Review: Think Tank Urban Disguise 50 v2

Andy Hendriksen The Phoblographer Think Tank UD50 8 of 13

There’s certainly no shortage these days of fashionable and comfortable laptop & camera combination bags, and Think Tank is no stranger to the genre. Their Urban Disguise and Retrospective laptop bags have been incredibly successful, and regarded as some of the finest camera bags available for those with the need to lug around their computer as well. I recently took a trip to Canada, and brought along my Urban Disguise 50 v2.0 to test out how well it would handle my vast number of gadgets, mirrorless camera gear, and the rigor of long distance air travel.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

Many flexible compartments for gadgets of varying size and shape

Very comfortable strap and layout, despite it’s large size

Understated styling does not draw attention to itself

Cons:

It’s flexible size can easily be overpacked

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Gear Used

For this trip, I loaded this bag up with just about any gadget I could imagine needing, along with two cameras and a handful of accessories.

Tech Specs

From B&H Photo and Video:

Material Ballistic nylon
Leather
Type of Closure YKK zippers that accept a user-supplied lock
Exterior Dimensions 15.0 x 11.0 x 6.0″ (38.1 x 27.9 x 15.2 cm)
Interior Dimensions 14.4 x 10.5 x 4.25″ (36.5 x 26.7 x 10.8 cm)
Opening Expansion Zipper adds 2.25″ (5.7 cm) to main compartment depth
Laptop Compartment: 14.4 x 10.25 x 1.5″ (36.6 x 26.0 x 3.8 cm)
Tripod Holder Yes, straps to bottom of bag using optional Urban Disguise Attachment Straps
Carrying/Transport Options Shoulder strap
Top grab handles
Accepts optional Urban Disguise Attachment Straps
Accepts optional Shoulder Harness V2.0
Weight 3.3 – 4.0 lb (1.5 – 1.8 kg)

 

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Ergonomics

Think Tank clearly put some thought into the ergonomics of the Urban Disguise series of bags, and it’s immediately evident when you pick up the bag with the leather handle. It’s not a large handle, and not padded or cushioned, but the leather is soft and comfortable, and when the handle is snapped together, it offers a large enough grip to fit comfortably into even small hands, and not dig into your hands if the bag is loaded heavily.

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The shoulder strap, however, I feel mixed about. It’s wide, fat, and very well cushioned, but the grip material on the underside is too grippy, and tends to tug on my clothing more than I’d like. It does prevent the shoulder strap from sliding off your body, but there should be a happy medium.

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The bag is large enough to be easily overloaded, and even a fully loaded bag doesn’t look like it is, so you need to be conscious and careful with what you put in it. My load was probably on the lighter end of what you could potentially fit into this bag, but even then it became tiring after walking from gate-to-gate in airports. I imagine once you’ve loaded it up with large zooms, heavy bodies, and a 15″ MacBook Pro, you’re just asking for a backache. Not a fault of the bag at all, but with something this size, you need to think about it.

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Build Quality

The build of this bag, like all Think Tank products, is about as good as it gets. The seams are flawless, the zippers are large and strong, and the stitching is perfect and strong. I’m certain that this bag could survive many years of heavy abuse. The padding on the inside of the bag is thick and strong, as is the velcro holding it all in place.

Every bit of the bag seems like it was built with longevity in mind. The ballistic nylon that the bag is primarily constructed of is solid and holds up well to scratches and scrapes, and I can’t imagine what it would take to tear or fray this material. The bottom of the bag is reinforced and coated, and it includes a rain cover to keep things even more protected should you find yourself in a storm.

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In Use

I traveled with my kit from Los Angeles to Toronto and back, and had absolutely no issues with this bag. It was always comfortable to carry, held more than enough to keep me busy on a 5 hour flight, and fit perfectly under the seats in economy class.

During my travels, my bag was inspected twice by the TSA, and they had no problems searching it quickly and easily without tearing everything out. When the main zipper is opened, everything is presented clearly and the light gray colored interior makes it easier to find what you are looking for.

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The compartments and pockets in the secondary pockets make organization easy, with no risk of chaotic unsecured cables and gadgets. The included detachable Think Tank SD card holder is a nice touch, and shows that Think Tank’s priority is making life easier for the traveling digital photographer.

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In addition, the bag’s look is understated and could easily be mistaken for a basic business brief. There’s nothing about it that screams “photography”, and in the world of travel, the less attention you bring to yourself, the better. It’s a classy looking bag, and I’d have no issues bringing it with me to a meeting if I needed to.

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Conclusion

I love traveling, but have always struggled to find a bag that fit my needs in size, comfort, and appearance. Fortunately, Think Tank seems to have created a hit with the Urban Disguise series, and I’ve fallen in love with the Urban Disguise 50 v2. They clearly put some thought into this bag, and created something that works as well under the seat in front of you in economy class as it does lugging to work every day. It’s simple, unassuming, but incredibly capable. It’s now my regular bag, and I plan on continuing to use it until it falls apart, if it ever does. At $200, it may seem like a hard sell, but when you’re carrying around thousands of dollars worth of gear, you should spare no expense when searching for the bag to protect your investment.

Buy the Think Thank Urban Disguise v2 on Amazon

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