Airport Commuter: A Compact Camera Bag With Space For Your Macbook And Your iPad [Review]



Think Tank’s new Airport Commuter camera bag ($199) is something of a paradox: Though it’s the size of a normal backpack, it manages to fit an abnormal amount of glass, gear, a full-size a Macbook Pro, and an iPad.

But could such a compact bag hold so many precious items in harmony? I packed it up, strapped it on, and set out to find out.

The Good

From the get-go, it’s clear Think Tank Photo’s Airport Commuter (AC) is made by folks who know what they’re doing. The bag’s compartments are laid out neatly, which I appreciate, and the section that holds the iPad and Macbook Pro is brilliant. The computer compartment is easy to access, well-padded, and makes the Airport Commuter one of the only bags I’ve seen that can stow away both a tablet and a laptop.

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Inside the bag, there’s plenty of space for a full-size DSLR with lens attached, 4-5 small or medium-sized lenses, and other tertiary stuff like flashes, diffusers, small European automobiles–the AC’s got you covered on space, carrying more than you’d probably want to lift.

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Besides massive amounts of storage space, the AC has other, smaller features that are very useful. A personal fave is the built-in security cable that helps stop your gear from getting nicked when you doze off on the train. And the waist belt, though it’s admittedly not going to get you a date, will help save your back when you pack the AC to its brim.

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I’m also a big fan of how Think Tank constructs all its bags, Airport Commuter included. The AC is built tough, and feels like it’ll take a beating. It also features YKK zippers, which are sewn to the bag then fused on with plastic. Think Tank says they’re the most durable zippers in all the lands; I can’t test that, but I do know they never snag, never get stuck, and always do their duty without complaining.

The Bad

Ok, so, remember that security cable I waxed on about earlier? That little bit of woven steel would need wire cutters to conquer, but the problem is it’s attached to a nylon loop on the inside of the bag. That’s not going to be hard to snip, and could result in you being bagless with a security wire still attached to the pole you thought you “secured” it to. I wish the cable was connected to the bag in a more secure way, like another bit of metal, but as it is, it will be more of a visual deterrent than an actual one.

I also wouldn’t recommend packing the AC to its full capacity. The Commuter holds a huge amount of gear, true, but even with the built-in waist strap it can get uncomfortable when it’s full. Short trips wouldn’t be a problem, but when loaded up complete, the AC isn’t isn’t the best pick for all day use.

The Verdict

I haven’t yet met a Think Tank bag I wouldn’t recommend, and this one is no different. If you need a great bag to haul around your iPad, Macbook, DSLR and lenses, Think Tank’s Airport Commuter is worth considering.

[xrr rating=80%]

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