My favorite shoulder bag is now a backpack!

About six months ago I reviewed the Retrospective V2.0 Shoulder Bag from Think Tank Photo. I discussed how impressed I was with the design of the bag and how well it accommodated all our gear (between Nick and myself). Since that time, the Retrospective shoulder bags have become our daily carry-alls when we go on shoots. So, when I learned that Think Tank was going to release a version of the Retrospective as a backpack, I was ecstatic. Last month when I was at Imaging USA, I had the opportunity to see the backpack up close before I had it in-hand to try it out. I was struck by its classic design and quite frankly, by the fact that my favorite shoulder bag was now a backpack. Backpacks are a lot more functional for me when I’m on the go, but I love the flexibility that is offered by a good shoulder bag. So, I was happy to see what I thought was a good combination of both types of camera bags.

DETAILS

Think Tank Photo classifies the Retrospective Backpack as a ‘classic-styled rucksack’ that’s designed for adventure travel photography. It has the same form-fitting canvas that is pre-treated to help protect the fabric against the elements. The pack features 20L of total storage and it’s configurable to suit the user’s needs. The backpack has removable Velcro dividers that help the user to organize and protect their gear.

“The combination of photo and personal gear carry makes the Retrospective Backpack the perfect bag for adventure travel,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank CEO and Lead Designer. “It’s a natural addition to the Retrospective shoulder bag series, with all of the style and design details that have made the line so popular.”

The bag is primarily made with sand-washed 100% cotton canvas. It is pre-treated with durable water repellant (DWR) coating. The zippers are YKK RC Fuse (abrasion-resistant) for durability. The bag also features nylon webbing and 3-ply bonded nylon thread. The inside of the backpack includes the closed-cell foam and PE board reinforced dividers along with 210D silver-toned nylon. The liner is polyester 300D two-tone twill ripstop. The interior also features a 2x polyurethane coated nylon 210T seam-sealed rain cover.

KEY FEATURES

  • Soft and form-fitting with minimalist outer appearance
  • Top and rear-panel access to camera gear
  • Dedicated pocket fits up to a 15” laptop
  • 20L of total storage: 15L enclosed space plus 5L additional for personal gear in the front pocket
  • Configurable main compartment for camera gear or personal gear
  • Tripod attachment on side or front panel
  • Two collapsible water bottle pockets
  • Compatible with Think Tank Modular pouches
  • Organizer pocket
  • Zippered pocket for valuables and small items
  • Adjustable sternum slider
  • Removable webbing waist belt
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included

WHAT FITS

  • Standard DSLR body
  • Mirrorless Camera System
  • 15” laptop
  • 70–200mm f/2.8 attached
  • 24–70mm f/2.8
  • 100mm or 105mm f/2.8 macro
  • 50mm f/1.4
  • Flash

Example: Fuji X–T3 with 50–140mm f/2.8 attached, 35mm f/1.4, 14mm f/2.8, 60mm f/2.4, 23mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.2, 16mm f/1.4, and a flash

Example: Sony A7rIII with 70–200mm f/2.8 attached (hood extended), 16–35mm f/4, 24–70mm f/2.8 and a flash

DIMENSIONS

  • Interior Dimensions: 11.4” W x 13.8” H x 5.5” D (29 x 35 x 14 cm)
  • Exterior Dimensions: 11.8” W x 15.9” H x 7.1” D (30 x 40.5 x 18 cm)
  • Laptop Pocket (fits up to 15” laptop): 9.8” W x 14.1” H x 1.0” D (25 x 36 x 2.5 cm)
  • Weight: 4.0 lbs (1.8 kg) including all accessories

USER EXPERIENCE

When I first saw this backpack at Imaging USA, I was impressed at how the design of the shoulder bag carried over so well to the backpack. There are a lot of similarities between the two bags and aside from one being a shoulder bag and the other being a backpack, they definitely look like they are from the same family. One of the things that made me really happy was that I was able to fit all the items in my Retrospective 7 shoulder bag into the Retrospective backpack. The backpack has tons of space and it’s all really easy to access.

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Now, one thing I want to point out is that the backpack is a back-loading bag. There is a top-loading pouch that provides easy access to a camera (or other items you pack away). Normally, I don’t like back-loading backpacks. I think they are a pain to deal with because you end up having to move the should straps out of the way in order to get to the gear. With the Retrospective backpack, I really took into consideration what the purpose of the backpack is. It’s for an adventurer/traveler. With that in mind, you might be using this backpack for hiking or traveling from place to place before taking a photo. If that’s what ends up happening with this backpack, then stopping once you reach your destination to open up the back isn’t a big deal. Think Tank Photo has another bag that’s been wildly popular — the Urban Access. It’s a back-loading backpack, but it has a side access pocket. It’s great for photographers that want to be able to get to their gear quickly without removing the backpack all the way.

Since I’ve had the backpack, I’ve used it to carry camera gear on a couple of photo walks and it’s been great for carrying my gear for work. I have a job that requires me to travel in a regional area and to document (with photos) our different locations. This past week, I actually had to travel about an hour away to take photos of a new retail store that we are opening. The Retrospective backpack was perfect for that job because I was able to stow all my gear as well as my laptop and some paperwork for the trip.

The backpack is very easy to carry. The straps are well-padded and flexible enough to fit any body types. The backpack does have an adjustable chest strap and waist strap for added stability and balance of the bag. I really appreciate these especially when I go on photo walks. I have some back pain that I deal with on a regular basis and the added support from the straps makes carrying gear on my back bearable. I’ve not noticed my shoulders getting tired or sore from the straps yet and I find it pretty easy to access the gear inside the bag.

CONCLUSION

I’ve been a fan of Think Tank Photo for many years now and with each new release, I find more and more reasons to enjoy their products. For the longest time, my favorite bag was the Streetwalker Pro V2.0 Backpack from Think Tank. Now, it’s the Retrospective Backpack.

For more information, visit thinktankphoto.com, Facebook, and Twitter.