I have been using my current camera backpack for just over three years now. It has served me well and needs to be replaced. The problem? I haven’t been able to find anything that can beat it. Manfrotto’s new PRO Lite bag line had me intrigued. So, I jumped at the chance to test the new Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader.
I am very picky when it comes to camera bags. Not only do the bags have to be comfortable and protect my gear, but they also have to fit my ever-changing needs as a creator, be durable, and also look the part. It’s a pretty tall order to follow. Many camera bags are versatile but lack character or they look great but aren’t versatile. Still, I had high hopes for the Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader. It certainly looks the part. Let’s find out if it’s all style and no substance in this full review.
- Beautifully designed
- Great build quality
- Incredibly spacious
- Tons of padding
- Holds cameras, lenses, a gimbal and a laptop
- Nice accessory pouch
- It’s a lot of bag for the price
- Honestly, none
Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader — Technical specifications
All of the technical specifications for this camera bag have been taken from the official Manfrotto website:
- Weight: 6.61 lbs.
- Volume: 26.5 L
- External Dimensions: 14.17 x 13.78 x 22.05 in
- Internal Dimensions: 10.24 x 5.91 x 18.50 in
- Camera Insert Dimensions: 10.24 x 5.91 x 18.50 in
- Laptop Compartment Dimensions: 10.63 x 0.98 x 18.11 in
- Material: Nylon, Synthetic Fabric, water repellent
- Price: $329.99
Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader — Ergonomics
With dimensions of 14.17 x 13.78 x 22.05 inches and a weight of 6.61 lbs., a small bag the Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader is not. Though, this should come as no shock to you if you’re looking for one bag that can carry it all. Despite its size, Manfrotto has designed a bag that looks stunning and that is plane cabin compliant.
The Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader doesn’t scream “I’m a camera bag!” This is a great thing considering there’s room inside for tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear. The gray color of the nylon is nicely accented with black and red detailing. The fabric itself has a diamond weave pattern that looks great too.
It’s very versatile
The bag has handles placed around the sides. You can carry it via the top handle, or you can rotate it can carry it like a duffel bag if you don’t want to wear it as a backpack. The handles also allow you to slide the bag over the handle of a rolling bag.
Each side has a deep expandable pocket that can house light stands, tripods or water bottles. You can strap another tripod or light stand to the front of the bag or underneath it as well. The main compartment of the bag opens from the front, while the laptop and gimbal compartments are located on the back.
There’s a small zippered compartment on the front lid that can house small accessories like your phone or external hard drives. There is also one small zippered compartment on the waist belt where you can store your keys or a lens cap. There’s even a built-in TSA Sentry-approved padlock and loops on the zips so you can secure your gear while traveling. It’s a great touch. The Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader is a big bag, but it has been expertly designed.
The Italian-designed Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader looks stunning, but what’s equally impressive is the build quality. I’ve used a lot of bags in my days, none have been as well made as the Flexloader. The fit and finish are exceptional in every area.
The clasps feel great and lock securely. The zippers open and close smoothly and do not snag. The fabrics feel nice to the touch, and the interior padding is nice and thick. I took the bag out into the rain and the water just ran off the material. There’s also a rain and sun cover that’s housed under a front flap in case the heavens really open up or for when you want to reflect heat.
I haven’t gone easy on the Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader during my time with it. Still, it has stood up to everything I have subjected it to. It looks as good as the day I got it. This bag is built tough and I do not doubt that it will stand the test of time.
Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader — Out in the field
Whether on trails or loading the bag up to take on an event shoot, the Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader hasn’t disappointed.
I’m 6 feet 1 inch and I have been able to adjust the shoulder straps so that they fit me perfectly. There are multiple anchor points on the back of the bag so that you adjust the straps for your torso. Once the straps have been configured and lengthened or shortened correctly, the way the straps contour under your arms makes them incredibly comfortable. Couple the adjustable straps with the thick padding that you’ll find in the straps and on the back of the bag, and you have a seriously comfortable backpack.
The adjustable sternum strap, the thick padded waist belt, and breathable mesh add layers of comfort too, especially when the bag is fully loaded. The bag doesn’t swing around wildly, and the mesh keeps you cool. If you don’t want to use the waist straps, you can conveniently tuck them behind the back padding.
The Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader is not a bag that’s designed for quick access to your gear. There are no side access panels for access to your gear on the go. The only way to access your cameras and lenses is to take the bag off, put it on the floor, and open the large main compartment. That’s OK, though. This bag has been designed to get your gear from point A to point B comfortably and safely.
Even when the bag is fully loaded with two cameras, multiple lenses, a laptop, a gimbal, and multiple tripods and light stands, the Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader remains comfortable and manageable. I will go as far as saying that the Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader is the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever used.
What gear can it hold?
The large main compartment is 100% dedicated to carrying cameras, lenses, a drone, and even lights. Open the main compartment and the sheer amount of space will make your jaw drop.
I used the Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader with a Panasonic Lumix S5, and a Nikon Z 6II. In terms of lenses, I loaded the bag with the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4, the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8, a Lumix 85mm f/1.8, a Lumix 20-60mm, a Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 Art, a Sigma 100-400mm f/5.6-6.3, a Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4, a Tair 11a 135mm f/2.8 … and still had space left over for a Godox/Flashpoint V1 flash.
The new M-Guard Protection System is fully adjustable. You can make this bag fit whatever loadout you want to take with you. The Flexloader also comes with an included accessory pouch for tidy cable, battery and memory card management.
No matter how full I stuffed the bag, the lid to the main compartment always closed perfectly, even with the accessory pouch laying on top of the lenses and cameras. You’ll also find two zipped pockets on the inside of the main compartment’s lid.
In the side pockets you can load up two tripods, or tripod and a light stand. Heck, you could load two light stands and attach a tripod to the base of the bag if you wanted to. This bag works for you
But wait, there’s more
There’s an extra zipper on the bag. When you unzip it, the bag expands so that you can stow a gimbal. I have the Manfrotto MVG 220 (read our review here). I unzipped the expansion pocket and it slipped right in. So, if you’re a modern content creator who hates having to carry a bag for cameras and lenses and a separate case for your gimbal, this bag solves your problem.
The Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader is the bag to beat
The Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader is a genuinely great bag. Still, what constitutes a great bag is different for everyone. However, if you’re looking for a camera bag that will fit the needs of modern hybrid content creators, look no further.
The Flexloader is beautifully designed. It’s incredibly durable, it can hold a ton of gear including two cameras, multiple lenses, a laptop, a gimbal, a drone, and multiple tripods and light stands. Despite its size and weight, it’s incredibly comfortable, even on long hikes thanks to all of the support systems. It’s plane cabin friendly as well.
It seems as if Manfrotto put their ears to the ground and listened to what modern creators wanted and needed in a bag. In doing so, they have delivered what I would consider the creator’s backpack to beat. It’s a little spendy at $329.99, but it is well worth it.
Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader
The Manfrotto PRO Lite Flexloader is a beautifully designed bag that offers a lot of versatility for modern content creators. It’s incredibly durable, and it can hold a ton of gear including two cameras, multiple lenses, a laptop, a gimbal, a drone, and multiple tripods and light stands. Despite its size and weight, it’s incredibly comfortable. If you need a bag to fit the needs of a modern hybrid content creator, the Flexloader should be on your radar.