The Urban Approach 15 Mirrorless Backpack is a new camera backpack by Think Tank Photo which is targeted at the growing mirrorless camera market. I was interested in this bag ever since it was announced and the folks at Think Tank were gracious enough to send me one early for this review.
The Urban Approach 15 is similar in shape to the Streetwalker series of backpacks, but with a shallower depth designed to accommodate smaller mirrorless cameras.
Like all Think Tank bags, this is solidly built - very clean lines and low profile appearance that doesn't scream "Expensive Camera Gear Inside".
There is also a strap included which lets you attach a small tripod to the outside of the bag
The shoulder straps are comfortable to wear, even when the backpack is overstuffed with gear.
The tags on the zippers for the laptop section says that it will fit both an iPad and up to a 15.4" laptop.
There is just one thin pocket on the front of the backpack.
The back of the bag has a loop that you can slip over the handle of your roller bag, such as the Airport Navigator. A nice feature that I hope Think Tank will incorporate into all their future backpacks.
The zipper pulls to the main compartment have loops that can be padlocked for extra security
Once you remove the insert, take a good look at the interior, cause that's all you get. The bag I received for this review did not come with any additional dividers. Though to be honest, there isn't much more space you could divide up anyway.
The top of the backpack tapers downward so it will fit a smaller camera like an a6000 or an A7 series camera without a battery grip.
For a typical wedding shoot I'll take along the following:
2- Sony a6000 bodies ( I usually use an A7mkII with a battery grip and one a6000, but the A7mkII is currently out for repair). Each body is outfitted with a Really Right Stuff L Plate, a Peak Design Capture Plate , Peak Design Clutch Hand Strap and Micro Anchors for the Peak Design Leash.
Magmod flash modifiers - Mag mounts, gels, grids, Magsphere and Magbounce
2 - Ziplock Freezer Bags (emergency rain covers for off-camera flash units)
When compared to the Streetwalker Hard Drive, the interior dimensions of the Urban Approach 15 is several inches shorter in both length and width. While I do appreciate the shallower depth, I really wish they had kept the width and length comparable to the Streetwalker Hard Drive as there were a few more things I would have liked to put in, such as a Yongnuo 300 II LED light. Also, in order to get the flash units to fit into the bag, I had to remove the MagGrip attachments from the flash heads (In the photo above, the MagGrips are stored underneath the Mag Grids). A slightly wider bag would have allowed me to keep the MagGrips attached to the flashes.
Note to the designers - It's ok to make the bags shallower, but please don't scrimp on the length/width - we can always make use of that space. Even though mirrorless cameras and lenses are smaller, we still take a lot of gear to weddings - 2 bodies, 2 flashes (yes 2 flashes - always gotta have a backup), flash modifiers, radio triggers, extra batteries, etc.
I think if you had taken the Streetwalker Hard Drive, just made it shallower, lighter and added the roller bag handle attachment to the back of the bag, that would have been just perfect.
I've now used this backpack on several beach sunset wedding shoots and other than the slightly limited space in the bag its been working out pretty well. The depth of the bag helps to keep smaller cameras from bouncing around too much and there's "just enough" space to carry the basic gear I use on a typical shoot.
The handle on the back that slips over roller bag handles should be standard issue for any camera backpack. I never realized how useful it was until I found that I would usually pair it with my ThinkTank Airport Navigator which now holds most of my extended lighting gear. Would like it to be just a skosh wider so that it would more easily slip over the roller bag handles when the bag is fully loaded with an iPad and laptop.
Overall this is a great backpack that I think a lot of mirrorless camera shooters would be happy with (unless you like to take a ton of extra stuff like me). If you decide that the Urban Approach 15 suits your needs, I would greatly appreciate it if you use the links provided above as a small portion of sales will go towards supporting this blog.