I fell into a canal in Venice with the ThinkTank StreetWalker HardDrive Bag on my back. I was walking too close to the edge while looking at the bridges and architecture, and how the water brushes up against them, when I stepped on a moss-covered section of the canal ledge. I slipped, hit my bum on the ledge, and gently slid into the canal. There was no splash, and my head didn't go below water, but the ledge was so slippery that I couldn’t get out by myself. I was floating in the canal for what was the longest 30 seconds of my life.
I could feel the last breath of vibrations pulsing through my iPhone against my leg. It was over for the smart device. On my back, my camera bag became a floatation device, and I started yelling for my wife who was window-browsing the shops along the canal. Finally, she heard me and came running. She had to pull me out by the top handle of the bag while I was floating in what I believe is the dirtiest water in Europe.
On my back was about $10,000 worth of gear. My camera, four of the top-end lenses Canon has to offer, multiple CF cards, batteries, and a flash were all along for the dunk, and thanks to the technology of the bag and its zippers, it was all dry when I opened it to check. The relief I experienced is hard to put into words, but I can vividly remember it.
My laptop wasn’t packed or part of this, but I believe the pocket for the laptop uses the same zipper technology and will also remain dry, but please test it with something less costly if you need to. The fact that everything was dry is enough motivation for me to say it is the ultimate bag to have if you're the type of traveler that needs your gear with you when exploring the city or place you’re in.
Let’s look at the features of the bag:
- It has a built-in laptop compartment for up to a 15.4” screen size, but I believe it can take a 17" too if you have one.
- It has an ergonomic shoulder harness and breathable back panel for comfort with no wetness or smell.
- It has very good padding for the laptop and the gear inside, so it’s protected against impact should it be dropped.
- Although it doesn’t say it anywhere, the zippers don't allow water in, or this is what my "research" story above confirms. It has specially designed, lockable YKK RC Fuse Zippers that will hold their position as to avoid accidental opening, and once closed, the zip-lining is watertight.
- There are easy-to-reach zipper pockets on the sides and back for access to the things you need in a hurry. These pockets are quite large and you can store passports, CF cards, an extra set of contacts, microfiber cloths, and batteries here.
- It sits sturdy on your back, and it supports your spine’s curve very well, with extra straps to go around your waist if needed.
- It has a tripod/monopod attachment system, so you can carry your whole setup on your back.
- It comes with a blue rain cover, but again, my research shows it’s not really needed, although extra peace of mind never hurt anyone.
- It fits in the top compartment of most airplanes, and I’ve never needed to check it. It fits easily.
- The bag stands upright when you put it down and doesn't fall over like some bags I've had in the past.
- It has a place for a business card at the top incase you ever misplace it.
- It's black and blue and doesn't draw a lot of attention. Backpacks can often enhance the fact that you are a traveler. This bag does not.
- The weight is 3.8-4.6 lbs (1.7-2.1kg) depending on the amount of interior panels you use, straps you include, and if the bag’s rain jacket gets packed.
- The interior dimension is 11” wide x 19” high x 6-7” deep (27.9 cm wide x 48.3 cm high x 15.7-17.8 cm deep)
- The exterior dimension is 11.5” wide x 19.8” high x 8.5” deep (29.2 cm wide x 50.3 cm high x 21.6 cm deep)
- Durable water-repellant (DWR) coating
- Polyurethane coating
- YKK RC Fuse (abrasion resistant) zippers
- 1680 ballistic nylon bottom panel
- 420D Velocity Nylon
- 550D polyester, 3D air mesh
- Antique nickel-plated metal hardware
- Nylon webbing
- 3-Ply Bonded Nylon thread
- Ultra stretch pockets
- Closed cell foam & PE board reinforced dividers
- 210D silver-toned nylon
- Laminated clear mesh pockets
- Polyurethane-backed Velex liner & dividers
- 3-ply bonded nylon thread
- 2x polyurethane coated nylon 210T seam-sealed rain cover
What they could’ve added:
- A side-panel handle, to carry or put it in the trunk like you would a suitcase.
- A cable access point for your phone to be stored in a side or back pocket while being charged with a mobile charging station.
- A side-access flap so your camera can be taken out quickly, without having to take the bag off your back
What I like about this bag:
- The zipper technology that keeps water out
- The quality of the manufacturing and the bulky yet light padding for the laptop and gear inside
- The fact that my laptop goes in with all the rest of my gear. It's one less bag to carry
What I didn't like:
- The price. It's quite a luxury item, for professionals. If photography is only a hobby then there are other alternatives to consider.
This review may be biased. I get it. But, they have my loyalty until the end. I will always look at ThinkTank first before any other bag manufacturer when I'm in the market for one just because the bag saved my photographic livelihood. Although it often flies below the radar, a camera bag is one of the most used pieces of gear you'll buy and own as photographer, so the decision you make shouldn't be one taken lightly. It basically holds your photographic potential inside itself. It's the first piece of gear you pick up in the morning and at the end of the day it's the last piece of gear you prepare for the next day. Interested in purchasing the bag for yourself? Grab it here!