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9/06/2008 – Think Tank Skin Pouch & Belt System : Light, Easy & Simple Solution For Traveling With Your Camera Gear
It’s no secret that I like to travel quick and light. I am always searching for better ways to bring more equipment, in less space, in a more comfortable manner. For years I used the Newswear belt system and pouches, for a light and compact travel. The Newswear Pouches are rugged, well designed, unpadded and met most of my needs. I often wished there was a “Newswear on steroids” pouch system that met my basic requirements, but gave me that “5%” more I was seeking, the solution to my needs has now been found in the Think Tank Skin pouch system.
I received my Think Tank Skin Set in April, and now a little less than two months after affixing four of the pouches to the Think Tank “Belly Dancer” belt/suspenders, this kit has now flow with me for approximately 45,000 miles. In this short amount of time I have tested the Think Tank Skin pouches, and belt/suspender, system in Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Incheon, Beijing, Hong Kong (twice), Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Washington DC. After all this travel I can safely say I love this system!
My ‘kit’ of the Think Tank Skin Set consists of the Skin Strobe, Skin 50, Skin 75 and Skin Chimp Cage. These four pouches allow me not only the ability to carry what I need, but also carry it very comfortably and protect it from the elements.
The design of the Skin pouches is simple. The interiors of the larger pouches have Velcro interiors with supplied dividers. This allows you to custom configure your interior to your specific needs. The oversized closure-flap has an exterior zip pocket that is ideal for “AA” batteries, smaller camera batteries, lens caps (the exterior pocket of my Skin Chimp Cage holds a Manfrotto 3007 compact table-top tripod and extension post!)
On the exterior of the pouch, but still covered by the closure-flap is an open ‘drop pocket’ with Velcro closure. These pocket has been great for larger batteries, such as Canon 1D batteries, ETTL flash cords and the all import need to carry candy bars that you can access and eat quickly while you shoot (WARNING: To not place Cadbury Crunchie Bars between a long lens in the pouch and “AA” batteries in the flap, the delicate nature of the Crunchie Bars they will crumble!)
A brilliant feature of the Think Tank Skin pouches is the ability to ‘eliminate’ the Velcro sound from the opening and closing of the top flap. This feature has come in extremely handy while shooting weddings. While working in small intimate ceremonies in both Paris and Boston I loved being able to work out of my pouches without the need to go hide in a corner while opening my pouch flaps. The interior Velcro can be flipped ‘closed’ leaving the pouch flaps ‘unlocked,’ but allowing the freedom to work in and out of your pouches without fear of everyone staring at you when you reach for a lens. This ability to silence the opening and closing of your pouches is really a great feature for not only wedding photographers, but also corporate and political photographers as well.
One very subtle feature of the Skin pouches often seems to go unnoticed by those who use the system until the need to use it…..the attached sealed rain cover! I had not paid attention to this important feature until I walked outside into a driving rain in Washington DC. This included feature is fantastic!
My kit is attached to the Think Tank Skin “Belly Dancer belt/suspender system. At first I didn’t think I’d like the Belly Dancer. While I loved the Newswear Belt System, I was not a fan of the Chest-Vest system. With the Belly Dancer I have found my own way of wearing the system. Occasionally I wear the system as “suspenders” with the pouches in front, however I find I more commonly wear the Skin Set on my right hip, with the strap on my right shoulder and the buckle clipped on my left hip.
I find wearing the Skin Set on my hip gives me not only more comfort for how I work, but I also have less “odd looks” when wearing it in places like airports, or while shooting subjects in front of ‘sensitive buildings’ such as an Embassy or large public facility like a train station. The less I get watched by security while I am working, the less I am likely to be approached, and thus the more time and less hassle I have to create the images I am seeking to create.
Had I designed a pouch set for myself, to meet my specific needs of not only shooting, but also traveling with all my equipment as carry-on baggage only, I could not have designed a more desirable kit than the Think Tank Skin Set.
…….Stay tuned for tips on how to carry this kit on-board with you when you are limited to one carry one bag!
If you like waist packs (and I still absolutely love my Mountainsmith Tour, this does not replace that set up) and/or you use pouches on a belt system, chances are you’ll love this set up!
Below are two photos of me wearing the Think Tank Skin kit. The first photo is of me wearing the Skin kit as it is intended to be worn, which is ideal for climbing. The second photo is of me wearing the Skin kit the way I usually wear it when shooting, which is having the kit strapped to my right hip. Along with these two photos is a photo of a ‘rough map’ of where my Think Tank Skin Set has flown since I received it less than two months ago.