For creative professionals, the cases and bags that protect your gear are as crucial as the equipment inside them. The Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough 55 offers that and more.
Projects with high demands usually require bringing all the equipment you might need and more. In terms of making sure that the gear you have will be able to get you through a demanding project, overpacking is never an issue. Whether it be a long-haul journey across the world or a multi-day shoot in the city, packing your gear not only means bringing everything you need with you but also making sure that your highly specialized photographic tools are protected beyond measure.
Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55
The Italian tripod, lighting support, and bag brand released the renewed expansive Pro Light collection in late 2021. The collection includes five backpacks, each with unique ergonomics, rolling hard cases, and unique accessories for expanded scopes of use. According to Manfrotto, these carrying solutions were designed with professional photographers and filmmakers in mind to provide them not just gear protection and comfort but as well as providing them with options that would best fit their preferences and style.
Build and Design
Among the above-mentioned carrying solutions is the renewed version of the Pro Light Tough-55, a protective rolling hard case designed to fit within most airline carry-on restrictions. The TH-55 weighs 4.6 kilograms with internal dimensions of 26 x 17 x 50 cm, enough to carry multiple camera bodies, professional-grade lenses, accessories, and even compact tripods and light stands. It also comes in a slightly thinner “low hood” version that has 3 inches less width; the TL-55 which was designed to fit even smaller carry-on overhead bins.
The exterior is a matte black hard plastic with steel-textured details. It features two gray press-and-release heavy-duty clip locks that prevent accidental opening, especially when on the move. Alongside the locks are two steel-reinforced loops for TSA-approved padlocks for added security especially on long-haul air travel. On the same side is a handle for horizontal carrying, something quite typical and expected of most hard cases. On the top panel is a customizable and replaceable label with space for owner’s details alongside a logo. The top is devoid of a second handle, which leaves room for placing backpacks or shoulder bags with dedicated slots for the extended handle.
The main luggage handle makes use of a secure locking mechanism that prevents unintentional pulling out of the handle instead of the typical release button on most rolling luggage. This allows for the handle to be used in general to carry the entire hard case whether retracted or extended. However, this mechanism came with the price of an added step of having to pull the lock behind the case in order to pull out the handle altogether.
The Pro Light Tough-55 offers a range of physical protection. As the exterior implies, the case provides considerable impact protection for the contents as a result of the hard exterior and soft padded internal structure. This protects the camera gear from impact from unintentional drops and bumps that may happen in ordinary circumstances. The TH-55 is also IP67 rated for water resistance. This does not mean that you can go diving with this hard case, but instead, it can withstand 30 minutes in under a meter of water to momentarily protect your gear in case it accidentally falls in a body of water.
The TH55 comes in either a protective interior with fully customizable padding for better gear fitting that you can modify countless times or a cube-foam version that can be plucked out exactly to the shape of the gear to be placed in the case. The padded interior provides unlimited ways of arranging your gear to make the most out of the space as well as to avoid any unnecessary space that would cause your cameras and lenses to bounce around in transit.
Overall, the Pro Light Tough-55 can carry around two or three professional-sized DSLR or mirrorless camera bodies, along with four to six standard-sized lenses. Alternatively, the case is long enough to carry a professional telephoto prime even with the camera body attached while still leaving room for extra lenses and accessories. It also comes with a tripod attachment mechanism that can carry a professional-size tripod externally.
What seems to set this camera hard case apart are the features offered by the extra accessories available for the TH-55 as well as the TL-55. These are modular accessories that are compatible with the four metal attachment points on each corner of the case. These accessories provide solutions for some of the challenges commonly encountered in using a rolling hard case such as alternative carrying options and room for other equipment.
Expanding Tripod Bag
Among the available attachments for the TH-55 is a Pro Light Reloader Tough tripod bag that has a variable length range of 31 to 36 inches. This range of sizes can accommodate compact travel-sized tripods as well as larger professional sized tripod. The size adjustment is made through various zippers that compartmentalize the entire space. This tripod bag comes with various straps and attachment points to mount on the TH-55 and keep everything as one pack.
Removable Laptop Sleeve
Another optional accessory is the Pro Light Tough Reloader laptop sleeve. This 15-inch laptop sleeve comes with four attachment straps that match the metal points on the TH-55 hard case. This allows for extra room for a standard-sized laptop as well as chargers and extra accessories through the two front pockets on the sleeve. Alternatively, there are attachment loops on both sides of the laptop sleeve that allows it to be carried separately through a shoulder strap as a stand-alone laptop bag.
Removable Backpack Harness
Perhaps the most unique feature of this set of carrying equipment is this removable harness system. This Pro Light Tough Reloader Tough Harness System allows for the TH-55 or TL-55 to be carried as a backpack. It comes with four attachment straps to match the points on the hard case, as well as a fifth strap that goes on the main retractable handle. The harness comes with a breathable back panel, adjustable shoulder straps, a chest strap, and a waist belt for added carrying comfort. While carrying the hard case on one’s back is means carrying a heavy load, the just-in-case option is handy for having to climb flights of stairs or traveling on rough terrain.
What I Liked
- Reliable protection
- Airline carry-on size
- Included tripod attachment
- Modular accessories
What Can Be Improved
- Extra steps to unlock the handle
- More precise/sturdy attachment mechanism
- Only one attachment at a time