Manfrotto Pro Light Flexloader L review: more than a backpack, a real sherpa
For the “Pros” above all
The Pro Light range was unveiled in September 2021, at the same time as the Advanced III and the Street III, two series which have already been tested in our columns. The Pro Light is intended – as its name suggests – for image professionals who want to carry a lot of equipment on their back, without investing in large suitcases.
There are more slender models, like the Backloader S, and others more corpulent like our test of the day, the Flexloader L. To illustrate its transport possibilities, Manfrotto shows that its bag can carry up to three monobloc SLR, six lenses (including a long telephoto lens) and a large accessory pocket in the main compartment alone!
Price and availability
If the Flexloader L is the most voluminous piece of luggage, it is also the most expensive in the range with an introductory price of €329. Which places it in the same price category as the Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 30L, or the Tenba Axis Tactical 32L.
Construction & Access
The Manfrotto Pro Light Flexloader L will hardly go unnoticed, empty or full. On our three different guinea pigs, from 1.55 to 1.95 m, the luggage transforms its carrier into a new species of chelonians.
If it remains quite sober in its style, it marries most of the codes of modern photo backpacks. That being said, it is worth dwelling on its construction; the bag is very well made. The fabric seems solid and benefits from a water-repellent treatment. Small regret, the zippers are not tropicalized. To remedy this defect, Manfrotto provides a protective cover against the weather.
A well-padded bag
In addition to this coating, the bag is distinguished by significant padding which provides it with a good level of protection against various and varied shocks. We will not go so far as to install it in the hold of a plane loaded with gear, but it should not fear the jolts of everyday life. Good point: thanks to its hardened bottom, it stands upright on its own.
Access is by opening the main pocket from the front. We always prefer a dorsal opening, which will avoid possible soiling for the user. A small pocket is also placed at the front of the bag. By unzipping a closure going around the bag, you will discover a second main pocket, with access on the top.
Secure closures, but not tropicalized
A final pocket is placed against the back to store a computer. The bag does not have side access, so it will be necessary to put it down each time you want to grab equipment. The zippers of the main pockets have small metal straps to further secure the bag, hooking them together and locking them with a padlock integrated directly into the luggage.
3 kg empty
In terms of comfort, the results are quite mixed at the start. Indeed, the bag is quite heavy: 3 kg empty and almost 30 kg when completely filled. It can nevertheless be stored in the cabin of an airplane. However, everything is done to provide the most comfortable experience possible. The back is fully reinforced and generously padded.
The comfortable straps are fully adjustable at the shoulders and armpits, to adapt to several sizes and according to the load. A small chest strap is also installed, this one being detachable and adjustable.
Better have strong shoulders
You can also count on wide straps at the waist. They are also fully adjustable, but you cannot unhook them. On one side is a small zipped pocket to store some accessories or your smartphone. On either side of the bag, there are reinforced nylon handles for easy transport.
Storage & Modularity
It even embeds gaming PCs
The Flexloader L therefore has a large main pocket and another for storing a computer (up to 17 inches) or a tablet. Between the two is another pocket: by default, Manfrotto indicates that it is used to insert a stabilizer for a camera. You are free to insert what you can fit into it.
The main pocket is equipped with lightly padded, but not soft, M-Guard dividers. You can arrange them as you wish, and the internal space is quite substantial.
Multiple storage spaces
There are three other additional pockets inside. Only one has a zipper, the others are only secured by an elastic cord. We will place accessories, batteries or memory cards here. In addition to this internal space, Manfrotto delivers in the bag a zipped bag with multiple storage spaces and hooks, always useful.
Finally, a last small pocket is housed on the outside. It is possible to put your papers, phone or keys in it, for example.
Each side of the bag has pockets for inserting a tripod or bottle. And on the front of the bag, lugs are used to attach additional straps (hidden under the coating) to hang more equipment.