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Thread started 31 Dec 2013 (Tuesday) 18:17
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Review: Think Tank Speed Racer V.2 Shoulder/Waist Pack

 
SYS
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Dec 31, 2013 18:17 |  #1

I've been a big Kata fan for years during which time I've acquired 6 Kata bags for all types of shooting situations and purposes. However, Kata's newer model of bags have been disappointing to me, and when I recently upgraded my camera body from 40D to 5DIII, I decided to look elsewhere for my main go-to bag for quick grab-and-go situations. The new bag had to meet the following criteria that were absolutely essential to me: 1) be able to hold my 5DIII with the 70-200 f/2.8 lens attached in vertical position with the hood reversed; 2) next to this in the main compartment, it also has to accommodate the 24-70 f/2.8 lens and enough room left over for either my 2x 580II Speedlite flashes or one or two small lenses.

After an extensive research, I finally decided on Think Tank Speed Racer V.2. In my decision-making, I was helped along the way by reading an excellent review of this bag in this forum by another POTN member, "nutsandbolts." However, his review (2007) was for the bag's original version, not V.2, and the photos in his review were unfortunately all missing. His descriptive review is still excellent so instead of being redundant here, I thought I'd provide a pictorial review of the bag to complement his which can be found here: https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=387547

Think Tank Speed Racer V.2: The Speed Racer V.2 is the largest of Think Tank's "Speed Convertible" series of bags -- in the order of largest to smallest: Speed Racer V.2, Speed Freak V.2 and Speed Demon V.2. Of the three, the Racer is the only bag that can hold a pro size DSLR camera body with the 70-200 or the 100-400 lenses attached in vertical position with the hood reversed.

Dimensions:

Exterior: 13.0 x 11.5 x 9.5" (33.0 x 29.2 x 24.1 cm)
Interior: 11.8 x 10.0 x 7.0 (30.0 x 25.4 x 17.8 cm)

Weight: 2.3 - 3.1 lb (1.0-1.4 kg)
Material: Ballistic nylon YKK RC Fuse zippers
Type of Closure: YKK RC Fuse zippers

Price Tag: $179.99
What Comes With the Bag: Shoulder Strap; Rain Cover; Extra Dividers; Lifetime Warranty Against Manufacturer's Defects

(N.B.: According to nutsandbolts's review of the original version of the bag, a Pixel Pocket Rocket came with the bag. Apparently, this is not so with the newer, V.2, version, so don't expect to find it. For the price of the bag, I was disappointed with this, but not a big deal.)

Front View

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5500/11674202853_570dc919a4_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11674202853/  (external link)

As expected from having read numerous rave reviews, the quality of this bag is simply outstanding. I really like the feel of it. Some people think this bag is "large." Well, if you don't need to place your camera body with a large zoom lens attached to it AND in vertical position for quick draw and shoot situations, yes, this bag is probably large for you. For me, however, I don't find it all that large in "looks," i.e., the way it hangs on my body frame -- and I'm 5' 8" and 155lbs.

Towards the top of the bag is its carrying handle for quick grab and go. The frontal view shows a bellow pocket for things like smartphone, while the front organizer right behind it features dedicated pen pockets and a built-in lanyard for securing keys or a memory card wallet, as well as a detachable rain cover, as seen here:

IMAGE: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2849/11674738956_3813bcf923_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11674738956/  (external link)

Side View:
IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5502/11673954875_2b6578ed10_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11673954875/  (external link)

Stretchable side pockets with reinforced bases are for storing things like radios, rocket blower, light meter, flashes, gloves, canteen, etc. The hook you see right above the side pocket is for the shoulder strap. (Some people have complained that when the shoulder strap is placed on these hooks, they find it harder to open the bag lid as the strap gets in the way of operating the lid zipper. The way around this is to use the hooks that are on both side of the waist strap, instead.)

Back View:
IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7431/11674323514_72a7f0d8fb_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11674323514/  (external link)

Breathable mesh lining on the back is designed to keep you ventilated and cool, while a wide pocket can keep a notepad and pen in easy reach to jot down notes during a shoot.

Top View:
IMAGE: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3692/11674323494_648588488d_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11674323494/  (external link)

A well thought out, rain resisting zipper across the top of the bag is designed to allow access to small lenses or accessories without opening the main zipper. It is NOT designed to allow access to the camera body with lens attached. Some folks misunderstand the purpose for this. I find it very helpful when I need to pull out a small lens or a Speedlite.

Waist Strap:
IMAGE: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3702/11674202583_2cf0e2f682_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11674202583/  (external link)

Shown here is just one waist strap pulled out of the left side pocket in order to show you what it looks like when tucked inside (the right side pocket). The original version had the waist straps tucked inside the back, making the bag bulge out. By tucking the straps on the side of the bag, it's now more ergonomic and pleasing to carry on the waist.

Modular Rails on Waist Strap:
IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7414/11673954675_f68fa5fb68_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11673954675/  (external link)

Modular rails on each side of belt are designed to allow attachment of Think Tank's Modular Rotation System components for increased gear capacity. Think Tank has many different components for you choose from. For example, here's a Lens Changer 35 V.2 attached to a modular rail on the side of belt:

IMAGE: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3717/11673954565_129b6e25b5_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11673954565/  (external link)


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SYS
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Dec 31, 2013 18:17 |  #2

What's Inside My Bag:

IMAGE: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3715/11673954445_621fda3866_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11673954445/  (external link)

I don't like to carry too many items, so shown here is what I consider a maximum load for me. In other words, if I want to carry more than shown here, I can with a different configuration - but I won't. Shown here is the 5DIII body attached to the 70-200 f/2.8 lens in vertical position with the hood reversed. The 5DIII with grip also fits comfortably without any issues and likewise having two camera bodies with lenses attached. Next to it lies the 24-70 f/2.8 with the hood (not reversed). Below (in the picture) sits my 580II flash in its case. On one side pocket, I have a large Rocket Blower and lens cleaner fluid and cloth, while on the other pocket I keep my Sekonic 758 Light Meter. Not shown, but inside the front organizer I keep extra memory cards, pens, extra batteries, etc.

The lid opens away from you as opposed to opening into you and thereby avoiding frustration during lens changeout. The lid opening away from you can also potentially help catch accidental dropping of lens and other items. Also, notice a clear accessory pocket underneath the lid for more accessory items to be stored.

All the listed items alone are very heavy for my aging body, so having a well padded shoulder strap is critically essential and Think Tank delivers it here:

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7450/11673954515_41d796d915_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …young-family/11673954515/  (external link)

When this detachable and non-slip cushioned shoulder strap is used in conjunction with the waist strap, the load is much more manageable as the burden of its weight is well distributed between the shoulder and the waist. Another highly valuable point to be made about using both the shoulder and the waist straps is that when you bend over, the bag doesn't lurch forward haphazardly, potentially damaging your equipment by banging the bag hard against a rock while hiking. With my Kata shoulder bag, that was one thing I had to be very careful of. With the Speed Racer V.2's shoulder and waist straps working together, the bag STAYS where it's supposed to!

SUMMARY:

In a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest score, I'd give this bag the score of 9. For all the top quality well known for Think Tank, I still thinks $179.99 is overpriced. I also wished that Think Tank would have added a set of small rubber feet at the bottom of the bag so it doesn't get scraped easily when it's resting on rocky surfaces and dirt grounds. Sure, it's a shoulder/waist bag but it does need to rest on ground from time to time when your body starts to ache. I don't understand why Think Tank included a Pixel Pocket Rocket with the purchase of the original V.1 version but apparently excluded it in the V.2 version. Again, just a minor irritation.

Nevertheless, I'm highly satisfied with the Speed Racer V.2. It has met my major criteria, expectations and much more. This bag will last me years of good use with comfort and functionality.


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MDJAK
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Dec 31, 2013 19:39 |  #3

Excellent write up. Thinktank is of the highest quality and very we'll thought out.

That said, and obviously to each their own, I had the V1 of this bag and found it too large for a waist bag. I felt it tipped away from my waist the way the belt threaded through the bag. Yes, the shoulder strap is essential to bear some of the weight.

Thanks for a great review.




  
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SYS
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Dec 31, 2013 19:47 |  #4

MDJAK wrote in post #16567945 (external link)
Excellent write up. Thinktank is of the highest quality and very we'll thought out.

That said, and obviously to each their own, I had the V1 of this bag and found it too large for a waist bag. I felt it tipped away from my waist the way the belt threaded through the bag. Yes, the shoulder strap is essential to bear some of the weight.

Thanks for a great review.

One size down in the Speed Convertible series, the Speed Freak V.2, is just about the right size except it can't fit camera body with the 70-200 or 100-400 attached in vertical position. It's all about what the bag can or can't carry. So what did you end up getting for yours, and did you have the same criteria, namely, holding the body with a long lens attached in vertical position?



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Dec 31, 2013 20:17 |  #5

I completely agree with you. I was not criticizing you at all. You can't fight physics. If you want to carry a 70-200 mounted vertically, it takes a big bag.

I've opted for the Lowepro flipside, either the 300 or 400. Both will carry my 1Dx and 70-200 mounted.

I also now use backpacks. Just got the fstop guru but haven't gotten a chance to use it yet.

And I got the thinktank holster that will hold the 70-200 mounted.
Mark




  
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SYS
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Jan 01, 2014 10:31 |  #6

MDJAK wrote in post #16567945 (external link)
I felt it tipped away from my waist the way the belt threaded through the bag.

This is the main difference between the V.1 and the V.2 versions. Because the way the belt threaded through the back side of the V.1 bag, it didn't hang very well on the waist with the extra bulge. When the V.2 came out, they did pay heed to user criticisms and corrected the problem by making the waist belt disappear on the side zipper pockets without affecting the very roomy side pouches at all.

By the way, I didn't take your comments as anything critical whatsoever. In photography, THE BAG issues HAVE to be the most personal!! :)



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Jan 01, 2014 15:07 |  #7

Dear SYS,

Thank you for your excellent review of a great walk around “shooting” bag.

Just an FYI…
If you find over time you desire additional support can always add a Domke Postal Pad:
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …_FA_031_Shoulde​r_Pad.html (external link)
(I did on my TT Speed Racer V2 for long treks, but find that allowing the waist belt to take most of the weight, rather than the shoulder strap more comfortable).

We all agree that bags are one of the most personal choices of photography gear, [you’re 5’8”, I’m petite 5’2”] but if your viewpoint ever shifts a bit about the Think Tank SPEED RACER V2 and find it a tad rigid or just shy of ideal main compartment capacity, even though it is a great bag, I also found this relatively newer Think Tank CITY WALKER 20 bag:
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …_Citywalker_20_​Black.html (external link)
an excellent “shooting” bag too, particularly for your self-described “grab-n-go” situations; or if applications involve in & out of vehicles etc. or want a very comfortable body contouring bag to carry 1-3 lenses & flash etc. (say 24-70f2.8LmkII, 85f1.2L or 16-35f2.8L & 600EX-RT) while have camera(5DmkIII or 1DmkIII) around neck and only putting the camera + mounted 70-200f2.8L IS mkII lens in the bag vertically occasionally for when/if get tired holding camera, or say going into a restaurant or shop etc, while doing say street or travel photography, etc. It scrunches down into nothing for travel with surprisingly deceiving capacity. It has the most comfortable shoulder strap of any of my unfortunately too numerous bags(don’t ask) I have ever owned. It feels feather-light and a lot lighter than the heavier/bulky Think Tank RETROSPECTIVE series.

Thank you again for your nicely composed and presented bag review.
Enjoy and glad you found a bag that works for your individual requirements…
“Youth is a gift. Age is an Art”!

Happy shooting...

Mary


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SYS
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Jan 02, 2014 10:11 |  #8

happy2010 wrote in post #16569755 (external link)
I also found this relatively newer Think Tank CITY WALKER 20 bag:
http://www.bhphotovide​o.com …_Citywalker_20_​Black.html (external link)
an excellent “shooting” bag too, particularly for your self-described “grab-n-go” situations;

Think Tank CITY WALKER 20 looks like a nice bag. However, it can't hold a body with the 70-200 or 100-400 lens attached in vertical position. From my experience using a Kata shoulder bag for years, too, I definitely don't want to use shoulder bags that put the entire stress on my shoulder. If neither of these are important, then the City Walker 20 would be highly enticing.



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Jan 02, 2014 12:07 |  #9

I understand completely and empathize with your criteria, as it is such a common dynamics of many photographers and the impetuous of many a POTN thread.
I agree, the Think Tank SPEED RACER V2 is definitely one of the best bags for addressing those criteria.
(just wish camera manufacturers made cameras smaller & lighter with no sacrafice in DSLR features or image quality)

The flexible nature of the Think Tank CITY WALKER 20 design & fabric which has tolerances which gives and height ID:8.7” & OD: 9.8” enable a 5DmkIII+ mounted 70-200f2.8 IS with hood reversed (with a LOA of 10.75”) to fit with approx 0.75” bulge in the top – albeit not ideal, but feels OK for temporary storage. (the SPEED RACER V2 fit is definitely better).

During the bag iteration journey which most of us can confess to doing, I just found several years ago the SPEED RACER V2 slightly bulky when doing say a beach shoot in the summer temperatures. However, it is still a great bag, particularly for your criteria.

Enjoy, it’s a great choice…

Mary


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Jan 02, 2014 12:15 |  #10

I completely agree as to shoulder bags. I've seen many a pro photographer with a permanent tilt to their body from carrying around a Domke or other type shoulder bag. I don't know how they do it. I'm not Hercules, but I'm also no weakling (a weak link, maybe ;-)a ) :lol:, and I cannot get comfortable with a shoulder bag unless it's got almost nothing in it. I wasted over $300 on a Billingham, and also got the postal pad, and I just don't like it. Yes, it's an awesome quality bag and waterproof too, which is a great factor.

But I cannot carry something heavy on one shoulder. That's why I migrated away from sling bags to small, light backpacks or the flip side. There is no comparison in comfort between something carried on both shoulders, or even one with a waist belt to support the weight.

SYS wrote in post #16571591 (external link)
Think Tank CITY WALKER 20 looks like a nice bag. However, it can't hold a body with the 70-200 or 100-400 lens attached in vertical position. From my experience using a Kata shoulder bag for years, too, I definitely don't want to use shoulder bags that put the entire stress on my shoulder. If neither of these are important, then the City Walker 20 would be highly enticing.




  
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Jan 02, 2014 12:24 |  #11

Nice review, I cannot get used to a backpack and I find the waist belts to work pretty well. A nice alternative to the speed bags is a change up with a digital holster. I find this works really well.

I agree about shoulder bags, anything more than an extra lens is a pain if your walking around all day.


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Jan 01, 2015 20:21 |  #12

I liked the review. I sold my speed freak as I was not able to put 70-200 attached as in retro 20. Will continue consider speed racer. Freak was quite good bag. Your review is good factor to decide on Racer. Thanks.


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Review: Think Tank Speed Racer V.2 Shoulder/Waist Pack
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