Review: Think Tank Urban Disguise Bag

Like most photographers, I own more camera bags than shoes (okay that's not completely true, but at my current rate it won't be long before that is true!).

Finding the right camera bag for me is tricky. I'm not built like a 200lb guy who can lug gear in a burlap sack. I want something comfortable, easy to access, small enough to be unobtrusive when shooting but big enough to carry all my goodies. I also like it if I can carry a laptop for travel and if it has a rain cover for bad weather than landscape photographers shoot in. Oh, and I want it to carry a monster lens without batting an eyelash. I'm a woman, I can be demanding!

I've tried a variety of slings, shoulder bags, backpacks, etc and have have finally found a bag that might be my best all purpose bag. I have always heard great things about the Think Tank line, but was either too cheap or skeptical to fork over the bucks for one. I saw a video online recently of the Urban Disguise 35 bag and thought it was interesting enough to go to my favorite DC camera shop, Ace Photo, to check it out. 

The Think Tank Urban Disguise 35 bag is designed to 'blend in' and look like a regular bag, not a camera bag that draws attention. I'd go out on a limb and say that's where the name 'Urban Disguise' came from...

The bag has lots of pockets and pouches but I'm going to hit my favorite features (visit the website link at the bottom for complete tech specs):

  1. Comfortable: I took the bag out recently for a 3 hour shoot carrying some of my largest lenses. Although I would shift which shoulder the bag was on occasionally, I never got the lower back aches that I typically associate with lugging those lenses. I believe that is because how tight the bag stayed to my body rather than flapping around like other bags. It also has a nice wide shoulder strap to distribute weight.
  2. Storage capacity: I shoved the D800, Sigma 150-500mm lens, Nikon 50mm, Nikon 85mm, R1C1 flash kit and the usual assortment of accessories and still had space for more. I have seen folks online manage to get the entire 'Nikon Holy Trinity' of lenses (12-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm) into this bag and still have space for accessories. Not bad! The top down loading also meant I could do lens changes without taking the bag off or redecorating the contents first. 
  3. Heavy duty: I can already tell this bag is going to hold up to a lot of abuse. It's better made than probably any other bag I own and includes a rain jacket for cruddy days. You really get your money's worth for quality.

There are some nice 'bonus' features in the bag - a separate compartment for the laptop, a huge front pocket where I could stick an extra SLR body, another nice front pocket for stashing pens, cell phone, memory cards and other small items, and a variety of non-traditional carry capabilities. The bag has the ability to be slung over a suitcase handle for airport travel and can also be attached to optional shoulder straps to convert into a backpack. Since I already have a backpack and intentionally purchased this bag because it was not a backpack, I'm not sure I'll use that feature. The biggest complaint I have about the bag is that I have no way to attach a tripod to the outside (at least that I've figured out), but that's really not the purpose of this bag.  I am looking forward to using this bag for the majority of my local shoots, but for travel with underwater gear I'll still be using some bigger bags for the storage space.

You can learn more about the Think Tank Urban Disguise 35 from Think Tank's website. I got mine at Ace Photo.

Recommendation: Must buy. I hate big bulky bags and after months of using it, I'm still in love and haven't shopped for another bag!

Photo Credit: Think Tank Photo's website