One of the great things I love about being a travel photographer is being able to, well, travel. And – one thing I don’t like about being a travel photographer, is well, travel. Allow me to explain.
I really enjoy exploring new places and seeing new things. I love connecting with people and experiencing different cultures. And given that I am a photographer, this usually means I am in paradise when I travel. What I don’t like is hauling around a bunch of camera equipment, especially with all of the
draconian measures some airlines are taking with respect to baggage – both checked in and carry on. It seems like there are more and more restrictions each passing day and that things will get worse (and not better) over time.
With respect to carrying my camera gear with me, one thing that has made my life a lot easier is my Think Tank Ultralight V2.5 backpack. I can fit a lot of camera gear in it and is guaranteed to fit in the overhead bins on all aircraft – not to forget, it will also slide comfortably underneath the seat in front of you. It is lightweight, sturdy and well designed. Overall, it is a fantastic bag that I have used on dozens of trips.
I know quite a few people who are taking major trips soon – most of them to Antarctica and Africa. They wanted me to recommend a backpack that they could take on any aircraft as carry on luggage. Unfortunately, the Think Tank Ultralight V2.5 backpack has been discontinued, however, Think Tank has replaced it with three (yes, three) new and improved backpacks – each one catering to specific needs:
The folks over at Think Tank Photo were kind enough to send the Airport Essentials (the first in this series) for me to evaluate. As none of my DSLRs have a vertical grip, it will hold them comfortably.
Here is what it looks like (tripod not included :o).
As with all Think Tank products, this bag is beautifully made and has a lifetime warranty. One new feature which I really like is the ability to mount a tripod on the side of the backpack using the included straps and side (lycra) pocket. If you don’t attach a tripod, the pocket can easily fit a bottle of water. Also, the shoulder straps are extremely comfortable and neatly fold away for storage.
Three handles are conveniently located as indicated on the sides of the backpack, so it is easy to “grab it and go.”
A new feature that I really like is that you can place a 13 inch laptop computer in a specially designed, padded area which is located in the front pocket of this bag. You can also place a 10 inch tablet computer in another specially designed (and padded) area as shown above. There is even room to store small items such as batteries, memory cards, pens, etc. It is a very thoughtful layout and one that is greatly appreciated by yours truly.
Another (thoughtful) change that Think Tank has made to these backpacks is the location of the security cable. It is now located on the outer side of the bag in its own zippered pouch which makes it very easy to access and use. Also included is a combination lock.
Once you open the backpack on and lift up the front flap, you will see two large meshed pockets – again you can store all kinds of (relatively) flat items such as filters, batteries, memory cards, etc.
Even though the Airport Essentials can fit in any aircraft storage space, it is spacious enough to hold a lot of gear. The padding is minimal but offers a lot of protection. In the above image, the bag contains:
And for all of you Nikon fans, here is what you can fit into this backpack (shown above):
For extra security, the zippers are lockable (lock not included).
And as usual, Think Tank also includes a rain cover with your backpack.
I have been using the Airport Essentials for just over a month now and I love it. It is virtually indestructible and will make my life much easier when I need to transport a lot of camera gear – especially since it caters for all of my camera and computing gear.
I urge you to check out the Think Tank Airport Essentials (Amazon – Adorama – B&H Photo) if you need to travel/fly with a reasonable amount of camera gear. It is a high capacity, small-sized backpack which meets all domestic and international size carry-on requirements. It does what Think Tank says it will do and it does it well. Keep in mind that pro-sized camera bodies with a vertical grip (built in or attached) will not fit into this bag.
If you are using a pro-body sized camera body (built in vertical grip or attached) or need more storage capacity, check out the:
These two backpacks are very similar to the Airport Essentials (with respect to the features) except they are larger.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them.
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