Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator Bag
Think Tank Photo are quickly becoming known as the superior alternative to other more established brands of camera bag. For that reason alone, we were keen to see what all the fuss was about. We got our hands on the Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator bag, and took it to the field for testing.
This bag is marketed as a bag designed to make travelling easier for photographers flying around the world. It is designed to fit within the hand baggage size limits of both domestic and international flights. That’s a very handy feature, as it eliminates the worry of your camera bag being too large and being sent into the hold to be rattled around with your expensive equipment inside.
But if a bag is kept slim and discreet, like this one, does it lack durability? This was something I wondered when I read up about the bag. As a wildlife photographer, my camera bags tend to get a little battered and bruised overtime. Would the Airport Accelerator be able to stand up to the challenge?
Durability & Practicality
Once you’ve got off the plane, you then have to haul your cameras around in this bag for the duration of your trip. There’s no point having something which is great for sitting in the overhead locker, but useless as soon as it gets into the outdoors.
The first thing I noticed about the Think Tank Photo bag was that it has a rigid structure. The bag doesn’t flatten down, and even when empty it stands at the same size as when full. Personally, I really like this. I no longer worry about slight weight on top of the bag (for example an attached tripod) damaging the cameras inside, as I know the structure of the bag can withstand it.
Whilst it may not look very rugged, the bag has padded shoulder straps and also a padded waist belt. This makes carrying it around more comfortable, especially with heavy equipment inside. However, if you take your bags on some very long hikes, then you may wish for some thicker padding. Plus, the waist belt is actually a strap attached to some padding for your hips. It isn’t an all round padded belt.
But what can you expect? This bag is designed to get you through airport size limitations, and big thick padding on the outside of bags increases their size drastically. If you’re looking for a hardcore trekking camera bag, then you may be interested in their sister company MindShift Gear’s Rotation180° Professional bag we also reviewed.
The biggest complaint amongst photographers about their bags is that there is never enough space. I’ve been in this position with camera bags many times, even ones that claim to be able to take large telephoto lenses and multiple camera bodies. However, I usually end up fighting with the zip to get the bag closed, forever fearing I am crushing my cameras inside.
Upon getting my hands on the Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator, I was relieved to be faced with ample space. In fact, one could even argue too much space! We photographers are never content…
The bag boasts interior dimensions of 14″ width x 20.5″ height x 9″ depth (35.6cm W x 52.1cm H x 22.9cm D). That’s an impressive and spacious bag indeed!
That means it can accommodate up to a 600mm f/4 lens with body detached, or even a 500mm f/4 lens with the body attached! You can then pack multiple lenses around it, as well as multiple camera bodies. If you don’t have large telephoto lenses, the bag can hold 2 pro DSLR cameras with 6-8 standard zoom lenses.
Is that not enough for you? The lid has 3 large zipped plastic pockets inside which can hold lens cloths, memory cards, extra batteries and more. It doesn’t stop there! The exterior part of the bag lid has two compartments. One holds a 17″ laptop, and the other can hold an iPad too!
You can see how I filled my bag in the above image. Here is exactly what it contains:
- 1x Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR II telephoto lens.
- 2x Professional DSLR bodies (Nikon D4 & Nikon D810 with grip attached).
- 1x Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens.
- 1x Nikon 14mm f/2.8 lens.
- 1x Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
- 1x Nikon 1.7x teleconverter.
- 1x SB-900 Flashgun.
That’s not to mention all the batteries, memory cards and other extras that fit in the large three pockets on the inside of the lid. Even then, the bag doesn’t feel crammed and still feels like there is space available.
Attention to Detail
The primary function of the Airport Accelerator is to get you and your cameras on your flight smoothly. I was very impressed to find that they have included a wire cabled lock that is fixed to the bag which can lock the two main zips together. It is stored in the side of the bag, and can be pulled out to keep everything secure.
There is also a waterproof bag cover that is included with the product, and can be stored in the main compartment in a small bag that is provided.
At first sight, I couldn’t see anywhere to attach a tripod and was quite disappointed. In my book, this is an essential feature with all bags and a definite deal-breaker. However, on closer inspection I realised that they have included tripod straps within the bag. You attach these to the outside when needed. This shows the quality of design Think Tank Photo have applied to this bag, as the fact that they can be removed makes the bag very streamline for airport use.
There is little that is missing from this bag. For travelling photographers, this is a dream. The bag is almost like a TARDIS, fitting much more equipment than most photographers could ever need. The one thing that I do think would’ve benefited however, is the addition of waterproof seals on the zips. It’s something my previous camera bag had, and it is something I definitely miss the addition of in this one. Yes, the supplied rain cover makes up for this, but it would still be a welcome feature.
If you’re a travelling photographer, you know how difficult it can be to get a large camera bag on a flight. Most of us never quite know for sure whether or not the bag will fit into the overhead locker safely and be allowed on the flight. The Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator gets rid of this fear, whilst also providing you with a sleek bag that can be used out in the field too. Plus, the huge space this bag provides is invaluable.
The discreet nature of this bag reduces the likelihood of you standing out and people realising you are carrying expensive gear. If you find yourself travelling abroad in populated areas, the last thing you want to do is be a target for theft.
It doesn’t feel like a bag you want to drag through mud, but don’t let appearances fool you. This is a durable bag, and should not be underestimated. If you embark on long treks, then this probably isn’t the bag for you. However, if you find yourself outdoors but not hiking for miles, then you should definitely consider this.
The best place to buy the Airport Accelerator is on the Think Tank Photo website. It retails at $294.75 USD.