Review: Think Tank CityWalker 20

Think Tank CityWalker 20

Think Tank Photo’s latest line of shoulder bags is called the CityWalker, and it is designed with mobile photographer in mind (think: street photographers). The entire line is made of the same lightweight material with an internal iPad / Tablet sleeve, and  a quickly removable internal camera storage bucket which converts the bag into a lightweight shoulder bag. I’ve had the opportunity to live with the CityWalker 20 every day over the last several weeks, and I’m here to talk about my experiences.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Removable Camera Insert
  • Spacious enough for a good amount of gear
Cons:
  • iPad sleeve isn’t designed to hold an iPad in a case
  • Not meant for larger Pro-Sized bodies (1Dx/D4)
  • Despite being spacious, it could potentially be limited depending on the gear. (More on this below)

 

Gear Used

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Tech Specs

Taken from Think Tank’s website.

Dimensions:

OD: 13.8” W x 9.8” H x 6.7” D  (35 x 25  x 17 cm)

ID : 13” W x 8.7” H x  5.3” D   (33 x 22x 13.5cm)

Tablet: 10.3” W x 8”H x 0.8” D (26.2 x 20.3 x 2 cm)

Weight: 2.0-2.3 Lbs. (0.9-1.0 kg)

Materials:

External: All fabric exterior treated with a DWR coating while fabric underside is coated with PU for superior water resistance, YKK® RC Fuse (abrasion resistant) zippers, 420D velocity nylon, 420D high-density nylon, 600D brushed polyester, 250D shadow rip-stop polyester, Derrington™ mesh pockets, antique nickel plated metal hardware, Dual Cross™ Buckle, 3D air mesh, mono mesh, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

Internal: PE board reinforced removable closed cell foam dividers, 210D silver-toned nylon, PU backed velex liner, 2x PU coated nylon 210T seam-sealed taffeta rain cover, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

Ergonomics

Side Pouch

Ever since the Retrospective line came out from Think Tank, they really figured out how to make a simple and comfortable shoulder bag. The shoulder strap is well padded but not so stiff that it’s uncomfortable, the nylon of the exterior is very pliable and hugs right to your hip (which is a good thing). I had wondered if this new material would create an excess of static when rubbing against clothing, but I’ve not had any issue with that up to this point.

With the pouches on both sides of the bag you can fit all kinds of things in there for quick access, you’ll notice that my 580exII flash fits easily in the pouch, but more often than not I will have a water bottle in one of the sides.

Front zipper pouch

On the front flap there is a handy zipper pouch which you can use to store cables, batteries, papers, tickets, or any other slim objects.

Padded shoulder strap

The shoulder pad is really comfortable and really keeps the bag stable on your shoulder, no slipping here!

Rear document pocket

Rear velcro pocket for folders, papers, magazines, etc.

Sound silencer

Inside the front flap, Think Tank has included “Sound Silencers” which is a flap that closes over the velcro to make the bag quieter when opening / closing it. Pretty handy in quiet environments where the loud rip of velcro could be a disturbance.

Interior

Inside the main compartment you can see how I have it presently configured. In the center is where I keep my 5D Mk II with 40mm f2.8 mounted, which is not shown because I used it to take the photo.

The internal iPad sleeve was relocated from the back of the bag as we see on the Retrospective 7. I actually like this location better as I feel the iPad will be better protected. However the sleeve is a bit slim which means bulky iPad cases won’t fit as well.

Notice that it's a stretch with my Incase leather cover on my iPad

Notice that it’s a stretch with my Incase leather cover on my iPad

No stretch without a case or with just the smart-cover as shown here

No stretch without a case or with just the smart-cover as shown here

Moving up to the front of the bag we have the typical organizer pocket which has just enough space to be really useful for the little things in your bag.

Front pocket

Front pocket keyhook

I’ve always liked this feature on Think Tank products, having a lanyard built into the bag for clipping keys or in this case my memory card wallet has always been invaluable to me.

Camera insert removed

You can see that with the internal compartment removed you actually have a lot of space to use the bag as a regular messenger bag. I’ve been using the CityWalker as my daily carry bag for my classes over the past couple weeks and it was perfect for the classes which didn’t require my computer and just books / notebooks. I would bring the iPad as well and I’d even have room for a light jacket in there, all with room to spare.

Camera Insert fully removed

The insert is a full sized bucket and is well made and padded, I think this is one of my favorite features of the bag actually, it makes it incredibly versatile to use daily.

Build Quality

Every single Think Tank Photo product that I have encountered is built to a very high standard, and every product that I own has held up admirably to daily use over a number of years. Not one has had any sort of issue, ever. With that said, I had high expectations of the CityWalker bag, and I have to admit that upon first receiving the bag I was worried that the new material would not wear well or hold up over prolonged use. However, I think my fears have been squashed so far as I’ve been dragging this bag around with me every single day and it looks like it’s never left my house. I have even been removing the camera insert all together and using it as a shoulder bag to carry my iPad and notebooks / papers / books, etc.. with me to my classes, it has surprised me with how perfect it is for that situation, and to keep it relevant I keep my 5DmkII with the 40mm f2.8 mounted on it in the bag as well. Anyways, In the several weeks I’ve been using this bag, I’ve not seen anything that would lead me to believe that it won’t last as long as my other Think Tank bags have so far, none of which show any sign of giving up any time soon.

In Use

As with many other photographers who have a fair amount of gear, I was always of the mindset that I needed to bring everything with me at all times. Let me say this here and now; that is the worst idea ever. Once I started to change my ways and begin to limit what I bring with me to only what I’m really going to NEED my life as a photographer got so much easier, and my shoulders / neck / back thanked me profusely. The gear mentioned above is about the maximum I could fit in there without “stretching” the bag, I wouldn’t normally always carry all of that, but I figured it would be good to show what types of things can fit into the bag easily. I should also mention that due to the shape of the camera insert, and to maximize space efficiency I chose to leave the 40mm f/2.8 mounted on my camera in the central compartment, that way I could flank either side with the other three lenses I mentioned. I could have something like the 35mm mounted on my camera but that will require some reconfiguring of the dividers, and will ultimately result in less usable space within the bag. I don’t think that it would be a problem for most folks, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

Conclusion

As a big fan of Think Tank’s Retrospective bags (I own the 7 and the 10) I figured I would probably like this new CityWalker bag, but I also figured it wouldn’t be one that would replace either of my Retrospective bags. After having spent some time with it, I have to say that the subtle differences between the two lines are worth noting. With this new CityWalker we have the pouches on the outside for quick access to some gear, the relocation of the iPad sleeve to the inside of the bag, and the removable camera insert bucket. These changes do make the bag feel very versatile in my opinion. Design-wise, it is not really meant for carrying larger camera bodies, at least not with a lens mounted, but it does work very well with something up to the size of a Canon 5D (or any other comparably sized camera). Overall I have really enjoyed using the bag to haul my gear, but I have also been using it quite a bit with the camera insert removed and just toting around the stuff I carry every day (instead of taking my backpack), for this purpose it has also been really excellent and I will likely continue to use it in this manner. So, with all of that said, I can happily give this bag a thumbs-up, and say that it’s worthy of toting your gear. Think Tank has them available on their website and you can get the bag with blue accents, as seen here, or in all black. I think personally I would prefer the all black version myself, but they are both going to have the same functionality.

The CityWalker 20 retails for $139.75

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