1. Think Tank Airport Essentials

    Over the last couple of years I’ve been very fortunate to be sponsored by a couple of companies who have been kind enough to supply me with equipment. My first was Coast torches which I use for light-painting and when carrying out the Into the Blue Hour workshop. Everyone is supplied with one of their small torches which are perfect for this kind of photography. This was followed by Storm Jacket Camera Covers which I firmly believe are the best around and fly really well according to a group member on a recent Iceland trip! It’s probably being washed up as I write – in Greenland! And now, I’m very pleased to announce that Think Tank camera carrying solutions have now, also, come on board. I’ve been using their Airport Accelerator backpack since 2012 exclusively for airline travel and upon seeing mine, many that have attended my tours have purchased the same bag. What makes them so good? Simplicity. Build quality. No frills.

    The Accelerator’s size is perfect for BA, Finnair and easyjet, amongst others, but with increasing restrictions for carry-on I needed a slightly smaller bag. This is where the Airport Essentials came in which is, essentially (pardon the pun), the same as the Accelerator but crucially 20cm instead of 25cm deep. The exterior belies its capaciousness and it constantly surprises me (and others) as to how much gear you can fit inside. For example, on my recent trips to Iceland and Prague I took the following.

    Nikon D810 + Spare
    14mm
    20mm
    28-105mm
    70-200mm
    1.4x tele-converter
    105mm Macro
    Lee filter kit.
    Lens cleaning cloth and brush
    Spare batteries and memory cards.
    Pocket umbrella
    Lenovo 14″ laptop
    Snacks!

    One of the major selling points, for me, of both the Accelerator and Essentials is their removable waist-belt which allows for use of their Thin Skin or Pro Speed Belt. This makes for an even more compact bag and I only ever use waist belts on larger bags, anyway, when carrying a substantial amount of gear. It also has a side carrying handle which I find very useful when lifting into or down from the plane’s overhead locker.

    As with all those in the Airport series there’s a handy passport-sized compartment on the top of the bag and padlockable zips as well as a cable-lock should the need to secure it ever be needed.

    The bag’s zipped compartment comfortably took my 14″ Lenovo and there was sufficient room, also, for a tablet plus a few extras.

    The tripod carrying system’s effective. Positioned on the side of the bag, one might think that it would be unbalanced and if you were to attach a heavy tripod then yes, that would certainly be the case. However, I wouldn’t attach my full-sized Manfrotto 055 to the bag, preferring to carry it myself. When working in cities I use a slightly smaller, more compact tripod which works very well and I hardly notice the tripod at all.

    If there is one negative it would be that the zipped compartment doesn’t have much give and therefore doesn’t allow for quite as much as I’d like. Without the laptop and tablet there was just sufficient room for my Lee filters pouch, pocket umbrella and snacks. That said, it is somewhat of a moot point since the idea behind its design is to keep it compact and within airline regulation.

    Overall, I’m very happy with the Essentials. An extremely thoughtful design and built to the standard I have come to expect from Think Tank. I’m certain, as with the Accelerator, that it will give me many years of good service.

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