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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: ThinkTank Speed Freak V2.0 Waist Shoulder Belt Bag


Review: ThinkTank Speed Freak V2.0 Waist Shoulder Belt Bag

Overview : The Speed Convertible series are hybrid shoulder bags/belt packs designed for photographers who value versatile and ergonomic camera bags. First and foremost a contoured shoulder bag, the Speed Convertibles keep photo gear readily accessible. The wide opening flip-top design hinges away from the body to rapidly work in and out of the bag. As a shoulder bag, the Speed Convertibles offer durable zippers, a secondary main compartment entry, and multiple pockets for small accessories. A cushioned shoulder strap with a long section of padding maximizes comfort while carrying the bag in different positions.

To adapt a Speed Convertible bag as a belt pack, deploy the integrated waist belt which is conveniently concealed in two zippered pockets on either side of each Speed Convertible bag. Fastening the flexible belt around the waist provides better stability while walking, especially when used in tandem with the included shoulder strap. The waist belt also features Modular rail sections for attaching Modular, Skin or Multimedia components to increase gear carrying capacity as needed. The three bags in the Speed Convertible series, Speed Demon V2.0, Speed Freak V2.0 and Speed Racer V2.0 offer photographers choice of the right bag size to suit their equipment and the adaptability for a variety of different assignments.

Features :
  • Easily converts from streamlined shoulder bag to functional belt pack
  • Integrated waist belt “disappears” by tucking into zippered size pockets
  • Modular rails on waist belt for adding Modular Rotation System components to increase gear capacity
  • Flip-top lid opens away from the body for rapid access to gear
  • Cushioned, non-slip shoulder strap included
  • Ergonomic, kidney-shaped design contours around body
  • Easily accessible front organizer pocket
  • Stretchable mesh side pockets with reinforced bases
  • Highest quality YKK RC Fuse zippers
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included
Gear Profile:

Speed Demon V2.0
  • One standard size DSLR plus 2–3 small zoom or prime lenses
  • Smallest size bag in Speed Convertible series
Speed Freak V2.0:
  • One standard size DSLR plus 2–3 lenses or accessories
  • Accommodates a 70-200 f2.8 detached from camera body
  • Medium size bag in Speed Convertible series
Speed Racer V2.0:
  • One pro size DSLR plus 2–3 lenses or accessories
  • Accommodates a 70-200 f2.8 attached to camera body (except Nikon VR1)
  • Largest size bag in Speed Convertible series
Technical Specifications:

Speed Demon V2.0
  • Internal Dimensions:  9.3” W x 6.8” H x 5” D (23.5 x 17.2 x 12.7 cm)
  • External Dimensions:  12” W x 8.5” H x 8” D (30.5 x 21.6 x 20.3 cm)
  • Weight:  1.6–2.1 lbs (0.7–1.0 kg)
  • Lifetime Warranty
Speed Freak V2.0
  • Internal Dimensions:  10.3” W x 8.8” H x 5.5” D (26 x 22.2 x 14 cm)
  • External Dimensions: 12.5” W x 10.5” H x 8.5” D (31.8 x 26.7 x 21.6 cm)
  • Weight:  1.9–2.5 lbs (0.9–1.1 kg)
  • Lifetime Warranty
Speed Racer V2.0
  • Internal Dimensions:  11.8” W x 10” H x 7” D (29.8 x 25.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • External Dimensions:  12.5” W x 10.5” H x 10” D (31.8 x 26.7 x 25.4 cm)
  • Weight:  2.3–3.1 lbs (1.0–1.4 kg)
  • Lifetime Warranty

Quality/Usability : Looking for a small bag that would hold a gripped camera with a flash and 1-2 lenses can be hard sometimes. The small bags I usually find are for standard cameras. I have been eyeing a waist bag since it would free up my shoulder and any extra weight since I use a BlackRapid RS-Sport 2. I was looking into the LowePro Inverse 200 and Kata DW-495, both are waist belt packs which is great for a walk around bag and they seemed to carry my gripped Nikon D7000, flash and lens but there were some design elements that I did not like. Considering with all the gear in the bag, I felt it would pull the bag down and probably my pants. Only thing keeping it from falling is my butt. So my search was back to square one.

I found the ThinkTank Speed Convertibles. The ThinkTank Speed Convertibles comes in three sizes, the smallest, Speed Demon V2.0, can carry a standard size DSLR with a standard zoom lens attached (hood reversed) and a wide angle zoom lens beside. The medium size, Speed Freak V2.0 also carries a standard or pro size DSLR with a zoom lens attached and is tall enough to accommodate a 70–200 f2.8 lens in the bag. The Speed Racer V2.0, the most spacious of the series, effortlessly fits in the main compartment a pro size DSLR with a standard zoom lens attached and a 70–200 f2.8.

Of the three sizes, Speed Freak seemed to fit my requirements. What made me interested in the belt pack was not only the style and look (it's a 2-in-1; shoulder bag and belt pack) but the shoulder strap helps distribute the weight and to help hold it up if used as a belt pack. How well it would work? Only way to find out would be to try it out.

In the front are two zippered pockets. The smaller zippered pocket can store batteries or small objects. The bigger zippered pocket can hold pens, memory cards, batteries, business cards and there's even a pocket to hold ThinkTank's rain cover. There is a small thick handle above the zippered pockets. This allows you to grab and lift the bag. On each side of the Speed Convertibles, are two draw string pouches. You can hold a flash or lens for easy access or a water bottle. The back also has a small slightly padded pocket to hold papers or a magazine with a small piece of velcro to keep it closed. It looks big enough to hold an iPad but it would be a very tight fit especially with a gripped camera inside the main compartment. I wouldn't suggest putting an iPad here since this is where it would lean against your body.

Each Speed Convertible bag features a “disappearing” belt that tucks away into the sides of the bag, significantly reducing bulkiness. Within seconds, the shoulder bags seamlessly convert into belt packs once the integrated belts are deployed. The older version of the Speed Convertibles had the belts tuck under the back pocket. This made the back bulkier. On the older version, the belt was also thicker but with the new design, the belts are thinner for less bulk. This allowed the belt to be tucked into the sides. Built-in modular rails are also on the belt with allow you to attach ThinkTank’s Modular, Skin or Multimedia components. This is a great feature if you already own any of these components and gives that added quickness to accessing your gear.

The top of the Speed Freak bag features a flip-top lid that folds away from the body for rapid and convenient access to gear. Fold it all the way back and the lid stays. It doesn't fold back which is great. The top lid has a zipper that allows you to access the inside of the camera bag. I wouldn't be able to pull my gripped camera out through this middle zipper but great if you were changing lenses. The underside of the lid is another zippered pocket in a clear plastic pouch. You can place more memory cards for easier access. When I first saw the bag, I thought the middle zipper on the top lid would open the clear pouch as well but these are two different zippers.

Review: ThinkTank Speed Freak V2.0 Waist Shoulder Belt Bag Review: ThinkTank Speed Freak V2.0 Waist Shoulder Belt Bag

Inside the main compartment contains 8 configurable dividers. You can adjust these dividers to your likings. There is also a fairly deep pocket on the front side that allows you to hold important documents such as passport, invoices/contracts or any unused dividers. Velcro lines the bottom half of the compartment on the back side and velcro on the entire front pocket. There is no velcro on the sides. So if you wanted to place a divider in between your lenses that are on the side compartments, you can't. In the images below, you'll see how I had my gripped Nikon D7000 with RS-Sport 2 placed and how the inside looks like when the camera is removed. You'll also see that I have no dividers between my flash and lens in the left compartment.

Review: ThinkTank Speed Freak V2.0 Waist Shoulder Belt Bag Review: ThinkTank Speed Freak V2.0 Waist Shoulder Belt Bag
Top: Nikon D7000 with DK-17M mod, MB-D11 grip, RS-Sport 2 and Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 EX DG HSM
Inside (left): SB-600 flash and Nikon 50mm F/1.8G
Inside (right): Camera battery charger, Sanyoo Eneloop battery charger, Pelican 1500D Silica Gel Case and Giotto's Rocket Air Blower

A fully padded shoulder strap with embedded non-slip material is included, which also supports the bag while in belt pack mode. The metal clips on the strap connect to nylon loops on each side of the bag. I noticed that when the strap is clipped to these loops, the bag stays level but it causes the strap to get in the way when you're trying to open the bag. However, there are two nylon loops on the belt. They are not as thick as the ones on the side but it makes opening the front lid easier. Is it strong enough to carry the weight? It seems to be but I'm not sure if this was intended to be used as a loop for the strap. Of course, once you tuck the belt in, so does the loop. The padded strap is fairly long and contours comfortably over the shoulder. Using and wearing the padded shoulder strap is a must when using the Speed Convertibles. Without the shoulder strap, the weight of your gear would drag the bag down and cause your bag to bounce around every time you took a step.

Conclusion : Overall, the ThinkTank Speed Freak V2.0 Waist Shoulder Belt Bag is the bag I've been looking for. Not only does it fit all my gear but it even holds my gripped camera which is my main priority but at the same time, keeping it at a reasonable size. It was even able to hold my BlackRapid strap in the bag. Keeping the bag close to me, I was able to move around freely without the fear of my bag swinging around or getting in the way.

I was trying to avoid having to use a shoulder strap with a belt pack but after realizing how much my gear weighed in the bag and having it hang from my waist, I quickly realized that the strap was necessary. Having used the belt pack with the shoulder pad, it significantly made a difference. When using my gripped Nikon D7000, I have my BlackRapid strap on my left shoulder and camera by my right hip, so the Speed Freak would have to be on my right shoulder. Despite the shoulder pad being thin in width compared to other shoulder straps, the strap is very thick measuring at ½" thick! I wish all shoulder straps were this comfortable.

I think I made the right decision with the Speed Freak because this is a great walk-around bag even though its 2-3x the price of the other bags.




Manufacturer: ThinkTank Photo
Site: Buy from ThinkTank
/ Buy from Amazon / Buy from B&H Photo / Buy from Adorama
Price: $159.75

Other ThinkTank Speed Convertible Bags:
ThinkTank Speed Demon: Buy from ThinkTank / Buy from Amazon / Buy from B&H Photo / Buy from Adorama
ThinkTank Speed Racer: Buy from ThinkTank / Buy from Amazon
/ Buy from B&H Photo / Buy from Adorama
Price: $139.50 (Speed Demon V2.0) / $179.75 (Speed Racer V2.0)



*Purchase through our link below or enter our special code AP-588 and receive a FREE gift with your order of $50 or more!
Shoulder Bag to Belt Pack - The Speed Convertibles
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