Retrospective 30 Bag
Retrospective 30 Bag

Finding just the right camera bag is a never ending quest for most photographers. I have tried many different bags: backpacks, tactical gear bags, sling bags, messenger bags, shoulder bags, repurposed computer bags, even a couple "man" purses. (http://www.infotor.com/blog/tag/bags/) There is always something that makes the bag fall short. This becomes for me especially problematic when I'm going on a 10-14 day trip and flying. I want all of my camera gear with me on the plane and I want the other things I like to have on my person such as an iPad, iPhone, a book, water bottle, and other miscellaneous personal items. One bag didn't do it!

Vanquish and Eagle Creek Bags
Vanquish and Eagle Creek Bags

I usually end up taking a larger bag and a smaller, purse-like bag on these occasions. Recently, I have been on a quest to find one bag that will serve me when traveling but also for when I am at home. My Lowepro Passport Sling almost filled the bill, but I still had to hang some things on outside of it. So, I began looking again. I had a chance to hold and see the Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag that is so popular, but I felt it was too big. An alternative, the Tenba Cooper Slim 13, looked as though it might be a better choice, though it is almost the same price as the Everyday Messenger. Then someone suggested the Think Tank Retrospective 30 to me.

My small, expandable Vanquest pouch fits nicely on strap at either end of the bag.
My small, expandable Vanquest pouch fits nicely on strap at either end of the bag.

Having no place close that carries any of these bags, I decided to order the Retrospective 30 and try it myself with the idea that I would return it if it didn't seem to be the right choice and then do the same with the Tenba Cooper Slim 13. Yesterday the bag arrived so I made the video embedded below in this article to show how I am thinking about using a new bag to replace my Passport Sling.

I had been warned that the Retrospective 30 is much “thicker” (“wider?”) than the Cooper Slim 13, so I was somewhat prepared for what I took out of the box. I ordered the bag in the Blue Slate color because it was $80 compared to its “cousins) in Pinestone and Black at $195! Guess the Blue Slate color has not been so popular so they are clearing inventory. Otherwise, the bags are all alike. As I began figuring out how I would pack it, I did find it to be a very roomy bag. I think it will hold everything I want to carry. For one, I am able to get my little Nissin i40 flash in comfortably and things that I had hanging off the Passport Sling are now in this bag. I use a “small bag distribution system” () to organize all my cables, batteries, memory cards, and other miscellaneous things one must carry in this electronic and digital age, so I just stuffed in my four little Eagle Creek bags without reassessing what is in them.

Lots of dividers. Lots of space. Two front pockets are huge!
Lots of dividers. Lots of space. Two front pockets are huge!

I have to revisit that and can, perhaps eliminate one of those bags. That will make space for my Tascam DR-40 voice recorder, a proper audio recorder instead of my little Olympus number. Since I am now hoping to do more video on trips, I want to be able to carry my “L” bracket for holding iPhone and the Rode VideoMicro microphone, as well as, naturally, the microphone itself.

End result? Well, when packed as I have it, it is much bigger than I thought I wanted. However, it does hold the gear I feel I want to have with me when traveling, so it wins points there. Will I keep it? Yes, I think I will. Through this exercise, I have come to realize that, yes, I can get one bag that will work as my traveling bag, my point A to point B bag, to get all of my gear safely to my destination. However, any bag that will let me do that is going to be too big for everyday use in most cases.

Pockets on either side of the bag are tight, but I am able slide a lie of my MeFoto DayTrip tripod in it and secure tripod with a bungee cord.
Pockets on either side of the bag are tight, but I am able slide a lie of my MeFoto DayTrip tripod in it and secure tripod with a bungee cord.

Now, if your “kit” is limited, you can get away with a bag of the Passport Sling or Cooper Slim 13 variety and it will serve double duty. I’m not that guy. I have a lot of “toys” and I want to have most of them with me “just in case” when I am on a once in a lifetime trip. So, I will flatten my Lowepro Passport Sling bag and pack it in my checked luggage. That will, then be the bag I use every day when on a trip.

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