ThinkTank Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 Shoulder Bag Review
The ThinkTank Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 is a high-end shoulder bag designed to carry two full-frame DSLR with lenses attached, additional lenses and plenty of accessories. This model is the largest in the Urban Disguise series with an external dimension of 15" W x 12.5" H x 7.5" D. This size puts it within airline carry-on size and just within personal-item size on a number airlines which require 36 linear inches or less. Note that using the expandable front pocket easily causes the Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 to exceed personal item size.
Shoulder bags, often called messenger bags, are the preferred camera bag type for travel photography and photojournalists. This type of bag provides high accessibility to a large quantity of photo gear which is essential for fast-paced environments with a variety of photography subjects. A complete description of the advantages and disadvantages of this and other types of camera bags is described in our Camera Bag Guide.
The exterior of the Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 is made of extremely sturdy ballistic nylon and includes a leather carrying handle as well as an anti-slip and well-padded shoulder-strap. A second level of protection is provided by a removable seem-sealed rain-cover. This cover protects the bag from rain and snow, while providing extra protection against dust and sand. Sturdy metal zippers and buckles complete the exterior and provide excellent resistance to wear and tear. ThinkTank stands behind the durability of its products with a No Rhetoric Warranty to the original owner of the camera bag as long as the product is used.
The ThinkTank Urban Disguise 70 is available online from Amazon. Note that the V2.0 version reviewed here may not be available everywhere yet.
The Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 shoulder bag has a very deep main compartment, an expandable front pocket below a flap and one additional pocket on each side. This bag is compatible with additional ThinkTank attachments, including accessory pouches for lenses, flashes and a tripod.
Like most ThinkTank bags, the Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 has an underwhelming external appearance. These bags are designed for convenience rather than style and one feature appreciated by professionals is to not attract attention. From far this black nylon bag looks quite generic. Even the company logo blends-in well without graphics or color.
It only takes a quick but up-close inspection to notice that this camera bag is designed with close attention to details. Zippers are made of unpainted metal to avoid looking old after extended use. The main compartment has lockable double zippers with wide tabs and an oversized coil for extra durability. There is a two-part carrying handle with ballistic nylon straps and leather coverings to protect from abrasion. A small leather buckle keeps the two parts together. Given the high probability of multiple professional photographers covering the same event, a clear business card slot helps distinguish the owner of each camera bag. A roller handle attachment can be transformed into an additional open pocket by zipping the bottom closed, be carefully of pranksters though!
The main compartment opens right in the middle using a double zipper. This gives access to the bag's most important content using a single quick motion. The entire compartment is made of soft padded material. A large number of dividers are provided to configure the available space. Some dividers are sized to split the whole depth of the bag, others halfway. According to your needs, the space can be broken into eight or so sections. Neatly, both side-paddings are movable as to allow the creating of unpadded sections on either side.
While zippers provide the quickest access to main compartment, the opening never fully exposes its contents, particularly towards the sides. To maximize efficiency it is therefore advised to place as much content vertically with the most important items towards the center of the bag. Uncoincidently, the Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 is designed to accommodate two full-frame DSLRs with up to a 70-200mm F/2.8 lens in exactly this position. Obviously, various combinations of gear are possible but smaller gear tends to create wasted vertical space, in which case it may be preferable to buy one of the smaller Urban Disguise models.
The shoulder strap has a rotating mechanism on each ends to untwist it quickly. There are two sets of metal loops for the strap to be attached. One set is placed at the ends of the main compartment zipper. This is the traditional position and, by habit, the first one we tried. With the strap in that position, working and changing lenses is difficult since the padded dividers are not rigid and the bag opening collapses. The problem almost disappears completely with the second set of loops which are found at the back of the bag. More rigid dividers could improve this further. The other advantage to the second strap-attachment position is added comfort as the bag presses less against the photographer's body.
The front of the bag is actually a large flap. Its underside holds to the bag using an easy to release clip and two noisy velcro straps. It is probably easy to quiet them down though, otherwise it would be impossible to open the flap without being heard. Once open, the flap reveals a compressible compartment with minimal padding. That compartment is big enough to hold two camera bodies or several flashes but it is best-used for less important items like books, maps and a cleaning kit since access while wearing the bag is awkward.
The flap itself as a highly compartmentalized zippered pocket. Within it is a large nylon divider that hold one zipper-pocket, one velcro-pocket and several open ones. The zipper-pocket is good for storing memory cards, probably in a specialized wallet. Speaking of which, one is included with this camera bag. It accommodates 4 Compact-Flash cards and 3 SDXC / SDHC / SD ones. The CF compartments are OK but the SD ones are very tight. This is clearly the only unrefined part of the whole package but can easily be ignored. The velcro-pocket is good for storing batteries, with at room for 2 or 3, depending on the camera. Once excellent detail for this compartment is a security flap to prevent things from falling sideways when the zipper is opened. This is a simple but rarely-seen solution as seen on the photo to the left here.
Each side of the Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 has an unpadded stretch pocket to be used for storing lens caps, cleaning cloths or other small low-value items. The back of the bag has a very wide flat zipper-pocket. That one can be used for a hard white-balance or grey card, maps and slim documents. Access is obviously restricted since it rests against the wearer's body but with the shoulder-strap hooked at the back of the bag, it is not so difficult.
The impression of the Urban Disguise 70 Pro V2.0 is an excellent one. This is an extremely sturdy and durable shoulder bag with a confidence-inspiring warranty to back it up. Its design is refined with useful details all around. With the shoulder-strap attached to the rear loops, the main compartment becomes extremely efficient to access and this truly enhances what a shoulder-bag is about: speedy access to a plenty of photo gear. The size of the 70 Pro V2.0 is sufficient for professionals needed multiple cameras with moderately long lenses and so should be sufficient for any need that can be held on one shoulder.
For those needing to carry smaller gear, or simple less, ThinkTank offers five sizes of Urban Disguise bags. Although not reviewed here yet, we suspect the Urban Disguide 40is going to be an extremely popular size.
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