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3 Oct 2013

Today, one of my friends have asked me for recommendations on camera bags. As what many would have done, I've further asked about the purpose, equipment that will be carried, etc.

Come to think about it, I have quite a number of camera bags (probably 5-6 of them) which I use for different purposes, and I thought might be good for me to share my experiences and purpose of these different bags.

Note: This is not a sponsored review or critics on any camera bags. I love all my camera bags for different purposes :)

Think Tank Airport TakeoffTM Rolling Camera Bag
This is the "biggest"camera bag that I've owned so far, and my #1 favorite as well. I used it as the primary in-flight bag when I travel overseas; and for events such as weddings where I will probably need quite a number of lens/equipment. There are few cases where I used it while visiting places of interests that are indoor because I can easily pull it along on a proper tiled or carpeted floor.

I will definitely NOT use it if I'm going on hiking trails - it would be hard to pull along, and the weight of carrying it will just kill.

Like #1: Sturdy Build

Very durable built - you will never feel that the materials or the edge is going to give way when it is packed with equipment. It is water resistance also - once I'd accidentally spill almost half of bottle of water on it, and my equipment are still completely safe.

Because of the sturdy build and size of the bag, it weighs probably at least 3 kg without anything packed within. I would not complain because such big camera bag are purposed-fit.

Like #2: Feeling Safe that my Equipment is with me During Flight

As you can see from the picture, it is exactly like the size of a hand-held "luggage bag" that stands about 53cm in height, 36cm in width and 22cm in depth. It meets the flight carry-on requirements which means that you can bring it along to the cabin and stow it into the cabinet above you.

Isn't it wonderful that you can bring along as many equipment that you can pack on an oversea trip, and yet feeling safe that the expensive equipment is always with you during flight and not checked-in.

Like #3: It has wheels - You can Pull it Along ...

The zipper flap at the top of the bag reveals an extendable handle and the wheels are quite big, so it is very comfortable pulling it without feeling much of the weight. Although the wheels are not 360-degree rotating ones, it does not bother me as you can still maneuver it easily with ease.

Like #4: Few ways to carry it

Big bags that allow me to carry them in a few ways are always a MUST for me - exactly because the bags are big! This bag has both a sturdy and well-cushioned handle both at the top and side of the bag which allows you to carry it either horizontally or vertically. Not to mention that there are also zipper pockets below these handles which you can store small items.

Not only that, the zipper flap at the back reveals an backpack straps, which converts it into a backpack. The backpack straps are broad and well-cushioned, so carrying it as a backpack with light equipment are pretty comfortable even on extended periods of time. However, if it is fully pack with 20 kg of equipments, I would think otherwise.

Anyway, I've hardly carry it as a backpack (only twice, I believe). My thought is why would one want to backpack when there is a pulling option. Well definitely a bonus to have backpack options, just in case of situations that you require it.

Like #5: Sturdy and Well-Cushioned Inserts/Dividers that are Configurable

The inserts/divider are very configurable, not to mention that they are very sturdy and well-cushioned that will protect your equipment from knocking into each other. I particularly like those "U" shape inserts/divider that holds both the camera body with the body grip and the attached lens in place.

There are also 2 transparent zipper pockets on the inside, which I typically store memory cards, tissues, writing note pads, pens and flash reflectors.

What you have seen in the picture below is a typical configuration that I used. Although I could not pack all my lens within it, but look at the amount of stuff that it can hold - it's amazing.
What's inside
Left: 5DM2 camera body with grip and lens (24-105) attached, 500D camera body, 70-200mm, 50mm, 100mm macro, Speedlite transmitter (ST-E2), Speedlite 580EX II and Speedlite 430 EX II.
Right: Accessories bag holding flash remote triggers, cleaning kit, flash reflectors, "raincoat" for the camera bag, equipment cleaning cloth, filters, memory cards, Expodisc, charger for 5DM2 and 500D, and flash battery charger.

Like #6: Big and Deep Front Flap with Cable and Lock

The front has a big and deep flap that can allows me to hold my Macbook Pro. On the extreme, I can also put in my iPad and collapsible light reflectors into the flap at the same time.

The flap has a clear pocket that comes with the provided cable and lock that allows me to secure the main compartment i.e. where my equipment is.

Like #7: Tripod/Monopod Holder at the Side

There is a holder at the side of the bag that can hold a tripod of monopod. The tripod/monopod can be held upright with the adjustable straps provided.

I typically do not use it as I have my own tripod carrying bag. Since I don't use it, I stuff the holder into the elastic pocket behind the holder.

Like #8: "Raincoat" for the Bag

It also come with a "raincoat" that you can put over the camera bag in extreme weather condition.

Apologies for the picture quality as it is taken using my iPhone.

You can get the full specifications from Think Tank website.