Think Tank Urban Disguise 30 Camera Bag Review

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, March 2009
Manufactured by: Think Tank Photo
Requires: An interest in photography and some photography gear to carry
MSRP: US$130.00

Think Tank Photo is a company deeply immersed in photography. Its owners and directors are all either well-known working professional photographers or dedicated industrial designers. But the art and craft of camera bag making takes more than a love of photography. It also takes more than knowing what you personally like when it comes to carrying your own gear. Feedback from thousands of photographers has to be distilled into usable, durable, good looking products based on your design philosophy. That's what Think Tank Photo is all about. Everybody at Kickstartnews is a fan of one Think Tank product or another, so we thought it was time to take a real hard and critical look at some of the bags. The Think Tank Urban Disguise series was originally designed with rough, insecure shooting environments in mind — areas where working photojournalists and travelers might want to use something that functions extremely well but at the same time doesn't look like a camera bag.


The Think Tank Urban Disguise 30 is a narrow profile, attache-style shoulder bag. It is essentially an oblong main compartment secured by a top zipper. Two smaller compartments are attached to the front of the main compartment and covered by a front flap which itself contains a zippered storage slot. The bag has two stretchable, non-zippered side pockets, and a flat, rear slot compartment with a zippered bottom edge which can be opened up in order to slide the bag over the handle of a luggage trolley or the handle of rolling luggage. The shoulder strap features metal carabiner-type snap clips which attach to a d-ring on either end of the bag, or to a pair of d-rings at the top rear of the bag. The rear d-rings are also attachment points for an optional front harness. A pair of leather-grip top handles provide a secure hand carry. A transparent, reinforced poly business card slot is located on the upper back of the bag and has sufficient capacity to hold a dozen cards behind its velcro closure.

The Urban Disguise 30 is an almost totally silent bag. There's only a small amount of relatively quiet, light duty velcro (located on the lower edge of the front flap). Top quality YKK zippers have quiet nylon tracks and pulls silenced by braided cord. The outer flap accessory compartment and the inner accessory compartment on the front of the body are both zippered. The front camera body compartment is not zippered and can be used to carry an SLR body without a lens attached, or anything else that's moderately bulky (e.g., extension tubes, thick filter cases, a flashgun and so on). The Urban Disguise 30 does not have exterior accessory pouch loops of any kind. The integrated, stretchy side pouches are strong and very useful, but the attachment d-rings for the shoulder strap are mounted immediately above the top of the pouch openings which can occasionally interfere with quick access (depending on the size of whatever it is you've stuffed into the side pouches). If you're carrying bulk in the stretch pockets, attach the shoulder strap to the top rear d-rings instead.

The 1" (2.5cm) shoulder strap is a bit on the narrow side and its shoulder pad is in a fixed position, stitched to the strap. You'll need a couple of weeks of regular use to break in the pad, after which it will mold to your regular carry position quite nicely. The pad also features a very grippy, textured bottom surface which helps keep it in place at moderate angles on a variety of materials (we tried it on shirts, jackets and vests made variously of rip-stop nylon, wool, polyester, cotton and canvas). You can use the strap on either shoulder or use it sling style, but swinging the bag to the back means the stitched-in-place shoulder pad will shift enough to put the non-padded strap on your shoulder — not comfortable for extended use over a thin shirt. However, shouldering the bag over winter clothing while tramping the streets of downtown Buffalo, NY for a couple of days in February proved quite enjoyable with the bag in any position. The parka was more than thick enough to pad the weight of a Canon Rebel 450/XSi with attached Canon 17-55 f/2.8 EF-S IS, a Canon 70-200 f/2.8, a Canon 430EX II flashgun, a couple of filters, lots of SD cards, lenspens and other junk. In more temperate climates, a couple of layers (e.g., a light shirt and a photographers vest) make a huge difference to the usability and comfort of the shoulder strap.

We also walked all three convention halls housing the massive 2009 Toronto Auto Show. No parkas there. I walked the show floors for about four and a half hours, and as long as I kept the shoulder pad in position, the bag (carrying the exact same loaded listed above) worked perfectly and comfortably. It occurred to me while walking the show floor that a sliding shoulder pad design would make the bag just about perfect . . . continued . . .




© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | hot news | about us | search | store | subscribe


The latest in tech news and information Find a product review on KSN Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe