If slings are your preferred bag type than this is most definitely the one for you. Maybe not the 30 which is the largest size but maybe the previously reviewed 10 or 20 sizes. The first words out of my mouth when handling this bag were, “oh wow, this is big”, “thats a lot of padding”, and “why are there so many extra straps and pads?”. I may have said these things when I first handled the bag but I am still saying them today. To give you a sense of direction for the review this bag now comes with me on every photo shoot.
The Sling-O-Matic feature which I will refer to for now on as SOM is actually incredible and not at all a gimmick as it may seem. I know I have ranted about not liking backpacks in the past but surprise surprise I like slings even less. I am although going to make an exception for this bag but only because of the SOM feature. I am not a fan of slings for a personal reason but for a physical one, I injured my shoulder awhile back and the muscles in my shoulder cause me daily pain. The ability to switch between shoulders is the sole saving grace feature of this bag.
With an easy flip and twist of the SOM feature the bag allows you to use it across the opposite shoulder. The twist and invert of the bag relieves the uneven pressure caused by a sling bag and allows the shoulder to rest.
The bag is lined with pockets and trap doors, the bag has so many compartments and I actually “lost my keys” inside the bag after a wedding was finished, it was one of those I’ll never lose them if I put them in this pocket kind of moments. This is the first time that this happened to me, call it a rough day or that the bag actually has a lot of compartment options for things. In the video above along with the other two reviews we show off how many areas this bag has for storage.
The inside of this bag is a trench which can store a lot of gear. I can easily store both the D700 and D800 along with the 70-300VR, 180mm 2.8, 16-35, 85mm, 50mm and either the 55mm macro or 24mm (or both) all inside the main compartment. I have also had similar gear but included my Rode VideoMic Pro and LCD viewfinder. So with this said it can store a stupid amount of gear. The bag comes with a handful of extra foam padded separators for the inside as well as a rain cover. The rain cover actually comes in a little pouch which I use to pad my lenses and help fill in areas where there is a gap. In the cases where I don’t have a full bag the gear inside moves around quite a bit because only a few of my lenses are wide enough to fir snug. In these cases I have to remember to pack extra velcro padding to hold my lenses in place.
There are four handles on the outside of the bag that help when lifting or loading the bag. On the right side there is a long velcro pocket which I’ve seen people put either a 1 liter bottle like smart water or use it to store / attach a tripod with one or two legs in the pocket.
There are the compartments on the outside of the bag that are quite large with one of them being the compartment for a laptop. These two most outside areas don’t provide a lot of protection to whatever gear or accessories inside of them and also keep in mind they will be flip flopped against as well as away from your back so plan accordingly.
The zippered door for the main compartment has an outside zipper as well as one on the inside with a see through storage area. I keep a lens pen and a flat head screwdriver on the outside and on the inside I keep several memory cards, batteries and small accessories with ease.
The bag overall is also really well made and in a knife fight I would sling this bag from my back to my front. You can trust when I say its well made because I get into plenty of knife fights. In all seriousness not just this bag but all Think Tank bags are made exceptionally well and if you have used one in real life you would absolutely agree with me and know what to expect from the SOM.
Real World Usage
I am a gear nut who likes to overpack so when I take my gear out of the house I commonly travel with almost my whole system. The shoulder strap for the SOM is padded really well and it has to be because the padding must work well on both sides unlike the traditional strap that only has to be on one. Even though it is well thought out I can only carry the bag for up to 30 minutes straight the way I pack the bag. Both shoulders just start to hurt after alternating the SOM strap so when I carry the bag I do so I can drop it off at its destination, being my car or the location of the shoot. If I only pack a few items I can carry the bag for an extended period of time but this is not very common with me.
This may all be just information that applies only to me but what makes it worse (as expected) is a lopsided bag with more weight on one side than the other. For example adding a tripod to the right long velcro pocket made things worse. I found that a tripod would better fit with a single leg through the slip at the bottom of the bag helped to even it out.
My last complaint about the bag would be the metal part towards the bottom of the strap. This metal piece is what allows the bottom of the strap to align to which ever side it was twisted to. This part although absolutely necessary caused quite a bit of pain digging into my side. While carrying the bag from time to time I would have to reach down and straightened it out properly so that it would not poke into my side. This may be Think Tanks subtle way of telling me to lose weight but nonetheless it is quite annoying.
Well I love this bag and when I presented myself the choice of which bag to bring with my during my overnight adventure in LA while reviewing the Sony RX100 I choose it over the others. It is undeniably well made and I feel if I were to fall off of a cliff and had to choose a bag to get stuck to a tree limb this would be the one. It may not be the most comfortable bag but I wouldn’t choose this bag for walking about during the day while holding all of the required gear. Everything this bag does it does very well and like I said I will not be carrying a heavy load in it for an extended amount of time but on light day trips its a delight. My complaints for this bag are nitpicking mostly because we have already reviewed the other two sizes of this bag and I wanted to mention something that they may not have.
I am a fan and when it comes to the best sling of the year I vote Think Tank Sling-O-Matic. The 30 may not be the right size for you but with all three sizes available one is.
If you would like to read or know more about the Sling-O-Matic 30 bag by Think Tank please check out their site here.
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