Photo Gear,  Travel

ThinkTank Airport Antidote V2.0 Photo Backpack – is it the Carry-on Answer for Small Planes?

I purchased the Think Tank Airport Antidote V2.0 photography backpack specifically for a photography trip to Maine this fall. The flight was on an Embraer ERJ-145. This was the only direct flight to Maine and the other flights also used small planes or regional jets. Needless to say, I was nervous about my safety of my photography gear. I had heard horror stories from friends and on the Internet about photographers having to check their carry-on bags full of photography gear.

I did extensive research on the Internet on carry-on bags for small planes and did not get a definitive answer about which bags met the requirements for regional jets specifically the Embraer ERJ-145. Based on reviews on Amazon and message board posts, the ThinkTank Airport Antidote V2.0 seemed to be a match. I purchased the Airport Antidote from Amazon for $199.

The Airport Antidote V2.0 needed to pass 3 tests.

1. Would it fit all my photography gear? 

The Airport Antidote passed test #1 with flying colors. I've listed everything that I stored in the bag below. The bag also has some handy pouches to store items (wallet, keys, etc.) when going thru security. Make sure you do a dry run with your backpack before the trip to make sure your gear will fit and check the weight. My Airport Antidote weighed 23.5 pounds fully loaded for my trip to Maine. Make sure the pack isn't too heavy for you to carry around in the airport as the bag does not have wheels.
  • Canon 7d
  • Canon 40d with Battery Grip
  • Canon 17-55mm f2.8
  • Canon 10-22mm
  • Canon 70-200 f2.8 ll IS
  • Tokina 12-24mm (for my wife)
  • Sigma 18-200mm
  • 2 CF Card cases (6 cards each)
  • SD Card case (6 cards)
  • Extra 7d Battery
  • Multimedia hard drive
  • iPad
  • IPad Charger
  • 4 filters
  • Canon 1.4x teleconverter
ThinkTank Airport Antidote V2.0
 

2. The Airport Antidote also needed to avoid the evil gate check tag. 

As the airline representative circled around the gate waiting area passing out the gate check tags, my heart pounded. However, the Airport Antidote passed the test. The bag also passed the 2nd carry-on test as I gave the attendant my boarding pass. I also carried the bag slung over one shoulder to make it look small and light.
 

3. Would the Airport Antidote fit in the overhead bins? 

The EJR-145 only has overhead bins on one side of the plane and they looked pretty small. The Airport Antidote fit into the overhead bin when positioned horizontally in the overhead cargo bin. However, the top of the bag rested against the top of the bin. I removed the very nice laptop bag that comes with the Airport Antidote prior to the trip. The bag looks bulkier with the laptop bag inserted and I wanted to ensure that I avoided the gate check tag. The bag also looks like it would fit horizontally under the row of two seats. This may not be feasible if you are traveling alone.
 
Overall, the Airport Antidote passed the test. It's a well built bag that avoided the evil gate check tag and got my equipment safely to and from Maine. This isn't a guarantee that you'll have the same results. I plan on continuing to use the Airport Antidote on my photography travels. I'll be sure to post a follow up if I have different results. 
 
Since the initial trip, I've also used the ThinkTank Airport Antidote 2.0 on several photography trips on small planes.  The planes that I carried the bag on included several more Embraer ERJ-145s and an Airbus A320.  So far, I've had no problems fitting the bag in the overhead on any trips.  I've also carried multiple camera bodies in the Airport Antidote 2.0 including a Canon 5d Mark iii and a Canon 7d with an assortment of lenses.  On a recent trip to Death Valley National Park, I fit the following photo gear in the bag plus accessories:
 
  • Canon 5d Mark iii
  • Canon 7d
  • Canon 70-300mm DO
  • Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II
  • Canon 17-40mm f4.0
  • Canon 24-105mm f4.0

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