Think Tank Skin Set Component Camera Gear Carry System Review

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, March 2009
Manufactured by: Think Tank Photo
Requires: An interest in serious photography and some photography gear to carry
MSRP: US$149.00 (Skin Belt and Belly Dancer shoulder harness extra)

When we deployed into difficult locations for investigative research work years ago, we carried a couple of Leica M bodies and lots of lenses. Film ruled the day. The art of getting in and out of difficult assignments also involved preserving film carefully in watertight containers, and sometimes preserving and protecting our research notes and film together and far more carefully than we protected ourselves. Get it out at all costs. A thin edge of fear sometimes ruled the moment, occasionally even during otherwise innocuous research work. There we were with two or three cameras with lenses attached, on straps hung around the neck, everything banging into each other getting scratched, dented and dinged. Times have changed. We still search for emotion and the facts of the situation, but now knowing that as long as we have merely a cellular phone connection we can get our notes and photos uploaded through the data link. So moments of strong, clearly expressed emotion often replace those memorably embracing moments of fear or unease. Get the shots which support the research, get the interview, get the essence of the moment. Be ready. Above all else, don't get caught with your camera hung up on a zipper or shoulder strap or behind you in a backpack, while the shot, and the moment, slip away. I'd like to introduce you to the Think Tank Skin Set component camera gear carry system.

lenses not included


The Skin Set is a tough, unpadded, lightweight system designed to organize your lenses and camera bodies on either the Think Tank Modulus belt or Skin belt and the Belly Dancer shoulder harness. All components can either rotate around the belt or lock in position. The Skin Set consists of five components

  • Skin 50 - for wide angle lens with hood attached
  • Skin 75 Pop Down - for telephoto lens with hood attached; bottom can unzip to extend bag height by 4"/10.1cm
  • Skin Double Wide - double sided for multiple lenses
  • Skin Strobe - for SLR flashguns
  • Skin Chimp Cage - for Digital SLR body or accessories; bottom can unzip to extend bag height by 3.5"/8.9cm
  • Each component is supplied with removable, adjustable inner dividers
  • Each component is supplied with its own custom sized & labeled seam-sealed rain cover
  • Each component features an integrated inner accessory loop to which card storage wallets (of Think Tank's own Pixel Pocket Rocket), keys and other items can be clipped
  • Each component features the integrated Think Tank mounting system which can be used to lock the bag in one position on a Skin or Modulus belt, or on the track portion which allows bags to be slid around the the belt

Think Tank Photo has been poking away at various successful modular component designs for several years. The Think Tank Modulus System is quite well known and highly regarded. But Think Tank has responded to a lot of feedback provided by a lot of working photographers who have generally demanded something lighter in weight, or at least somewhat less bulky, than the Modulus system, just as tough, just as weather resistant, but faster to deploy and use. For the record, the Modulus system is not particularly bulky, but it certainly has a layer of thin (but very effective) high density perimeter, bottom and top padding that makes it bulkier compared to the Skin components. The Skin components answer all of those demands and in addition provide at least two bags which aren't available in Modulus versions. While the Modulus system contains many more different types of component bags and pouches, the Skin system is much more keenly focused. In addition, when the Skin components are empty, they simply crush flat for packing or storage, something you just can't do with Modulus components.

The Skin Set is designed for photojournalists, event shooters, action shooters, celebrity shooters, exhibition shooters and anybody else who needs a quiet, versatile carry that is weather resistant, abrasion resistant, tear resistant and which also offers an extremely fast draw.

"When the levy broke, how many choked on the steps of a slow dance,
A staircase to a hug with no hands,
Accountability hung out to dry on the line of command.
We let the thoughts flood, we remind ourselves it's all right, it's all good;
It's all love, it's not though.
Cuz there's a kink in the armor,
A pot hole I'm sinkin' in, sharing a drink with my father.
It's a family affair, the vanity we share.
The water line is rising and all we do is stand there,
The water line is rising and all we do is stand there,
The water line is rising and all we do is stand there,
The water line is rising and all we do is stand there."

(excerpt from "Waterline" by Sage Francis)

Don't be in New Orleans or Mississippi shooting the horrors of raging flood waters with some inappropriate carry system for your gear which not only doesn't protect your gear properly but also doesn't allow you to deploy it or draw quickly enough to get the shot. Don't attend an event of significance expecting to be able to casually wander with your gear in plain sight, or alternatively, stowed in a large and awkward shoulder bag or backpack. Don't show up at a strike, political rally or a protest with a noisy velcro-flapped shoulder bag hanging off your shoulder, swaying back & forth, preventing you from getting anything close to a steady shot. Don't track a celebrity, political figure or anyone else of importance without being able to move a lot faster than a clunky shoulder bag will allow, or without being able to draw your camera a lot faster than a backpack will allow. Regular belt pouch systems (from other makers) work well to a limited extent, but none of them rotate around the belt as conveniently as the Think Tank Skin and Modulus systems, and the ones which use velcro closure systems can't be silenced as thoroughly as the Skin components. Sling bags actually work reasonably well, but don't try changing lenses while jogging towards some urgent action because shattered glass lying on the pavement won't help you get the shot . . . continued




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