Retrospective Backpack 15 review by Think Tank Pro, Stefan Constantin
My name is Stefan Constantin, and I’m a proud member of the Think Tank Pro Team family. I’m a photographer and gear reviewer based in Romania, and I use and love Think Tank bags to the moon and back. I recently got my hands on the new Retrospective Backpack 15 and I absolutely love the design and inspiration coming out of the Retrospective V2.0 family. It looks like a grown-up version of a Retrospective 4 V2.0. The Retrospective 15 backpack offers two-way access to your gear – both from the top lid, as well as from the back, just like a BackLight backpack. You could say it’s the best of both worlds!
The Retrospective 15 backpack can hold to 2-3 mirrorless or DSLR bodies, 2-3 additional lenses, and a 15-inch laptop. I picked the Retrospective 15 in black and I love it. The new black canvas material is awesome and is an improvement on the black material that was used initially in the first generation of Retrospective V1.0 line of shoulder bags. It has a square, boxy look, but the amazing straps keep it in place in an ergonomic manner that’s really comfortable. The size is not too small, but not too big either. The exterior has two side pockets to fit water bottles, tripods and lens pouches as well. Above these they are two attachment points for additional lens pouches or to better secure tripods or monopods.
On the back there’s thick foam mesh for comfort and coolness. The harness straps are wide and provide some extra attachment points as well. I’ve traveled with the backpack and carried 20 pounds of gear with no problem and no back pain. If needed there is a detachable waist strap to better balance the weight on the bike or when hiking. Also, on the straps you’ll find two D-rings made out of metal and an adjustable sternum strap to better customize your fit. The designers at Think Tank have really done some innovative thinking to make all the bits and pieces come together to better fit our professional needs.
Turning to gear access on the bag, like I mentioned, the Retrospective 15 opens both from the back and from the top. The opening on the back is a safe system similar to the BackLight series from Think Tank’s outdoor line, MindShift Gear. I took my BackLight 26L to the Arctic Circle two years ago and it was perfect for that trip! Turning to the top compartment, the Retrospective 15 top access flap has two classic loop "locks" and a zipper lid under the cover to better protect the gear. I often like to access my camera from the top compartment so it’s nice to have both options available – the top when you need to quickly grab your camera, and the back when you want complete access to all of your gear at once.
The interior of the bag is well organized, and the main compartments offers space for most mirrorless and DSLR kits. The bags easily fits two cameras with lenses attached and 2-3 extra lenses, in addition to a 15-inch laptop and some small accessories. The gear capacity of the Retrospective 15 bag is impressive for a relatively small bag. I can go on two to three day adventures with my camera, laptop and small accessories without any worry. Gear protection is managed by the bag’s thick exterior and the excellent foam divider system, which is completely configurable.
DWR coating on the outside of the backpack protects my gear from wet conditions, and a seam-sealed rain cover is also included. I took the backpack on a trip into mountains that were full of snow and it performed impeccably. As a bonus, it kept my back warm and snug the whole trip. No matter the weather, the bag stayed dry and my gear safe.
The laptop pocket is located on the outside of the gear compartment, which relieves pressure on the screen from pressing against your back. On the front pocket of the bag, there is a zippered pocket featuring excellent YKK zippers, and an organizer for lens caps and accessories. There’s also a leash for your keys or memory card wallet.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a small, roomy, good looking backpack the Retrospective 15 is a great choice. It has a nice canvas design that’s available in black or pinestone green colors. It offers plenty of carry capacity for either mirrorless or DSLR photographers, and it’s a perfect EDC / daily driver bag for traveling when you’re carrying your camera gear, laptop, and personal items. The Retrospective 15 backpack offers protection, space, and quality in all aspects and I love it for this.