The ThinkTank StreetWalker HardDrive Bag Review - It's Waterproof

The ThinkTank StreetWalker HardDrive Bag Review - It's Waterproof

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.

Before the canal incident

Afterwards. Not a happy camper, but at least the gear is ok. My iPhone which was in my pocket however didn't make it, and I'm in Venice and will need to get to Rome to fix 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. 

The laptop pocket sits snugly against your back when in transit.

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.

 

Technical Specifications: 

  • 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) 

Quality storage space for batteries, cables, and cards.

Exterior Material: 

  • 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 
  • Y-buckles 
  • Nylon webbing 
  • 3-Ply Bonded Nylon thread 
  • Ultra stretch pockets 

 

Quick Access for all the thinks you need quickly

Interior Material: 

  • 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.

 

Conclusion

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!

 

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8 Comments

Matthew Hoffart's picture

Did they update the bag?

Wouter du Toit's picture

Hi Matthew, no they didn't. It's quite a timeless piece of gear, and thought a review would be good to share for those who don't know about it.

John Skinner's picture

I'll go you one better...

I had to shoot a corporate type gig on a boat sailing down the Detroit River. On my person was a ThinkTank Pro speed belt, and the modular padded kit. With a HubbBubba extra bag. I'm tough on kit -- brutally so.

Long story short, the buckle on the pro belt snapped and the entire deal fell overboard. For some reason the long modular with my 70-200 2.8 detached from the pro belt finding the briny deep. But being as I was on a boat subject to waves and splashed, I had the rain covers over top of the other modular bags, including the HubbaBubba. So for the 3 or 4 minutes it took to stop, back up, locate this dark belt in dam near dark hours, we got it hooked out.

I was pissed that the 70-200 bag has somehow come off.. And as it was hooked out, I could see water dripping everywhere. But the good news was nothing else inside these pouches had a drop on it.

14-24, 24-70, SB-900, 2 - teles, and assorted goods were all safe and dry.

I called Think Tank and talked to Simon, he sent me out another pro belt on 2 days. So I can't say enough about the company itself, and the 'stand behind the customer' attitude (no matter what). I've shot for over 35 years... in that time dealt with A LOT of products that claim 'lifetime' this and that.. Not only did Think Tank's units perform above and beyond the call.... They stepped up and delivered -- no questions asked.

They are therefore the leader in product design and customer service BAR NONE. I will never give my cash to another bag/belt/system for carrying gear for the rest of my days. I'm sold.

Glad to read. This is the bag I have :)

That's a great testament to the bag and that it was able to function as a life vest.

Cooper Neill's picture

That's both awesome and terrifying at the same time.

I own it, Love it. One thing I think you forgot to mention, It has gone on every single type of airplane with me, It fits, overhead and, under your seat. The smaller the airplane, and it still fits under the seat! It has never been more then an arms length away.

Thanks for the article! Glad to hear you weren't injured and glad to hear your gear (mostly, RIP iPhone) survived, too! Cheers. ---Simon / thinkTank