If you’re looking for a bigger rolling bag for your photography equipment, Think Tank’s Airport lineup would be worth a close look.
The Airport International V3.0, in particular, is something to consider as it carries a lot of gear while still falling within allowable limits for carry-on luggage… depending on your airline, of course.
For those unfamiliar, Think Tank isn’t just some company that happens to make camera bags. They’re very highly regarded and their products are often considered as gold standards.
They’ve been around since 2005 and have made it a point to produce gear that’s worth the money you spend on them.
Here’s a closer look at their flagship rolling camera bag, the Think Tank Airport International V3.0.
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Think Tank Airport International V3 | Specifications
- Weight: 11.5 lbs. (5.2 kg)
- External Dimensions: 14” W x 21” H x 8” D (35.6 x 53.3 x 20.3 cm)
- Internal Dimensions: 13” W x 18.5” H x 6.5–7.5” D (33 x 47 x 16.5–19.1 cm)
- Laptop Compartment Dimensions: 10.6” W x 15” H x 1.2” D (27 x 38 x 3 cm)
- Tablet Compartment Dimensions: 9.4” W x 10” H x 0.5” D (24 x 25.5 x 1.3 cm)
Build & Appearance
At first glance, the Think Tank Airport International V3 looks like any other roller bag and doesn’t really draw any attention.
This isn’t to say though, that the bag is unattractive. Far from it. It’s just nice that it can hide in plain sight and won’t let on to the fact that it’s carrying thousands of dollars worth of gear.
Anyone looking closely at the Airport International will see that it’s very well-built. Its ballistic nylon exterior, armored bottom and high-quality zippers lend the bag a very substantial feel and gives you confidence in its ability to keep your gear safe.
The bag was made with longevity in mind. The tall wheel guards and the skid plate at the bottom for instance, do a great job of protecting the exterior of the bag from the inevitable scuffs and scrapes, while the shell itself is very tough and should be able to stand up to quite a bit of use.
The outside of the Think Tank Airport International V3 is purposely unremarkable to help it keep a low profile. However, it does have a lot of features built into it. Pockets, handles, skid plates and bumpers have all been incorporated into the bag to make it as rugged as it is useful.
The telescopic handle that’s used for pulling the bag around extends without much fuss and fits neatly into a notch on the back of the bag when not in use.
This ensures that it will stay out of the way and won’t snag on anything when you place it into storage spaces.
Padded carry handles can be found on the top and the side. These come in pretty handy as they let you grab on to the bag quite easily.
Plus, they’re less harsh on the hands and make carrying the bag much more comfortable.
There are also thinner grab straps placed all around that make the Airport International V3 easy to maneuver the bag into tight spots and even easier to pull out.
There’s a zippered pocket in front of the bag that looks like a small pouch but is really quite large. This section serves as storage for a laptop that’s up to 15″, a tablet as well as for a few odds and ends.
The zippers that control access to this part of the bag can be secured for added peace of mind and there’s also a stretch pocket on top of the laptop compartment that can be used for storing things like a jacket, magazines or even paperwork.
The Think Tank Airport International V3 is fitted with 80mm wheels and very high quality ABEC grade 5 bearings.
These make for smooth, noiseless performance and they should also last for quite a while as they’re very durable.
Keeping the bottom of the bag safe are extra tall wheel guards, a scuff plate and a pair of raised feet.
These components work together to keep the Airport International V3 balanced when you stand it up and prevent damage when you run the bag over rough patches or pull it up over a curb or a flight of stairs.
Keep in mind though, that these parts are sacrificial as they will take the damage that the bag might otherwise incur.
That said, these parts, along with the wheels, are readily available so you can always replace them when they start to look too worn.
One side of the bag features a TSA lock that secures the zippers of the main compartment while still allowing for official inspections.
Locks aren’t always found on camera bags, let alone rolling camera bags, so to have one with TSA access is a huge bonus.
On the other side of the bag, there’s a pocket that fits anything from smaller travel tripods to larger models.
For the larger tripods however, you’re going to need to fit an extra accessory belt, which is included in the Airport International’s package.
As far as keeping things dry, the bag is water repellent but it certainly isn’t waterproof. This is good to keep in mind if you’re traveling in wet conditions.
For such places, it would be best to make use of the included seam-sealed rain cover just to add a significant amount of protection against wet weather.
Finally, there’s a pocket on top of the bag that houses a steel security cable and a padlock. This feature is very useful if you have to step away from the bag for a while.
Of course, you should make it a point not to be gone for too long because the lock can easily be defeated by someone determined with a wire-cutter…
The Think Tank Airport International V3 can fit a lot of gear safely so you don’t have to worry about lenses and bodies smashing into each other while you’re in transit.
The inside of the bag is made with a variety of materials including polyurethane, 210D nylon, closed cell foam and velex.
Together, these components give the bag the impact resistance needed to be able to safely store gear without scratching anything up.
There are also a lot of removable dividers that can be configured to keep your equipment under control.
By removing a cutout in the camera compartment, you can store your camera with a lens connected.
This is important if you have to be able to shoot right away or if the lens is too long to be stored vertically.
One thing to note: try not to do this if you don’t have to because your lens mount may be compromised by a strong enough impact.
The main flap features three large, clear pockets that are perfect for small items and accessories.
Being transparent, these pockets will save the user some time and eliminate the need to rummage around to find something.
Another nice touch not seen on many other rolling camera bags are the zippers themselves, which can be tucked away into small fabric ‘pockets’, meaning that there’s no metal element to scratch your gear.
The retractable handle assembly occupies the top half of the bag so the bottom half has more depth.
This means, longer lenses should be placed at the bottom of the bag while shorter ones as well as accessories can be placed in the center section.
Camera bodies can then be placed on top in spaces that are specifically designed to fit them.
The Think Tank Airport International V3 is designed to comply with most airline rules that pertain to carry-on luggage. That said, it’s also larger than the average camera bag so it can carry a lot of gear.
Depending on how you configure it, the bag can easily fit five or six lenses along with two full-frame, gripped DSLRs.
Also, if you happen to have a bigger lens such as a 500mm telephoto, you’ll be able to fit it inside the bag safely but you’ll have to take some time positioning the dividers correctly.
After you’ve put in all your bodies and lenses, this bag will still have more than enough space to fit everything else you will need – Laptops, tablets, flashguns, triggers, extra batteries, chargers, cables, personal items and even a heavy duty tripod can be brought along.
It’s just a matter of finding the best possible spots for everything, which can take some time to configure. It’s a lot of fun, though!
Ease of Use/Comfort
The Think Tank Airport International V3 is a great bag to have around for long trips, long shoots or both.
It’s sturdy, fits a lot of gear and everything is easily accessible.
User fatigue is also well-controlled because the bag is nicely balanced and rolls around efficiently thanks to the high quality wheels and bearings.
Thoughtfully designed features like padded handles and grab straps make the bag easy to manage so you shouldn’t have any problems trying to get it properly stowed or retrieving it from storage.
Overall, the Think Tank Airport International V3 is a wonderful asset that will make traveling easier for any photographer.
However, it should be understood that this is primarily a travel bag and cannot fill the role of smaller messenger-style bags that are meant to keep a shooter’s equipment close at hand.
Value for Money
At around $400, the Think Tank Airport International V3 is very fairly priced considering what it can do and how well it’s made – this is clearly a product that’s been designed to handle a lot of abuse.
Even though the goal is to always travel with your camera gear as carry-on luggarge, the Airport International V3 is robust enough to be checked in, and handle the abuse of even the worst baggage handlers… all while keeping your gear safe and sound.
And, the fact that it comes from a highly respected camera bag company should be enough for you not to second guess its quality.
Think Tank Airport International V3 Review | Conclusion
The Think Tank Airport International V3 is a great bag to have if you need to bring a lot of gear.
It’s well-engineered, thoughtfully designed and roomy enough so that you don’t have to choose what to take with you and what leave behind.
One other thing I especially like is how Think Tank gives you the option to extend the service life of the bag. By making replacement parts available, users are able to put off buying another bag and can use their savings for other things.
Personally, I think that this bag is well worth the investment if you’re a traveling photographer. It’s a high quality product that should be kept and used for as long as possible.
Don Machuca is a writer and professional photographer/videographer from Manila, Philippines who specializes in landscapes, events and product photography.