Airport Security Roller Bag

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Having logged more airline miles recently than I'd care to admit, with cameras and lenses and laptop to boot, I welcome any products that can make the trip, and transition between connections easier. The "post-9/11 world", as it sadly has come to be known, has not made it easier on photographers to get where they need to go with the gear they must trudge along with them. With that in mind, we recently had a close look at the Airport Security Roller/Backpack from ThinkTank Photo, which combines carry-on capability with security and gear --protecting features.

Rolling in and through LaGuardia Airport in New York was made easy with the extra tall wheel housings, which even took kindly to the various curbs and ramps we encountered. And even if the wheels get jammed with pebbles or other objects they can be replaced from the outside of the bag with the supplied hex key. And the handle is heavy-duty, unlike some recent bags we worked with where the handle jammed in extended position after only a few trips--a drag, to say the least.

The interior is composed of many, many resizable pockets, all or some of which can be customized as your equipment needs change. There's room for numerous DSLR bodies, long lenses, shoe-mount flash, etc. The overall size is 9 x 14 x 22 in., and very little space is wasted from overall size to interior storage capacity.

When you want to get moving without the rollers, which is a must on cobblestones or when the snow is six inches deep or when transitioning from boardwalk to beach, you can open the back flap and out comes backpack straps with removable snaps that attach to the base of the bag. If you think you might never use the straps you can remove them from the case entirely, freeing up even more space. I don't recommend this bag for general backpack use, but it can come in handy when needed. The front pocket also has storage space for smaller items, or can be used for access to the interior compartment without unzipping the main part of the bag. Most appreciated are the tripod and/or monopod attachment facilities, with the so-called "tripod cup" and straps that secure it to the side of the bag.

If you want to include your laptop in the mix you can also use the front stretchable pocket, although it is recommended that you put it in a protective sleeve when you do. If there is one fault in this design I find that it almost forces me to carry a laptop shoulder pack, as exposing the laptop like this is worrisome. An interior pocket would be better. But my laptop has its own accoutrements, including various wires, etc, and it's fairly easy to make this the additional "personal" item US airlines allow for in carry-on, and that case can easily be placed atop the Airport Security roller. This, however, might be a problem for international flights, where the one bag limit seems to be more strictly enforced.


There are a few other nice touches. Included is a seam-sealed, waterproof rain cover for the whole case, great for trying to catch a cab on city streets, where as soon as the first drop falls all cabbies head in for their dinner break. There are also numerous security devices, including a security cable (lock not included) for hitching it to a post and an outside combo lock, reminiscent of the old Halliburton silver cases.

The bag alone weighs in at 11-13 lbs, depending on if you use all the supplied dividers or not. It lists at $359 and can be ordered at www.thinktankphoto.com or from a group of retailers you can find at the same web site. And the guarantee against material defects or workmanship stands for "as long as you use the product." If you're like me, you'll be taking it on many a photo journey, so that guarantee sounds good as well.

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