In my recent quest for the perfect camera bag, I’ve been trying out a Think Tank backpack and modular belt. The [easyazon-link asin=”B001OOKFJM” locale=”us”]Think Tank Streetwalker Pro Backpack[/easyazon-link] and [easyazon-link asin=”B0032BH46M” locale=”us”]Pro Speed Belt[/easyazon-link] with modular accessory bags has proven to be comfortable, good protection, and makes it easy to access my equipment. Actually, I was surprised at the difference it made from my previous camera bags when I used it for several days during my last assignments.
Think Tank makes a variety of types of bags, plus a modular belt system that can be customized to suit your needs. My needs include carrying two heavy, full-frame DSLR cameras with equally weighty lenses attached. My cameras must be readily available as I often shoot candid photos of people and animals. I have another two lenses, a heavy tripod, and a half dozen neutral density filters (for shooting waterfalls). Plus I like having easy access to my iPhone and wallet. In the past, after a long day walking and shooting photos, my shoulders and arms have been sore from the weight of the cameras, and carrying the tripod. My back was sore from the weight of the camera bag and from twisting to access extra lenses out of a backpack or sling bag. The Think Tank Streetwalker Pro solved most of my issues and I felt no soreness at all after 3 long days walking and shooting.
Camera Bag Backpack Design
On a basic level, the Streetwalker Pro ($199.75) is well designed. It has a solid sides that hold its shape to protect the equipment and it’s made for comfort. The padded back is allows airflow so it doesn’t get hot. On a warm spring day, I was sweating, but my back was relatively dry. The padding at the bottom of the pack rests on my hips to support the weight of equipment instead of putting weight and pressure on my shoulders and neck.
The padded shoulder straps can be brought together with a connecting chest strap so they don’t slip off. The strap can slide up and down to fit your particular body which is a great feature for a woman’s anatomy.
More Comfort—Camera Straps
An optional accessory for the backpack are Camera Support Straps V2.0 ($17.75 for the pair) and Camera Strap V2.0 ($26.75). The support straps securely connect to the should straps on the backpack. A rugged metal clasp (the kind used on dog leashes) attaches to the rings on theThink Tank camera strap. The weight is equally transferred to the backpack and ultimately supported by the hips . The support straps were sturdy enough to hold a full frame camera with a long lens without pulling on my shoulder. It was secure enough that I didn’t feel I had to hold the camera for fear of it dropping. A couple of times I forgot the camera was there. I was able to carefully take off the backpack leaving the cameras connected to the shoulder strap.
The camera straps that work with the support straps are well designed even if they are used without the backpack. A rubberized no-slip pattern on the strap kept it from falling off my shoulder. Although it’s a thin strap, it didn’t dig into my shoulder.
Carrying a Tripod
Here too, Think Tank has created a great design for carrying a tripod. The tripod can be removed quickly and yet its weight is distributed to the hips. Although my current tripod is long and heavy, I didn’t feel its weight at all when it was strapped to the pack. This was a welcome benefit as I’ve used many camera sling bags and backpacks where the tripod was held on the side of the bag where it would bang around and pull on my shoulder and neck. The straps holding the tripod to those bags had to be loosened. Often it took several minutes to get the tripod off.
The Think Tank has an adjustable upper and lower tripod strap that hold the Tripod tightly yet has a quick release buckle. Two legs of the tripod fit into a pocket or an extension pocket that pulls down for longer tripods. This helps distribute the weight and assures that the tripod won’t slip out of the straps.
While I liked the tripod attachment, it’s somewhat inconvenient as the tripod must be removed to access the backpack. Also, with a longer tripod, the backpack will not stand up when set on the ground.
Everything at my fingertips—the Pro Speed Belt
Think Tank may be best known for its Pro Speed Belt and modular pouches that give instant access to your gear. Designed to be worn alone or with a backpack, its unique design securely holds the accessory bags to the belt. Each pouch has a long plastic tab that fits into a loop on the belt. A wide flap then fastens below the belt onto the pouch. This keeps the pouches from tipping and a heavy lens from spilling out. The Pro Speed Belt’s padded neoprene never dug in and provided support for both the accessories and the backpack to which it was attached with a secure flap.
For my iPhone, filters and money, I used the Speedchanger v2.0 ($52.75) and an LC Popdown V2.0 for my extra lens. The two bags could be attached to loops where I could reach them for fast access, yet they weren’t in my way when I squatted to get a shot. Most of my assignments are in the Pacific Northwest, so I appreciate that each pouch has a zipper pocket that includes a rain cover.
When you add it all up, the total price is a bit spendy, but then you’ll save money when you don’t have to visit to your chiropractor after a long day’s shoot. The Think Tank system is comfortable and convenient. I walked miles and shot at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens for over 4 hours and never got tired. My back and arms weren’t sore. For me, it’s worth it.