EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was written by guest contributor Liana Lehua from GirlsGoneGeek.TV.
Do you know what I like about any good gear bag? When the bag I am using allows me to focus on enjoying whatever I am doing instead of having to fuss with my stuff, I like it. This is true of my purses, gear cases, laptop bags, and most recently my photography bags. Yes. Bags. Plural. It is not my intent to flaunt that I have multiple camera and gear bags but to provide some perspective regarding my bag-spertise. As a photography enthusiast, I wanted to share my experience and thoughts on one of my newest bags, Think Tank‘s Rotation 360. Like many, I am on the never ending quest for the perfect bag. I have come to the conclusion that any one bag may be perfect for any number of conditions and completely ill-suited for others. My most recent get is Think Tank Photo’s Rotation 360 backpack, and it is easily one of the most versatile and convenient photo walk-around and travel backpacks I have used. At 4 feel 11 inches, 105 pounds (150 cm / 48 kg), it is sometimes a challenge for me to find a bag that fits comfortably. Empty, this bag is approximately 7 lbs. (3 kg), and it is a big bag for me. It covers my back from shoulders to waist when I’m wearing it, but it is so well made and the weight distributed well, that it is a breeze to carry.
I love the outdoors and often like to take long hikes into the mountains. As much as I love photography, I want the art and love of image capture to be complimentary to my enjoying the beautiful scenery and liveliness of the outdoors. During my hikes, I can often hear the flow of water through a river before I reach it. Along the way, I may see a deer or other wildlife running towards the bank to take a drink. With my camera conveniently connected to my Rotation 360 shoulder straps, I can stand or kneel to capture the action. Additionally important, I can rotate the belt pack from behind me to in front of me in seconds. Immediate access to additional lenses or other gear for a quick change before I am back shooting can be done with minimal effort and without removing the backpack. How so? I am glad you asked.
The Rotation 360 is an integrated backpack and rotating fanny pack that I can quickly and easily swing to the front of my body, open up and grab a lens, polarizer, battery, or any other items I have stored there. When I need access to my gear in the fanny pack, I can use the integrated belt loops to rotate the bag forward and then back, securely locking and unlocking it into place without ever removing it. Being able to move the pack out of my way, back into the backpack, is key for me when I want to kneel to capture. If I want to carry the fanny pack without using the full backpack system, Think Tank includes a shoulder strap that can be used to carry it over one shoulder.
In the fanny pack, I store my 14mm f/2.8 Rectilinear Super Wide Angle, my Lensbaby 3G, and a Speedlight 550EX. I have room inside for additional memory cards, Lensbaby macro lenses, a 58mm polarizer, lens pen, and a microfiber cloth. There is a zipper pocket on the outside of the fanny pack that can hold thinner items. I store my business cards in that pocket. There is a small pouch built on to the belt large enough to hold a small pair of binoculars, a small snack, sunblock, or memory cards and a lens filter. There is not enough room for an additional body inside of the fanny pack, but there is room inside of the main backpack compartment.
I can carry my Canon 30D with my 17-200mm mounted, along with extra batteries and chargers, in this main compartment. This still leaves room for personal items: wallet, keys, sunblock, for example. Since I am shooting when I am using this bag, however, I generally carry snacks in this section of the bag. For carrying a water bottle, I use the “R U Thirsty” from Think Tank attached to the fanny pack’s rail. The rail is Think Tank’s belt system to support modular attachments. If I want to carry larger lenses, I can buy one of the Lens Changer bags that fits nicely on the rail.
To help relieve the weight of your camera on your neck and shoulders, Think Tank includes a camera strap with D-rings on it that attach to and are completely supported by the backpack.
On the outside of the bag, I can carry my Gitzo GT-3530 Mountaineer tripod with no problems at all. There is a fold-out pocket to hold the bottom of tripod and a strap above the main compartment to secure it to the bag. Also included with the Rotation 360 is a rain cover for the backpack and a separate rain cover for the fanny pack.
Whether you are on an outdoor adventure, an urban excursion, on a long hike, or photo assignment, I highly recommend this bag for anyone who needs to have immediate access to gear and the ability to shoot on the go. At $279 USD, it isn’t cheap, but your camera gear isn’t either. Using this backpack, I know my equipment is safe, and I can go about my day enjoying my outing and my photography.
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