The thinkTANK Glass Limo - Wild Dales Photography

The thinkTANK Glass Limo

Photographers are always chopping and changing their camera bags, many have several different bags designed to do the same job. Perhaps it’s like shoes for some people? There is something very personal about a backpack though. It has to feel right, everyone’s frame is different, it has to be flexible and adapt to different equipment requirements and it has to be durable and look the part (sometimes this latter factor comes before the rest to some!).

I’ve bought and sold various backpacks suitable for long lenses, sometimes they were too big and unwieldy, the gear didn’t fit correctly in some, and with others they just began to fall apart or had a poor harness system. There is however, one bag that I have been using for the last two years almost exclusively, the Think Tank Glass Limo.

The Limo is a long lens solution and is capable of carrying an 800mm f/5.6 or a 600mm f/4 lens on their own, or a 500mm with pro body attached and so on. However, it also accommodates dividers to host a variety of another smaller lenses, bodies and accessories.

There are numerous reviews already out there for this bag but these tend to be based on photographers reviewing them straight out of the box. The images show gleaming bags which are tried on in the studio then the conclusions hastily given. I’ve put this bag through a lot, mud, rain, sand, snow, trips up mountains fully loaded and dragged along a rocky shore. I won’t therefore go into detail about the materials and technical aspects, that’s been done in the studio reviews, but will instead focus on how this bag has worked for real in the field.


Size and Weight

I have to admit that the size and weight quoted in the early reviews led to my decision to purchase this bag. At least 50% of my photography trips will involve a fair amount of walking and I will often just take my longest lens plus extenders for versatility. There is no point in therefore taking an oversize bag with lots of empty space. Some of the larger bags are 2-3kg + in themselves but at just 1.1kg in weight (without internal dividers) and 54cm in height the Limo offered big capacity in a small package. The loss of even one kg on a long walk is very noticeable and you really need to save that weight for the camera gear that will give you the images you need.


Unloaded the Limo is very light and its interior is free from clutter and intrusion giving most of that 54cm height over to lens storage. The bag works brilliantly if you have medium sized primes and zooms that you want to transport with a pro or standard sized body attached. For example, you can transport a 300mm f/2.8 with extenders in place (if required), body attached and hood reversed. 200-400mm (as shown left) and 500mm lenses can also be accommodated with a body attached.

In the case of the 500mm and body it is a reasonably tight fit and an extra couple of cm in length would have been helpful. That’s said I’ve worked with this combination for most of my time with the bag without too many issues. For 600mm and 800mm lenses, there isn’t the room for a body attached but this can be dealt with by means of an add-on case as I’ll discuss shortly.

There is also the divider set to allow the storage of small lenses and other gear. This isn’t really the reason for purchasing the bag for me though so I’ve actually never used it. Here’s a link to the Thinktank site so you can see it in use. http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/glass-limo.aspx


Construction and Durability

Well, it’s tough, no doubt about it. I’ve looked over my bag and found no tears, no stitching coming undone, no fraying in the harness straps and the zippers work like new. With a wipe over it still looks like new but I know that it has been scuffed against walls and rock, sat in mud and sea water and rolled around in the boot of the car. It's even been Squirrel tested (see image below) and passed with flying colours!

Inside, lenses are well protected by foam padding around the internal walls and by a soft cushion at the base to protect the business end of lenses. There is also a ‘doughnut’ type collar that secures the mount end of lenses to stop any movement at the top of the bag. I’ve not had any problems with the internal protection of lenses with the Limo. It is of course, made with very similar materials to the companies Airport series of bags which are bounced around inside aircraft cabins and on press assignments the world over.




Comfort and Use in the Field

For its size and capacity the Glass Limo has a great harness with plenty of padding and a waist belt that can be used as supplied, removed or even replaced with one of the company’s other waist belt systems. Unless I’m going on a really long hike, I tend to use just the shoulder straps which are well padded and comfortable.

The whole harness is adjustable as you would expect and there is also a very nice lumbar pad which sits the pack snugly against your back. As the bag is fairly narrow and not too deep, you don’t notice it in your peripheral vision as much as other bags which can remind you they are there all the time. You don’t catch your arms on it as you walk or bang your head on it if you look up. As long lens packs go, it’s very unobtrusive.

If you need to get to your equipment quickly then there are no gimmicks, you just pull it off your shoulder and zip both sides right down giving unhindered access to the lens compartment and inside of the flap where there are some nice big zipped compartments for batteries and memory cards etc. The zipped compartment on the front of the bag also offer additional useful storage space with pockets for keys, wallet, phone etc. The large padded handle on the top of the bag also makes carrying the pack in your hand easy. I tend to carry tripods separately and not attached to my bags but, as usual, there are straps supplied to mount one on either side of the pack.


Weatherproofing

The bag itself has had several soakings recently but the contents have always stayed dry. The material used in the main bag can stay damp for a while in the field, but soon dries out quickly at home and has not yet leaked through to the internals. The zips are perhaps a potential weak point for moisture (not having a seal as some bags do) but no problems so far in heavy rain or snow. In any case the bag's waterproof cover can be very quickly whipped out of the side pocket, placed over the whole bag and pulled tight with the drawstring. It only takes a few seconds and is very effective.



Expansion and Adaptability

On occasions I do like to have an extra lens or two with me, for example a wide angle 16-35mm or a 70-200mm, or even both. Whilst there is usually space to get at least one of these lenses inside the main compartment with the ‘big’ lens (perhaps wrapped in a scarf to protect it), I prefer a different solution in the form of Thinktanks Lens Changer or Lens Drop pouches. I use these as permanent storage for my shorter lenses and they simply latch on to the Glass Limo by means of three mounting points on each side and to the rear of the bag. They can be taken off and put on again very quickly and each pouch has its own waterproof cover that I tend to leave in place most of the time.

For camera bodies (if there is a 600 or 800mm in the main compartment) then a Speed Changer case is easy mounted to the pack to provide plenty of additional storage.

Final Thoughts

Very simply, there isn't anything better out there that suits my needs at the moment and my Glass Limo has done everything asked of it, and no doubt saved me from a sore back in the process. I won't be parting with it anytime soon.


Pro's

Durable

Lightweight

Good value

Compact yet spacious

Adaptable

Comfortable


Con's

Would benefit from being 2cm longer


http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/glass-limo.aspx

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