If you’re a photographer you have a million camera bags. Okay, perhaps not a million, but you definitely have more than one. Often we may feel a little guilt for all those bags, but then you realise, you have to change up the bag for the gig. If you only need one body one lens, then a small bag will do, but if you have to carry the full kit, that’s another beast.

I have several shoulder bags and most recently I’ve added backpack to the family. In the grande scheme of things, that’s not too bad. Each definitely serves their purpose, depending on the amount of gear I need to carry on a given day.

Things to consider when shopping for a camera bag:

What do I need for it to carry?
How heavy is it?
Is it easy to access my camera or laptop or items I’d need quickly?
Is it well padded?
Is it designed to last?

I’d gotten a preview of the Think TANK Photo Perception line of Photo Gear/Laptop backpacks last October at Photo Plus Expo in New York and immediately liked the design, look and feel of the bag. They are super low profile, yet hold a ton of stuff. When I was preparing for an extended trip earlier this year, I knew it was time to get one of the Perception Tablet Backpacks to handle the gear I would be traveling with.

Gear list crammed into Think Tank Photo Perception Tablet:

Fuji XT-1 w/35mm f/1.4 lens attached
Fuji 56mm f/1.2 Lens
3 Batteries
Battery Charger
Cokin ND filter w/ step down ring
iPhone5s
iPhone6+
iProLens Kit for the iPhone5s
13” Macbook Pro Retina w/power cord
(2) Portable External Harddrives
(3) Power Adapters for UK/Europe
Fuji Instax Share Printer + 1 extra pack of film
Westcott 12” Reflector
Makeup Bag
Wallet
Business Cards
Mints, Gum
Pens and a moleskine notebook

WHEW!

Technically this pack is only supposed hold a tablet, i.e. iPad/Surface or something, but i found that my Macbook Pro Retina 13” actually fit. It is a snug fit, but that’s ok. If you have a speck case or something over the laptop, you’ll want to take that off before trying to shove your computer in that pocket haha.

Why you need a backpack if you’re hauling gear.

If you travel you will be walking a lot.

If you have back issues and carry a million pounds of gear on one shoulder, you need a backpack.

If you want to feel balanced when carrying around you’re gear, you need a backpack.

All of these things apply to me. Not only do I have a chronic back issue, I have a shoulder injury as well, carrying a backpack with all those items made it much easier to walk for miles and miles in a day. If I’d just had it all on my shoulder, I would have miserable. Did I mention that I walked over 300 miles on that trip????

What I love about the Perception Tablet

1. It holds all that stuff I listed above
2. It’s lightweight
3. There is a pocket towards the top to hold the camera body/lenses, making those items quick to access.
4. Under that pocket is a bit of space that houses whatever you need it to. I used that area to hold my Moleskine notebook, external hard drives, Instax Share Printer and a Think Tank Cable Management bag filled with goodies.
5. There’s enough room at the top, between the camera pocket and closing it to hold my makeup bag and wallet.
6. Smaller interior zipper pockets to hold my business cards, iPhone and cables.
7. Two exterior pockets to hold batteries, charger, gum/mints, lens cleaning cloths, etc…
8. Well padded shoulder straps and backing, designed to fit the curve of your back a bit

I feel I should mention, this bag was jammed, I should probably have listened to my friends at Think TANK and gotten one a size larger, but I really liked the size of this one. And the only times I needed it to carry all of that stuff were when I’d be flying, since there are so many restrictions of how much you can carry on. 

What I’d love to change or update:

1. Fabric or straps that would allow you to slide the pack down the handle of a roller bag. This would help take the weight off your pack if you wanted it to. An especially nice feature when going from airport to airport, train station to train station.

2. The zippers open very wide on this bag, which is an asset to allow you to quickly access items at the bottom of the pack, but sometimes I found the fabric would get caught in the zippers, especially when jammed to the hilt. So perhaps a better way to handle this, would be cool.

Overall I love, love, love this pack and continue to use it on a day to day basis.

And if you’d like to follow the images from that trip and other travel I’m doing this year check out #kateontheroad2015 over on Instagram.

~ kate