Protective gear that helps you bring your story to life

Everyone has a story so what’s mine? Well, I grew up with not much money and spent my childhood at horse racing tracks, on a skateboard, and learning martial arts. But what is my real story? what defined me? Years ago after ripping my ACL I had to put a stop to martial arts and skateboarding. My grandfather passed away so that ended me spending time at the race tracks where he worked. So I got into computers thanks to a friend of mine. That led me to design work, computer repair, and eventually to create MacSources. Through my work with product reviews, I’ve renewed an old passion of mine – photography. Years ago, I had the opportunity to learn photography in school but could not afford the equipment that the class required.

I always enjoyed taking photos and as a kid, I would take my family’s Polaroid camera and take photos until all the film was gone. These photos are terrible and being a kid I had no clue what to take photos of. Needless to say, I consider myself more of a professional photographer nowadays. I have been able to put real time into learning photography and learning my cameras front-to-back. Lots of time has passed from the first time I picked up a camera until today. The only regret I have is that it has taken me so long in my life to start doing what I love. For everyone who has a back story, Think Tank Photo has designed a wonderful camera bag called the Backstory. It’s designed to provide content creators with a companion bag for their story-telling journeys.

DETAILS

The Backstory is a class of camera backpacks with a rear-panel opening that offers complete access to all your gear. There are two sizes of the Backstory – 13 and 15. The sizes indicate the size of a laptop that they can carry. For example, the Backstory 13 can only hold up to a 13-inch laptop. Now, the Backstory 15 can actually hold up to a 16” laptop. Both backpacks can carry tablets as well as the laptop in addition to the camera gear. I have the Backstory 15. In addition to the rear-panel, users can also access their camera through the top panel. The laptop and tablet pockets are situated inside the deep front compartment. It also has zippered mesh pockets and plush shoulder harnesses that include a sternum strap that stabilizes the load and reduces the straps from shifting. The backpack also has a waist belt. The bag is made with 500D 2-tone polytech-weave nylon and the entire thing features DWR water-resistant and polyurethane coatings.  The zippers are abrasion-resistant YKK RC Fuse two-way. The back has a semi-ridge back support with air-flow channels that improve comfort with handle pass-through. A rain cover is included with the backpack. 

Internal11.4” W x 14.6” H x 5.9” D (27 x 43 x 15 cm)  Roomy and fully customizable interior holds multiple camera bodies with attached lenses, plus additional lenses, flashes, drives, and other accessories Zippered top access allows you to keep a preferred camera/lens combo ready for fast shooting on the go Padded 210D nylon lining protects valuable and delicate gear Light silver-toned interior makes finding the right gear easy Closed-cell foam and PE board reinforced dividers are adjustable and removable, allowing you to customize the compartment to your needs Zippered mesh pockets are useful for accessories like cables and chargers, with the ability to easily see what’s inside
Exterior13.4” W x 20.4” H x 7.5” D (28 x 50 x 19 cm) Access to main compartment is on the back for optimal security Quick access to top part of the main compartment allows you to grab your primary camera when opportunities present themselves Deep front pocket has an organizer to hold small personal items Padded slip portion in front pocket accommodates 16″ laptops and 10″ tablets with easy access for working on the go or to quickly get through TSA checkpoints Small zippered microfiber-lined phone/sunglasses pocket Tripod/monopod retention strap system on the front with quick release straps and a stowable foot pocket on the bottom for added support Side water bottle pocket
Laptop Pocket  (fits up to 16” laptop)10.2” W x 15.7” H x 1.0” D (26 x 40 x 2.5 cm) 
Weight3.6 lbs (1.6 kg)

USER EXPERIENCE

When the Backstory 15 arrived, I examined it and tried to map out the best layout for my gear. Backpacks like this often come pre-formatted with all the Velcro dividers in a certain configuration. I’ve found that for the most part, those pre-set configurations don’t suit my personal needs. The Backstory was no exception. I tried to use the standard layout but did have to move the dividers around. Think Tank always impresses me with how easy it is to move them around though. The first time I wanted to take gear out, I wanted to pack the following in my bag.

  • Canon EOS-R with a Tamron 35mm lens attached
  • Tamron 70-200mm lens (detached)
  • GoDox AD-300 Pro (it’s roughly the same size as the 70-200mm lens) (when I did not have the 70-200 with me)
  • A remote trigger
  • Tamron 24-70mm lens (detached)
  • A few additional smaller accessories

I didn’t really have an issue with all of that fitting into the camera gear compartment, but I did find that the Backstory wasn’t as deep as my previous backpack – the StreetWalker Harddrive V2.0. The reason I noticed this right away was because I tried to set my 24-70mm lens into the compartment upright rather than laying it flat like what I have to do with the extra-long 70-200mm. While I could stand the lens up, the backpack wouldn’t close without a bulge in that spot. That made me feel that the lens could potentially get damaged if there were an impact on the back in that spot. So, I laid it flat. The only issue with this strategy is that it takes up so much more room in the photography gear compartment than with the lenses standing upright.

While the opportunities have been somewhat limited due to weather and community health concerns, I have been fortunate to be able to have a couple of photoshoots where I took the bag out on location. Both times were actually at a local parks. The first shoot, I was doing featured a friend of mine. I packed the bag up as if I were going much farther away. The bag was very useful not only as a holder of things but also as a weight. It was a very windy day and I was using two off-camera lights with large umbrellas. In a moment of quick thinking, I wrapped the backpack around the base of the light stand to offset the light and its modifier so that it wouldn’t blow over. This surprisingly worked very well since I could use the chest strap to lock it in place.

Another time when the weather was unseasonably warm, I decided to take a drive to do some location scouting. I ended up at a local park and took a short hike with the Backstory tagging along on my back. It was fully loaded and even had a travel-sized tripod stowed on it for the trek. I was surprised at how comfortable the backpack was – even weighted down like it was. I found it very easy to get gear in and out of once I reached my desired location and when I was done, it was easy to throw back onto my back and journey back to my parking spot. The Backstory wears very well.

The final on-location shoot I had while testing this backpack out was to another local park area. On this occasion, I was taking photos of my daughter. I carried the same gear I outlined above and a few extra accessories because I was testing out some new lights. We started in one area of the park and moved around to three additional places. The backpack was perfect for quick change-ups and it moved quite easily from spot to spot.

CONCLUSION

The Backstory camera backpack does provide a good storage option for on-the-go photographers, but I feel like for me the StreetWalker Harddrive is more practical. The Backstory wins in the comfort category, but the StreetWalker wins when it comes to storage size. I do like that the Backstory provides a front-side pocket for the laptop and tablet and I love that it has an easy storage place for tripods, too. The look of the Backstory is awesome. It’s got a beautiful design. With that in mind, it’s a worthwhile investment for a photographer who can carry minimalistic gear with them.

For more details, visit Think Tank Photo, Facebook, and Twitter.