The Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby is designed for use by professional photographers who need to carry and protect a significant collection of gear. Thing is, the excellent AND flexible design of this bag makes it a good option for pretty much anyone who travels a lot. At just under $390 it is pricey, but it is equally impressive.
A roller bag is pretty much a requirement for anyone who flies a lot. It lets you carry a good amount of clothing and gear and, thanks to the handle and wheels, it is easy to maneuver as you run to catch your flight.
The Roller Derby is designed to hold a huge amount of gear and do so in a flexible manner that will work for just about anyone’s particular collection of kit. For example, the company notes that the bag can easily hold a 15” laptop, a tablet, and an assortment of professional camera gear. And it does all that in a package that is relatively small, doesn’t call attention to itself, and is intended for use in the real world.
From the outside this looks like pretty much any other roller bag!
The Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby four dual wheel sets are remarkably tough and are smooth enough to make wheeling it around the airport a breeze. The bag also meets US domestic and most international carry-on requirements!
Easily “skate” between people, obstacles and tight spaces when you’re in a hurry, so common with air travel. You can roll it upright at your side, tilt it to roll on its back wheels, or tilt it on its side wheels to roll through narrow airplane aisles. Its ergonomic design minimizes muscle-fatigue.
Opening the front pocket reveals the main gadget organizational area. There’s a dedicated slot for a laptop, one for a tablet and much more. The spaces aren’t the most padded and protected we have seen but they also are located in a section of the bag that should see less abuse than other areas. You just want to be sue you don’t put anything on top of the bag when you place it in an overhead bin when flying.
Side pockets offer additional space for small items you want and need to access quickly. Inside one of the pockets is a lock and cable so you can secure your gear.
The handle on the top is joined by an equally padded side handle that makes getting the bag into an overhead bin simple and safe. There is also a simple strap on the bottom that makes it even easier to lift over your head when need be.
I love the fact that you don’t need to go out and purchase the lock and cable to take advantage of this aspect of the bag. And, of course, it you don’t plan to use them you can always pull them out and leave them at home.
Another thoughtful detail is the side attachment area for a tripod. The pocket for the bottom of the accessory is at the bottom of one of the sides. The strap/s for securing the tripod are. However, nowhere to be seen. When needed they can be found inside the main portion of the bag. Simply pull them out, thread them through the well-designed slot for securing them and you are ready to secure your tripod in place prior to leaving the studio.
The weak point on many roller bags is the hideaway handle that lets you wheel the bag around without having to bend down. Thankfully, the handle on the Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby is as tough as the rest of the bag.
Opening the main compartment of the bag reveals the large, flexible space intended for all your camera gear. The key here is the inclusion of plenty of removable, customizable, padded dividers. They are plentiful enough that you should be able to hold all your gear. Think Tank Photo points out that, for example, you can stow two standard DSLRs with lenses attached or a pro DSLR and one standard DSLR both with lenses attached. Or, if need be, the bag can hold 6–7 standard zoom lenses or strobes.
These photos show just how flexible the Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby is. Yes, it can even accommodate a 400mm f/2.8 lens!
But wait… There’s more! The inside section of the main compartment has two zippered pockets so you can store an assortment of cables and have them easily accessible on the go!
Video Review of the Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby
But here’s the thing- since all of the dividers can be removed there is no reason you can’t use this roller bag as a standard travel bag rather than using it to carry your camera gear. Pull out the dividers and you have a generous space for all your travel needs. You can also pull out half of the dividers and use the bag for BOTH camera gear and the rest of your travel needs. That is, in fact, what I plan to do when I head to Israel this week. I love that flexibility and appreciate the fact that I get both a camera bag and a standard travel bag in one.
Features of the Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby:
- Dual wheel sets (8 wheels): Superior rolling ability carries the weight for you, allowing for greater stability and less fatigue on shoulder, arm, hand and wrist
- Meets US domestic and most international carry-on size requirements*
- Fits up to a 15” laptop and a tablet in 2 dedicated interior pockets
- Lock & cable to secure zippers and tether the bag
- Tripod mount and a compressible pocket on the side
- 2-position locking handle extends to 39”–42” for better ergonomics when pushing
- Replaceable wheels Custom-designed sealed bearing replaceable wheels
- Interior zippered pockets for batteries, SD/CF cards, filters and accessories
- Top zippered pocket for wallet or cell phone
- Rapid access side pocket for travel essentials
- Reinforced back panel for increased durability
- Seam-sealed rain cover fully covers bag for confidence in a downpour
I love the build of the Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby. The attention to details is impressive, the build of the bag is great and the flexibility it offers makes it usable for a wide range of different needs. Yes, if you are a professional photographer this bag is
Ideal for domestic and international travel, as well as weddings and on-location assignments, this rolling camera bag’s high-capacity provides easy access to 2 DSLRs, a tripod, laptop, multiple lenses, strobes and more.
If, however, you are a wanna-be like me it will also serve you quite well. The bag is pricey but it will serve you week from day one and for many years to come. To learn more click here. You can purchase all of Think Tank Photos gear [Affiliate Link] by clicking here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby
What I Like: Well built; Great design; Offers superb organization; Can be used for photography or as an excellent travel bag on its own; Wheels and handle are tough and will put up with abuse
What Needs Improvement: At just under $400 it is a serious investment