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Test Drive: Lowepro Trekker Lite SLX 120 Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

31 October 2022

Lowepro says the Trekker Lite SLX 120 is "designed from the beginning to be the perfect travel photography bag." Ah, if only there were one such perfect bag. One travel bag never entirely satisfies. And the Trekker Lite SLX 120 is a case in point.

Lowepro Trekker Lite SLX 120. Reconfigured as a shoulder bag rather than the stock belt.

Every bag is designed for a particular kind of excursion rather than any excursion at all. Even the common camera strap has its limitations and variations to overcome one or another of them. Why should bags be any different?

We've accumulated quite a collection over the years of reviewing them but or our own preferred excursions we tend to prefer a small Domke, a swing Lowepro or a simple holster to the large messenger bags and backpacks that promise to carry everything you might possibly need.

So we were intrigued by the Trekker Lite and snagged a $83.99 SLX 120 for review. That's small enough to compete with the Domkes but not large enough to match up with the swing.


Highlights of the Trekker Lite include:

  • Made of 76 percent recycled and solution-dyed fabrics
  • Fits full-frame camera with lens attached and 1-2 extra lenses
  • Carrying straps across the bottom for a small tripod or jacket
  • Two small pockets on the outside main compartment's padded liner
  • A zippered pocket on the inside of the main compartment
  • Accessory water bottle holder included
  • Keychain clip in outer zippered pocket


Specifications for the include:

Carrying Options Waist strap, handles on three sides
Accessory loops at the corners
Colors Black or Gray
Main Compartment 10.6 x 7.5 x 0.6 inches
Pocket large enough for 10.5-inch tablet
Adjustable dividers for three spaces
Padded compartment
Tripod Holder Two straps across the bottom
Materials Recycled polyester exterior
foam and polyethylene insulation
Recycled polyester lining
Up to 81 percent Green Line fabrics using recycled and solution dyed fabrics
Volume Device volume: 244.09 cubic inches (4L)
Total volume: 396.65 cubic inches (6.5L)
Dimensions Exterior: 11.8 x 9.4 x 5.5 inches
Interior: 11 x 8.7 x 4.3 inches
Camera Compartment: 10.6 x 3.5 x 5.9 inches
Weight 1.12 lbs.
Warranty Two years


There were a few things we liked immediately about the Trekker.

First, it has handles on both ends and the top. This is immensely useful and should be legally required on all bags.

Second, the large pulls were luxurious but functional delights. Our grip never slipped off a small zipper pull trying to open the bag.

Third, the soft-walled design kept the bag lightweight and flexible without endangering our gear.

But there were a few puzzling features as well.

That water bottle bag mystified us. Still does. We thought it was a lens bag. Could it be there to protect your electronics from your mineral water if you put them both in the bag? That would be a silly idea. We had to ask.

Details. Mouse over or tap for captions.

Lowepro told us the water bottle holder straps onto the bottom of the bag (not inside it, you dope) using the accessory straps. You pick the accessory you want to strap down there: water bottle, tripod, jacket, lunch.


The multiple pockets also confused us. We did find them all, though:

  • A full flat pocket at the back of the bag to fit a small table
  • The main camera compartment with dividers to tuck in two lenses and a camera with lens
  • An outside flap with a zippered compartment.

The Domke we usually take everywhere (almost like a man purse) carries our wallet, our phone, a camera with lens and an extra lens, our glasses in a side pocket, a pen and a lens cleaner pen, a remote trigger and some memory cards and filters.

It's the same size as the Trekker Lite.

But with a dSLR and lens in the main compartment we could only fit another short lens in there. And it bulged enough that we couldn't fit our phone into the outside flap.

There is no accommodation for something as pedestrian as a pen or sunglasses. So as a man purse it wasn't going to cut it.

Another thing that mystified us was the strap. We'd seen promotional images of the Trekker Lite strung across a model's back, sling style, but we couldn't get it on that way. We're not large (by modern standards).

Lowepro told us that really is one way to use the strap, slung across your body from shoulder to hip. If you want a sling, though, look elsewhere. If this is a sling, it's a very uncomfortable and awkward one.

But when we hooked it around our waist, we weren't comfortable leaving the house with it loaded up. It hung low and kept pulling our pants down. Which might make it the perfect bike bag where you are hunched over all the time by design.

But for a completely different take on the belt, see Hillary Grigonis's Lowepro Trekker Lite Slx 120 Review. We're fairly confident her hips are wider than ours, so it worked well for her on a long wedding shoot.

We didn't mind at all that it's a soft rather than a rigid bag. It's one of the good points of the bag, in fact. And it did give us the impression it was roomy. The specs say it's a four-liter compartment.


We don't carry a water bottle and don't need a lens bag either, so we jettisoned the bag, saving a little weight at least while gaining a good bit of compartment space.

We discovered to our joy that the belt itself is not sewn onto the bag but Velcroed behind a cushioned panel. So we took it off. There are a couple of fabric loops at the inside corners of the bag to which we attached a strap from the Lowepro holster we rely on for short neighborhood excursions.

Connecting a Shoulder Strap. Reconfigured as a shoulder bag rather than the stock belt.

With that, the Trekker Lite started to resemble the utility of the Domke.

The big problem would be getting anything other than a camera and lens in it. So we downsized to a Micro Four Thirds camera with its quite short lens. That let us put in a second lens while leaving enough play for our phone to fit in the outer flap.

Lowepro says the bag is designed for "mirrorless and compact cameras" so maybe our dSLR was a bit ambitious.

We began to think of it as a sort of day-hike bag. Maybe just the thing to ascend Twin Peaks with when we aren't planning to visit anyone or go shopping and don't need to bring a man purse with a camera in it.


So we packed it up for a trip to Twin Peaks just after a storm. The clouds were gorgeous against the blue sky so we took the Olympus E-PL1 with the Lensbaby 60mm Twist and Transformer adapter. We also dropped the 14-42mm kit zoom in the bag in case we wanted to indulge in some autofocus.

We took the water bottle bag out. It does fit an aluminum water bottle, presumably preventing condensation from wetting anything. But that combination is too tall to actually fit inside the bag, of course.

Which made us wish for an expandable pocket of netting on one side for just that sort of thing. Although, we suppose if you wear the waist belt, you can hook your water bottle to that.

We were not at all comfortable with the idea of strapping a water bottle sideways under the bag, as Lowepro suggested.

Details. Mouse over or tap for captions.

Now about the phone. We do take the phone with us on hikes so we can see how far we've gone. In this case, the outer flap wasn't roomy enough, especially with the Olympus in the main compartment. The Olympus has an EVF attached, which makes it a little bulkier than normal.

So we stuck the phone in the tablet compartment. We were concerned it might be an issue fishing it out but the main compartment is surprisingly accessible. Two zippers with large finger pulls that remind us of can pop tops (we really love these pulls) make it a breeze to get in and out of. No problem.

What's in Our Bag. This is everything we carry in the bag.

We slung the bag over our shoulder using the shoulder strap and set off.

It was quite comfortable. We noticed it was a lighter load than we usually carry not only because we didn't bring the kitchen sink but the bag itself is feather light.

As we walked up the hill, we would stop, pull the camera out of the bag and take a few shots, put it back in and continue up the hill. Doing this repeatedly wasn't like using a bag but more like using a holster. A holster with a lot more room in it.

We liked it. A lot.


Attaching the shoulder strap directly to the bag wasn't in our plans. There's no dedicated hook for that.

So we marshaled a couple of black scrunchies for the task. That worked for a while but scrunchies are not really load-bearing devices. Crossing the street one afternoon, they both broke simultaneously, our bag with lenses and camera (and phone) falling three feet to the asphalt.

The soft but padded bag protected everything from any damage at all.

After we scrambled to the safety of the sidewalk, we attached the hooks of our shoulder strap to the top corners of the bag where the strapping that forms the three handles leaves a small gap. That has worked fine.


When we went around the neighborhood shooting Halloween decorations we needed a longer lens, which meant a dSLR. So we thought we'd give the Trekker another shot at a bigger load.

The advantage of the Trekker over our usual holster is that it can accommodate our phone and wallet and other things we don't want to carry on our person.

And it did.

We carried a Nikon D300 with an 18-200mm Nikkor attached in the main compartment and nothing else. We had our phone, but we put it in the inside tablet slot where it wouldn't be stressed by the bulging dSLR were it in the soft outside pocket.

It was a bit of a struggle to get the larger camera in and out of the bag (which is true of most messenger bag styles in contrast to the squarish flap of a holster) but we tend to keep the camera in hand with a wrist strap while we're shooting. We only put it away when we're done for the shoot.

We'd probably reconfigure the internals of the bag if we were to do this on a regular basis. But as it was, it worked well enough despite our initial misgivings.


We're partial to bags with lots of little places to tuck lots of little things into. We always imagine we're about to set off for Mars and won't be able to find a convenience store when we get there.

The Trekker Lite SLX 120 doesn't indulge those kinds of fantasies.

It's no-nonsense protection for your gear that can carry just enough for a short excursion. It's soft enough to flatten (taking out the dividers) and pack into a suitcase if you're traveling but is not, itself, a great choice for bringing lots of gear on long trips.

We didn't like the belt for general use and thought the water bottle bag was superfluous. We'd have preferred an exterior pocket or just an elastic net to hold our glasses, frankly.

But we applaud the global consciousness of the company in using recycled materials for a bag with a two-year warranty.

And we did like certain features like the zipper pulls and the light weight and, most of all, those three handles, which came in handy when grabbing the bag from the back seat of the car or putting it down on a chair.

So we're giving it three corners (but if you don't share our prejudices, you may find it's a four corner winner).


Lowepro Trekker Lite SLX 120 is available now directly from Lowepro, Adorama and B&H for $$83.99.

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