A Review of the Think Tank City Walker 30 - Digital Photography School

A Review of the Think Tank City Walker 30

All in all, this was a pretty good summer– except, of course, for the trip that didn’t happen.  I was supposed to hit the road with some friends last month, but events beyond our control pulled the rug out from under us at the last minute.  My bags were packed.  I was ready to go.  The taxi was waiting outside my door.  OK– not really, but my Think Tank City Walker 30 really was packed and I am all out of cheesy musical metaphors.  I took a few shots of this pretty amazing bag before I unpacked it and thought I’d share a few impressions.  I see so many articles about packing gear for travel and it’s always some big rolling case that fits an entire studio’s worth of equipment and a sherpa to roll it.  But what about a simple bag full of basics?

This is my eighth Think Tank bag (Hey– don’t judge me…I can quit any time I want!) and I’m pretty sure it’s quickly becoming my favorite.  I generally don’t write “fresh-out-of-the-box” reviews.  I prefer to put a product through its paces for a while before formulating an opinion or recommendation.  But since the 30 is a larger version of the City Walker 20 that I’ve been using for about ten months, I think we’re in the clear.  Certain things jump out at you when you pick up any Think Tank bag, and the City Walker messenger-style bags are no exception.  Superior construction is at the top of the list.  Even a light-weight bag like the City Walker is obviously built to last.  Everything from the zippers to the straps are designed with efficiency, durability, and comfort in mind.

CityWalker30-001

The Think Tank City Walker 30

So, what’s the big deal about yet another shoulder bag?  Besides its soft-sided, light-weight design, the entire City Walker line boasts the one thing I love most about Think Tank bags– it doesn’t scream, “Hey, I’m a camera bag!  Come steal me and my $8,463.75 worth of gear!”  Conceived with the needs of the urban street photographer or photojournalist in mind, the CW is also perfect for any photographer looking for a way to travel light– regardless of whether it’s on assignment, vacation, or a day out with the family.  As with all things Think Tank, there is an abundant supply of pockets, compartments, and dividers, and the dedicated interior laptop/iPad pocket is a huge welcome addition.  But perhaps the coolest feature of this camera bag is that it doesn’t have to be a camera bag at all.  The entire padded gear section can be removed, converting from camera bag to messenger bag or overnight bag (and back again) quickly and easily.

CityWalker30-006

The padded gear section is held in with Velcro and is easily removable.

Fresh out of the box, the City Walker doesn’t look like it’s going to hold all that much, but it really does.  Here’s a quick look at the gear I had packed for the trip, with plenty of room to spare.

CityWalker30-003

Packed and ready to go.

1.    Laptop

2.    Memory cards (Think Tank Custom Pixel Pocket Rocket)

3.    SB800 Speedlight in an internal side pocket

4.    16-35mm lens

5.    Nikon D90 with 24-70m lens attached

6.    70-200mm lens

7.    Two Think Tank DSLR battery holders

8.    CapturePRO Camera Clip from Peak Design

9.    Included Think Tank rain cover in an internal side pocket

10.    NOT pictured, but stashed in the pockets:  Business cards, notebook,, pens, lens cloth, AA’s, miscellaneous cords, chargers, and Peanut m&m’s.

The fact that you can completely remove the gear section adds some great diversity.  It actually wasn’t until my trip got cancelled that I realized I can completely pack for a long weekend with nothing more than my two City Walkers– some basic gear in the 20 and clothes in the 30 (or the other way around).  This photo shows almost a week’s worth of clothes and other essentials in the 30 with plenty of room to spare.

CityWalker30-007

Whereas I use different bag and configurations for different jobs and assignments, the City Walker 30 could easily be that one go-to bag for some professionals, as well as serious hobbyists and amateurs looking for a reliable, durable, comfortable bag with quick access to all of the gear.

As a travel bag it would be tough to be beat.  I’ll let you know next summer.

Summary
Reviewer
Jeff Guyer
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Think Tank City Walker 30
Author Rating
5

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Jeff Guyer is a commercial/portrait photographer based in Atlanta, GA. Still an avid street photographer and film shooter, Jeff also launched a kids photography class ("Digital Photo Challenges") three years ago. You can check out more of his work at Guyer Photography, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Camera Dan

    I think i must be the only photographer who uses a battery grip on his camera- i’ve seen dozens upon dozens of reviews and have never once seen a gripped camera used in a bag review. :)

    As much as i love Think Tank’s heavy-duty bags, i wish they made one that could hold just a camera and an extra lens, i.e a low profile bag. These bags are always so large!

  • http://www.727photography.com Frank

    I hear ya, camera dan! I too shoot with a battery grip and have never seen one either.

    However, I own a small and large bag (Lowepro 202 and currently in a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar) and both have their challenges for my gear. I shoot with a 60D, with battery grip, and carry the usual, for me, 17-40mm f4L, 50mm f1.8, and 70-200mm f4L. The lowepro was way too small and the Crumpler 7 is ideal, but kind of bulky due to the incredible material it’s made out of. Don’t get me wrong, it’s downright durable and has taken a decent beating and don’t plan to give it up.

    On the other side, i’m a mobile shooter and always on the go, so now I need a bag that can accommodate a Macbook, and this may be the bag I’ve been looking for. Seems to be a little more lightweight than the Crumpler line, but what got me was the removable insert.

    Thanks for the review guys, it really helped me out!

  • http://list25.com/ Juan Castillo

    Nice, Ill definitely keep this in mind next time i’m in the market for a camera bag (which actually should be about now since my current bag is kinda of small for my needs)

  • Derek

    Great review, and I agree about the flexibility of this design.

    For me, having been a cyclist for years before doing much beyond a PaS camera, I use the Timbuk2 insert and one of their medium messenger bags. With a TPU lining, it’s waterproof unless I dunk it. To wit: I was up on Lake Superior going out to Isle Royale last summer. Ended up on the bow of the ferry, and with 4 foot seas, I got so wet the dye of my wallet stained the cash inside. However, the Timbuk2 solution kept my camera, which was on my lap, bone dry.

  • FrankK

    I have the City Walker 30 and just took it on a road trip with my Gripped D600 and several lenses and a laptop in the bag. It carried that and more comfortably minus the weight factor but I could have the grip and lens all mounted no problem. The Thinktank retrospective 10 also works fine with a grip on a body. One of the best things about the City Walker 30 is its light weight. Of course I think the City Walker was my 10th Thinktank bag.But like Jeff I think I can quit anytime..maybe.

  • http://www.paulinehillphotography.com.au Pauline

    I probably shouldn’t be reading this review. I’m a bag hoarder, and just the look of this one has me drooling…

    I have three bags:

    The lowepro sling, which I love and was perfect when I went on holidays a few years back, however is starting to feel a bit small and awkward since I upgraded to a bigger camera.

    The lowepro flipside200, which I also love and is always on my back when I’m out doing sports photography. It’s super comfortable and can easily fit my camera with 70-200 attached and 70-400 on the side and my monopod clipped on at the back. It just doesn’t have room for extra things like a rain jacket & snacks.

    The kata 3-n1-33 is my other bag and honestly my biggest disappointment. It’s an awesome bag, but it’s just too big for me. Being pretty small framed, I find it just doesn’t sit well on my shoulders and always feels heavy on my back. I got it as an ‘upgrade’ to the flipside, but I’ve only used it once :(

  • http://benheysphotography.com/ Ben Heys

    Looks like a neat little bag however not quite big enough to get me around, even on light day to day stuff. Perfect for those with a small kit though.

  • Mary

    2 weeks?
    Guys don’t ever pack as much as girls do!
    Where the rest of your stuff? Shoes, jackets, cap, makeup bag? Hair stuff?
    Sigh…. :O)

    Nice review tho, I love think Tank stuff…..

    Mary

  • William

    I’m going to a lighter kit and I think that while this bag fits many niches it is a bit big for what I want for a travel bag. It seems to have some very nice features and while it doesn’t scream camera bag the Think Tank Logo pretty much does.
    I’m using a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar bag and I can get my whole kit in it except for the computer but I don’t carry that around with me when I’m traveling so no big deal. I removed the Crumpler logo from the bag after I got it. My last ‘big’ trip I took a backpack filled with camera gear, body with battery grip, flash, computer, cables and four lenses. I had the Crumpler bag in my suitcase with the linings removed. I could fit everything into the Crumpler bag as I walked around. I’ve been experimenting with lightening my load. I’ve decided on a Sony NEX 5R with an EVF and a Canon 18-250 Tamron lens with adaptor. I have a 40D backup body that uses the 18-250 lens also a nifty fifty as well as the 18-55 Sony kit lens. I’m also carrying a GoPro Hero 2 and a Canon Elph 110 HS in a pouch on my belt. I think this gives me quite a range of opportunities while traveling. The GoPro is my time lapse and short video camera. Actually all the cameras except for the 40D have full HD capabilities so I can use any to do sound bites or full on videos if I choose. The Tamron lens is pretty good glass and I get some very good photos with it. The Sony has a built in pano feature that works well for some pano or wide angle shots. It also has a three shot 0,-1,+1 bracket feature good for HDR if I choose to use it for that. The 40D is there if I want to do some shots with f-stop control. The adaptor for the Canon lenses means I lose auto focus and f-stop control. I believe the default f-stop is f-3.5. I have the Canon Elph for the macro feature. This is my macro lens. I will typically use this in museums with glass cases. I put the lens against the glass to get rid of glare and use the macro function to get some pretty good shots. It is also possible to get really good shots of church interiors with this camera on a table top tripod. Turn the flash off, use the 2 second timer delay, ISO 100 and let the camera take the photo.

  • http://rishabhagarwal.com Rish

    I have this bag and I absolutely love it.

  • Sunita Kumari

Some older comments

  • Rish

    September 21, 2013 01:24 am

    I have this bag and I absolutely love it.

  • William

    September 21, 2013 12:30 am

    I'm going to a lighter kit and I think that while this bag fits many niches it is a bit big for what I want for a travel bag. It seems to have some very nice features and while it doesn't scream camera bag the Think Tank Logo pretty much does.
    I'm using a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar bag and I can get my whole kit in it except for the computer but I don't carry that around with me when I'm traveling so no big deal. I removed the Crumpler logo from the bag after I got it. My last 'big' trip I took a backpack filled with camera gear, body with battery grip, flash, computer, cables and four lenses. I had the Crumpler bag in my suitcase with the linings removed. I could fit everything into the Crumpler bag as I walked around. I've been experimenting with lightening my load. I've decided on a Sony NEX 5R with an EVF and a Canon 18-250 Tamron lens with adaptor. I have a 40D backup body that uses the 18-250 lens also a nifty fifty as well as the 18-55 Sony kit lens. I'm also carrying a GoPro Hero 2 and a Canon Elph 110 HS in a pouch on my belt. I think this gives me quite a range of opportunities while traveling. The GoPro is my time lapse and short video camera. Actually all the cameras except for the 40D have full HD capabilities so I can use any to do sound bites or full on videos if I choose. The Tamron lens is pretty good glass and I get some very good photos with it. The Sony has a built in pano feature that works well for some pano or wide angle shots. It also has a three shot 0,-1,+1 bracket feature good for HDR if I choose to use it for that. The 40D is there if I want to do some shots with f-stop control. The adaptor for the Canon lenses means I lose auto focus and f-stop control. I believe the default f-stop is f-3.5. I have the Canon Elph for the macro feature. This is my macro lens. I will typically use this in museums with glass cases. I put the lens against the glass to get rid of glare and use the macro function to get some pretty good shots. It is also possible to get really good shots of church interiors with this camera on a table top tripod. Turn the flash off, use the 2 second timer delay, ISO 100 and let the camera take the photo.

  • Mary

    September 20, 2013 02:45 am

    2 weeks?
    Guys don't ever pack as much as girls do!
    Where the rest of your stuff? Shoes, jackets, cap, makeup bag? Hair stuff?
    Sigh.... :O)

    Nice review tho, I love think Tank stuff.....

    Mary

  • Ben Heys

    September 13, 2013 08:23 pm

    Looks like a neat little bag however not quite big enough to get me around, even on light day to day stuff. Perfect for those with a small kit though.

  • Pauline

    September 13, 2013 09:54 am

    I probably shouldn't be reading this review. I'm a bag hoarder, and just the look of this one has me drooling...

    I have three bags:

    The lowepro sling, which I love and was perfect when I went on holidays a few years back, however is starting to feel a bit small and awkward since I upgraded to a bigger camera.

    The lowepro flipside200, which I also love and is always on my back when I'm out doing sports photography. It's super comfortable and can easily fit my camera with 70-200 attached and 70-400 on the side and my monopod clipped on at the back. It just doesn't have room for extra things like a rain jacket & snacks.

    The kata 3-n1-33 is my other bag and honestly my biggest disappointment. It's an awesome bag, but it's just too big for me. Being pretty small framed, I find it just doesn't sit well on my shoulders and always feels heavy on my back. I got it as an 'upgrade' to the flipside, but I've only used it once :(

  • FrankK

    September 13, 2013 01:50 am

    I have the City Walker 30 and just took it on a road trip with my Gripped D600 and several lenses and a laptop in the bag. It carried that and more comfortably minus the weight factor but I could have the grip and lens all mounted no problem. The Thinktank retrospective 10 also works fine with a grip on a body. One of the best things about the City Walker 30 is its light weight. Of course I think the City Walker was my 10th Thinktank bag.But like Jeff I think I can quit anytime..maybe.

  • Derek

    September 13, 2013 01:15 am

    Great review, and I agree about the flexibility of this design.

    For me, having been a cyclist for years before doing much beyond a PaS camera, I use the Timbuk2 insert and one of their medium messenger bags. With a TPU lining, it's waterproof unless I dunk it. To wit: I was up on Lake Superior going out to Isle Royale last summer. Ended up on the bow of the ferry, and with 4 foot seas, I got so wet the dye of my wallet stained the cash inside. However, the Timbuk2 solution kept my camera, which was on my lap, bone dry.

  • Juan Castillo

    September 10, 2013 10:11 pm

    Nice, Ill definitely keep this in mind next time i'm in the market for a camera bag (which actually should be about now since my current bag is kinda of small for my needs)

  • Frank

    September 7, 2013 04:52 am

    I hear ya, camera dan! I too shoot with a battery grip and have never seen one either.

    However, I own a small and large bag (Lowepro 202 and currently in a Crumpler 7 Million Dollar) and both have their challenges for my gear. I shoot with a 60D, with battery grip, and carry the usual, for me, 17-40mm f4L, 50mm f1.8, and 70-200mm f4L. The lowepro was way too small and the Crumpler 7 is ideal, but kind of bulky due to the incredible material it's made out of. Don't get me wrong, it's downright durable and has taken a decent beating and don't plan to give it up.

    On the other side, i'm a mobile shooter and always on the go, so now I need a bag that can accommodate a Macbook, and this may be the bag I've been looking for. Seems to be a little more lightweight than the Crumpler line, but what got me was the removable insert.

    Thanks for the review guys, it really helped me out!

  • Camera Dan

    September 7, 2013 02:00 am

    I think i must be the only photographer who uses a battery grip on his camera- i've seen dozens upon dozens of reviews and have never once seen a gripped camera used in a bag review. :)

    As much as i love Think Tank's heavy-duty bags, i wish they made one that could hold just a camera and an extra lens, i.e a low profile bag. These bags are always so large!

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