Short version: The SlingShot 202 is a strange bag. It’s not really a backpack, although you do wear it on your back, and it’s not really a messenger bag, but you do put the strap over your shoulder. It’s kind of a strange combination of both, taking the best of each and combining them into one bag. Surprisingly, it works pretty well.
So there’s a problem with camera bags. They can be really comfortable to carry, but getting your gear out is a hassle (backpack). Or you have a bag that’s not as comfortable to carry, but you can get at stuff fast (messenger bag). The SlingShot line combines the best of both into one bag. You wear the SlingShot over your torso like a messenger bag, but it sits on your back like a pack, rather then on your hip. This makes the pack really comfortable to wear, particularly when compared to a messenger bag that can get uncomfortable after extended use.
If there’s any one theme with this SlingShot, it’s functionality. The bag feels extremely well thought-out, from the type of zipper pull, to the little pocket that pulls out of the bag to hold the feet of your tripod. The main compartment is designed to be opened from the side, after you shift the bag from your back to your front. This allows you to easily access your camera without taking the bag off. The main compartment has space for your DSLR body, and up to four other accessories like lenses and flashes. The main compartment’s flap is held partway shut by two quick release buckles; by releasing the buckles, you can open the compartment completely, which allows you to access your other gear. There’s also a mesh bag on the left side of the main compartment that holds a microfiber cloth attached to the inside of the bag.
There are other little features like this all over the bag. The top compartment zips open to reveal another mesh bag, this one intended for the camera manual, as well as another zip pocket for your filters or gels. There’s even a weather cover concealed in the bottom of the pack that stretches out to cover the SlingShot as needed when the weather turns bad. Even the cover is clever, in that it has an elastic band with velcro designed to fit over the shoulder strap so the cover won’t slip off.
Conclusion: The SlingShot 202 AW is a great field bag. You’re not going to be able to fit all of your gear in this bag, but you won’t want to. It’s a bag intended for the outdoor photographer, not someone who needs 4 umbrellas, 5 Speedlites, and what have you. The SlingShot 202 is also available in two other sizes, the 102 AW and the 302 AW. The 102 is a slightly smaller version, and the 302 is slightly larger. Both have all the features that make the SlingShot series so great, the only difference is the overall size. I wholeheartedly recommend the SlingShot product line. LowePro makes great bags and this is no exception. The SlingShot 202 hits that sweet spot of being both extremely functional and affordable.