The Thinktank Airport International v2.0:

The Thinktank Airport International v2.0 - Is it worth the price?

Thinktank Airport InternationalAt well over €300 in your cheaper outlets, the Think Tank Airport International is pretty darn pricey given it is just a camera roller bag. It also ain't the lightest roller out there either. The Lowe Pro Roller x200 is about 1kg lighter and similarly priced. However, when it comes to protecting your camera gear, €300 is a small price to pay is it not?

To me, the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes". Given you are packing it full with pro equipment, the peace of mind a bag like this gives you is definitely worth more than the price tag. I will go into detail as to what this bag carried for me on a recent trip but first I wanted to give a couple of alternative viewpoints.

If air travel is a big part of your life as a photographer then a bag with wheels is almost a necessity. At the beginning of the year I ended up using a big LowePro Stealth Reporter shoulder bag (the 650 AW) for an event and I swore I would never make that mistake again. As good as the Stealth Reporter range of bags are (and I do love my 650AW), when you start going for the bigger bags and loading them up with gear it will not be long before you are crushing vertebrae and if you are shooting all day events then hauling a 12+ kg bag around all day is far from practical.

As flight travel is becoming more regulated from a carry-on luggage perspective having a bag that can maximise what you can get into it without sacrificing protection is another absolute necessity. This Think Tank is, as its name suggests, a TANK. The external build quality on this bag puts the likes of Samsonite, Delsey and a lot of your other big-name luggage brands to shame. Being a fan of LowePro bags I was keen to take a look at the x200. You could probably get a little more in to the LowePro but the build quality simply is nothing close to the Think Tank Airport International. The internals of the LowePro rollers are just the same as their over shoulder bags such as the Stealth Reporter series of bags. The dividers are just a little flimsy for my own taste. Also the external build quality is just not up to scratch, at least not when you put it beside the Think Tank AI.

Another crucial factor is size. The Think Tank AI has the dimensions as its name suggests, within the International Air Transport Assocation (IATA) guideline dimensions for cabin luggage size which is 56 x 45 x 25cm. However this sizing is not much use if you are flying Ryanair or any other low cost airline. So the guys at Think Tank designed their bag with the dimensions 20 x 35 x 55cm which is within the low cost luggage sizing guideline limit of 20 x 40 x 55. This fact alone makes this bag far more practical when flying around Europe with your cameras and is a huge advantage over the bigger LowePro equivalent. In fact, on a recent trip I had this bag loaded to bursting (check out pic below) and it still fit without any great effort into the Ryanair baggage cage. When you see what I put into this you will find it hard to believe but it is true and a testament to the no-compromise design philosophy of the Think Tank brand. If I had one gripe, it would be the handle, it just feels like it was designed by someone outside of Think Tank, it feels a little flimsy when compared to the rest of the bag. That said, it does the job adequately but my intuition tells me it will be the first thing to fail on the bag.

Thinktank Airport InternationalIt is truly amazing what you can pack in to one of these bags. On a recent trip I packed in the following stuff:

Cameras: D700 with MB-D10, D800 with MB-D12 and the 4 batteries inside them

Lenses: 70-200 f/2.8 VRII, 85 f/1.4, 16-35 f/4 VR, 105 f/2.8 Micro, 50 f/1.4

Flashes and radio triggers: SB-910 x 2, 2 x Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 and 1 x Mini TT1

Accessories: Litepanels MicroPro video light, various gels for the Nikon brand flashes, business cards, glasses, LowePro memory card wallet with various CF cards, Lastolite softbox tripod adapter, 2 button batteries for the Mini TT1, multi function tool, Sun Sniper camera strap, foam flash modifier with those lovely colored hair bobbins, lens pen, lens blower and soft cloth, memory card reader, remote trigger cable and transmitter, various power cables, ND filter, 2 x Nikon battery chargers, 30 or so rechargeable 2450mAh AA batteries, Maglite, LED torch, posing book (everyone needs inspiration!) and last but certainly not least, the wings for my daughters Halloween fancy dress fairy outfit - I would have been in serious trouble if they ended up damaged!

You can check out the specs of all their bags at the Think Tank website or any other good photo retailer for that matter but if it is real-world feedback you are after then you will do no wrong with the Airport International, certainly if Ryanair or other low cost airlines feature in your travel plans. One word of warning though, make sure they don't weigh your bag!

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