This past weekend I returned from my second trip to Iceland. I can’t wait to receive all my film scans back from this trip!! This international trip definitely solidified one thing for me- it’s time to upgrade from the shoulder camera bags for airport travel. My entire body felt so sore and lop sided from lugging all of my gear around on one shoulder over the terrain of another country and through endless airport terminals.
I have previously raved about both my Kelly Moore Libby and the ONA Chelsea Bag, like in this travel post here, and they have been great camera bags. However since I started traveling with my heavy Hasselblad film camera in addition, the weight has taken a toll on my back and shoulders- so it was time to look for something else for these big trips!!
A good camera bag is not a cheap investment, so knowing this need of mine, I have been researching for quite a few months. I have looked into what other traveling photographers were finding to be great for their gear, comparing pricing, and really thinking about what I needed the most.
I decided that my primary needs were:
- A bag that took the weight off my shoulder, and ideally my back as a whole.
- A bag that worked well for flying, fitting in the overhead compartments or under the seat in front of me.
- A bag that maximized airplane carry-on needs, but wasn’t large enough to get checked on smaller domestic flights that I often find myself on. As a portrait photographer, I don’t have the amount of gear that a wedding photographer does, so I don’t need a HUGE bag, but if it’s my only carry-on for flights, I want to take advantage of the space!
- A bag that also worked for portrait sessions. Most of the rollers were at a price point that I didn’t feel worth buying JUST for flying. I wanted something I could use often.
- A bag that was safe and secure for my gear, and that I didn’t have to worry about my gear getting damaged in.
Most photographers recommended the Think Tank Photo brand. I own their laptop case, the Artificial Intelligence, and I have been SO pleased with it, so I looked into their line of travel bags for my camera gear.
Considering my main needs above, my main issue with the really popular Think Tank International Roller was the fear of it being checked on smaller flights, even though it would provide me with extra suitcase room for personal travel items. It was also too large to use for the majority of my local portrait sessions, making the investment not entirely worth it to me if I didn’t use it often enough. I considered a backpack style, but seeing as how the goal was to really get the majority of weight of my shoulders, even though two shoulders would be better than one, I wanted something that was less of a burden to carry around.
I decided to try the Think Tank Airport Navigator. Most reviews raved about the design being easy to carry the weight around, and the top handle will allow you to access your gear from the top, something I think will be so convenient at portrait sessions!
I also love that it come with a strap that will not only allow me to throw it over my shoulder in rough terrain if needed, but it will also connect to a larger suitcase.
It’s supposed to arrive today, so I will keep you posted with how it works out. I’ve been home from Iceland for three days now and even typing this blog post my back and shoulders are still so sore, which gives me confidence that I made the right decision in investing in something new. I will be looking into a backpack option for hiking and more outdoor situations down the road, but for right now I am looking forward to seeing how this bag makes a difference for me!
Stay tuned, because I will also be sharing my tips from traveling to Iceland soon!