I have an old Samsonite roll-aboard suitcase that I put a padded divider set in to hold camera gear. The wheels are terrible, the handle is rickety and it tips over when it’s loaded. I was preparing to lead a workshop in Costa Rica recently and I figured it was time for a new rolling camera bag.
My experience with Think Tank Photo products made their rolling bags my first choice. Think Tank has a few bags to choose from that are US and international carry-on size. I decided on the Airport TakeOff because it has backpack straps that you can pull out if you need to carry the bag instead of rolling it. It is usually not a problem to roll a bag like this around town, but outside of the city limits it’s nice to have the option to throw it on your back.
When I got the Airport TakeOff (from outdoorphotogear.com), I found the usual Think Tank Photo quality and attention to detail. This bag just feels sturdy. The handles on the side and top of the bag are big and easy to hang on to. The pull-out handle is thinner than the handle on most roll-aboard cases. I’m sure this is so the handle doesn’t take up valuable space inside the bag. It feels a bit flimsy at first, but it has given me no trouble in real-world use. The instructions tell you not to lift the loaded bag by the pull-out handle, and I would definitely second that. The bag comes with a rain cover and straps to carry a tripod on the side of the bag.
I was surprised by how comfortable the backpack straps are on the Airport TakeOff. They are actually very similar to the straps on my Think Tank Photo Rotation 360º backpack. They are wide and nicely padded. The contoured shape makes carrying the bag on your back pretty darn comfortable. I wouldn’t carry this bag on a long hiking trip, but it works well for when you can’t roll the bag.
The interior of the bag is easily customizable (like ALL Think Tank Photo products), and it includes plenty of different dividers for organizing your gear. I especially like the lens cradle dividers for holding a camera with a lens attached. I can easily fit a Nikon D700 (with or without the battery grip) and a D300s with lenses attached, and everything else I needed for a week in Costa Rica. Some sections of the bag are deeper than others because of the collapsible handle. This is not a problem, you just have to put your taller items along the sides of the bag.
The front pocket of the Airport TakeOff is large enough to hold a 15″ laptop. I like having an outside pocket for the laptop because it makes it easy to remove the computer for the nice people at TSA. The pocket is designed to hold Think Tank Photo’s Artificial Intelligence 15″ laptop case, so the pocket doesn’t provide any padding for your computer.
I’m definitely happy with my new roll-aboard. Everything works as well as I expected, except the backpack straps. They were much better than I expected. If you are traveling to places that are not necessarily roller friendly, the Airport TakeOff is a great choice for a carry-on camera bag.
Friends of DphotoA receive a free gift if you order the Airpot TakeOff from ThinkTankPhoto.com.