Camera Backpack Review: Think Tank Shape Shifter

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by oris642, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. oris642

    oris642 Mu-43 Regular

    I've been using the Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter backpack for about a month now, and am very happy with it. I 've got a trip coming up to China, and I wanted a way to carry my camera stuff. I chose this based on my requirements. I'm a landscape photographer, so for me a good tripod is essential. Your needs may vary.

    1) good quality - Think Tank has an excellent reputation
    2) comfortable - few backpacks this small have a waist belt. Not only does this come with a basic waist belt, one can get two other waist belts with more padding.
    3) tall enough inside to fit a tripod but not bulky for micro 4/3rds- I don't want a backpack screaming "photographer" .
    4) low-key - in addition to #3 above, one that does not have big name brands splashed all over it. The ThinkTank is black on black with a very small logo that I'll cover with a Canadian flag :smile:
    5) Thin. What I mean is almost all backpacks are sized to fit the height of a pro SLR. Micro 4/3rds is of course much shorter. The Shape Shifter "zips down" to a much slimmer size (see photos).
    6) rain cover. Think Tank's raincovers have sealed seams.
    7) storage for a laptop. This holds up to a 17" laptop.

    Unfortunately all this comes at a price. The Shape Shifter is $249 USD. I was fortunate to pick one up locally on Craigslist for $200.

    As you can see from the photos, because the Shape Shifter can be reduced in thickness, regular padded walls don't work. That's why there are storage pouches, kind of like a kangaroo's, instead of adjustable dividers of a fixed height. Each pouch has a robust drawstring so your equipment doesn't spill onto the ground.

    The pictures show where I put all my stuff in the pockets. The G1 with the L-bracket (see ) sits at the top left hand pocket. Below it I store the 45-200, 20, and the upcoming 9-18. The bottom left pocket holds my Lee RF75 filter holder, polarizer, and a couple of adapter rings.

    The right side of the backpack is used for the tripod, a Velbon Ultra Maxi L with a Arca Swiss P0 head and a Photo Clam PC-45 quick release plate (review to follow). The combined length of this tripod (16.5") barely fits into the lower right side pocket. I have less than an inch clearance at the top.

    There are a lot of storage pockets for filters, etc. The following reviews show the extra pockets:

    Rob Galbraith's great review, with much better photos than mine:

    Jim Goldstein's great video of the pack:

    In summary, I have a low-profile, small backpack that doesn't look like a camera backpack that is tall enough for a tripod and laptop stored inside, with a waist belt and a good rain cover. Highly recommended!

    For more info:
    • Like Like x 3
  2. oris642

    oris642 Mu-43 Regular

    PacSafe 55 To Secure The Shape Shifter

    Another nice thing with the small size is the ability to secure everything (with your tripod INSIDE the bag, not outside!) using a PacSafe 55, . For fellow Canadians, I bought mine locally at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

    For Americans, REI carries it:

    The first photo gives you a rough idea of the size of the pack - that's a 15" ruler.

    With the PacSafe I can now loop it around a cargo tiedown in the back of my car for a little more peace of mind.
  3. oris642

    oris642 Mu-43 Regular

    It zips down!Using it right now in China。
  4. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 14, 2010
    Yep, the tripod in the bag is a plus. I carry (at times) a Lowepro Vertex with a full weight tripod and two flash stands mounted outside... the backpack alone weights 8lbs.

    When traveling, external gear gets caught up, is observed, and is unprotected from the elements. Your unit seems perfect.

    I too keep a mounting plate on the bottom of my camera at all times... a nice solid chunk of metal when the body needs to be put down on something outside.

    Good luck on your trip! Some of the interior can be sketchy for travellers.. think in terms of small groups when security becomes an issue.

    Bokeh D
    • Like Like x 1
  5. everythingsablur

    everythingsablur Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 4, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    Looks cool. I've seen videos of this before.

    Can it fit a laptop, your tripod, both cameras, and your collection of lenses at all once? :confused:
  6. oris642

    oris642 Mu-43 Regular

    Yes, it did. There's a separate compartment between the kangaroo pouches and your back that I used to carry my iPad and a piece of sleeping bag foam (to kneel on). It can also fit at least a 15" laptop, maybe even a 17" laptop.
  7. Kenny

    Kenny Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2012
    KL Malaysia
    Interested on buying this, where are the pictures? On the other hand, Clik Elite Cloudscape holds similar characteristics with fewer camera compartment. I think it is suitable for travelers and outdoors people.
  8. cdo221

    cdo221 Mu-43 Rookie

    May 3, 2013
    Are the pouches big enough to hold a em5 and 12-40 attached? Or does it need to be stored separately?