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Think Tank Airport Commuter Alternatives

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#1 hyp



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Posted 26 May 2018 - 04:01 AM

I am looking for a bag to haul my newly acquired gear around the world. I've seen the other thread on the hardcase vs backpack discussion, but could not really find a solution that makes me happy.


For weight considerations, I've already decided to go with the backpack route, which should be 2kg or less empty. However, it seems that the market for carry-on sized large backpacks is tiny. This is what I want to pack:


NA-EM5 housing (if necessary with camera inside)

Nauticam 12-50mm Macro Port

Olympus 12-50mm Lens

Nauticam 7inch Dome Port

Panaleica 8-18mm Lens

2 YS-01 Strobes


For Topside use I would also like to bring

Panasonic 35-100 f2.8 (essential)

Panasonic 100-300 mkII (essential on some trips)

Panasonic GX8 (optional)


I ordered two backpacks from Amazon in the 60€ pricerange, but both did not even fit all of the dive photography gear. I've found the Think Tank Airport Commuter which should fit everything, but 200€ seems like a fairly large chunk of money for a bag.  Does anyone know of any cheaper alternatives?




#2 ChrisRoss


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Posted 28 May 2018 - 04:18 PM

I know you said backpack, I've used backpacks in the past and they do weigh you down a lot.   If you see my post on here:  http://wetpixel.com/...pic=5814&page=6


you'll see effectively the same kit packed into a domestic size roller bag, the weight of this bag is 1.9kg empty.  I have lined it with closed cell foam panels and utilised the internals of another photobackpack for dividers.  The advantage of this bag is that it is completely anonymous and no one blinks an eye when you bring it on board.  Of course you have to avoid flying airlines that weigh everything carried on board, which tend to be those that charge for checked baggage, though I have heard a lot of European airlines weigh everything.  There's no way you'll get any sizable UW kit on board within the weight limits some of these airlines set and you have to resort to subterfuge like carrying heavy items in a photo vest and the like.    This is the bag I referred to:  https://www.luggaged...case-black.html


If you want to go backpacks the Think Tank line is extremely well built, I have streetwalker hard drive which I used to carry a 500mm lens and canon pro DSLR and other lenses around the world, the weight of the packed backpack was up around 18kg.  I have had the bag for about 8 years now, done lots of trips with it and it is still going strong. 

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#3 hyp



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Posted 28 May 2018 - 09:59 PM

Thanks for the link to that thread. I must have missed it before and there's loads of information there. 

#4 adamhanlon


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Posted 29 May 2018 - 12:48 PM

In common with many on this forum, I use Think Tank and Mindshift Gear bags to transport the camera gear as a carry on. $200 seems reasonable to cart around nearly $10K worth of gear :)


My experience is that roller bags often get weighed, whereas backpacks do not. Psychologically, if you can carry it, it can't be heavy....!


I reviewed the MindShift Gear First Light pack here: http://www.wetpixel....-firstlight-40l


All the best



Adam Hanlon-underwater photographer and videographer
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#5 hyp



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Posted 30 May 2018 - 04:41 AM

Interesting review, but that bag is even more expensive! That said, I agree that 200€ does not seem that much in the grand scheme of underwater photography (although I avoided spending 10k by buying used). I am quite quickly coming to the conclusion that the Think Tank will be the one. 

#6 trimix125


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Posted 30 May 2018 - 12:52 PM

using a Think tank since years, i had changed to a no name product 2 years ago, since i have changed to a dslr rig...
500 gramm reduced...
After 2 trips, the zippers dont work anymore....
So i bought a second Think tank, because my girl friend is using mine..
Ist a pitty, she takes pics under water as well...

What i do, is thinking about my goal for the trip, means i take a setup for what i like to do most, including housing, port, camera and lens, and one light source in the backpack. Plus laptop and accu, loader and all that is needed to shoot the main goal of the trip.

Second strobe, and its arm and clamps, second port and lens, will travel in the normal divebag.

Simply because i can rent any gear anywhere if my bag is not coming. But not camera or strobes. So i can shot my mean goal up to 50% with my carry on, even if the other parts will arrive days later.

Have been in Aniloa, met a guy there who spent three days there. And his baggage came on the third day....
Think on going a liveaboard, but your gear is somewhere...

On the other hand, weighting luggage is rising a lot.....
So better having the most needed with me, and all the other stff coming hopefully...


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#7 hyp



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Posted 31 May 2018 - 04:56 AM

Only bringing one strobe and one port in hand luggage seems like a very good idea. If everything does not fit, this might be the way to go.

#8 phxazcraig


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Posted 05 August 2018 - 11:16 PM

Thinktank is very high quality stuff.  I have been using two of their bags since 2008 extensively, and a roller carryon for the past 4 years.    You're not throwing $200 away buying their gear.


Some advice though - consider carefully whether to go backpack or roller bag.   I have the Airport Accelerator (largest one), and loaded up it's over 30 pounds.  When I got my DSLR housing, I decided I was mostly done carrying that much weight around, and I wanted a roller bag.   I use that bag - but it holds significantly less than my backpack, even though both have the same overall sie.  The wheel wells and pull handle take up about 20% of the room compared to the backpack.   It's a choice of being able to fit more - but then having to carry it.  I've opted to put as much into the roller bag as I can, and pack other parts in checked bags.

#9 hyp



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Posted 11 August 2018 - 12:40 AM

Just wanted to follow up, saying that I got the Think Tank. In the shop they had some other largish backpacks by LowePro, but even though they seemed larger, none seemed to work quite as well as the Think Tank. This is what fits in, for future reference:


Camera Gear:

Nauticam NA EM5 Housing (with handles attached)

Olympus EM5

Nauticam 7 inch Dome

Nauticam Macro Port for Oly 12-50mm

2 YS-02 Flashes

Panasonic GX8

Panasonic-Leice 8-18mm

Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8

Panasonic 100-300mm


Other stuff

an iPad in the tablet/laptop pocket

small bits and bobs that fit into the backside of the opening flap.


The pack weighs around 6kg-7kg packed, so I should get by with most carriers. It's also definitely full. I'm still considering if I really need to bring the GX8 for topside, but I don't like the handling of the Em5. I just have it because I got an unreal deal on the housing.

#10 Pajjpen


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Posted 11 August 2018 - 06:37 AM

I have the think tank airport accelerator and love it. Weighs about 2,5kg unpacked I think, but stores a bunch of stuff.
Right now I have;
Nauticam gh5 + Camera in housing
Panasonic 14-42 with port
2 v6k pros with 4 big batteries
2 Phantom 4 pro batteries
Olympus 60mm with port
Smallhd 501 with Nauticam housing
A video snoot light
And a bunch of misc stuff like batteries and extra cables etc.
Weighs in at around 18-19kg but doesn’t get weighed.

Will probably buy a fisherman’s vest for the next trip and stuff those pockets with stuff before checking in as a safety precaution.

#11 gdiver25


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Posted 14 September 2018 - 03:39 PM

Which ThinkTank backpack can hold my 14" laptop, D500, accessories and Tokina 10-17 and still truly fit underneath and airline seat? I know what they claim but I'm looking for practical experience.