wide detachable and adjustable shoulder strap is provided that includes a shoulder pad. This goes some way to alleviating pressure on the shoulder but there is no escaping the fact that when the bag is full, it is uncomfortable to carry for any period of time. Additionally I found that the bag had a tendency to tip forward a little when being carried on the shoulder – something that concerned me if the zip on the top was open.
The ‘AW’ in the Stealth 550’s name stands for ‘all weather’; and the properties of the material used ensure that water just runs off the bag. In addition to the excellent waterproofing, a rain cover is included for those times when the weather really takes a turn for the worse. I have no reservations whatsoever about using this bag in any weather as the contents have always remained dry.
Typical of Lowepro products, the high build quality means that it can take the knocks and bangs of daily use in its stride. The material is very tough and shrugs off scuffs and scratches easily. For someone looking for a large capacity well-made weather resistant bag I recommend it highly, but just be aware that, like other large bags, it becomes heavy very quickly when filled with gear.