I’ve had a lot of camera bags, in every shape and size from many different manufacturers. When I had my smaller CSC kit, the Lowepro Streamline 100 was just the ticket, it was small, neat and easy to use. I’ve continued to use it with my X100 and X-Pro 1. The X-Pro 1 won’t fit inside so that stays on a strap, but the X100 and a couple of lenses (stacked) go inside it. It’s not ideal, but I haven’t found anything to replace it with that isn’t too big and bulky or too heavy. The whole point of me moving to the X-series cameras was to get great image quality in a lightweight package. What’s the point of compromising that with a great big heavy bag? There are loads of great bags out there but most of them are just too big. I wanted something that just fit all I needed into it and nothing more, something that provided just enough protection, but wasn’t too heavy in doing so. I also didn’t want it to shout out “camera bag” – I wanted something discrete, easy to get in and out of, and of a decent quality as I would be using it every day. Yeah, I was being pretty fussy, but I have a cupboard at home full of bags I’ve bought for various different tasks and most of them just sit there in the cupboard!
I was recently at Photokina and the whole time I was wandering around the various stands I was keeping an eye out for the perfect bag for me. I couldn’t find it. I knew before I went that I wanted a thinkTANK Retrospective 7, so I got hold of one on the first day, and that works perfectly as a bag to carry all my gear around with me when travelling, laptop, iPad, flashes, cables, chargers, paperwork, etc, but (for me at least) it’s just too big to take around the streets every day. I looked everywhere for that elusive perfect small bag for my Fuji X-kit. I went and spoke to the UK guys at Lowepro about what I was looking for, they had no solution for me. I checked out the huge number of offerings from the other manufacturers at Photokina, nothing seemed to fit just what I was looking for. They were either too big, too small, too bulky, too obvious-camera-bag looking for what I had in mind. I pretty much gave up and I had it set in my mind that I’d go and get a Retrospective 5 as a smaller day-bag to the Retrospective 7 – it was bigger than I really wanted, but it looked cool and I knew it would easily fit all my gear in it for a single day out.
The thinkTANK stand at Photokina was packed pretty much all the time, so whilst I looked and debated the Retro 5 I had time to check out what else they had. There it was…in completely the wrong place! Hanging on the accessories wall, a Hubba Hubba Hiney. This little bag is designed primarily as a belt bag, a companion to their larger bags. It’s designed to fit a 70-200 2.8 lens in it and has all these velcro bits to fit it onto other thinkTANK bit and pieces, but inside I could see a nice strap with a padded shoulder segment… it looked about right and my X-Pro 1 fitted inside like a dream, leaving enough space for a couple of lenses and the X100 (or an X-E1 body!) at the other end. Eureka! This was it, the bag I’d been searching for! It was the perfect size, the perfect weight (just 0.5Kg/1lb empty) and had the right look. What was better than that was the price – 49€, or about £39 if you can get one in the UK – a bargain for such a well made bag.
The bag is great quality, as you would expect from thinkTANK. A nice chunky solid zip, but a plastic one – a “YKK RC Fuse zipper” according to thinkTANK – basically a fancy way to say that it will not scratch your gear as you get it in and out! The bag itself made from a variety of high-quality materials that will stand up to the rigour of daily use and the base is coated in PU so it is water-resistant when you put it down on the street in the rain. It will stand a light shower, but also included in a separate zipped section underneath is a full rain cover, which is on a strap and can be removed entirely from the bag if you want it to be even lighter, or use that section for something else – perhaps cash/passport etc as it’s well hidden and not easy to get into for pickpockets.
The Hubba Hubba Hiney isn’t the most protective of bags around, it’a more designed for the odd knock and bump here and there, but I’m pretty sure if you dropped it your gear would still be fine, not that I’m going to try it out for you! I’ve got plenty of other bags with more padding, but I wasn’t looking for max protection, I wanted something light for every day.
Internally the bag contains no less than three dividers meaning you can separate the bag into four sections – so many of the bags I looked at only had one divider, making them useless for me – it’s nice to see that thinkTANK didn’t cheap-out on this. Personally I use it divided into three, the X-Pro 1 on one end, the X100 in the other end and the lenses stacked in the centre. I know some people don’t like stacking lenses, but I’d rather that than a bigger bag, and if you only have the one body you can always put the lenses into different sections. If I want to carry more, I’ll take then lens hood off the X100 as it takes up quite a bit of space and can then divide it into four sections and slide the small Fuji EF-20 flash into the final section.
On the front of the bag is a whole-length zippered section with various pouches inside, perfect for filters, SD cards, lens caps and various other small accessories. On the very front of the bag are two elasticated pouches. These are just right for quick access to spare batteries. I can get three X-Pro 1 and two X100 batteries in these pouches – that pretty much means I could go away for a weekend with just this bag and not need to take the chargers with me.
Travelling with it is not a problem, I left a space in my hang-luggage and was able to easily slip it into the top to take it through security and onto the plane, nice and discrete and it means you don’t have to try to fit the rest of your travelling items into a camera bag just to protect your camera gear. With it only weighing 0.5kg it’s not going to eat into your hang-luggage weight allowance much either. If you’re travelling light for a day-trip then passports, tickets, wallet etc will happily go into the front pocket and you wouldn’t need to carry anything else.
thinkTANK are more commonly know for their large dSLR high-quality high-protection cases, but they do offer other kit for people who don’t ship all their gear around the world all the time with them, and this is the perfect example. This bag is ideal for compact system camera users looking for a lightweight solution to carrying around one or two bodies and a small selection of lenses. It provides just enough protection to keep them safe without going over the top and making the bag too heavy. Anyone who spends all day on the streets will appreciate the lightweight and discretion of this bag. It’s also perfect for walkers and perhaps even climbers who can attach it to the thinkTANK belt system to keep it firmly in place. The shoulder strap is not overly padded, but provides enough protection to stop it pulling too hard on your shoulder even if you carry it around full all day as I have been doing. Build quality is up to thinkTANK’s usual high standards, with big chunky zips and durable shower-proof materials. At the price of £39/49$/49€ it’s an absolute bargain. Go get it quick before thinkTANK realise what a winner with CSC enthusiasts they are onto here!
In the UK you can get one here from Amazon.
Elsewhere in the world, check the thinkTANK international retailers page to see where you can pick one up.