July 21, 2008

Think Tank Photo's Airport Security V2.0


$369.00 for Domestic Version
$329.00 for International Version

Review by Steve Douglas

When the new Think Tank Airport Security bag reached my doorstep I knew I had something special here. With its shiny, chrome looking wheels, could this be the custom Harley of camera equipment bags? The Airport Security bag comes in two versions, one for international travel and the other for USA domestic. The USA domestic version is somewhat larger but not by much with the domestic version coming in at 13" x 7 x 21 and the international version a bit smaller at 13" x 6.5 x 18.5

Both versions come equipped with a TSA security combination lock, and cable, and a security plate with its own unique serial number. Should you misplace the bag and an honest individual should find it, all they would need to do is to contact Think Tank photo and provide the serial number of the bag. Think Tank would then attempt to unify you with your lost items. Of course, Think Tank cannot assume any real responsibility here, but their intentions are wonderful and could save a shoot for you.

It is not often that a gear bag needs to provide an owners manual, but I was glad Think Tank did as, only at first, I was unsure how to set and use the TSA combination lock. The manual provides easy to understand text and pictures walking you through it. Once read, it was fairly easy to set the locks to your own private combination, which now only you and the TSA airport security can get into. In Ketchikan, Alaska the security guard asked me to open it via my combination because the TSA keys for the lock were downstairs on another level of the airport and she didn't want to go through the hassle of finding them. There is even a second combination cable provided that will allow you to secure the bag to a table, desk, or car handle further securing your bag and its bounty from theft.

The lockable zipper sliders are of high quality which is great since zippers are usually the first thing to break down or apart. There is room for a laptop, when using the low dividers, tripod attachment, shoulder straps, a seam-sealed rain cover and a generous portion of dividers for all your cameras, cams, and lens' as large as 600mms, and a multitude of accessories.

There are plenty of interior organizers (probably more than you will ever need or use), a front stretch pocket, and side and bottom handles. The interior organizers come with both high and low walls, the low ones allowing for safe storage of your laptop.

In use, I couldn't ask for a better full sized cam bag. It rolled along smoothly without that dragging feeling I have sometimes gotten from other rolling bags. An outer zipper allowed me to store plane tickets, passports and several other goodies for quick and easy access, while the inner compartments, supplemented by a very large number of extra dividers, in addition to having a ton of room for a few camcorders, camera bodies, lens and whatever else you might want to store and protect, also contained several zippered pockets on the interior cover which were great to store plenty of cables, DVDs, business cards and a plethora of other things.

A tripod cup made of strong nylon will hold most of the tripods you might want to bring along and it is built to handle even those heavier models. It attaches to the outside side strap and secured with a compression strap and a cinch strap. Also on the exterior of the Airport Security bag is a pocket containing 'emergency backpack style shoulder straps'. These pack away tightly avoiding a huge bulge, which could prevent the bag from fitting into an overhead compartment.

One thing I appreciated while using the Airport Security V2.0 bag was the provided seam-sealed rain cover, which I needed to pull out and use during a downpour getting from my boat back to the airport. It hooks over the bottom legs of the bag and stretches over the top with a draw pull securing it to the bag. The cover has an opening for the handle to pop up. While I would have preferred a rain cover that covered the entire bag rather than just the top up side, it did its job and all remained dry.

If I had any complaint at all, and this is minor, is that the telescoping handle did not pop up easily. I had to goose it a little from beneath the handle and then it came out nicely and was fine in use.

The bag fit nicely in the overhead compartment though I had to put it in sideways and not straight in as the airlines have been asking for as of late. Never the less, I had no difficulties with any of the attendants. One thing I did not test and that was putting the Airport Security bag through checked luggage. The thought of any of my cameras or camcorders being in checked baggage scares me, not only because of theft, which I feel confident that the locks on this bag would successfully prevent, but because of the rough handling baggage handlers are famous for. My guess is that all equipment would be secured and protected but it is only a guess as all my fragile cams and cameras always go with me as carry on luggage.

Not only is the Think Tank Airport Security bag of exceptional build quality, there is lots of room in the interior and exterior compartments, more than many will need. As a further test, I was able to neatly place the Red One body, a good size lens, the Red One monitor, all the tools I would need for its set up and all the erector set plates, poles, nuts and bolts into the bag without any difficulties. Nor did the bag look or close as if it were stuffed to the gills. For those familiar with the Red One, this is quite the testament for the professional shooter who carries with them redundant systems and bodies. I highly recommend it and without reservations of any kind.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, the History channel's MegaDisaster show and other networks. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa Rica in 2008, Kenyan safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009, and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com


copyright © Steve Douglas 2008

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