Towards the end of my Domke F-5XB review I said I was planning on ordering the Think Tank Retrospective 7 bag. As much as I love the F-5XB, I also needed something slightly larger. A bag that would have enough room to store my iPad and a few extra items for when I go abroad. As with my search for the perfect walk-around bag, I viewed and read what seemed like an endless amount of bag manufacturer websites and reviews until I found the Retrospective 7.
The fact that it had a dedicated padded pocket for an iPad or 11" Macbook air was enticing.
The Retrospective 7 measures 12.5” wide, 5" deep and 8.8” high internally. Externally it's 13.5” wide, 7" deep and 9.5” high. It has a velcro fastening flap with a neat feature (which I'll come onto later), the padded tablet pocket and numbers other internal pockets and adjustable compartment.
The carrying handle on top of the bag is removable. I took mine off as personally I didn't feel it was necessary. There are webbing loops on both ends a Think Tank pouches can also be attached.
Unlike the F-5XB, there is no zipper under the main flap, however the velcro fasteners are strong enough to alleviate any security concerns. The bag is fairly big in size so I actually prefer there not being a zip, it makes it quicker to access.
Open the bag and you're met with a large main compartment separated by two velcro-fastened dividers. As shown in the picture above, they can be folded (left) or completely vertical (right). By folding them, you can create a partially concealed areas for smaller items. On the front of the bag is another large velcro fastened pocket, it's big enough to hold a book, travel documents etc. I can even fit my iPad in there however it's not padded. There is a large zipped compartment which stretches the width of the bag. Perfect for storing money, your passport or other larger documents.
Next to the front velcro-fastened pocket is another wide slip pocket. Inside this area are a couple of pen and card holders (as shown above). In fact, there are many hidden areas of this bag that I can't even get photos of. If you like pockets and storage compartments then this bag has plenty, but they never impose on the size of the main compartment. I can't see myself using them all but it's always handy to have options. A nice bonus is the keychain attached to a nice visible blue ribbon. Handy for keeping your keys secure.
At either end of the bag there are fastened nylon pockets designed to carry flashlights and other accessories. I even managed to squeeze a bottle of water into one of them.
The fully adjustable strap is thick and durable. At first I didn't like the bulkiness of the moveable shoulder pad and was tempted to try and remove it. But after wandering around Bruges with the bag full for hours upon end, I'm glad I didn't. The strap was comfortable and rubber strips stopped it from sliding off my shoulder. I still prefer the unique Domke straps, however.
As I said earlier, the bag has a dedicated external pocket for your tablet. It's padded and secured by a zip so I had no concerns slinging the bag it into the overhead luggage on the plane.
I know it's hard to get excited about camera bags, let alone pockets and padded compartments but this is a pretty cool feature that caught my eye...
Underneath the main flap are two velcro silencers. They give you the option fastening the bag with the noisy velcro (shown on the right) or disabling and silencing the velcro altogether (shown on the left). Awesome right?! Okay, it's not on the same level as Han Solo coolness but it's still cool. One of things (the only thing?) I disliked about the Domke F-5XB was the stiff, noisy velcro which fastened the main flap. The Think Tank silencers solve this problem in an instant. I opted to silence one side, giving me a decent amount of security and being fairly quiet when opening at the same time. And look, there is even a clear ID card holder to use.
Think Tank also include a detachable seam-selead elasticated rain cover which is designed to cover the whole bag. It was easy to put on and doesn't take up much space when not in use. They also chucked in some extra dividers. Cue a lot of time spent trying to customise the perfect bag layout for all your gear.
There are various sized bags in the Think Tank Retrospective range, however it's only the Retrospective 7 which comes with the dedicated tablet pocket. It comes in three different colours, Pinstripe (which I opted for), Slate blue or black. I decided to pop down to a store just out of town so that I could take a look at each of them. The black looked a little boring and although the Blue slate looked great, the Pinstripe was the one for me. The material is strong and has been treated for 'durable water-resistance'. The size is perfect for my X100s. It would also fit a DSLR and several lenses. It's a good all-rounder.
Overall, I really like the bag. It fits my requirements perfectly. As an amateur photographer who doesn't make a penny from taking photos it's sometimes hard to justify spending money on accessories you might not necessarily need I wanted to make sure I'd made the right choice, hence why I do so much online research into my purchases. Saying that, I picked up the bag for £119 which for a camera bag of this quality is a great price.
As with the Domke F-5XB, there isn't anything I dislike about the bag. I wouldn't have purchased it if there was. If I had to pick a negative? There are too many pockets and options! Not that they get in the way of getting to your gear (they are actually very useful), it's just that it takes me longer to decide how to store everything!
I'd recommend the bag and I'd recommend Think Tank the brand. The offer some great bags with some great features. I'd definitely buy from them again.
If you have any questions about the bag then feel free to leave a comment.