Fanny packs are a thing of the 80’s, right? As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, that’s always what my impression of fanny packs and belt packs were, especially pertaining to photography. I’d see other professional photographers running around with them and would giggle to myself. Little did I know that I’d one day make the leap to the belt pack and find myself LOVING it. In this case, I’m referring to the Think Tank Change Up Belt Pack, which I’ve been using on a very regular basis for the past month.
As I mention often in my blogs, I’ve been a longtime fan of the Think Tank Retrospective shoulder bags, having used two of them now. I love how they’re solid and sturdy, yet also lightweight and compact with all of the pockets in just the right places. However, hauling around too much gear in the bags damaged my shoulder and neck muscles after a while, and my chiropractor strongly recommended I look into a belt pack. I automatically looked to see if Think Tank had any, and after much consideration, ordered the Change Up Belt Pack.
Compared to the Retrospective bags, the Change Up is quite a bit smaller, with its description saying it’s meant to hold lenses, accessories, and Micro 4/3 kits. In the image above, you can see the bag’s size relative to the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
The bag has one large main pocket for your camera body and/or accessories, one flat internal zippered pocket for memory cards and such, one flat outer zippered pocket for memory cards and such, two stretchy outer side pockets, and two stretchy outer front pockets (great for holding Pocket Wizards, lens caps, or cell phones). There’s also a flat zippered pocket for tablets or notebooks.
For those who shoot with larger DSLRs, this bag can still hold your camera bodies, but barely. I can usually squish DSLRs in the bag, but then find that many of other zippered pockets are pressed tight with hardly any room to insert additional items other than flat memory cards and lens caps. I find my Canon 5D Mark III to be a bit too wide for the bag, even with a 50mm lenses attached. My Canon 6D on the other hand fits perfectly even when mounted with the Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens or Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 wide angle lens. As a result, I generally pair this bag with the Canon 6D body. I’ll still have enough room to stick quite a few accessories in there, even the 70-200mm. At the end of this post are some various gear configurations that work well with this bag.
In terms of ergonomics and support, this bag is a winner. The belt straps are thick, sturdy, easily adjustable, and the connecting pieces make a satisfying click when snapped into place. On the downside, those with smaller waists may find the excess straps can be a bit cumbersome to stow away. If you don’t want to wear the bag as a belt pack, the straps can fold and hide away into the bag’s back flap. Additional support exists in the form of removable shoulder straps that can provide extra lift while wearing the belt pack, or easily convert the bag into a shoulder bag. An extra shoulder strap can also be added as a sort of chest strap.
Material-wise, the Change Up’s exterior fabric is water resistant, a feature I put to the test during a recent outdoor food festival shoot that got rained out. The Change Up’s material withstood the rain, and the extra rain hood that comes with the bag was great for extra moisture security.
Overall, this is a fabulous belt pack that delivers on Think Tank’s stellar reputation to craft durable, functional, and stylish camera bags. It’s great for ergonomics and will save your back during an all-day long photo shoot as well as serve as a great way to safely transport your gear during a casual day trip. I highly recommend it!
Think Tank Change Up with a Canon 6D with 16-35mm f/2.8 attached, Canon 580 EXII Speedlite, 2 Pocket Wizards.
Canon 6D with 16-35mm f/2.8 lens attached, 580 EXII Speedlite, 2 Pocket Wizards, and Nexus 7 tablet.
*Written two years later in August 2015
Having now owned the Think Tank Change Up bag for almost two full years now, I continue to use it as my go-to camera bag. It’s perfect for shorter road trips, or for taking on long term vacations, and I’m incredibly thankful to its waist straps for saving me from many trips to the chiropractor. Quality-wise, this bag has withstood the test of time. No matter how many crazy situations I’ve thrown it into, including all-day golf tournaments, treks through Belizean jungles, and multi-day music festivals, this bag seriously looks just as new as it was the day I first received it. The material has held up and doesn’t appear worn or faded, and all of the buckles, clips, and zippers are as sturdy as ever. In sum, GET THIS BAG. Seriously, do it. It’s worth the investment.