Over here at DigitalReviews we are no strangers with ThinkTankPhoto, having reviewed a number of their fabulous bags over the years. I am still toting on a daily basis, the ThinkTankPhoto Retrospective Laptop Case 15L that I have had since 2013 and five workplaces. Aside from having to replace the shoulder pad twice for free, it still look stunning and none the worse for wear. I was not about to turn down the opportunity to test drive the new Urban Access 8.
First impressions matters, and the Urban Access comes in a stunning two tone graphite poly tech-weave. Honestly the first thought that came to mind was that I am so toting this everywhere as a wine carrier!
Unlike the Mindshift Photocross 10 that I have also been using forever, the new Urban Access 8 is a "Slings Both Ways" design. This means the bag can be slung over either your left or right shoulder, with your gear always fully accessible.
All of these features comes in a package at only 600g (1.3 lbs) including all accessories.
My biggest complaint about sling bags are that they are predominantly uni-directional. When you have been lugging a camera and gear around all day, you want to be able to swap shoulders before you get into pain territory. A few years ago I was in Tokyo and ended up exactly in that predicament, what began with a minimal amount of gear and bag slung across one shoulder was like Atlas carrying the heavens on his shoulders by the end of about 14 hours walking around. Sure I could have swap shoulders (I did), but that resulted in the opening being on the bottom and to get to my gear I have to take it off completely to access it.
The Urban Access solves all of these problems by allowing the sling to be configured for either shoulder, with a simple but effective nylon web "rail" running across the bottom of the bag, with strong velcros to keep the metal swivel to the chosen side of the bag. Like flying a helicopter, the controls are reversed (or maybe you can hear Doc Hudson throwing instructions to Lightning McQueen) - so for left shoulder carry, the attachment position on the bottom of the bag is to the right side when facing the back panel. Conversely for right shoulder carry, it needs to on the left side when facing the back panel.
Sure there is nothing stopping you from carrying any other sling bag on either shoulder, in a pinch you can even carry them upside down. The beauty of the Urban Access is the access panels on both sides of the bag, providing access to your gear without having to take the pack off or reposition the dividers to make it work.
There are some thoughtful touches, the main compartment on both sides of the bag features a "zipper lock", a nylon web loop just big enough to slide the zipper grips through in a crisscross fashion. Not only does it stop the "down" side of the bag from accidentally opening and dropping your gear onto the ground, it helps to prevent the opportunistic thief from easily stealing something from your bag.
ThinkTankPhoto provides two adjustable tripod straps with a double gate-keeper buckle for safety. These can be fed through the webbing hidden inside the front pocket where the tripod leg(s) go in. It is recommended to try fit at least 2 of the legs in, and wrap the tripod strap around the top of the tripod to minimise weight shift.
There is a dedicated tablet pocket behind the main compartment.
The Urban Access comes with a detachable waist strap.
Like all but the smallest of ThinkTankPhoto bags, they come with a rain cover attachment. For the Urban Access it is hidden in a pocket at the bottom of the bag.
Choices - the 8 or the 10?
The Urban Access 8 can fit:
- One ungripped Mirrorless body
- Two to three lenses
- An 8" tablet
The Urban Access 10 can fit:
- One ungripped DSLR or Mirrorless body
- Two to five lenses
- 10" tablet
If you are in the market for a sling bag, look no further. The ThinkTankPhoto Urban Access range is the bee's knees, and it certainly does not hurt when I can double it up as a discreet grog carrier during the holiday season. They are available here for RRP$99.75 for the Urban Access 8, or USD$109.75 for the Urban Access 10.