Review: Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack

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Everyone once in a while photographers need a bigger bag. The need to carry more stuff safely is a simple truth. Multiple bags can be cumbersome. This is where the Think Tank Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack comes in. If you start to have jobs that take you away from home, you begin to look at things that can carry all the gear you think you will need. I have worked, traveled and lived with the Think Tank Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack for some time now.

Here are my thoughts.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A person can carry all their gear in one bag.
  • The Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator is easily configurable and easily organizable.
  • It is comfortable to carry.
  • The rain pouch fits over the bag with a tripod attached to it.

Cons

  • The Airport Accelerator lacks quick access to your camera.
  • I worry that the tripod pocket will rip over time.

Gear Used

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I had almost every piece of equipment I own in, or on, the Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack. At one time I had three cameras bodies: a Nikon D700, D90 and D5100. The lenses I carried were the Nikon 35-70mm F2.8D, Nikon 80-200mm Non Ai, Nikon 24mm f2.8 D, Nikon 50mm f1.8D, Nikon 85mm f1.8D, three speedlights, batteries and chargers, a black rapid yeti, Gary Fong Light Sphere, three PocketWizards and cables.

Tech Specs

 From B&H

  • Holds Two Pro DSLRs and 6-8 Basic Lenses
  • For 600mm f/4, No Hood / iPad/17″ Laptop
  • Security Cable and Lock / YKK Zippers
  • Adjustable Harness/Removable Waist Belt
  • Handles on Three Sides / Sternum Strap
  • Bottom Hinge for Quick Access to Gear
  • Top Zippered Pocket for Passport
  • Tripod Mounting System / Rain Cover
  • Organizer/Water Bottle Pocket
  • Accepts Optional Pro Speed Belt

Ergonomics

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The Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator is a backpack first and foremost. It does not have wheels to roll around. It can store a lot of gear securely. It can also can be customized to suit your needs as you see fit.

An important thing about this bag is its security feature. There is a lock and cable included that allows the bag to be locked to an immovable object to keep a it safe on a shoot or at a hotel. When I traveled with this bag I locked it down and felt better when I had to leave the room. I was also able to lock it to the car which is just an extra sense of security.

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The back padding is breathable and comfortable. This is important when you are carrying a lot of weight on a hot day. If your back sweats, this section will dry off quickly. This is also comfortable against a coat in the winter.

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There is a pouch the holds the tripod leg, and it is okay. I wonder how long it will last. I do not use the bag everyday, but I will try to be careful with it.

Airport Accelerator

The tripod mounting system on the Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator works well. It’s expandable and can hold a light stand as well. When going out on big shoots, this is nice to have.

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The handles on the the Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator are insanely strong and well built. One handle can hold that bag fully loaded. When moving the bag in and out of cars, trains and planes, you do not have to worry about the straps.

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The straps of the bag are strong and comfortable. They are padded and have elastic straps which can hold phones and/or batteries. If you get a Backpack Connection Kit, Backpack Connection Straps, or Camera Support Straps you can hold your camera in front of the bag as you walk.

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The zippers are strong and durable. They can take constant use. I went in and out of this bag a lot at times and the zippers never gave me an issue.

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There is a pouch on the outside flap, which is good for notes, batteries and what ever small things you may need to put there. This was a nice place to store my PocketWizards.

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There is a pouch for an iPad and a 17 inch laptop. You don’t have to leave anything behind when traveling. There is enough room for more paperwork, magazines, etc. If you don’t need your laptop or iPad, you can tuck a shirt in there. There may be an accident, you never know.

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The inside flap is great for the rest of you small supplies and small gear you may need to carry. It keeps it from moving all over the place.

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The rain cover was extremely impressive.  I did not have to take the tripod off to use it. It covered everything neatly. I tried not to be in bad weather, but when those moments happened my gear was fine.

Build Quality

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The Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack has size, strength and charm going for it. The water resident fabric on the outside of the bag is durable. The bag held up well as I went in and out of cars, trains and buses, which are the ways I travel mostly. In a quick rain shower the water beaded off. The inside of the bag is also durable and configurable. The dividers are all made of cell foam and have a grey color. They work well with constant change. Considering its size, the bag has a good weight.

In Use

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Initially the Think Tank Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack was extremely easy to set up. You just set things up for the lenses and cameras you want to use and that’s it. There is a very low learning curve with this bag. The Airport Accelerator is intuitive.

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To break this bag in, I took it into the most dangerous, perilous, possibly hostile job I could think of: a wedding in New Jersey (just kidding). I did use it at a wedding though. It was an overnight gig near a beach in NJ. A road trip was involved. It was my first wedding shoot so I was nervous. Of course I overpacked. I did not want to slap myself on the head if I forgot something. The Airport Accelerator was perfect for this. At each location I had a place to store the bag and grab what I wanted to use anything as needed. The wonderful thing about the bag was being able to lock it up in a hotel. With its lock, the Airport Accelerator added this extra sense of security on the road.

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I have also used this bag at a few events. The Airport Accelerator was more than a match for the all day event. You can bring what you need plus a little bit to experiment. I did not necessarily use everything in the bag, but it was nice to be prepared.

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When traveling with Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack, it did not get in the way. On the train I was able to stow it away in the upper rack with no issues. You get a sense that the designers at  Think Tank traveled enough to know how to make the bag just right for this. I did not get a chance to fly with the bag – hell, I rarely ever get to fly – but this is the bag I would take.

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An alternative use for this bag was as a place to store your gear. I don’t need to carry a bag like this everyday because I don’t have big jobs all the time. I do have a decent amount of gear for my specialized photography tasks. This bag is great for holding this gear in its off time. Its neat and stays out the way. This keeps my bride happy. It also keep my office a bit cleaner. In essence this bag will always be in use.

 Recommendations

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The Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack has a removable waist belt that can be switched out with the Pro Speed belt or Thin Skin Belt . That allows you to add a Think Tank Digital Holster, a R U Hot? Drink pouch, a Stuff It! and many other of the Think Tank pouch products. It will help solve the quick access issues, if you have them.

Conclusions

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If you are evolving as a photographer and doing bigger things farther away from home, getting a large backpack like the Airport Accelerator Camera Backpack is a good idea. It can hold everything you need. While you won’t need for every occasion, this is a proper, no-nonsense, large travel backpack that has a lot of use.

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.