ThinkTank Photo's Impressive Roller lineup (L to R): The cavernous Logistics Manager, the generous Airport Security V2 and the amazing Airport International V2
I'm still shaking my head in disbelief. I've been using ThinkTank's Airport Security V2 for almost two years now. Rolling into assignments, packing and unpacking the working layout of the bag blindfolded, flying domestically confident it would fit in any overhead bin provided I'm in the top half of the boarding order, and talking my way past the occasional airline employee intent on putting my gear at risk in the belly of the beast. Returning from France last summer I felt the rules closing in, and even though the overheads readily accepted the bag, I decided the next time over the pond I'd be traveling with ThinkTank's smaller International roller.
The Tale of the Tape
Externally the Airport International V2 measures 14” W x 21” H x 8” D versus the Airport Security V2 at 14” W x 22” H x 9” D. If this was a fight I'm not sure you'd give either journeyman a tale-of-the-tape advantage, but by shaving an inch off the height and an inch off the depth, ThinkTank has created a stealthier bag that really looks smaller without sacrificing its effective capacity. I call that magic. When gate agents are scanning the milling crowd for full-flight cabin victims, it's amazing how those extra inches stand out. By comparison the International should slip past that scrutiny as easily as a black-clad super model.
That was the theory anyway. When the bag arrived early in the week the visual difference had me convinced I would have to make some serious compromises in gear for upcoming assignments in the UK and Italy. The photo below shows the two bags sitting side by side: the incumbent fully loaded and the challenger in its stock divider configuration right out the box. I'll admit I sat staring at the two bags for some time before making my first move.
My go-to everyday Airport Security V2 layout (L) and the stock Airport International V2 (R) before divider reconfiguration and gear transfer.
The King Stays Put
My 200 f2 is king. I wanted its weight at the bottom of the International in the deepest part of the bag. ThinkTank's designers don't seem to have anticipated a horizontal layout quite like mine so I had to improvise a little with the divider piece normally used to seat a body and lens combo. Note to Doug and the designers at TTP, how about a horizontal divider for the bottom of the bag with an attached padded top flap to baby big glass. I've got something just like this in the bigger bag cannibalized from some other system long since sent down to the minors. With the 200 seated, the next challenge was to locate the two bodies. After some experimentation I built a central padded divider box that put them on the wings, hot shoes down/RRS L plates up (well protected), and from there the rest of the layout fell into place and my grin began to grow.
You can see from the inventory schematics below the only significant sacrifice was my 85mm f1.2. Given the versatility of the 100 and the beautiful wide-open performance of the 200 for portraits, I won't miss the extra weight and the sketchy AF performance of the 85 that limits its usefulness to static subjects. All my key gear safely stored, nothing strained or forced, and it's a good working layout. Loaded like this it weighs 35 lbs.
Click to view a larger image of the final layout.
What had to fit. Click for a larger view of the contents.
What didn't make it or isn't needed
Ogio's Tanker 9600 Will Swallow Everything Else
With the essentials safely billeted in the ThinkTank International, Ogio's mammoth Tanker 9600 will accommodate clothes, toiletries, my monopod, a collapsible softbox, three 430 EX IIs and a couple of Justin clamps. I stick the monopod inside a hard cardboard tube for extra protection and enclose a manifest for customs to minimize searching about in the bag to figure out what the electronics are. Of course flashes could be stolen, but it's unlikely. My final piece of luggage is the large Rapha backpack. It carries my laptop, 5DII chargers (2), one or two external HDs, card reader and cables.
My thanks to Ogio for supplying the Tanker 9600. I love the SLED system, big wheels and interior divider (though spoiled by camera bags I wish there were a couple more structural options inside). This trip will be a great test of the heavy lifter. I'll have a review of the Tanker next month.
My first two ThinkTank Rollers have provided exceptional trouble-free performance. Wheels, zippers and handles work as well as they did on day one and the resilient exteriors show no signs of wear or damage. I expect nothing less from the Airport International. It has already surprised and delighted me by absorbing the critical gear I need with me, and it gives me increased piece of mind that I'll fly under the radar through airports. With more than $15,000 worth of cameras and lenses safely stored in the bag, $329 is a fair price to pay for superior TTP design and quality. I wouldn't roll any other way. The ThinkTank International V2 Roller