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Posts tagged travel related goods

Case Logic > Lowepro

Broken zipper on Lowepro 350 AW DSLR Video Fastpack

@Lowepro #caselogic #lowepro

Last year I reported on how Case Logic replaced my Case Logic DCB-308 SLR Camera Sling Backpack under their 25-year warranty. I’ve had no issues with the replacement bag in the subsequent 18 months.

About six months ago my other bag, the one I can also carry my laptop in, stopped zipping in one direction. Then, on my trip to Mexico a couple weeks ago, the zippers stopped working in both directions. Very inconvenient when you are in a foreign country and your luggage is packed to its fullest! I thought I’d try my warranty luck again, this time with Lowepro so I looked up their warranty. In theory the Lowepro warranty is even better than the Case Logic warranty as Lowepro claims their warranty lasts forever for the original purchaser. I still had my receipt for $130, proving I was the original purchaser. However, in practice, the Lowepro warranty sucks because it doesn’t cover things that are likely to fail (like zippers) so now I need to purchase a new bag.

Guess which company I will be shopping with? Maybe this one?

I love Case Logic!

Over six years ago I blogged about the Case Logic DCB-308 SLR Camera Sling Backpack. Since then my Case Logic backpack has been on countless hikes, traveled to Japan, Korea, Mexico, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, the UK, Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, etc. My bag has been extensively used, causing a few minor items to wear out. As I was about to purchase a new bag for my summer travels I emailed Case Logic to see if they’ve upgraded the DCB-308. They responded saying they haven’t but that my bag is still under warranty, and they will send me a new one. WHAT?!?! I purchased this bag over six years ago. How can it still be under warranty? It turns out the Case Logic warranty is 25 years!!!

Updating my prior review…
1) You can fit a DSLR with a 70-200mm f/4 lens attached (and still have room for an additional lens or lunch) in the main compartment.
2) The “hidden” side compartment is extraordinary for smuggling things into concerts, sporting events, etc. Security never checks it. The compartment holds two bottles, five cans, or three cans and one bottle.

Case Logic DCB-308 SLR Camera Sling Backpack

Case Logic DCB-308 SLR Camera Sling backpack nikon d7000 70-200

I really love my Caselogic SLRC-205 SLR Camera Sling Bag. It is the perfect size for a DSLR with lens attached if you only need to bring along one extra lens (or no extra lenses and a lunch or water bottle). However, if the lens attached to my Nikon D7000 is my 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II then it doesn’t fit. The 70-200 lens fits fine as the spare but not when it is on the camera body.

So I decided to get a second sling bag (pictured above), just a little bigger than the first. Well, it arrived today and even though it is roomier, my D7000 still doesn’t fit if my 70-200mm f/2.8g lens is attached. Rats! I’m keeping it, though, as this bag can fit multiple lenses, lunch, and a netbook computer or iPad in addition to a DSLR with lens attached. The DCB-308 will be handy on my trip back east this summer. I just wish it was an inch or two deeper so that I could have my 70-200mm lens attached while carrying.

2018 update

Caselogic SLRC-205 SLR Camera Sling Bag Backpack

One of the main reasons it took me so long to purchase a DSLR was the size and weight factor of these beasts. Not only are they not fun to carry around, they make you stand out and look like a tourist. My first bike ride with my new Nikon, a mere two miles, was miserable. I used the camera bag that came with the camera, not a bad bag, but not what you want to have over your shoulder on a bike ride or a hike. So I did some research and came to the conclusion that I needed a “sling bag.” A sling bag is like a backpack, except that you don’t have to take it off to get the contents out. Based on the reviews of others, I came to the conclusion that many are not waterproof, not easy to use, fall apart, or have no space for a tripod. The one that consistently got good reviews on these four issues, and could be had for well under $100, was the Case Logic SLRC-205 SLR Camera Sling Bag. I made the purchase and have been using mine for over a week now.

So far the bag has exceeded my expectations. The rotation of the bag works smoothly. I can have my camera out in just seconds.

The SLR suspension system in the main compartment works great. It suspends the camera in the pouch so the camera lens isn’t touching the bag. You don’t even have to put the lens cap back on the camera since the lens isn’t touching anything in the compartment. This allows for even quicker shots. Alternatively, you can take the SLR suspension fabric out (via the velcro fasterner holding it in place), leave the lens hood on, and insert the camera. The SLR suspension does not work with a lens hood. I was happy to see that my D7000 with 18-200mm lens still fits (barely) with the lens hood.

I haven’t tested the sling bag in wet conditions yet, but it seems like it will do just fine. My new tripod easily attaches to the exterior, and the bag can still be slung around with the tripod attached.

This past weekend I went on a 20-mile bike ride with the sling bag and discovered another use of the straps for the tripod. The day started out in the low 50s so I had a jacket on. Halfway through my ride the temperature was in the upper 60s, and I wanted to remove my jacket. I didn’t have my tripod on the bag on the ride so I used the external straps to secure my jacket to it. It worked great. Taking off my jacket was the only time during my entire ride (which included over 200 pictures) in which I took the sling bag off!

There is another, newer model (308) of this bag which appears to have more space for storage. Personally, I’m glad I went with the 205 as it has all the space I will need on most outings and is less than half the weight of the DCB-308.

There is a compartment in the 205 that can be used for an extra lens (or lunch or water bottle if you don’t have another lens like me), another for lens caps and/or filters and/or SD cards, and another that can also be used for such things although I have found it handy thus far for storing my keys. There are also handles in just the right places to sling the camera to your front side or sling it back to the best position on your back.

Check out this video for more.

Finally, one of the things I like best, is that you don’t look like a tourist with this sling bag. Others won’t even know that you have a camera on you until you take it out. The sling bag looks (and feels) like a mini-backpack, not a bulky camera bag or full-blown backpack. You no longer need to have your DSLR tied around your neck like an anchor.

Hotwire review

Here is the skinny on hotwire.com. Avoid hotwire. Beware of hotwire. Hotwire sucks.

For the longer version, read on.

Next month I’m taking a little trip to Seattle with four unrelated people. My job was to book the hotel. Somehow I ended up on hotwire.com. They had an unnamed hotel in the location I needed for a good price*. Before booking I read all the rules, restrictions, terms of use, etc. on their site. One said, “room type will be determined by the hotel based on the number of guests provided at time of booking.” This worried me a bit as there are no couples in my group of five. Therefore, I needed at least five beds. So I called hotwire before booking and asked them if booking three rooms for five people meant three beds or five (or six) beds. I was assured that I would get at least as many beds as people. I was told to call the hotel after booking to confirm this.

So I booked the non-refundable rooms and called the hotel. The hotel told me that I was booked for three rooms with only one, double bed in each room. I explained my situation and asked if they had rooms available with two beds in each room. “Yes,” they replied, “we have plenty of those rooms open on the night you are staying here, but hotwire won’t let us give you those rooms.” “You will have to call hotwire and have them change you to the rooms with two beds.” I explained that hotwire told me to call them. “Sorry,” the hotel says, “hotwire will have to make the change. We can’t on our end.”

I contacted hotwire again. This time they said if I want two beds in two of the rooms I have to pay extra. We went back and forth in a dozen email messages and they wouldn’t budge. Each time a different representative regurgitated the same lines over and over again. “You should have read our terms of use.” I did. And I called you before booking just to be sure. “No refunds.” I know. That is why I called you first to make sure I wouldn’t need a refund.

Anyway, moral of the story. Don’t book with hotwire. Not only will you be stuck with something you may not have bargained for, they don’t follow through on any assertions or promises they make prior to booking. Once they have you in the non-refundable category, they have no incentive to please the customer or make you happy.

*To top it off, the hotel they booked me with has lower rates on their website than the rate I paid with hotwire. Lesson learned.

Japanese cell phone plan results

Before going to Japan I mentioned my research on the various Japanese cell phone plans. Now that we have actually experienced a year with Japanese cell phones I’ll give you a review.

Getting the phones was more complicated than I imagined. We couldn’t get them as soon as we got to Japan because the providers require a gaijin card which may take a few days to obtain–especially if you arrive in Japan on a Friday or Saturday. A passport is not good enough. Once we had the gaijin cards (gaikokujin-tourokushou or 外国人登録証) we visited several different Softbank stores. They all quoted us different offers. We ended up going with the Harajuku store for two phones for a year on the White Plan Family. We were expecting about 800 yen a month per phone, the seemingly low price due to the fact that we only planned to use them to call each other. The first few bills came in at more than double these amounts so we went in, they made some adjustments, and the bills dropped to about 2,000 yen a month–not the 1,600 yen we were hoping for but with taxes and whatever we didn’t push it.

We had to pay with a credit card which meant the bills were even higher as the currency translation for our US credit cards always stuck us with a few more bucks. Most monthly bills ended up being about $28 after all of the fees.

When we went to cancel we had to pay 20,000 yen (again, credit card only–no cash) so we got stuck with a final bill of over $250 with the strong yen. Ouch!

If I had it to do over again I would have purchased cheap phones and a prepaid option. With the amount we called I probably could have saved a few hundred bucks during the year.

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