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Retrospective 30 official photo (I am not with my camera to take photo of my bag).

This is a review of the ThinkTank Photo messenger bag: the Retrospective 30.

A small disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer, I have ties to ThinkTank Photo (personal and through the affiliate program) and I will be reviewing this bag primarily as a messenger bag, not a camera bag.

I received my Retrospective 30 in the pinestone material around the launch of the bag last year and have been using it daily ever since. Prior to the bag I used either a Timbuk2 bag or a Jandd backpack. Despite being told otherwise the bag fits my fifteen inch MacBook Pro in its neoprene sleeve without a problem. Granted this removed the nice squishy aspect of the bag but it does transform it into a stylish laptop bag.

The remaining space in the main compartment can various combinations of things. Usually I carry a book (trade paperback to large hardcovers) and a lunch (fruit and a sandwich). It can also fit a binder or notebook in addition to the book/lunch combo. There are inside pockets that fit miscellaneous things like pens, iPods, cables, chapstick, memory stick, small flashlight and lens cleaning cloth. Even though it is an open pocket (there is a velcro flap for the concerned) I have only had things spill out on one or two occasions.

On the outside of the main compartments are two large velcro pockets. For me I have one these constantly filled up by the custom fitted rain fly, a necessity in Seattle. The other pocket rotates between a laptop charge, random things for the day, a sandwich (in case the main pocket cannot contain a sandwich) or, if the mood arises, my Nikon D60 with a 50mm lens. They all fit well without making the bag feel too bulky. Though with all the pockets filled and a laptop it can get fairly hefty.

Speaking of heft, the main strap is nicely padded with grippies to prevent sliding. The pad itself slides but not very easily so it will remain in the set place when taking the bag on and off.

Oh, the main flap also velcros down onto the same large velcro pads as the big front pockets. However this is where a really neat feature of the bag comes into play. Each of the velcro strips has an additionally silencer strip. Essentially a complementary velcro section that can be put into place to prevent the velcro from making contact, effectively silencing the bag.

Personally, I use the the velcro for the main pockets in the front and use the silencer for the large main flap. The only time I velcro the main flap is when I am in a really crowded area such as Pike’s Place Market, a conference or a packed bus.

There is also a thin zippered pocket on the body side of the bag. For the first six months I thought this was a useless pocket with no real design purpose. Then when the rain season started again I had the rain fly on and realized that I could still access that pocket. This then became temporary book storage when scuttling from bus shelter to bus in the pouring rain.

On the sides are pockets presumably for water bottles or maybe cellphones. With the laptop always in there I am never able to use the pockets but I am sure they have a purpose. Right above the pockets are thick straps, the use for these on my bag is to hold a carabiner clip which then occasionally holds on umbrella or grocery bag when waiting for a bus.

Overall I really like this bag a lot more then my other bags and even better then my Streetwalker bag. If I am going someplace with camera gear it is in this bag, if I am going somewhere with a laptop it is in this bag, if I am going to work it is with this bag.

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