The Think Tank Retrospective 50 Shoulder Bag – Official-ish Review

Here she is, in all her glory.

So here goes. I’ve had this bag for a little over six months now and have had some fun adventures with it and I’ll do my best to make sure I cover the basics of my experience with the bag.

Construction

First off, this bag is a lot larger than I had imagined in my mind. I mean, to be honest, the images don’t make it look much bigger than a typical messenger bag and that is just… Just… A shame. This thing is adequately sized for lots of fun stuff.

The bag itself appears to be made of some heavy duty canvas material that feels very sturdy to the touch. Sturdy enough to prop you up through a wicked divorce in the darkest of hours? Maybe not that robust, but it does feel satisfying to run your fingers over the flap knowing it probably (key word, probably) won’t try and take half your stuff when she bails the house with no warning whatsoever and totally embarrasses you in a board meeting with a little knocky-knock of the Sheriff’s office serving you papers. But, hey, there’s a bright side, right? Why not.

The inside is quite spacious when it’s fully unfurled. How big you ask? The paperwork that comes with the material is less of a guide than it is a fantasia of all your wildest dreams and imagination combined! No seriously, the guide says it fits a 15″ laptop? Bull crap, check dis’ out y0!

That’s right. A full sized, man laptop. This ain’t no wussy 15″ laptop, we are talking packing full heat in all the right places! This is a 17″ HP laptop that fits into the main compartment of the bag. WHAT WHAT you say? Yea, snuggle up to that idea and marinate in it. Sure, it’s not the ‘designated’ spot for the laptop, but who the hell are you? The baggage police? Step off son!

What’s that? No room for anything else? I beg to differ.

Clothes and a laptop. Boom.

With a little creative Feng Shui-ing, you too can be as awesome as this. Did I mention that buried in that cave of pure figurative awesome is a D3 with a 24-70 welded on the end? Boom baby, Boom.

Side tracking a bit, the strap is quite beefy and I like it. It feels tough. So tough in fact that I did a Petey-Pablo style “helicopter” motion over my head to make sure it stayed together. I’m pretty sure the TSA loved my rendition and took it as a compliment because I got a lot of special attention after that. This thing is a lot more likely not to crack some unwitting dude in the dome because you have a ton of extra dohickeys hanging off the side. Ask me how I know. That was a long, awkward and strange plane ride. Just sayin’.

The inside is what you’d typically find in a bag, compartments, zippers, booby-traps, divorce papers, etc..etc.. Enough stuff to put things and stuff into. What you need me to spell it out for you? You put-cher chit in it!

Stuff and things of places

To be fair this bag does give a lot of extra room for lots of things. I was able to cram a ton of crap into this thing before it damn near toppled over.

Stuff and things!

So, here we see the Retrospective 50 bag filled to the brim. We stuffed it with 2 Nikon D3′s, a 24-70 2.8 lens, a 70-200VR, 14-24 2.8, 105 Macro, 3 – SB900′s, memory cards, wires, shammy clothes, maps to houses of people who might need a good TP’ing, if you catch my drift.

The only downside of filling it this full was that even though I could fit my 15″ laptop in there, it kept tipping over on its side. Fully loaded, this thing is a beast and remember that strap I mentioned? I gave it a serious workout this day.

On the job

So, I gave this bag it’s first real workout about 36 minutes after it arrived in my grubby little dirty carney-like hands. I suppose rubbing my hands all over the canvas didn’t make me look any less creepy than I already did, so I gave her the business.

Fits nicely into a vintage car. You should get one to accessorize!

So, there it is. I answered the most sought out question; Does it fit into a the trunk of a highly modified 1968 Camaro with a 6-speed tranny and enough torque to rotate the earth off its axis? Yes. Yes it does.

But slightly less important, does it work on the job? Does your father smell of Elderberries?

You want proof? Fine. Take it. Take all the proof you want. Take, take, take!!

On the job training

There. Happy now? It gives me the ability to take everything I had to cram into a Pelican case into a smaller and more cloth-like security blanket.

But does it work? Yes. For the love of god! Yes! It’s just a receptacle for your crap! And it does that quite well. Get off my back.

Conclusions:

The Retrospective 50 Shoulder Bag from Think Tank is quite nice. It’s very well built from top to bottom and I will easily get rid of my backpack style carrying case after using this thing.

It even comes with ‘silent’ operation in the form of non-velcro-ie type flaps that can be turned on and off at whim. Silent enough to sneak up behind someone to serve the living daylights out of them and make them show up to court at a given day and time. How’s that for impressive?! Booyah!

Better yet, you can use the velcro straps to make a dramatic point during your arguments in said court case by ripping them open in that sort of “AH-HA! Foiled again by legal briefs and justice sucker!” moment. The bailiff seemed quite taken by me.

So, is this a good bag? Yes. It serves it’s purpose quite well for me. I used it as a semi-professional bag for my camera crap and sometimes as a travel bag for small trips that just needed clothes and a laptop/camera. It did it’s job in court too mind you, SUCKAA!! *RIIIPPPPPP*

Will this replace my giant pelican case? In some cases it certainly does. In other cases it might now depending on the situation. That said, it does replace a number of my parcel carrying accoutrements, legal brief case, luggage, therapist… etc.

Pros:

- Sturdy construction on all levels. Sturdy enough to carry the burden of the emotional baggage of a looming divorce.

- Silent/Non-Silent activation.

- Not crazy bulky or unwieldy in the face of fellow travelers.

Cons

- Tips over when fully laden. European laden. Not African.

This bag can be found at Adorama, B&H photo and there is one at my house.

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