Our Long-term Review of the Think Tank Airport Security Trolley

Our Long-term Review of the Think Tank Airport Security Trolley

It has been 11 years since I bought the Think Tank Airport Security V2 trolley as my main bag for weddings. It served its purpose, and I’m still happy with the bag. In this article, I want to review the bag based on my findings from the first moment I bought the Think Tank trolley back in 2011.

Just like many photographers, I have a backpack to transport my photography equipment. A good backpack allows you to take a lot of gear with you in a relatively comfortable manner. It also protects your gear, which is just as important.

Although backpacks are great, I don’t find these bags very practical during weddings. Theoretically, it is possible to use one during such a day, but taking off a backpack in order to reach for another lens or strobe takes way too long. You have to take it off your back, place it somewhere safe, open the backpack, change lenses, close the backpack, and put it on again.

If you’re in one location only, you could leave it lying on the ground in a safe place. But for that, you can use any photo bag, and that’s why I preferred a shoulder bag for weddings. Just place the shoulder bag down and pick it up again with ease. I chose a LowePro Stealth Reporter D550 because it had a zipper that allowed access without the need to open it completely.

About one month before I bought the Thinktank Airport Security V2, the father of the bride took this picture of me during the wedding. I carried the Lowe Pro Stealth Reporter shoulder bag.

Pelican or Think Tank

I used the LowePro Stealth Reporter with a lot of satisfaction for many years. There was a downside, though. It became heavy on the shoulder during a 14-hour wedding day. So, I decided to look for an alternative. Wouldn’t it be great if the bag had wheels? The obvious solution was a trolley.

There were two options for me: a Pelican case, or a Think Tank trolley. It was a tough decision since both are great. But I liked the Think Tank more for a number of reasons. First, the wheels run quieter and smoother, the retractable handle was more to my liking, it offered the ability to attach a tripod, and it had a steel cable attached to the chassis with a TSA lock. On top of that, I already owned a Think Tank Streetwalker backpack, and I liked the build. So, I went with the Think Tank Airport Security V2 trolley.

The Thinktank Airport Security V2 trolley. A big camera bag, perfect for my kind of photography.

What I Got

The Think Tank Airport Security V2 was one of the bigger trolleys available. As said, the steel cable that is attached to the chassis was a big selling point, since I had to leave my bag alone at the wedding venues. This way, I could not only lock the bag itself, but attach it to heating pipes, poles, and other fixed things. That would minimize the risk of theft.

The Airport Security V2 has TSA locks to keep my equipment reasonably safe during weddings. This was important for me and still is.

The bag has a lot of space, enough for my gear, with room for growth. A large neoprene pouch on the front offers space for a reflector, and it allows me to tuck away a bunch of light modifiers. It can also hold a laptop, if you like. There is even a second steel cable with a lock available for that purpose.

A glance at the outside pockets of the Thinktank Airport Security V2.

There are pockets on the front, on one side, and on the inside. And there is a system to attach a tripod to the bag, which is a great benefit. But what surprised me a lot was the ability to transform the Airport Security V2 into a backpack. There are shoulder straps hidden in the back pocket, just in case you have to transport the trolley over terrain that doesn’t support wheels.

The handle can be tucked in its own compartment. The handles are well padded, and for emergencies, there are shoulder straps hidden in the back compartment.

I used these shoulder straps a few times. And I have to say, although the bag can be quite heavy when fully loaded, it works well, but only for emergencies, in case the wheels don’t work. I ran into such a situation during a few weddings and once during a themed photoshoot in a forest. But I would rather use the bag the way it’s meant to be used: as a trolley.

The wheels are amazing: quiet and easy to replace. A bumper plate protects the bag if you run into sidewalks, doorsteps, or thresholds.

What Have I Carried Inside?

The photography gear I own has changed over the 11 years since I bought the bag. What I carry inside the trolley has also changed. At first, I placed every single item I had inside the bag, which was a lot: two cameras, eight lenses, strobes, and battery packs. Often, I took only the necessary equipment with me during weddings, leaving the things at home I didn’t expect to use.

The Thinktank Airport Security V2 holds this amount of gear. Well, this is what I used to put inside, although I rarely took everything with me to weddings.

From the moment I used the Profoto flashes, the Think Tank Airport Security V2 became dedicated for these flashes and modifiers. I could pack a camera and a couple of lenses in the bag also, but I preferred a shoulder bag as an additional bag. I bought a Think Tank Urban Disguise for that, which I could slide over the carrying handle. This way, I could have an extra lens and strobe in the shoulder bag and the Profoto flashes in the trolley. The tripod holder of the trolley was used for a couple of light stands.

After I started using Profoto flashes, I dedicated the Airport Security to these flashes. A Think Tank Urban Disguise reporter bag was added to easily carry an extra lens or flash.

It worked like a charm. I had all the equipment I needed for a whole day of wedding photography. The Profoto flashes worked great when I had little ambient light to work with as well as for the occasional evening photos with the wedding couple. 

My 11 Years of Experience With the Trolley

The Think Tank Airport Security V2 never let me down during those 11 years of extensive use. It surprised me when I realized how long I’ve been using it. The bag is in a perfect state, and the outside material is still without wear or tear, except the bottom bumper plate, which has sustained a significant amount of scratches, but that’s what this plate is for. It protects the bag every time I have to pull it up against the sidewalk, thresholds, or doorsteps.

This is how the bumper plate looks after 11 years of use. The wheels are the second pair.

I have replaced the wheels because one became damaged. This was due to my own fault. But I ordered a new set of wheels from Think Tank and replaced the damaged one without any problems. It runs just as quietly as before. The only time the wheels won’t work is in loose soil, a pebble beach, or something similar. In that case, there are always the shoulder straps available, hidden in the back compartment. If you prefer not to use the shoulder straps, the bag has well padded handles on four sides.

I rarely use the Thinktank Airport Security V2 as a backpack. But I'm happy it's possible. It has saved me a few times in the past. But it's only for emergencies.

The only wear that can be found is with the neoprene pouch on the front. I always pack this compartment to the max with flash umbrellas and other light modifiers. It has lost part of its stretch, although it still can hold all the things I put inside without a problem. Also, the transparent pockets on the inside have grown a bit pale and dull. But that’s natural for such materials, I think.

What I Like About the Think Tank Airport Security V2

I like almost everything about this trolley. But if I had to name a few things that make the trolley stand out, it’s definitely the wheels and the steel cable that is attached to the chassis. But there is more. You can use it as a backpack in emergency situations, it holds a ton of gear, and the material of the bag still looks new after 11 years.

I have no regrets. The bag has never let me down, and I'm sure it will keep on performing for many years to come.

What I Don’t Like About the Think Tank Airport Security V2

Nevertheless, not all is perfect with the Think Tank Airport Security V2. There are just a few things I don’t like about this particular trolley. One of those things is the reduced stretch of the neoprene pouch on the front. But then again, this is probably normal wear.

The front zipper pocket is a bit too narrow and tight. The business cards pocket doesn’t have Velcro to keep it closed. But what I dislike the most is the position of the side pocket. When a tripod or light stand is attached, this pocket can’t be used, which is a pity.

One of the downsides is the inability to use the side pocket when a tripod or light stands are connected.

Believe it or not, these are the only downsides I have found after 11 years of use. For me, this trolley is almost perfect. As said, it has never let me down.

The Best Photography Bag I Have Purchased

I know it’s a bold thing to say, but for me, it’s the best photography bag I've bought. It’s for a specific purpose only, of course. You wouldn’t want to take it with you on a hike. But for weddings and corporate assignments, it’s been a trusty companion, and it has allowed me to carry my photography equipment in a safe and comfortable way.

A couple of behind-the-scenes images of the Think Tank Airport Security V2 in use.

I eventually decided to buy a second trolley, the Think Tank Airport Navigator, which replaces my shoulder bag during weddings. The great thing about this trolley is the ability to use it as a shoulder bag also, and it can be connected to the Airport Security V2 without problems. The Airport Navigator is a completely different type of trolley, and it’s a great addition.

Now, I've added the Thinktank Airport Navigator to my Airport Security V2. They are linked together, which is great. 

The Think Tank Airport Security V2 had an update some time ago. The V3 version has a couple of upgrades that could make it an even better trolley all together. The steel locking cable is more easily accessible, and the lockable front pocket holds a 17-inch laptop and tablet. I believe there are some other changes as well. I would love to upgrade my bag to the V3 version, but I see no reason to replace my current bag because it is still perfect for me. I hope it will last another 11 years.

If you’re looking for a very capable camera bag that can hold a lot of equipment, the Think Tank Airport Security will do the job for many years to come.

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10 Comments
Geoff Miller's picture

Great review of a great bag, however it's worth mentioning that Think Tank has been effectively out of stock of the Airport Security (and International) bags for over a year now. They keep announcing "Expected Availability" dates (the current one is October 3rd), that come and pass, and a new date is then announced down the road. Rinse, repeat. Unless the long-awaited supply finally materializes (and they aren't all snapped up due to existing backorders), your best bet is a used bag. I managed to bag a Security V3 bag used from KEH back in April. V2 bags often pop-up on eBay, with an occasional V3 making a short-lived appearance.

Also worth mentioning is that the "Airport Security" is the maximum size for carry-on limits for US airlines. If you intend to take this bag on international flights, the "Airport International" is a couple of inches shorter to meet international carry-on limits. Same bag, just a bit smaller than it's US cousin.

I love my V3. I also want to give a customer service shout-out to Think Tank. Original purchasers get a life-time warranty. As the owner of a used bag, I contacted Think Tank to see if I could get the "lost and found" entry for the bag changed to my name, and I also asked about buying a new set of wheels to "freshen up" the bag. Think Tank updated their bag registry... and they sent me a free set of wheels!

Nando Harmsen's picture

Thank you for this additional information. I've seen the lack of availability also.
I didn't mention the carry-on limits because I've never flown with this bag. So I cannot say anything about the experience for this. But I appreciate you mentioning it in this comment.

Russell Hunter's picture

Great article. I can confirm that I have successfully carried my equivalent onboard for international flights (and usually way over the limit). Mind you, that experience has mostly been in and out of Africa where the airline staff generally sympathize with the theft problem. Interested to hear the experience of others going to other destinations? I also love the bag but agree the straps are not every practical.

Nando Harmsen's picture

I noticed the shift in products also. It probably started when Mindshift got more ground.
I have been thinking about a Logistics Manager which can carry light stands inside also. But still holding it off. Now with extra lights for my filming it can be a great solution.
Something to consider.

Michelle VanTine's picture

I have this bag and I ADOREEEEEEEEEE IT!

Scott Ishiyama's picture

There are many reviews of gear, but few long-term followups. Thanks for a thoughtful, well-done retrospective on this bag.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Thank you

Simon Pollock's picture

Hey Nando, thank you very much for this long term review - great to know it still works well for your needs, and as you know (or if you didn't get my note, now you do haha) I've sent through that feedback to the team.

To Geoff's point below, it's sheer hell for us that we've had to deal with supply chain / supplier availability (raw materials) and factory closures, all creating the very un-perfect-storm of no stock for what seems like ever... it's not fun, we don't like it and we're working on ways to make sure it doesn't happen again. Also, as Geoff mentioned, when new stock comes in there may well be very little around due to us trying to get stock into retailers shops / fulfil retailer orders first - do click the 'notify me' on our website and maybe even on a couple of other camera retailer websites (some of the larger ones have back in stock notifications)

Anyways, we cross our fingers, hope for the very best and keep on travelling.

--Simon ( simon at thinktankphoto dot com )

Nando Harmsen's picture

Hey Simon, Glad to hear you liked it
I have to see if I got that note, but I probably have... somewhere ;)