A man paddles a bamboo raft on the Lijiang River under the rising sun and karst mountains, Yangshuo, Guanxi, China
Lijiang River, Yangshuo, Guanxi, China

The Think Tank SpeedRacer is my favorite camera bag at the moment.  My basic SLR camera kit calls this bag home probably 90% of the time.  The SpeedRacer is my go-to camera bag for travel, hiking, short backpacking trips and shooting around town.

What sold me on this bag is that it has both a comfy shoulder strap AND a wide waist belt.  And, it’s just the right size for a complete SLR system-on-the-go.

Prior to the SpeedRacer, the Crumpler 6-Million-Dollar-Home was my default bag.  I liked the Crumpler for shooting on-the-run, but it really fatigued my neck after about 3 hours loaded down with my standard SLR kit.  An elastic shoulder strap may have made all the difference on the Crumpler, but it wasn’t practical to replace the OEM strap.

The SpeedRacer solves the neck/shoulder strain problem by allowing the weight of the bag to be shifted to my hips when I’m not immediately using the bag.  It rides comfortably out of the way on my bum with its weight evenly distributed over my hips.  But when I need to access my gear, I simply release the belt buckle and the bag swings to my side or front.  In seconds, all my gear is readily at hand.  Now I can shoot all day and I am no longer fatigue-limited.

The only minor issue I have with the bag is that it is over-complicated to initially adjust the waist belt to fit my hips.  But once set, the waist belt is solid and quite comfortable.

Think Tank SpeedRacer with camera gear for travel photography

In the main compartment has room for five camera lenses, one mounted to a camera body, and a small flash.  Here’s what I typically carry:

  • Canon 5D Mark II camera
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS, usually mounted on the camera and usually with the hood down in the central pocket
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L, no hood
  • Canon EF 70-200 f/4L IS, with tripod mount, usually with the hood nested down in the bag pocket
  • Canon 500D close-up
  • lens with a ring adapter for the 70-200mm lens sits in a case down at the bottom of the pocket under the 70-200 lens
  • Sunpak RD2000 flash
  • Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fish-eye occasionally rides in the pocket next to 70-200
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 occasionally comes along in the pocket next to the 16-35

In the lid pocket:  3 spare batteries and a shoe-mount bubble level

In the front pocket:

  • Canon TC-80N3 programmable shutter release
  • Lens pen
  • (2) Singh-Ray ND Graduated filters
  • Cokin P filter holder with 77mm adapter ring
  • (4) additional compact flash cards
  • Business cards
  • Pen and Sharpie

Total weight:  14 lbs with the 15mm fish-eye and 85mm f/1.8

While great for travel photography and general use, the SpeedRacer is also handy for 2 to 4-day non-technical backpacking trips.  I just cram it into the top compartment of my backpack under the main lid and it is relatively easy to access whenever the backpack is off.  Once at camp, I pull the bag out and I am ready for short photo excursions or long day-trips from camp.

Backpacking tent in snow camp, Maple Pass, North Cascades, Washington, USA
Snow camp, Maple Pass, North Cascades, Washington

Camera Bags Part 1:  The Addiction

Camera Bags Part 3:  Lowepro Photo Trekker for “Serious” Nature Shooting

Camera Bags Part 4:  Lowepro TLZ1 Toploader for Long Backcountry Shooting

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