thinkTankPhoto Retrospective Laptop Case 15L – Exclusive First Review
18 November 2013
Hi, my name is Kevin and I am a bag addict. I cannot remember how my addiction started, but in terms of laptop bags I have gone from the generic OEM laptop bags, to generic laptop bags, a pilot style brief case, couple of Crumplers, ThinkTankPhoto Retrospective 50, and now to a thinkTankPhoto Retrospective Laptop Case 15L. I think my journey might be at an end.
I appreciate a good bag for work, for play, for my photography gear. You name it. I am not into man bags, but for everything else I am always on the look out for “the perfect bag”. So under the threat of being permanently cut off from coffee and other bodily harms, I have been using the thinkTankPhoto Laptop Case 15L as my primary workhorse for the day job for the past three weeks. My uses of a work bag is simple. It needs to be:
* well built
* discreet (read: does not scream “Oh! Look! It is a laptop bag!”)
* fits my laptop
* carry everything I will throw at it within reason
* comfortable to be thrown over my shoulder
* look good
Like I said, my needs are pretty simple. It just needs to carry everything I need for the day. Whatever it might be. And a little more.
I have been a big fan of the Retrospective series of bags, they look good, they are smartly designed and can carry a lot of stuff. I hacked the Retrospective 50 to suit my needs but it was not quite there. It was a versatile bag to have to carry my work equipment and it looks nothing like what everyone else uses. But when I found out TTP is launching a line of dedicated Retrospective laptop bags, I was happy as a pig in … you know. Mud.
The new alternative to conventional and boring laptop cases for carrying expensive technical devices discreetly was inspired by the popularity of TTP’s Retrospective canvas shoulder bag series. The retro look remixes the “old-school” with “new-school” to achieve a visually simple but highly functional laptop cases.
I toted the bag around the traps giving it a solid work out, hiding it in plain sight. My edition of the bag is in Blue Slate (it also comes in Black and Pinestone) and on a casual glance looks much like a standard Retrospective bag. It is however much slimmer than either the Retro 20 and 50 that I have in my stable. On the back of the bag is where you will find the most obvious difference – a smooth back-panel that reduces wear and tear on clothing. On an average day it will hold my 15″ laptop, power brick, a water bottle, Moleskin, scribble pad, pens, loyalty cards, plethora of USB drives, wallet, keys. When I am on a job I might be carrying additional hard drives, reference materials, various bits of paper, and folders.
For the past fortnight I have had it stuffed to the gill, full as a goog. With it slung across my chest, the padded non-slip shoulder strap that I cannot live without in the Retrospective series comes to the fore and makes light work of a heavy load. It was remarkably comfortable to have a full bag slung across my body on my way to a job, carrying a coffee in one hand and a desktop computer in the other. I am sure I looked totally like a pack mule walking down the road but I sure did not feel like it.
Rocking up to the client site and unloading my bag is like opening Pandora’s Box. Equipment and paperwork are all easily accessible and extracted from the bag with minimal fuss. When I look back at my work desk with the amount of my stuff spread across it, I would occasionally wonder how I will fit it all back in but at the end of every day, the Retrospective Laptop Case 15L opening up it’s maw and swallows everything back neatly.
There is no doubt that the bag was designed with comfort and durability in mind. The smooth back-panel is a welcome design element, my suit jackets are thanking TTP profusely for this one feature alone. As is the case with the previous TTP bag we reviewed, this one features premium quality YKK® RC Fuse zippers, metal hardware, leather accents, and a cushioned and padded nonslip shoulder strap that can be positioned for all-day comfort. The rear pocket is designed to hold a tablet and the main compartment easily fits file folders, books, binders or in my case, 4 large edge binded reference manuals. The Retrospective Laptop Cases are treated with a water resistant coating, and as double protection from the elements, comes included with a seam-sealed rain cover just like the standard edition of the Retrospective series.
After the use and abuse that I put the Retrospective Laptop Cases through, I find only one failing with it that would make it my “perfect” work bag. Given how ubiquitous and small USB drives are these days, I would really like a small zippered compartment to home these easy to lose devices. Whilst I am suggesting changes, an additional key tether would be nice. My keys dangling off the TTP Red Whip, is competing against the rain cover.
I think thinkTankPhoto is on a winner with the Retrospective Laptop Case. The design, quality and functionality, combined with the highly competitive price points of Retrospective 13L at US$149.75 and Retrospective 15L at US$159.75 makes it very compelling. Certainly some of my other laptop bags were pushing almost at double that price point. Speaking of my other laptop bags, I have put them online for sale. True story.
The Finer Details
Pine Stone & Blue Slate Exterior: All fabric exterior treated for durable water resistance, plus fabric underside has a polyurethane coating for extra water resistance, sand-washed 100% cotton canvas, antique nickel-plated metal hardware, premium quality YKK® RC Fuse zippers, polyspun webbing, 3-ply bonded nylon thread
Pine Stone & Blue Slate Exterior Interior: 210D silver-toned nylon, 2x polyurethane coated nylon 210T seam-sealed taffeta rain cover, 3-ply bonded nylon thread
Black Exterior: All fabric exterior treated with durable water resistance, plus fabric underside has a polyurethane coating for extra water resistance, 1100D polyspun, antique nickel-plated metal hardware, premium quality YKK® RC Fuse zippers, nylon webbing, 3-ply bonded nylon thread
Black Interior: 210D silver-toned nylon, 2x polyurethane coated nylon 210T seam-sealed taffeta rain cover, 3-ply bonded nylon thread
* External Dimensions: 37 x 29 x 7 cm (WxHxD) (14.6” x 11.4” x 2.8”)
* Laptop Compartment: 33 x 24 x 3 cm (WxHxD) (13” x 9.4” x 1.2”)
* iPad Compartment: 25 x 20 cm (WxH) (9.8” x 7.9”)
* Weight: 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs)
* External Dimensions: 41 x 31 x 7 cm (WxHxD) (16.1” x 12.2” x 2.8”)
* Laptop Compartment: 38 x 28 x 4 cm (WxHxD) (15” x 11” x 1.6”)
* iPad Compartment: 30 x 23 cm (WxH) (11.8” x 9”)
* Weight: 1.3 kg (2.8 lbs)
This is the bag and all the contents that Kevin had loaded inside! Click the image below to see just how much this bag can hold!
What was inside Kevin’s thinkTankPhoto Retrospective Laptop Case 15L?
TTP Raincoat for Retrospective Laptop Case 15L
Jamie’s Italian water bottle from Bath, UK
Maui Jim sunglasses case
4 x Binded documents totalling 378 pages
1 x manila folder with 10 pages
1 x 2.5″ portable WD HDD
1 x business card holder
1 x men’s wallet
1 x coin purse
2 x chamfer bolts for a bed head
1 x Galaxy Nexus phone
1 x HP laptop power brick
1 x HP laptop power cable
1 x USB cable
1 x Logitech mouse
1 x Lyreco A5 notepad
1 x Moleskine A5 notebook
2 x pens
4 x loyalty cards
3 x USB drives
1 x keys (yes they are guarded by Slave I)
1 x HP Elitebook 8460p
1 x CD-ROM
With room for a few more small items yet!