Think Tank Photo Urban Approach backpack review

The best photo backpack I have ever had!

Think Tank Photo makes incredible bags for photographers. I have used so many different bags over the years that I have literally lost count of them. I use them for a while, and then they either end up in a pile in my office closet where they are ignored and forgotten, or I sell them (assuming they are in fair enough shape), or give them away (nothing has been tossed in the trash yet). But I am keeping this one forever!

I own 2 Think Tank Photo bags right now, and had a 3rd one that I resold after a couple of years of use, for much the same price as what I bought it for. Yes, it was in great shape, and these things are built like a tank (though not nearly as heavy!). The only reason I sold that 3rd one is that I bought it years ago when I had a big, bulky Nikon DSLR and that bag, the StreetWalker Hard Drive, was just too big for my needs once I converted to mirrorless. It was like a single guy owning a 4000 square foot home. Just too much real estate.

So I went looking for a similar bag that would give me similar storage options, just in a smaller size. I found it in the Urban Approach 15 from Think Tank Photo. I also own their TurnStyle 20 sling bag - which is awesome too - but won’t be talking about that one here.

I bought the Urban Approach because I wanted something a little smaller than my previous backpack in terms of getting it under an airplane seat (I am a frequent traveler), but roomy enough inside for copious amounts of gear. After considerable research, I decided on the Urban Approach and I am very glad that I did!

Here is a list of everything I packed into it on my most recent lengthy (~4 weeks), overseas trip:

THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF PEOPLE!

Additionally, I can easily attach my MeFOTO travel tripod when I head out shooting. The collapsed feet tuck into an external side pocket, and there is a small strap which buckles to the bag and wraps around the tripod. It works great. There is also another external pocket on the other side which can hold a water bottle.

Internally, there are two good sized pockets in which I can store small things that come into my possession along the way (trinkets or whatever). FYI these pockets are fairly flat, so they are not for bulky items. Lastly, there is also one more external pocket on the front of the bag, though it is pretty tight. I generally just drop coins in it - works perfect for that. I read online that some people were complaining about this pocket being too tight for their iPhone, but my iPhone is almost always on me so that’s not an issue for how I travel.

One other thing - in the compartment for the laptop, there is a secondary sleeve that will hold a 10” tablet such as my iPad Mini.

This bag is a dream come true for me. It holds everything I could possibly need (yes, it can get heavy when it’s full, but I don’t always take everything out each time) and still has plenty of space for growth. While I don’t consider myself a gear hog and don’t plan to acquire a lot of lenses, for example, I could still fit some stuff in the bag, especially if I am not carrying Game of Thrones around. That’s a 1000-pager folks! It’s pretty fat (but an enjoyable read).

Here are some other positives about this bag:

  • Build quality is exceptional
  • Adjustable internal compartments
  • Zipper durability
  • Padded back and shoulder straps
  • Overlapping zippers for lock attachment
  • Rain cover is included
  • Internal dividers are well padded
  • Slim profile for easy storage on an airplane or elsewhere

I can easily slide this bag under an airplane seat, even the aisle seats which often have a little slimmer space underneath for bags. Of course, it also fits in the overhead compartment, and on trains in Europe it’s easy to find a spot for it at your feet. It’s much less bulky than other bags I have used, but carries my mirrorless gear and other essentials without any issue.

I also like that the zippers meet at the top/front of the bag, so if I need quick access to something inside while I am on an airplane, I can just reach down and unzip it to get inside, because the lid just lifts up out of the way. Other backpacks often require me to pull them out a bit and stand them up to get at the internals, otherwise everything falls out. This is a little easier to me and a cleaner design. Plus, with all the little compartments (which you can adjust and resize) your gear does not move around at all. Everything stays in place, which is awesome!

Here are the physical specs on the bag, per the Think Tank Photo website:

  • Interior Dimensions:  9.4” W x 16.3” H x 3.9-5.3” D (24 x 41.5 x 10-13.5 cm) 
  • Exterior Dimensions:  11” W x 18.3” H x 7.1” D (28 x 46.5 x 18 cm) 
  • Laptop Compartment:  10.2” W x 15.7” H x 1.2” D (26 x 40 x 3 cm) 
  • Tablet Pocket:  7.9” W x 9.8” H x 0.6” D (20 x 25 x 1.5 cm) 
  • Weight:  3.0 lbs (1.3 kg) With all accessories

Thus far all the photos are ones that I borrowed from the Think Tank Photo website, but I also thought you might like to see me prove my claims above about its carrying capacity. So here are some shots showing it loaded up with all the gear above, taken with my iPhone (since my cameras are in the photos).

Empty bag, and inside look at the compartments

Here's everything I am about to stuff into the bag!

Full of gear!

I laid the book on top and it still zips shut.


Conclusion - closing thoughts on this bag

In short, it’s the perfect backpack for me when I travel, since it can hold copious amounts of gear and yet not feel bulky or oversized.

I absolutely adore this bag. I glowingly give it two thumbs up! It's not cheap but these are very well made products that are well worth it!

You can get it on Amazon right here if you are interested. Thanks and let me know if you have any questions!


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