Review: Think Tank Turnstyle 20 Sling Bag

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Sling bags have begun to catch on with the world of schlepping photography gear from place to place in recent years. Cyclists and bike messengers have been using this style of bag for literally decades because of its simple and functional design with quick access to your cargo. Think Tank Photo, whom we all know well, is always cooking up new ideas for their product lines and recently launched a new series of sling-style bags (though Think Tank fans will note that this is not their first sling bag, the Sling-O-Matic series came first). The Turnstyle series is a new nimble and low-profile set of bags which you wear diagonally across your bag, or around your waist by attaching the strap to the included waist-pad tucked inside the back panel. Available in three distinct sizes (5/10/20) depending on the amount of gear you want to carry, there are plenty of choices with this new line. We had a chance to review the Turnstyle 20, so head on past the break for our full review.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Comfortable on the back when fully loaded
  • Able to carry a surprising amount of equipment
  • Chest strap is an ample length for big tall fellows

Cons

  • When the bag is loaded it can slide forward if you’re kneeling down for a shot.
  • The back of the bag doesn’t breathe very well on hot days.

Gear Used

For this review, I wanted to see how well this sling bag could carry my “typical” work kit which consists of one body and three fast prime lenses.

Tech Specs

Spec Sheet taken from Adorama’s Product Page:

Materials: Exterior All fabric exterior treated with a durable water resistant coating while fabric underside is coated with polyurethane for superior water resistance YKK® RC Fuse (abrasion resistant) zippers 420D velocity nylon, 250D shadow rip-stop nylon, 3D air mesh Y-Buckle, double gate keeper, 3-ply bonded nylon thread
Materials: Interior Removable high density closed cell foam dividers 210D silver-toned nylon, polyurethane backed velex liner 2x polyurethane coated 210T seam-sealed taffeta rain cover Nylon binding tape 3-ply bonded nylon thread
Capacity Fits a standard size DSLR with one to four lenses plus a larget ablet. The front organizer pocket holds changes, memory cards and other small accessories. Examples: Nikon D800 with 70-200 f/2.8 attached + 50 f/1.4 (or flash) hoods reversed OR Canon 5DMIII + 85mm f/1.8 attached + 24-70mm f/2.8 + 100mm f/2.8 macro hoods reversed.
Dimensions Inner : 8.3″ W x 15″ H x 4.8″ D (21 x 38 x 12.2 cm) Exterior: 9.3″ W x 17.3″ H x 5.4″ D (23.5 x 44 x 13.7 cm) Small tablet compartment: 8.1″ x 10.2″ x 0.6″ (20.5 x 26 x 1.5 cm)
Weight 1.2 lbs (0.5kg)

Features

  • Easy rotation for fast access to gear and accessories
  • Converts from a sling bag to a belt pack for increased comfort and flexibility
  • Padded velour pocket fits a tablet
  • High quality RC-Fuse YKK zippers plus metal clips and hardware
  • Lightweight Poly Ballistic fabrics for durability and water resistance
  • Breathable air-mesh back panel keeps the back cool during long days
  • Slim design and easy access
  • Fully-customizable interior dividers
  • Wide shoulder strap with quick-release buckle
  • Front organizer pocket for batteries, memory cards or other small accessories
  • Hook/loop on shoulder strap keeps loose webbing secure and out of the way
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included in bottom pocket
  • Main compartment opens wide providing quick access to your gear

Ergonomics

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As you can see, this is a pretty low profile bag, the design is very minimal with technical fabrics that feel like they should hold up well; I believe the material is the same as the City Walker series of shoulder bags.

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On the back of he bag is the padded back panel and the shoulder strap (which rides diagonally across your chest). You can also detach the strap at the bottom buckle (upper left highlight in this photo) and pull out the waist pad which is tucked into the bottom of the bag and attach the strap there to convert it to a waist-pack.

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Also tucked inside the bottom of the bag is the rain cover which Think Tank so kindly includes with all of their bags. Living in sunny Southern California means I won’t get to use this cover too often, but it’s nice to know that it’s there when the odd rainstorm does head our way.

AbramGoglanian_ThePhoblographer_Turnstyle20_ProductImages-4 The main buckle on the shoulder strap feels sturdy despite being made of plastic. It doesn’t come unclipped easily (which is a good thing), but this was also what some folks were complaining about that the strap would come loose from the buckle. Hasn’t happened to me personally though.

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Another nice inclusion in this bag is the rear zipper pocket which can easily hold a tablet. The iPad fits beautifully in here, but not if you have a big bulky case on it. You have to keep it slim for that pocket to work.

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The front zipper pocket has the usual organization pouches that Think Tank regularly includes with their bags. It’s great for tossing in small items like batteries, memory card wallets, pens, business cards, keys, secret messages and whatever else you would need.

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With the main bucket, I was seriously surprised with how much it could hold so easily. My 5D Mark III with three fast primes fit with no problem. There was no squeezing, stretching or camera bag gymnastics required. I believe you could also fit larger f2.8 zoom lenses in here as well, but I don’t use any of those myself anymore so I couldn’t test to confirm.

Build Quality

Think Tank’s camera bags are always constructed from quality materials and this one is no different. In my use so far the bag has held up very well with no sign of rips or tears. I did read some reports on Think Tank’s Facebook Page that early users were reporting that the strap in the buckle would come loose and the bag would fall to the ground. I have not had this happen personally and I find the strap to be plenty secure. It’s worth mentioning, though.

In Use

I have a personal interest in sling bags as I’ve always liked the idea of how they work. Unfortunately for me (note: this doesn’t apply to everyone) many of the sling bags I have tried out over the years have had a strap that is much too short for my 6’3″ frame. Finally, I have had an opportunity to experience a bag that has a chest strap that is plenty long enough for a guy like me. Straps-aside, the Turnstyle 20 can actually hold a solid amount of equipment. My usual kit is a 5D Mark III with three prime lenses (35/85/135), and that fits incredibly easily into this bag. When loaded with said gear, it is actually quite comfortable on your back, and given the nature of sling bags, it is super easy to access your gear without even taking the bag off of your back. This is perfect for travel photography, or any place you need to pack light with a slim bag.

Conclusions

It’s no secret that we’re fans of Think Tank Photo’s numerous lines of camera bags, so when we had the opportunity to test out their new Turnstyle 20 sling bag, naturally it was an emphatic yes! I don’t mean to sound like a Think Tank fanboy, but in the most unbiased sense possible, they produce some of the best camera bags for working photographers of any other brand out there. That being said, I do wish there was some kind of under-arm stabilization strap to keep the bag in place when you’re on-the-go (see Chrome’s bike messenger bags as an example) because that’s really my only gripe with the bag. When it’s on my back and I kneel down for a shot low to the ground it tends to slide forward due to the weight of the gear still in the bag. This is a small issue in the grand-scheme of things, but still one worth talking about. Think Tank has once again produced a highly usable, low-profile camera bag that was clearly designed by and for photographers. If you’re into sling bags, definitely have this one on your radar, especially because it’s only $99.

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