Okay, I'll be honest. When I found out I was reviewing a bag I thought, "Hmmm, how much fun can you have with a bag?" Well, if it’s the Lowepro Magnum 650 AW, then the answer is: A lot!
The bag arrived in a huge cardboard box which I thought must have been to accommodate extra padding, bubble wrap, etc. But no, this bag needs NO padding it’s absolutely solid: you could bounce bricks off it and it wouldn't leave a scratch!
What’s inside the Magnum 650 AW?
Designed in uber cool storm grey and bright orange colours, the internal dividing system provides a huge amount of space and storage options for gear as well as providing the structure to support the case. The spacers inside are totally flexible and you can organise them to fit around your own style. I used some of the Velcro dividers as 'lids' to place over my lenses when they were in situ, providing further padding. There’s also an LCD cloth with a Velcro attachment at the top so you can pop it back on any one of the interior walls, leaving it right where you want it so you never have to rake around! There’s also a neat little mini bag inside that features 4 pouches on the outside that are ideal for memory cards, and inside is big enough to fit perhaps a compact digital camera, an external hard drive or the smaller things you don’t want to get lost. Under the lid of the Lowepro Magnum 650 AW are two huge water resistant pouches, reinforced with a mesh fabric for durability. I could easily fit both my hands inside, with room to rummage about.
A well padded laptop sleeve is also a welcome surprise, providing protection for a laptop up to a 15.4 inch widescreen. A great feature of this is the integrated sunshade meaning you can use the laptop outside in bright conditions without glare and with added privacy. The top of the Lowepro Magnum 650 AW is ideal for using as a base to work from, thanks to its solid build. When your laptop is not in use, it sits snugly inside the bag on top.
Lowepro Magnum 650 AW Mini Bag
A tough, durable and sexy black fabric is what is keeping all that precious kit safe. The lid that tucks all that precious kit inside has been cleverly designed to feature an added rain flap. This comes over the zip and is locked into place by two quick release buckles on each side. There are three soft padded handles on top, one in the middle and two at either end to make it easy for two people to carry – the handles are very soft on the hand, no risk of chaffing here! There is a compartment on each side of the Magnum 650AW, and to the back there is a pull out rain cover which is really tough, hard-wearing and enables you to cover the whole bag and protect from wet conditions. On the same side there is a luggage sleeve which is rather nifty and enables you to pop it through the handle of a trolley case, meaning you can sit it on top and wheel it all together.
The left and right sides feature identical compartments which are large, soft and well padded inside with enough room to fit a wide range of accessories, notebooks, grey cards and even a small reflector. To the front of the bag there is yet another large compartment which offers additional, beautifully padded carrying space. Also, at either side of the Lowepro Magnum 650 AW is a metal D ring to enable you to clip on the Vertebral Tech shoulder strap for an alternative way of transportation. The strap is well padded in the shoulder area and spreads the weight of the bag evenly for greater comfort; quite simply the best shoulder strap I’ve ever used to carry a bag.
Lowepro Magnum 650 AW front pocket
To the front of the bag there is an additional pouch with a pull down flap. The pull down compartment carries forward the cool grey and orange colour scheme and provides easy access and quick organisation. On the inside of the pull down flap is yet another large pocket which I managed to fit a waterproof cagoule in, and inside it is a further five smaller pockets and three pen holders. The five pockets are ideal for organising things such as spare batteries, cables, notes, a light meter, or clamps etc!
All of the compartments feature oversized zipper pulls, which means no fumbling about with feeble, poxy zips. This is especially good when your outside in the freezing cold and your fingers stop working as well as they should!
The base is designed and moulded to be sturdy and extremely stable – this bag is definately not going flop or collapse in on itself! Because of the square shape of the bag it's ideal for stacking other things on top of, saving space! Of course, it's also water resistant. I had it out in a total downpour and not one drop of rain managed to penetrate through the fabric, keeping all my gear dry even without the rain cover.
The Lowepro Magnum 650 AW has a comfortable handle, strap + a useful raincover
When the Lowepro Magnum 650 AW is crammed full of stuff it does get heavy, but thankfully the specially designed shoulder strap shows its worth and distributes the weight evenly - although having wee shoulders I did find it a tad heavy. I think a set of small wheels on the bottom of the bag would be ideal but it's a minor thing and I can cope without them!
I actually moved house whilst reviewing this bag and I not only managed to fit my kit and my laptop inside it – but my external hard drives, computer cables, keyboard, mouse, modem, router, speakers and all other computer related paraphernalia too!
Inside the Lowepro Magnum 650 AW
I never thought I would describe a camera bag as sexy, it’s hardly a Prada clutch lets face it, but like any good fashion piece, it makes the wearer feel special. Walking around with this in tow, I felt like a true professional; this is a no nonsense, don’t mess with me camera bag which is more than capable of delivering. In fact, if I left this bag alone with my kit, I wouldn't be surprised if it walked off, shot the scene and came back with a gorgeous set of images. I love this bag.
- Vertebral Tech shoulder strap
- Oversized zip pulls
- Insane amount of storage
- Handles & pulls on almost every surface
- Apart from a lack of wheels, I honestly cant think of any!
Design: 10/10 You really feel that Lowepro have thought about everything without making it look ugly
Durability: 10/10 A solid work horse of a bag that won't let you down
Practicality: 11/10 Yes it's a big bag, but it's the only bag you’ll ever need