Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
on April 16, 2009
After much research on the net, I settled on this Think Tank Speed Racer camera bag to use on a two week trip to Japan. I needed a travel bag to hold my Nikon D700 along with the large and heavy 70-200mm Nikon VR lens. Also, it would hold a smaller 17-35mm Nikon lens and a SB 800 speedlight flash unit.
All of this equipment in one bag is a lot of weight. I needed a bag that would hold all this comfortably, yet would give easy access to the gear. I could have settled with a backpack-style bag, which would've put the weight equally on the shoulders as well as on my hip. That would've been comfortable. Downside of the backpack-style camera bag is that whenever I wanted to change the lens I'd have to pull off the pack from my back, place it on the ground, switch lenses, put pack back on, etc. A way around that would be to have two cameras dangling from my neck, one with a wide lens, other with long lens, like the pros do. But I can't afford that luxury. I have just one camera with 2 big lenses to switch it with.
Other option was to get a simple shoulder bag that would give me quick access to my gear. Downside with that is all the weight on my shoulder. Warning: shoulder will get sore and require frequent pampering if you want to haul around your heavy camera kit, when using shoulder camera case.
I settled on this Think Tank Speed Racer because of the cool option of the hip pad, along with a shoulder strap, and the easy access it would provide. After two weeks with it in Japan, photographing the "sakura," or cherry blossom season, and walking several miles with it daily, standing with it for hours while visiting museums and riding subways, here's my verdict: I love this bag, best camera bag for holding lots of heavy gear I've ever used. Why? The combination of the hip pad with the shoulder pad spreads the weight around along with quick and easy access to my gear. The secret is to make most, or nearly all, of the weight rest on your hips, and the shoulder pad is there to take up just a little of the weight, enough to stabilize it. The hip pad is very wide, which spreads the weight widely over your hips. It is also very strongly made.
When it was time to walk long distances with it, I could easily lift it up a little and swivel it to the side of my hip, or the back, which made walking easier then having it directly in front of me. When I needed access to my gear, and it was placed behind me, I could quickly swivel it back in front.
Be sure to take the time and adjust the hip pad perfectly for your size. It took awhile for me to adjust it, not terribly easy to slip the strap through the slots that adjust the length of it. The upside with the difficulty of adjusting the length of the hip strap is that once adjusted, it solidly keeps the length you chose.
If you're not going to need to access your bag frequently to switch lenses, then get a backpack-style camera bag with a hip belt to put most of weight on your hips. If you need lots of access to your bag and you don't have much gear (just one SLR and one lens, let's say) then get a smaller camera bag with a shoulder strap.
If you have lots of gear and lots of weight, and if you're not built like a professional weight lifter, and if you need quick and frequent access to your bag, I highly recommend this Think Tank Speed Racer.
It also has lots of nice pockets for extra batteries, cell phone, ipod, pens and note pads, and the like. Amazingly enough, it has nice water bottle holders on the side, which I though I'd never use, but did indeed use, holding a plastic bottle of Japanese green tea! It also has a cover you can pull out to protect your gear from rain, though I never used it, even though I did get rained on while outside. The case alone can take a light rain with no problem when zipped up. In a downpour, far from shelter, the rain-protection covering seems like it would do its job well.
One more thing: the hip pads hide easily in the back of the case, in their own special sleeve, which is nice when bringing onto a plane. By the way, the pack slipped nicely under the seat on my flight.
Remember, this bag is for those of you who have a big SLR or two, and some big heavy lenses that you MUST have with you as you walk and travel, and to which you need quick and frequent access.
I was very, very pleased with this design from Think Tank, so much so that I was compelled to write this review, something I rarely do.