ThinkTank Photo CityWalker Review

ThinkTank Photo's CityWalker Bags

You might worry when a company like ThinkTank lists zipper specifications in descriptions of its CityWalker line of messenger bags.  After all, when was the last time you went shopping for YKK® RC Fuse (abrasion resistant) zippers?

At first glance you might think: “Wow, zippers!! Are zippers a bragging point?!”

You might think that, but after using the CityWalker (I have the  CityWalker 30) you realize ThinkTank brags about the zippers it uses because it cares about details.  But, before I get to the review, let me back up to why I’m even talking about this bag at all.

So why this bag?  
Teaching workshops presented me with an unexpected problem: I need to carry my 15″ Macbook Pro and a 5DMKII.  Sounds simple enough, right?  I started by carrying a small backpack and a walkaround camera bag.  This seemed like a good idea, but there I was with backpack straps on each shoulder, a camera bag strap  on one shoulder, and a BlackRapid strap on the other shoulder.  If that wasn’t ridiculous enough in itself, I needed to make sure I put the assorted bags/straps on in exactly the right order or I would find myself unable t o bring my camera up to my eye or move my camera bag around because I was entangled in assortment of straps.  The CityWalker solves this problem: one bag instead of two and a max of two straps at any time.

Which one is right for me?
A messenger bag may be what you need, but ThinkTank has 3 CityWalker models: the CityWalker 10, 20 and 30.  What’s the difference?  In a nutshell:

Citywalker 10 carries: Camera body with a 24-70 attached, a second small lens, flash, and a tablet
Citywalker 20 carries: Camera body with 24-70 attached, 70-200mm lens (detached) , flash and a tablet.
Citywalker 30 carries: Gripped full-frame camera body with 24-70 attached, 70-200mm, detached, flash and 15″ laptop

You should be getting the sense of small, medium and large at this point.  Keep in mind the above is a rule of thumb.  ThinkTank rates the CityWalker 10 for one 24-70 with one extra lens & flash, CityWalker 20 for 24-70 with 1-3 extra lenses & flash, and the CityWalker 30 for 24-70 with 2-4 extra lenses & flash.

Here’s what I managed to fit in my CityWalker 30:

List of Contents:
Canon 5DMKII – gripped
Canon 50D – gripped
Canon 24-105mm f/4L attached to camera with hood
Canon 17-40mm f/4L (hood attached)
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L (hood reversed)
Canon 430EXII flash
15″ Macbook Pro
BlackRapid Strap
Assorted other small accessories

Using the CityWalker 30
The strap is nice and wide with embedded no-slip pads and the shoulder pad slides allowing you to reposition the bag on your body.  Also, the bag stands up easily when it’s set down on the ground.  Keep in mind, there are no spacer nubs, so when you put the bag down it’s touching the ground.  This is not a big deal for me as I prefer not having nubs (I’ve always found them to unbalance bags), but this may be an issue for some.

Removable Padded Insert: The camera and lenses fit in an insert, but if you want a more streamlined bag, the insert can be removed.  Conversely, this also makes the CityWalker more versatile allowing it to hold a wind breaker or perhaps be used as an overnight bag.  As an aside, the insert is well-secured by velcro and is not easily jostled.

Sound SilencersThis is a nice detail; the front cover has a buckle and can also be velcroed shut by two flaps on either side of the buckle.  But, let’s say you want to keep a low sound profile when opening the bag.  For this ThinkTank provides covers that go over the velcro leaving you with only the buckle to keep the front cover shut.

Dedicated laptop compartment: your laptop doesn’t just get thrown into the bag, there’s a separate compartment with its own flap within the bag.  This protects the laptop from being scratched by your gear (and vice versa.)

Additional Details:
Rain cover: ThinkTank includes a seam-sealed rain cover should you get caught in an unexpected rainstorm.

Business card holder: I can’t tell you how many times folks ask me for business cards while I’m out shooting and it’s nice to have a dedicated pocket within easy reach.

Exterior Mesh Pockets: I like to keep a water bottle with me as I’m walking around and talking/teaching; it’s nice the pockets can hold a large bottle.

Colors: you have your choice of blue slate or black.

External Material: The exterior is a durable water resistant 3-ply bonded nylon thread.  For added water protection, the bottom of the bag is coated with polyurethane.  The details include: YKK® RC Fuse (abrasion resistant) zippers, 420D velocity nylon, 420D high-density nylon, 600D brushed polyester, 250D shadow rip-stop polyester, Derrington™ mesh pockets, antique nickel plated metal hardware, Dual Cross™ Buckle, 3D air mesh and mono mesh.

Internal Materials: PE board reinforced removable closed cell foam dividers, 210D silver-toned nylon, polyurethane backed velex liner, 2x polyurethane coated nylon 210T seam-sealed taffeta rain cover, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

Sound Silencers & Business Card Holder
CityWalker 30 with Front Flap Shut

CityWalker 10:
Outside Dimensions: 12.4” W x 9” H x 6.7” D  (31.5 x 23  x 17 cm)
Inside Dimensions : 10”W x 7.5” H x  5.3” D   (25.5 x 19 x 13.5cm)
Tablet: 10.3” W x 8”H x 0.8” D (26.2 x 20.3 x 2 cm)
Weight: 1.9-2.1 Lbs. (0.8-0.9 kg)

CityWalker 20:
Outside Dimensions: 13.8” W x 9.8” H x 6.7” D  (35 x 25  x 17 cm)
Inside Dimensions : 13” W x 8.7” H x  5.3” D   (33 x 22x 13.5cm)
Tablet: 10.3” W x 8”H x 0.8” D (26.2 x 20.3 x 2 cm)
Weight: 2.0-2.3 Lbs. (0.9-1.0 kg)

CityWalker 30:
Outside Dimensions: 16.3” W x 11.4” H x 8.3” D  (41.5x 29  x 21 cm)
Inside Dimensions: D : 13.4”W x 9.6” H x  6.7” D   (34 x 24.5 x 7 cm)
Laptop: 15” W x 11”H x 1.4” D (38 x 28 x 3.6 cm)
Weight: 2.7-3.0 Lbs. (1.2-1.4 kg)

Final thoughts:
I chose the CityWalker 30 because I needed a large capacity bag to carry my gear to and from workshops as well as allow me  to carry my laptop while walking around shooting.  But, do I like it?  The answer is yes:  It’s a well-crafted urban messenger and ThinkTank’s attention to detail can be seen through its design.  It is light, flexible, and built with durability in mind.  You may not need a bag as large as the CityWalker 30, but if you do, it’ll definitely do the job and do it well with room to spare.  If you can get away with just a tablet, the CityWalker 10 or 20 may be a more compact option for you.

Where to buy
CityWalker 10, CityWalker 20 & CityWalker 30
B&H: CityWalker 10, CityWalker 20 & CityWalker 30