Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW DSLR Toploader Bag Review
A toploader holster-style camera bag is unassuming, convenient and practical. However, is it right for your needs? We take a look at a popular one from Lowepro.
For years now, I felt that I’d been on a quest to find the perfect camera bag. I’ve yet to find “the one,” but I found several bags worth talking about.
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is a camera bag that really surprised me. I didn’t know what to think of this bag at first, but it quickly surpassed my expectations.
Not to get ahead of this review, but it has become one of my go-to camera bags.
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is a lightweight camera ‘toploader’ bag with an eye towards minimalism that’s going to protect your equipment while making sure you focus on taking only what you need and nothing more.
(You’ll see it’s included in our guide to the best camera holsters and toploaders.)
I’ll be walking you through everything there is to know about the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II and letting you know my thoughts about this bag on the way.
Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II Specs
- Lightweight design
- Very durable build
- Included raincover
- Several attachment options with chest, shoulder, and belt straps
- Plenty of room—especially if using a mirrorless camera
- Difficult to actually attach anything bigger than an ultralight tripod
- Very limited, or no, ability to hold a second lens or second camera body
- Some of the molle-style webbing and external pockets feel a bit unnecessary
|External Dimensions||22 x 17 x 27 cm (8.7 x 6.7 x 10.6 in)|
|Internal Dimensions||19 x 13 x 22 cm (7.5 x 5.1 x 8.7 in)|
|Weight||0.68 kg (1.5 lbs)|
|Fits||Pro DSLR with attached 24-70mm lens|
|Material||900D polyester, 1680D ballistic nylon, 210D nylon|
|Number of Compartments||2|
|Number of Pockets||4|
|Shoulder Strap||Yes, adjustable and removable|
|Waist Belt||Yes, removable|
|Warranty||Limited Lifetime Warranty|
Build & Appearance
I’m going to start things off by talking about the build and appearance of the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II.
One of the first things that struck me about this bag is just how tough the build quality is. I wanted to put this thing through its paces so I definitely wasn’t being gentle with it.
I usually baby my photography equipment, but I definitely don’t need to go gentle with this bag. The durable ballistic nylon construction is going to be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear.
I tested this bag in some muddy outdoor conditions as well as busy city streets. Any dirt that got on the bag was easily wiped off and didn’t leave a mark behind.
The bag is also water resistant and comes with a raincover. Being able to protect your expensive electronics in the rain is one of the best features.
The durability extends to protecting your camera equipment. I dropped this bag a few times while messing around with the harnesses and straps and my camera equipment was completely protected.
I’m confident that this bag will protect my expensive lenses and camera bodies through most of your everyday bumps and bangs.
One thing that I’m conflicted about when it comes to the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is its style.
On the one hand, I love the minimalist design of the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II. The matte black color of the fabric, the discreet and minimalist logo, and the overall shape all give it a sense of functional minimalism.
This bag almost feels like a piece of working equipment rather than an accessory.
Then again, plenty of camera bag companies, even Lowepro, put style and design first with their bags. If you’re looking for something stylish that makes a statement, this might not be the right bag for you.
You might have already guessed this, but the exterior of the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is designed with function in mind.
The robust top handle feels incredibly durable. I’m definitely not worried about any of the straps or handles coming loose during a busy shoot.
There are plenty of connections all over this bag to attach the included straps. You can also use these connection points to attach this bag to a larger backpack using your own carabiner or quick ties.
There are a few molle-style straps on the side of this bag. You could use these to attach some larger accessories or even a small pouch, but that would definitely be pushing what this small and efficient bag is capable of.
There’s a stretch pocket on the front of this bag, but I’m not quite sure what it’s there for. It’s definitely too small for a water bottle or similarly sized equipment.
I wound up using it to stash a microfiber cloth, but I suppose I could have also used it to hold additional filters or something like a credit card or bus pass.
You’ll also find the rain cover pouch on the side of this bag. There’s really no way to use this as additional storage, but it’s good to locate this pouch so you can pull up the rain cover quickly when you need it.
There are three main interior features of the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II. The top compartment, the main compartment, and a zip extension at the bottom.
The top compartment has an included mesh pocket and two top pockets designed to hold SD cards. I was able to fit two batteries as well as my SD card holder in this top pocket.
The top pocket could also fit a few credit cards or some cash. It’s great for any loose items that you need to access quickly.
The main compartment is the star of the show and includes a bright orange divider.
If you’re shooting on a larger DSLR, you’re going to be using up all of the space inside of the storage compartment. My mirrorless camera only took up about 2/3 of the space, leaving me plenty of extra room for additional photography gear.
I probably could have stashed a second camera body inside of the main compartment if I felt the need to. There’s really that much room left over if you have a smaller camera.
The gray floor of the main compartment is attached with velcro and can be removed. This allows you to unzip the base of the bag and extend it.
This zip extension lets you hold considerably larger lenses. You’ll get even more mileage out of this extra space if you’re shooting on mirrorless cameras that use more compact glass.
For how small this bag was, the interior storage was able to hold a surprising amount of equipment.
Storage capacity is one of the areas where I think the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II really succeeded.
It’s always tempting to take my largest camera bag when I’m heading out for a day of shooting. This usually means I’m taking too much equipment.
I never wind up using the extra lenses, a second body, or half of the equipment I bring out with me. Most of the time, I just need to take my camera, lens, and maybe a few accessories here or there.
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is dialled in for a perfect storage capacity if you’re looking for something that’s going to force you to stay lightweight.
Despite the streamlined storage capacity of this bag, I was able to fit a good amount of equipment into it, and I still had a little bit of extra room left over.
Here’s what I got into the bag:
- Sony A7s II with FE f/2.8 24-70 MM GM lens
- Gobe Lens Filter Kit
- Pentax A110 Film Camera—Why not?
- Camera Strap
- Two batteries
- Thinktank memory card holder
Keep in mind that this pack extends for additional room. That’s designed to accommodate larger lenses, but you could use that extra space for some extra gear, like a pancake lens.
Ease of Use/Comfort
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II comes with three different ways that you can configure the straps to carry this camera bag.
The shoulder sling mode was by far my favorite and the one I found to be the most useful.
I used this bag like I would any other shoulder bag and was able to quickly access my camera and my other equipment and manage the bag without any problems.
The shoulder bag mode also lets you take the bag on and off very quickly. This was great whenever I decided to sit down on a bench or head to a coffee shop to take a break from photography.
The holster mode is a bit more interesting. It definitely added more stability and overall comfort, but it also made it a little bit more difficult to access my gear when needed.
I found that the chest harness attachment was the least useful for me. It sat a bit too high up on my chest for me to be able to access my camera and other equipment comfortably.
Both the holster mode and the chest harness mode made it a little bit more tedious to take the bag on and off. However, you are trading stability for a small amount of ease of use.
One of the benefits of having three different ways of carrying this bag is that you can experiment with each of these and find the one that’s going to work best for you.
How I Tested the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II
I decided to put the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II through its paces over a weekend photography session in my home city. This bag was by my side, hiking in the woods, walking on the beach and riding around public transit in the city.
That’s more than enough action to put any bags to the test.
I decided the best way to test out this bag was to use the camera equipment I go to most often. This meant grabbing my Sony mirrorless body, a 24 to 70 mm lens, and a few accessories.
I was very pleased to see that the bag could also accommodate a small film camera along the way. This means I can balance digital photography as well as throwing in a smaller film camera to satisfy my love of analog media.
I genuinely enjoyed not having my expensive camera equipment strapped around my neck with my camera strap 24/7. It was great to be able to stash things quickly in the bag when I wasn’t shooting.
The one piece of gear that this bag struggled to accommodate was my camera tripod. There are a few attachment points that you could use the whole tripod, but it’s a bit cumbersome no matter how you rig it up.
I have the Peak Design Travel Tripod, which is one of the best options out there for lightweight tripods, but this bag was still having some difficulty accommodating it.
Alternatives to the Lowepro ProTactic Toploader
Considering alternatives to this bag means trying to decide if this is a camera pod or a very unique spin on the classic camera sling bag.
This means that the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is competing with every sling bag and pod on the market, but it’s such a distinct bag that it almost feels like it’s in a class of its own.
Here’s a few alternatives to consider:
- Chrome Industries Niko Camera Sling
- Thinktank Turnstyle Sling
- Hex Ranger DSLR
- Moment Rugged Sling
- Peak Design Field Pouch
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear Camera Pod
Sling bags offer the advantage of being able to hold other gear and work as more of a general-purpose lightweight bag rather than a dedicated piece of camera storage.
Sling bags also have a more approachable style. Many of them are designed to look like tactical or streetwear accessories. The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is built for function first, which means that the fashion of this bag is a step behind some of these competitors.
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is also going to be much more durable than these sling bags.
To be honest, I dropped this bag twice while reviewing it, and my camera made it out completely unscathed. Any given sling bag is definitely going to struggle to offer the same level of protection.
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II really doesn’t have meaningful competition when you look at other camera pods.
Unless you want something that’s much more lightweight and designed to be hooked on a secondary bag, the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is in a class of its own when it comes to camera pods.
All in all, I have both a camera sling bag and the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II. The sling bag is still going to be one of my go-tos, everyday bags, while the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is going to fill a much more specialized niche.
When I need a dedicated and lightweight camera bag for an on-the-go shoot, I’ll be reaching for the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II.
Value for Money
When you look at the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II on its own, there’s really no question about it being worth the price tag.
However, this bag doesn’t have a lot of versatility, and whether or not it’s going to replace your camera backpack or sling bag does come into play when you’re considering the cost.
If you have the money for a highly specialized bag, then there’s no question about the value you’re getting here.
Does the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II have a tripod strap?
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II does have a few attachment points that can work for a tripod, but it is a little bit awkward. I have a lightweight travel tripod and I found it slipping around. You might have to add some external ties of your own to really secure a tripod.
Is the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II waterproof?
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is made out of water resistant nylon and polyester. There is also an included rain cover on the side of the bag which makes it nearly totally water resistant.
Can the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II hold my lens?
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is designed to hold up to a 24 to 70 mm zoom lens, but this bag was built with larger DSLR equipment in mind. I was able to hold the mirrorless version of the same lens without extending the bag and I still had enough room to hold a few accessories.
Can I attach the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II to my camera backpack?
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II has plenty of attachment points that you could use to connect it to a larger camera backpack. You will have to purchase your own clips or carabiners to make the connection.
Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II Review | Conclusion
The Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II is an extremely useful camera bag if you’re looking for something that’s going to stay lightweight and force you to think a little bit more critically about the gear that you take out for a day of shooting.
After spending a few days testing out this bag, it’s definitely earned a place in my roster of camera bags.
The next time I feel like heading out to take some pictures and I only want to take the bare essentials with me, I’ll be picking up the Lowepro ProTactic TLZ 70 AW II and focusing on my photography.