Think Tank Airport International v2 Camera Bag Review
I got the Think Tank Airport International V 2.0 a few months back when I had a shoot planned that required me to hop on a plane. If you want the long story, you can find it in the review and video below. The short story is that it replaced my old Lowepro CompuTrekker Plus AW as my small-shoot go to bag even if there are no airplanes involved. (And I think I may have accidentally slept with it once or twice).
We are also giving one away as part of our How I Took It contest, so go and check it out.
First The Video
The video below is my real time, on the go experience with the Airport International. It is coming from my heart after about 20 hours of traveling with it.
I hate traveling. Actually, I love traveling, but I hate the flying part. Aside from the food, bad seats and long waits, being a photographers adds some hurdles in terms of transporting gear. I always took most of my gear with me on the plane, because I don't trust the system, and it has always been an opposite-from-fun experience for me. While I still don't love flying, the gear part got easier for me.
All and all it is an awesome bag. Just to make sure we cover the basics, it is light, big, very well padded and comes with more dividers than you'll ever need.
Looking closer, I love the way this bag's made. You can tell it is probably a love child of one of the engineers all the mechanisms are really nicely made: the zippers, the rollers and trolley handle. Even if the nice looks didn't add to the quality of the bag (which I doubt) it still feels good to hold and use something that is that well made.
Out of the box the bag comes with plenty of dividers, a rain cover, a tripod cup and an instruction manual (actually, maybe 10 manuals and booklets).
It can go on a plane, out of the 8 flights that I've used it on, the only time I was asked to bid it farewell was on the staircase to a small paddle hopper (Portland to Redmond) which did not allow trolleys on board at all. But once I explained that it carries expensive cameras, I was allowed to tuck it under my legs. Go Delta! (watch the video at about 00:35).
I also throw a couple of moisture killers in the bag, just to be on the safe side, they are super cheap and help a bit with keeping the temperature changes from dampening the bag. Did I mention the wheels are super smooth? You can't even hear it rolling
The Storage Space
I use the bag with all the dividers supplied and can get 15 small compartments, they hold 2 bodies detached from their lenses, 4 lenses, 5 strobes, 4 pocket wizards, some grip (nasty clamps, gorrilapods, super clamp and miniclamp), s100 which I use for BTS, light meter, small zoom H1 recorder and a few more misc items.
The padding feels nice and solid, but I have not dropped my bag from a significant height yet.
The lock on the zippers is your standard 3 digit combination lock and it is TSA compatible, which I assume that slightly-above-standard thief can handle. But it will keep strangers away while in the overhead compartment.
The Cover Flap
The cover side has 4 transparent pouches on the inside, 2 big (for cables, batteries, wallets) and two small (biz cards, mem cards, and so on). Pretty much what I would expect.
On the outer side it has a small compartment for the travel docs, passport and such. It also has a key holder on a string. Again, this is standard stuff, but very useful.
My biggest issue with the bag is the way they handle laptops. There is a laptop pocket on the outer side of the cover which will hold a small-medium laptop at ease, but since I am traveling with a 15 inch monster, it exceeds the bag and exposes the lap top. Thinktank has two solutions for this:
A nifty laptop sleeve (which I am totally getting). It fits a laptop and once tucked in the bag it seems to be part of it. The only caveat is that it is not protected by the locks.
A low divider set which is not ideal for me, as most of my strobes and lenses go all the way to the top, but if you have less/lower stuff, it is actually a pretty good solution.
I know I said $350 on the video, but I was after 20 hours of travel with no sleep. That'll teach me not to shoot videos while being sleep deprived.
if you don't use your entire bag, or carry smaller items in part of it this low divider set enables you to place a laptop inside the bag by lowering the dividers. It's great for smaller camera/lens sets, but will not work if you are too packed.
This is the slim laptop case I was talking about. It looks pretty slick tucked inside that external pocket of the bag. In fact, if you don't pull it out, it seems as part of the bag. I also think it will make it really convenient to use while the big bag is in overhead bin.
The Airport International V 2.0 Camera Bag from Think Tank is an awesome, awesome bag. I love it for it's fine build and huge capacity. And the fact that it can still go on board with a ton of camera gear inside.
It gets an awesome 9/10 stars. Now go fly!