Airline restrictions keep getting tighter and tighter. On top of that, our gear appears to be getting fatter and bulkier with every new lens release. (I’m looking at you, Sigma.)
ThinkTank Photo is a company that appears to be very aware of the ever-changing needs of traveling photographers.
The ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT is a rolling camera case that attempts to help traveling photographers get past the hassles we run into with our gear at the airport – especially on international flights.
I think they’ve succeeded here very well. Let me explain.
ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT Specs
- Interior Dimensions:
13.3” W x 18” H x 6.5–7.5” D (33.8 x 45.7 x 16.5–19.1 cm)
- Exterior Dimensions:
14” W x 21” H x 8” D (35.6 x 53.3 x 20.3 cm)
- Laptop Compartment:
13.8” x 17.3” x 2” (35 x 44 x 5 cm)
- Tablet Compartment:
10” x 10” x 1.6” (25.4 x 25.4 x 4 cm)
7–7.8 lbs. (3.18–3.59 kg)
Build & Appearance
I have about a million black t-shirts and I have black cameras, black lenses, black bags, and on it goes. So I was quite delighted that the ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT had the option of the very stylish graphite color in addition to standard black.
This rolling case looks good in either configuration, but the graphite makes it look less like an obvious camera case.
As an owner of the much larger Airport Security case, I already know how tough ThinkTank products can be. This one is no exception and could definitely handle rolling along some rough pavement on the way to a gig.
The handle on the Airport Advantage XT is built tough and has varying positions depending on your height.
Although it would probably be okay, I wouldn’t use the handle to carry the case. For normal use, however, it’s going to last for years.
The handle is extra tall if need be to keep away from your feet while rolling.
YKK has a reputation for making very dependable zippers that self lubricate and those are featured here on the ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT. I’ve never had them fail on my other ThinkTank Photo bags.
I mentioned earlier that ThinkTank Photo tends to always be looking to ease the pain of traveling photographers and my ThinkTank Vision 15 bag attached to the Airport Advantage XT’s retractable handle is another example.
The outer carrying handles (3 sides) are super tough and make for easy lifting of the case into an overhead bin.
The top portion of the bag features an accessory pouch that’s perfect for travel documents and the business card clear sleeve is a nice touch.
For you landscape photographers or those shooting real estate or architecture, the case comes with two tripod straps and the side pouch is very deep.
There’s a front exterior pocket that can hold up to a 17″ laptop and various other accessories. It also has room to expand a bit for bulkier items.
The wheels of the ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT are quiet and appear tough.
Tip: Keep an Allen Wrench in an outer pocket and remove the wheels if you really need to downsize the bag for a smaller aircraft bin.
I’ve always liked that ThinkTank Photo include an abundance of durable dividers in their rolling cases.
This allows for great customizability for arranging your gear and allows for opportunities for tucking away lens caps, memory card holders, flash gels and more.
There are two zippered pouches for all kinds of accessories beneath the lid of the case. I keep batteries, body caps and triggers for my strobes here.
I do wish this lid had handles to keep it from flopping over while I’m working the bag. Not only for convenience, but this would also allow me to leave the pouch unzipped for a bit and not worry about things rolling out.
I think where this rolling case gets its XT moniker from is the bit of oval design and play within the case that allows for a large assortment of gear.
I could fit a lot more into the ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT but for now I’ve configured it as my event case.
While designed for travel, this case also makes for a terrific event grab and work station. It can handle two gripped bodies with lenses attached with room for flashes and other lenses.
I’m primarily the lead shooter for my wedding photography business where I need a bigger bag for all of my exotic lenses as well as the workhorses.
However, the Airport Advantage XT will be my go-to for when I occasionally second shoot or am covering a business event, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, you can absolutely use this rolling case for all-day wedding work and of course it’s perfect for destination wedding photographers.
I outfitted the case with the following:
- Nikon D5
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 E
- Nikon 105mm f/1.4
- Panasonic Lumix S1
- Panasonic Lumix 24-70mm f/2.8 Pro
- Panasonic Lumix 50mm f/1.4 Pro
- Profoto A1 Flash (2)
- Profoto Soft Bounce for A1
- Pelican Memory Card Case
The accessory pouches contain:
- Profoto Air Remote O / P
- Profoto Air Remote N
- Various camera batteries and flash batteries
Ease of Use/Comfort
The main selling point of the ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT is how incredibly lightweight it is. At 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg) it’s going to help keep you under airline weight restrictions and also save your back.
At the same time, you can pack a ton of gear and not feel as though you compromised the shoot by leaving something important behind.
ThinkTank Photo have been at this for years now so they’ve really nailed ease of use and every new release is a refinement.
This is good and means they’re on the ball with changing times and the needs of working photographers.
Value for Money
The ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT hovers around US$250 and is good value for a lifetime bag built with top-of-the-line materials.
Camera gear is expensive to repair, so investing in a rolling case like this to keep it secure is smart to do.
One does not want to be checking gear when boarding a plane and this case is designed to prevent that from happening. Peace of mind is invaluable.
ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT Review | Conclusion
There isn’t much to dislike about the ThinkTank Airport Advantage XT. It’s built light but tough, and is designed for the traveling photographer and the weekend warrior.
It’s simply going to come down to the style of bag you want and whether you need to roll with something larger or even smaller.
This particular rolling case seems made for those of us who agonize over what to bring and can’t bear to leave that specialty lens on the shelf at home.
It really will maximize your gear while keeping you within airline guidelines for a hassle-free trip.
The event photographer will enjoy it as a working bag that doesn’t slow them down.
- Rugged build
- Holds more gear than expected
- Included rain cover
- Included tripod straps
- New stylish graphite color
- No included TSA combination lock or cable
- No way to keep lid upright when open
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