Think Tank Photo Streetwalker HardDrive Review

Over the past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of putting the Think Tank Photo Streetwalker HardDrive camera backpack to use.  It started with a few local outings and then I headed off to PMA 2009 in Las Vegas to give the Streetwalker HardDrive a run through a couple of security checkpoints, storage areas on a few jets and a bit of jostling about the streets of Las Vegas.  Want to know how it held up?  Read on to find out.

The Streetwalker HardDrive is what I would call a normal-sized backpack.  It is about the size on the outside of the LL Bean backpacks that you see college students carrying around (or at least that’s what I saw them wearing 10 or 12 years ago).  It’s probably a little bigger than that, but it doesn’t appear to be when you are looking at it on someone’s back.  I think that’s a good I thing.

I really dislike carrying camera bags around in crowded public areas that look like camera bags.  Call me paranoid, but I would rather not advertise the fact that I’m carrying around expensive camera equipment.  The Streetwalker HardDrive is very unassuming as a camera bag.  It really just looks like another backpack – again, a good thing.

Streetwalker HardDrive Features and Specs

The real reasons you want the Streetwalker HardDrive though are its durability, handling and capacity. Here’s a basic rundown of what the bag can hold and what it can do:

  • Holds most 15” laptops.
  • Holds Pro-size SLR and 70-200 2.8 attached with hood in position.
  • Carry monopods and tripods in the bottom front pocket.
  • Additional tripod cup for larger tripods.
  • Pro Speed Belt (sold separately) can be attached.
  • Contoured harness for men and women with air channel.
  • Removable seam-sealed rain cover.
  • Upper organizer pocket for pens, memory cards, passports, and more.
  • Two side pockets and two stretch pockets.
  • Removable webbing waistbelt detaches easily.
  • Shoulder harness pockets, D Rings, and sternum strap.
  • Features clear business card holder for quick identification.
  • Sold separately – Camera Support Straps.
  • YKK locking zipper sliders.

Packing the Streetwalker HardDrive Up

(I’ve put this image on Flickr with notes identifying all the gear.)

As noted above, I took the Streetwalker HardDrive with me to Las Vegas for PMA 2009 to give a it full test through a few airliners and a couple of security checks. I was actually quite surprised at how much camera gear I could pack into this bag. It measures 11.5″W x 18″ H x 8.5″ D on the outside. Here’s the list of gear I put in it:

  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L
  • Canon Rebel XSi
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
  • Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 DG EX HSM
  • Canon 420EX flash + diffuser
  • 3 Extension tubes
  • 15″ HP laptop computer
  • Canon A590 IS
  • 2 Canon battery chargers
  • Spare lens caps
  • ColorRight WB tool
  • Seagate FreeAgent Go 250GB hard drive
  • A dozen or so memory cards
  • Couple of memory card readers
  • Several misc cables
  • Rain cover for backpack
  • Pens
  • Note pad
  • 2 paperback books
  • Water bottle and Mountain Dew bottle in side pouches (purchased after security check)

I couldn’t believe all the stuff this bag held. Actually, I still had a little room to spare.

Moving through airport security was not a problem with the Streetwalker HardDrive.  The quick access laptop panel allows you to remove your laptop quickly at the security gate so you can place it in a bin at the x-ray station.  Additionally, its quick and easy to get your laptop back into the bag – quicker than any other bag I’ve ever used.

Air Travel Tips

If you aren’t used to flying with your camera gear or have ran into some snags before, Think Tank Photo has a great PDF that you can download for free, which features a ton of quality information from seasoned flying photographers.  They provide tips on how to get your gear on board and keep it safe while flying.  A couple of these include asking the flight attendant if you can store your gear in the front closet on regional sized jets; and wearing slip-on shoes when you fly in order to get through the security check faster and back to your gear on the other side.

Here’s the link to the page where you can get the PDF:

http://www.thinktankphoto.com/ttp_ArprtTrvl_Dscns.php

Streetwalker HardDrive Comfort

In addition to the capacity and convenience of the Streetwalker HardDrive, it’s also designed with comfort in mind.  The shoulder straps have plenty of padding so they don’t cut into your shoulders.  The padding for your back is nice as well.  It’s got an air channel and, while you’re still going to get sweat on a hot day, you can tell a real difference from a backpack without an air channel.

Conclusion

All in all, I give the Streetwalker HardDrive two big thumbs up.  It’s great for a travel bag or for a day trip bag.  Some folks may need more storage (Think Tank Photo has them covered too), but for most purposes the Streetwalker HardDrive is the perfect do-it-all backpack.

Think Tank Photo Special Deal and Free Bag

If you are interested in the Streetwalker HardDrive, Think Tank Photo has a special deal for Photography Bay readers.  Essentially, if you spend $50 or more on gear from Think Tank Photo and, during checkout, their system will automatically let you select a free camera bag (e.g., Lens Changer 50) along with your order.  Go to Think Tank Photo using this link and follow the on-screen instructions.

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Comments

  1. says

    This may sound dumb, but to me the name implied a built in card dumping device. Like the hyperdrive or ill-fated Coolwalker.

  2. says

    Thanks a lot for sharing the review and comments about this item.

    I didn’t know it, but since now I will take it seriously in mind for the next trip :)

    Best regards!

  3. says

    Thanks for the tip-It sounds like everything I’m looking for in a back pack and I didn’t know it existed.btw can you suggest one that also has wheels but is not too heavy?

  4. says

    Holly,

    I haven’t tried anything with wheels from Think Tank Photo, but I’m sure that many of their wheeled bags would work for you. Just look at their size and weight ratings in comparison to the Streetwalker HardDrive.

  5. says

    Thanks for the review.

    Looks like the top of the laptop compartment has a flexible piece that allows for taller cameras to fit (e.g. those with grips)? Can you clarify and/or photograph that area closer?

    Looking at the small image above, it looks like stuff can fall out of the photo partition when that flap is pushed “down.” (?)

    • says

      @Ron You’re right, there is a flexible area where you can adjust it for taller cameras. I suppose if you had very small stuff in that area it could make its way to the laptop compartment; however, there’s not really a way for anything to find its way out of the bag. I generally have a camera or lens in that part of the bag, so no worries on losing one of those. The zippered pouches should be used for anything small enough to work its way into the laptop compartment anyway. Hope this helps.