It's a sad joke that says if you only have one camera bag, that you are not a really serious photographer. It's a sadder joke when the number gets to be higher than ten.
I am a sad joke. I have lots of camera bags. I tell myself each one is for a purpose. It's not true. I have bought too many bags that ended up being less than I had hoped for, and because I had used them with intent, they were not returnable.
There are some really good bag makers and a lot of barely excusable bag makers. I say this from my own perspective that form must follow function. Pretty without usability is a waste of time and money. To me, a bag is a tool, not a fashion accessory and those who know me, understand that while I may understand fashion to great depth, I could not be fashionable ever in my lifetime.
In that regard, what goes into the perfect "one" bag?
- It must hold all the stuff that I want to carry for a shoot, or trip
- It must not hold so much stuff that I can fill it to the point that I am afraid to use it
- It must offer easy access to my gear
- It must not require that I wear it in such a manner that I am twisted, bent over or having one shoulder pulled lower than necessary
- It must allow me to carry some form of post processing tool if I choose to do so
- It must be able to carry full size DSLR cameras with battery grips, or a single medium format camera, or a cinema camera
- I must be able to get two to three additional lenses in the bag along with a powerful speedlight
- I must not be required to disassemble my gear to get it to fit in the bag
- I should not have to pull different pieces out in order to get to another piece of gear
- It must NOT have any blatant marks or manufacturer's advertising on it
- It should have straps that do not slip and slide and they must be comfortable for hours at a time
- Sometimes I have to carry more than one thing. My bag should have some means of rolling along with a handle, but not be so large as to be an encumbrance
Picky and demanding son of a gun aren't I.
I have come close so many times. The bag shelf in my storage area shows this. I have also missed the mark completely like the time I bought into a Kickstarter program for what looked like a nice bag, that cannot hold any of my pro cameras.
I have learned that I used one bag more than others, simply by putting a very sophisticated sheet of paper on the shelf and ticking off what bag I pulled off when I did. That bag has been my Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Harddrive. It's looking a bit rough. No tears or rents, but I have managed to jam/break unbreakable and unjamming zippers. I have gotten it drenched, where the rain cover was safely inside the unit and the downpour was so fast and so heavy that had I opened the bag to get the rain cover, everything would have been ruined. I have had it splattered with mud kicked up by horses. It has been knocked over many times for I am often clumsy. It has sat on the ground which slowly turned into a swamp as water rose from below. It lost an encounter with a specific woodland creature that left it with a distinct aroma for some time. It has been fit under airplane seats and into overhead spaces seemingly violating the laws of dimensional space. Suffice to say, if it were a person, I would be in jail for assault and abuse.
The one thing it did not have, which made it a pain when travelling is wheels and a drag handle. I have accumulated over three million miles in the air over the course of my life and have learned that whatever gate my plane is at, it will be the farthest location from wherever I am. Also, all the people movers will be down for maintenance while I am going to or from my gate.
Think Tank Photo has read my mind and may have just delivered the "One". I today received my new Streetwalker V2.0 Rolling Backpack. It has a different layout from my existing HardDrive as the laptop sleeve is now inside the main compartment on the flap as opposed to being separately accessible via a side zip. The shoulder straps are the same superb construction but now fold into a pouch on the back when not in use, just as on my Airport Takeoff. (It's a great bag to be sure, but I have a propensity to overload it - and it will not fit under the seats or in the overheads of Regional jets or Dash propellor places and checking photographic gear is not to be found on my list of things to do), thus the Streetwalker V2.0 Rolling Backpack beats out the Airport for me.
Checking the Streewalker V2.0 Rolling Backpack reveals a bag of similar dimensions to my existing HardDrive, so aircraft stowage won't be an issue. Plus it has Think Tank's proven skateboard tough wheels and a proper expanding handle that is not made out of tinfoil as I have found on other maker's bags. It came with straps to secure a travel tripod as well as a proper rain cover. Did I mention that I can attract rain where there has been none for a while?
The outer construction is the same super durable 1680D ballistic nylon as in many of my other Think Tank Photo bags. The interior is fully customizable and there is even a card that suggests a couple of layouts. I can easily stow gripped cameras in this bag, and with proper arrangement of the dividers use the bag to transport my Canon C300 with cinema lenses and accessories. You will see in the images just how much gear you can get into this bag. Of course, that does not mean that you have to load it all up. Use some of the space for a rain shell or a hoodie. I found that my Frog Toggs motorcycle rain jacket rolls up very small and can easily be stuffed in the bag.
The closed cell foam padding is really firm but still highly shock absorbent. Padding that you can flatten between your fingers is not much good. This bag has quality padding. The zippers are the expected YKK line. The thread used is three ply bonded nylon both inside and outside.
The outer shell is coated to be water resistant, and the included rain cover is 2 ply polyurethane. I can attest to the water protective nature of the rain cover. One design change is that if you carry a tripod (I do), I can now open the main compartment without detaching my tripod as on my earlier V1 Streetwalker Hard Drive. I also note that the rear panel has been toughened up and as is needed for any roller bag there is a lower kick plate installed. Anyone who has run into stairs or deactivated escalators with a roller understands the importance of this.
Think Tank Photo warranties the product for as long as the original owner has the bag. It's their standard policy by the way. If you buy direct from Think Tank Photo through the link on the site (US only) you get a thirty day return period, not that you are likely to use it.
Well for my use cases, this looks to be the "One". That's not to take away from my other Think Tank Photo and MindShift Gear bags, although I expect that the Streetwalker Hard Drive will get less use now than in the past.
It is the "One" bag for you? That's up to you and your use cases of course, but I do not believe that you can go wrong with a Think Tank Photo family product and this one looks just about perfect for me.
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I'm Ross Chevalier, thanks for reading, and until next time, peace.