My New Camera Travel Bag

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I have a wide assortment of computer bags, suitcases and camera bags. Different sizes and used for different needs depending on how much gear I want to carry and how long I’m going to be gone. However, I wasn’t really happy with my large camera bag only because it always seemed like I could never fit everything I wanted to carry. If I wanted to carry two camera bodies, then that would mean leaving a lens or speedlight behind. 

 

The ThinkTank Photo Airport International

One of my favorite birthday gifts this year was the The ThinkTank Airport International camera/laptop bag. This is definitely one of the most well thought out bags that I’ve ever seen. It was designed from the ground up to carry gear! I can really appreciate great design and this bag really gets me excited. There was a lot of attention to detail here. First off the main compartment can be configured in a infinite number of ways because of the removable velcro dividers. My main objective was to configure it in a way to fit two camera bodies, 3 lenses and at least one or two speedlights. I was able to achieve that and even have enough room for a forth lens. 

Pictured below I have my Nikon D5000, Nikon D700 with battery grip and 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens, 28-70mm f/2.8 lens, 85mm f/1.4 lens, Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens, Sekonic light meter, SB 800 and SB 600 speedlights, long USB cable for tethering, extra batteries and memory cards, 2 Pocket Wizards and my Expo Disc. Since the D5000 is so small I can even insert another divider to make another small compartment.

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I could also fit all my cables, a couple Pocket Wizards and a light meter before even touching the pockets in the flap. 

 

It holds my MacBook Pro too!

I would have been happy just to get all my camera gear in this baby. However, using the optional "low divider" set I was even able to configure it in such a way that my laptop can go INSIDE! Normally I would travel with a camera bag, a computer bag and a checked bag for my clothes. Now I could travel with the ThinkTank bag and small carry on bag for a couple of days worth of clothes. Although I already had a laptop sleeve that I was happy with, I went ahead and ordered the ThinkTank Artificial Intelligence "15 notebook case. Again, there was thought that went into this. The A.I. notebook case has an outer pocked for your accessories such as a power cable, mouse, etc. and even a document pouch on the back. Something my other sleeve lacked. ThinkTank Photo also did a smart thing by putting business card holders on both bags. This way if you happen to accidently leave something behind (as I’ve been known to do!), someone can see whose bag it is at a glance. Also there’s room for more than one card so you don’t have to fumble through your bag or wallet when someone asks you for your card. 

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It’s even security minded

Now keep in mind that I don’t ever plan to have this bag out of my sight when I travel and as I always say, "if I have to check my gear, then I’m not going!" However, I can appreciate the added security features they’ve included. There’s a built-in lock to lock the zipper to the main compartment. There’s also a cable lock built-in so that you could secure the entire bag to a heavy surface, such as the desk in your hotel room.  You can be even safer by just not leaving your gear unattended!

 

The Bottom Line

This thing defies the law of physics. I can fit more in it than my old bag which was larger! Having a wheeled camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag is also a nice deterrent for would be thieves. Although they do make a slight larger version of this bag called the Airport Security, I like the fact that this one is rated to fit in the smaller bins for international flights. They also include a tripod holder which attaches to the side. However, at that point it’s a dead giveaway that you have a camera bag.

The TinkTank Airport International goes for $329. The "low divider" set goes for $49. The 15" AI Laptop bag goes for $49 (they make a "17 version for $59)

 

  • Bob

    What happens when you fly a regional jet (which more and more airlines are using for longer and longer distances :-() and you have to give it up to the baggage handlers to abuse?

  • Seems interesting, but if you pack all of that in there, how much does the bag weigh and is there any airline anywhere that would accept it as carry on? ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a big guy but I wouldn’t want to try to lift that up to an overhead bin.

    • I have no problem lifting it. Sometimes my clothes bag weighs more than this ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t ask me why? As far as airlines go (so far), carry ons are judged by their size, not their weight. This bag is actually smaller than my normal carry on suitcase. So it fits very nicely in an overhead bin.

  • Mark Olwick

    Dude, never pack your camera with lens attached. Why put the mount through the possibility of being torqued?

  • I have a similar suticase i use for all of my jobs…it’s so convenient to just roll right into the shoot with it. I have to check the dimensions for carry-ons tho because I’m unsure as to what the restrictions are for size. I wonder if your bag is smaller than mine…it looks about the same. Something for me to think about…

  • Peter M. Fine

    “Wheelie” style bags are very jarring on the camera equipment and lenses even if one is careful which is why I stopped using them and unfortunately my back is worse for it. Nothing insulates the movement even if padded but I bet closed cell foam around each item would help. Like we used to do with cutting out pockets for each item? Old fashioned but then it absorbs all bouncing.

    Just keep this idea in your mind and check over the equipment after each flight or day outing. You may be ok of course.

    Now if they could figure out some kind of air suspension system.

    -Peter

  • bruce

    Terry, kind of surprised to see that the bag fits under the seat but it does take away any legroom you might have had. I am not a fan of putting my photo gear in the overhead. Heard of too many laptops stolen this way.

    But I am curious. If all your gear is in this rolling bag, what do you do when you get to your destination? I can’t imagine rolling this bag around all day so do you keep another bag in your checked bag?

    • It would really depend on the trip. If I’m out shooting a landscape scene I would take the bigger bag and leave in the trunk (as long as the car was going to be in visible range). Otherwise I’d either take just the camera with me an a lens or two or pack a smaller bag to scout around in. Like I said, it would really depend on the trip.

  • David

    I have the Think Tank Streetwalker harddrive backpack (amongst quite a few lowepros). They are brilliant for the amount of gear you can fit in and the quality is really first class.
    I have found when I fly and want to take most of my gear I use it. It ends up weighing up to 12 or more kg. Canon 5D, lenses, Mac book pro etc. In Australia for domestic flights we can be limited to 7kg so I have found I have to try and unload a few lenses into coat pockets to lighten the load. Also I pack a smaller backpack to use for around the city etc like a Lowepro sling.
    Thanks for the reviews, I love reading them and checking out what you use.