Every good street photographer knows that in order to make the shot, you need to have the right gear on hand when the moment hits. While most backpacks have ample room for your gear and personal items, there’s a certain ease of access that a proper messenger bag offers that drew us to ThinkTank’s Retrospective 7 V2.0 in the first place. There are some notable changes from the latest version of the Retrospective series, we’re just trying to figure out if this is the best bag for most photographers.

KEY FEATURES via ThinkTankPhoto.com:

  •   Soft and form-fitting with minimalist outer appearance
  •   Zippered opening to main compartment tucks-away when not in use
  •   Dedicated pockets fit a 10″ tablet and a 13″ laptop

MATERIALS

Exterior:

  •   Durable water-repellant (DWR) coating
  •   Polyurethane coating
  •   Sand-washed 100% cotton canvas
  •   YKK® RC Fuse (abrasion-resistant) zippers
  •   Antique plated brass hardware
  •   Nylon webbing
  •   3-ply bonded nylon thread

Interior:

  •   Closed-cell foam and PE board reinforced dividers
  •   210D silver-toned nylon
  •   Polyester 300D two-tone twill ripstop liner
  •   Polyurethane backed velex liner and dividers
  •   2x polyurethane coated nylon 210T seam-sealed rain cover
  •   3-ply bonded nylon thread

Design & Comfort

If you’re familiar with the original ThinkTank Retrospective line of messenger bags you’ll know that while it was a much more affordable line of waxed canvas bags, the truth was they were a little rough to the touch. While if you’re more into function over form this might not have been a dealbreaker, but the revision of the series introduces a newer, softer cotton canvas material that is a joy to carry with you wherever you go. The bag we tested, the Retrospective 7 V2.0, is the medium-sized bag in the series and has enough room for a 13-inch laptop or 10-inch tablet, a standard DSLR with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached, a 70-200mm f/2.8 unattached, and flash or a DJI Mavic Pro with room for batteries and controller.

ThinkTankRetrospective7-Medium-Format-Full

Our typical loadout included a 13-inch MacBook Pro, Fujifilm X-T2 and 35mm f/2 WR and the Rokinon 16mm f/2, a Flashpoint Zoom Li-on manual flash, and various pens and notebooks. In other words, we probably overpacked. Despite our apparent desire to give ourselves lower back pain, the Retrospective 7 V2.0 was able to hold it all together while staying balanced. The strap design is a notable improvement from the original, has considerably more padding and the anti-slip strips help keep the bag from shifting as you go to and fro. Our poor packing judgement aside, the Retrospective 7 V2.0 kept everything evenly distributed and didn’t cause much discomfort – even when we were walking the floor all day at PhotoPlus Expo.

The bag also has improved weather resistance thanks to the included rain cover, added security with the new zip top flap cover over the main compartment, and a luggage pass-through to make air travel just a bit easier. Rounding off the Retrospective 7 V2.0’s design elements are the brass-plated hardware giving the bag a very subtle and minimalist look.

Final Thoughts

Too often, camera bags are an afterthought. You spent upwards to several thousands of dollars of camera equipment – tossing everything in a backpack or tote just seems like asking for trouble. While keeping your gear safe while you travel should be your bag’s primary function, there’s something to be said about being able to do it in style. For this reason, we have to recommend the ThinkTank Retrospective 7 V2.0 as our go-to pick for messenger-style camera bags. It’s rugged but attractive minimalist design combined with its storage capabilities makes this bag one to check out.

You can pick up the ThinkTank Retrospective 7 V2.0 directly from ThinkTank – but be warned, they sell quick.