Review: ThinkTank Photo StreetWalker HardDrive Backpack

Camera Gear in StreetWalker HardDriveThis is a short review of the ThinkTank Photo StreetWalker HardDrive Backpack.

Now that I’m back from the Maui Photo Festival last week, I can share a little first-hand experience with my new StreetWalker HardDrive backpack that made the trip with me. As I posted last month, I was in the market for a new camera backpack shortly after adding the battery grip to my Canon 5D Mark II. Doing so pretty much made my previous camera backpack at little too snug for my linking, so it was time to shop around.

Note: Click the photo above to view on Flickr and notes about each item in this shot.

Other Reviews

I did a fair amount of research into the ThinkTank camera backpacks, and there were already some good reviews out there. That made it easy to decide to go with a ThinkTank bag, but choosing which one out of the lineup was a harder decision. Since there were already a lot of good reviews and feedback out there, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel with my post. Instead, I’ll just share my experience with the bag so far and the gear I brought along with me.

Why the StreetWalker HardDrive?

I will admit, the Airport Series of bags that ThinkTank offers looked very attractive, even though I don’t travel all that much. But at the end of the day, I ultimately wanted a dedicated backpack and the StreetWalker HardDrive had a slimmer design (width-wise) that I felt would be a better fit for my needs.

Similar to the spirit of the Airport Series, I don’t like the idea of checking my camera gear when I do fly, and trying to wedge my older bags into a carry-on suitcase was something I wanted to leave in the past. So the fact that I could wear this onboard as a backpack and still have other items in my carry-on bag, that was a big bonus. In fact, it even fit under the seat on the plane (United Airlines, this trip) which was sweet because I could get to it in flight. So as we approached the island of Maui, I could easily reach down for my camera and fire off some aerial shots that I couldn’t do if my camera was stowed overhead.

West Maui Mountains

I thought that was a nice bonus, and a good way to start our Maui trip before we even landed.

The Gear Inside

This bag has a ton of features, including side pockets and a spot to carry your tripod on it. Most of what I’m using it so far, however, is just in the main compartment.

The following list of gear is both the list of what I packed with me for the trip and what I left in the bag as I was off shooting. I could have just as easily left some of this out when I was shooting, but I’m not a fan of leaving camera gear in a hotel room or rental car, either.

  • Canon 5D Mark II Body w/Battery Grip
  • Canon Rebel XSi Body
  • Canon EF 24-105 f/4.0L lens
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens
  • Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 lens
  • 2x Canon Speedlight 430EX II flash units
  • Canon Flash Wireless Transmitter ST-E2
  • 5D Mark II Battery Charger + spare battery
  • Rebel XSi Battery Charger + spare battery
  • 58mm and 77mm filters in hard cases

It was a little rough on my back at times, but the backpack did it’s job and everything fit fine. So no complaints there.

There were some cases where I also had my Dell Studio XPS 1340 laptop – with oversized battery – and my iPad stored in the laptop pouch, but that proved to be the gear that broke the cameraman’s back. But again, the backpack help up with no problems.

Where it Went

Hike to La Perouse BayAs mentioned, I don’t like leaving my camera gear in a hotel room, so the backpack went with me just about everywhere when we were in Maui. That included a few shoots on the beach, one extended hike, and more than a few leisurely walks. Even with the beach shoots on the one hike, not a spec of sand or dust made it into the bag or anywhere near the gear inside, so the backpack met my expectations there. It didn’t rain – thank goodness – while we were there, so the rain cover didn’t see any action this trip.

When we go back to northeastern Wisconsin in October, chances are we’ll get hit with showers like we did last time, so maybe I’ll break out the cover and give it a shot.

Next Tests

So far, the backpack has been great. As far as the next tests, I’m booked for an outdoor photo class on the 18th in downtown Chicago, and then will likely join a walk during Kelby’s photowalk weekend. After that – as mentioned – it’s back to northeastern Wisconsin for shooting a little of the fall colors and hopefully (weather permitting) another aerial shoot and some hiking in the state parks nearby.

By the end of October, I’ll know for sure if this backpack has held up to everything I’ve got.

Thoughts?

So, that’s my take on the ThinkTank StreetWalker HardDrive backpack. Hopefully it’s given you a little more first-hand experience than some of the other reviews might not have provided, but if you still had a question or comment or two, feel free to leave it below and I’ll respond accordingly.

Thanks,
– Kris

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