Think Tank Photo Airport TakeOff Review

IMG_9712For a little over a year now I have been using a Think Tank Photo Airport International 2.0 as my primary bag and a Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter bag for my travel bag. The problem has been that my big bag has been too bulky was awkward for hauling my reflectors and I still needed to take my laptop bag with me. With the Shape Shifter bag I could take my laptop easily but was very limited on the amount of gear I could take. Think Tank Photo seems to have come up with an answer to this tradeoff with the new Airport TakeOff bag.

Features

The new Think Tank Airport TakeOff is a new roller bag…no wait..its a backpack bag…no, it has wheels and and handle so it’s a roller…noooo…it has straps so its a backpack…ok, so maybe Think Tank Photo should have named this the FrankenBag or maybe the Schizophrenic. Regardless of the name, the Airport TakeOff is both a roller bag and a back pack. As we all know, usually when you try to make a hybrid of something, you end up with something that doesn’t do anything well. Knowing the folks at Think Tank Photo, our bet is that they managed to pull it off.

Designed to comply with international airline carry-on requirements, the Airport TakeOff accommodates pro-sized photography gear, including two pro or regular size DSLR bodies with or without lenses attached.  Its features include:

  • Holds up to a 300mm f/2.8 and other assorted lenses
  • Quickly deployable and concealable backpack straps
  • Front cable and lock to secure laptops
  • Lockable zipper sliders
  • Transports tripods or monopods easily
  • Adjustable sternum straps for tailored usage
  • Holds Think Tank’s Artificial Intelligence 15 protective laptop case

Specifications

  • Internal Dimensions:  13”W x 18.4”H x 5.25-6.75”D (33 x 47 x 13 cm)
  • External Dimensions: 14”W x 21”h x 8”D (35.5 x 53 x 22 cm)
  • Weight: 8.6 – 10.3 (3.9 – 4.7 kg) depending on accessories used

Setup

IMG_9715Like most Think Tank Photo bags, the insides have a virtually unlimited amount of flexibility and come with tons of pieces to allow you to create almost any configuration you would want. Included are same layouts for Nikon and Canon equipment or you can customize it to suite your needs.

For traveling, I want my bodies to be in the bag like their example, but going to a local wedding or engagement shoot I will have my primary body and lens outside the bag as I am always ready to get a shot right when I arrive or as I am leaving an event.

Regardless of how you want your setup to be, odds are you can manage to get there with the AirPort TakeOff.

Usage

IMG_9713At first glance, it appears that the TakeOff is a little smaller than the Airport International 2.0 although they are really both designed for international carry-on sizes. The main differences from the front is that the take-off has a very expandable front pocket with a latch while the Airport International 2.0 has a pocket but once you have any gear inside, the outside pocket is useless for anything fatter than a manila folder. Because of this, I have kept my reflectors in a bag outside of the Airport International 2.0. With the Airport TakeOff, I can fit two large reflectors in the pocket and still get my 14” laptop into it. Both bags allow me to strap my tripod to the outside securely and both roll easily while fully loaded with gear.

From the side you can see how the reflectors make the outside pocket bulge out in the front and I am a little bummed that the zipper lock from the Airport International 2.0 is missing from the Airport TakeOff. While there is a lock in a pocket under the front flap that can be used to lock the zipper, the cable isn’t long enough to lock the bag to something like you can with the Airport International 2.0. The ability to lock the bag securely and to lock it to a table or other immovable object is a a real win for the Airport International 2.0.

As a backpack, the TakeOff feels pretty balanced and the shoulder pads are comfortable and easily adjustable for different size people.

As for packing my gear into the TakeOff, I was surprised that I could actually fit everything into it very easily and although my 70-300mm won’t stand up in it, it still fit nicely and also made for a nice spot to put my Cable Management 10 on top of it. This is a typical wedding configuration with 4 lenses in the bag, a backup camera body, Lensbaby Composer, two flashes, video camera, light meter, filters, diffusers, grids, snoot, bounce card, cleaning cloths, Rocket Blower, Wolverine ESP backup system, SensorPen SensorLoupe, Canon CP-E4 Battery pack, roll of Gaffers tape, Pixel Pocket Rocket, as well as a stash of batteries, WhiBal card, cable releases, and a bottle of sunscreen. On the outside pocket I can fit my laptop, two large reflectors, and a tripod.

Results

Quality of a Think Tank bag is second to none, the zippers are the best quality, the seams and material are top-notch. Every single feature, pocket, corner, strap, D-Ring, and component has been chosen to provide a photographer with a camera bag that is going to hold up to the rigors of every day use. These are not cheap overseas bags. These bags are professional quality, so they do not come at cheap, eBay prices. With an MSRP of $299, even with discounted street prices, the Airport TakeOff is still going to be a fairly pricey investment but if you want a professional quality camera bag that is going to last years of hard-core daily use and help keep your gear is top shape, then its hard to go wrong with a bag from Think Tank Photo such as the AirPort TakeOff.

Score Card

Features 5.0
Setup: 5.0
Usage: 5.0
Results: 5.0
Overall: 5.0

Think Tank Photo Website: http://thinktankphoto.com

KerryG

Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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1 Response

  1. Joe says:

    Thanks for your review. I know it's a year after you posted, but it was very helpful to me to see how the bag compares to the airport international! Thanks.

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