Think Tank Signature shoulder bag review: Think Tank’s stylish shoulder bag is comfortable, versatile
posted Friday, March 10, 2017 at 7:00 AM EDT
Aesthetics and Design
While the Think Tank Signature 13 proved to be a very user-friendly bag (more on that later), its main draw for me was its look. Its modern wool-like fabric looks phenomenal and its full-grain leather bottom and detailing proved to add some class and timelessness to its overall look. Add in the aged-looking antique finished metal hardware throughout the bag, and the final result is a very modern, yet classic, shoulder bag that looks great as a camera bag or as a general purpose shoulder carrying solution.
To be more specific, the primary materials used include 240D wool-like 195G nylon/poly blend with a durable water-repellant (DWR) coating and full-grain leather with polyurethane coating. The interior utilizes rugged Velcro-compatible materials so that you can customize the interior space with included padded separators. Additionally, the material used for the shoulder strap is time-tested nylon seatbelt webbing with a neoprene padded area.
As a shoulder bag, you won’t be able to fit as much gear into the Signature 13 as you would be able to fit in a backpack from Think Tank’s line, such as the excellent Streetwalker Hard Drive Pro, but you can carry a good amount of gear.
The interior dimensions of the Signature 13 are: 13.3 (width) x 9.1 (height) x 5.1 (depth) inches (34 x 23 x 13 centimeters) and it weighs 3.1 pounds (1.4 kilograms) when empty. I haven’t had hands-on time with the smaller Signature 10, which has the following dimensions: 11.8 x 7.8 x 5.1 inches (30 x 20 x 13 centimeters) with an empty weight of 2.8 pounds (1.3 kilograms). The main difference between the two bags, besides the obvious internal compartment space, is that the ‘13’ can hold a 13-inch laptop whereas the ‘10’ is designed to hold a smaller tablet.
The main compartment fits a standard-size DSLR with mid-range zoom attached plus 2-3 additional lenses. I used it to carry a Nikon D5600 with the 18-55mm kit lens attached with a trio of 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8 and 20mm f/1.8 lenses as well and this was pushing its capacity. I also used it with a Nikon D800E with grip attached and a pair of lenses (24-70mm and 14-24mm) and that combination filled the bag. This would be an excellent bag for carrying a camera and a 2-3 lenses. Inside the main compartment of the bag, there are two pockets. One larger pocket is designed to hold up to a 13-inch laptop (or a 10-inch tablet in the Signature 10 size) and has padding on both sides. Behind this pocket, there’s another pocket that is slightly smaller and also doesn’t have any interior dividers. I used this pocket to hold filters and it worked very well.
On the front of the bag, there is a pocket which snaps shut. This pocket itself includes a second pocket which zippers shut. The interior pocket has numerous flaps and small compartments for various items such as extra batteries, memory cards, etc.
What I like about the bag is that it is somewhat expandable. It won’t change size like the Think Tank Shape Shifter series, but it does have flexibility in how much you can carry with its adjustable straps. The interior is very customizable with its movable padded Velcro dividers and the additional storage space is well-organized and useful. You won’t be able to fit a huge amount of gear in the Think Tank Signature series, but it is up to the task of holding almost any size camera (including a full-size DSLR with grip) and a few wide and normal focal length lenses, plus necessary accessories.
I have used the Signature 13 for full days and carried a lot of gear in it and I must say, it’s very comfortable for extended use. The neoprene padding on the strap works well, but when the bag is heavy, there’s a fair bit of pressure being placed on the shoulder.
When using the Signature 13 as either a messenger bag or shoulder bag, the two clips to open the main compartment are easy to open and the bag is friendly to one-handed operation. One of the few issues I have with the bag is that the leather buckles to adjust the length of the flap over the main compartment are not quick and easy to adjust. I had to expand the straps a couple of times as I carried more gear, but once you find the right size, you shouldn’t need to adjust them again.
An excellent feature of the bag are its rotating metal connectors. Where the straps are anchored to the bag, the connectors rotate, meaning that the straps don’t get twisted. While the leather straps for adjusting the length of the main flap could be argued to be an instance of form over function – and they do look good – the rotating metal connectors show that Think Tank put a lot of thought into the design of the Signature series.
In my opinion, a great photography bag should be one that wouldn’t look out of place as a standard carrying solution. I’m not a big fan of photo bags that look like photo bags. Not only do they typically not look great, they also draw attention to you as a photographer. The Signature 13 is absolutely not one of those bags as it looks phenomenal.
Looks are only one part of the equation, and arguably for some a rather small part. Fortunately, the Signature bag is also great to use. It is constructed using durable, rugged materials and a lot of consideration has clearly been put into its design and features. The bag is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time; its straps, buckles and zippers all work well. The Signature bag has form and function in spades and is one of the best bags I’ve used.
If you need to carry a camera with a few lenses and also want a bag that looks good doing so, then the Think Tank Signature series is right up your alley. As mentioned, it is available in two sizes, the Signature 10 and the Signature 13. You can purchase it in slate gray (the color I reviewed as seen above) and olive. To help support our site, purchase your Think Tank Signature shoulder bag from the links below.
• Think Tank Photo Signature 10 - $250 • Slate Gray • Olive •
• Think Tank Photo Signature 13 - $280 • Slate Gray • Olive •