The Think Tank Airport Essentials Backpack makes a photographer's life easy since on the outside, it resembles an ordinary piece of luggage while the inside speaks differently. The pack is rated to hold your standard DSLR, 4-6 basic zooms plus your iPad and 13" laptop. It's sized to handle your 300 mm f/2.8 so if you're a nature or sports shooter, you're covered.
Think Tank has designed this bag both for functionality and security since it comes with a security cable and lock that can be tied to a reception hall column or fence leaving you to remove your gear while the rest of the pack stays safely tethered. Even the strong YKK zippered sliders accept user-supplied locks for maximum protection and peace of mind while on the job. Inside, padded movable dividers allow you to arrange the guts of the bag in whatever way you choose. Your computers are stored in their own, separate lockable, zippered compartment. For even more flexibility and security, you can store your optional Artificial Intelligence Laptop case within the computer pocket.
You have multiple ways of carrying the pack from its adjustable harness system and removable waist belt to the very convenient handles situated on three sides. The harness has enhanced lumbar support and air mesh paneling that will help keep you cool while the pack is on your back. And no need to worry about getting caught in bad weather since the pack is supplied with a neat rain cover that stores inside when not needed. A sternum strap is also provided to help maintain balance while walking. The Airport Essentials also accepts Think Tank's optional Pro Speed Belt or Thin Skin Belt that will assist with stability as well as increased load capacity.
Your tripod can be secured to the pack with its feet in a supplied exterior pocket and head tied with a supplied strap. For small accessories, the inside flap has laminated mesh pockets for everything from memory cards to a snack.
The exterior of the pack is made from a combination of ballistic nylon, polyester and nylon webbing all treated for water-resistance. The inside is nylon and polyurethane with padded, closed cell foam dividers. For a small pack that holds this much gear, it's relatively lightweight at a maximum of 3.6 lb.
Reviewed by 1 customers
While the airport qualities are well documented (small yet roomy, inconspicuous, well built), it's less obvious how well this backpack suits hiking. The contoured back, adjustable straps and belt make for a good, ergonomic load in the field. I hiked multiple times with it and even scrambled class 4 terrain without feeling unbalanced. Of course I still use a mountaineering backpack for overnight or more serious climbing, but for day hikes is almost perfect. "Almost" is the key word that looses one star here, as the backpack lacks in organization flexibility: there is no way to adjust the dividers to make more room for clothing or non photographic items. Typically I take one body with 300/4, 12-24/4, 50/1.4, and 100/2.8 macro lenses, filters, and all these still leave one third of the volume available, yet hard to fill due to the long compartments organization. Ideally Think Tank should provide an additional set of shorter, less than full height dividers to accommodate one large compartment and a couple of garment items laying flat over gear. One other issue has to do with where it opens, which forces people to lay it down on its back, thus exposing the carrying back to dirt, damp, etc. Obviously the zippered opening and hinge should be on the carrying side. Yes, I realize this is a technical challenge, take it as a recommendation for next version. :)