The MindShift Gear PhotoCross 15 from Think Tank is one of those backpacks that feels like you can take it anywhere. It’s made from rugged materials and has a clean, understated design. It can also hold a decent amount of kit and lets you get at it quickly.
Despite the 15 in its name, the MindShift Gear PhotoCross 15 has a capacity of 20L. Its main compartment is accessed via a large zip-closing opening in its side.
Opening this reveals an array of dividers that let you organise your kit. There’s also a dedicated laptop pocket that can take a 15-inch device.
This main section is able to hold an ungripped DSLR and three to five lenses, including a 70–200mm f/2.8 mounted on the camera.
Think Tank has used waterproof zips throughout the PhotoCross 15 and it’s constructed from tough, weatherproof material. The base is especially tough-feeling and if you put the bag down in some mud, it washes or wipes off.
Nevertheless, there’s also a rain cover.
In addition, there are straps for attaching a tripod or jacket to the outside of the bag. The wide waistbelt is also removable, for those who prefer a bit more freedom of movement.
There are two thin pockets on the inside of the main compartment opening flap which are useful for holding filters, batteries or memory cards. There’s also a bit more storage at the front of the bag where there’s a zip-closing pocket with a slim internal pocket that’s a good place to stash your passport.
As usual, there’s a stretchy pocket on the left side of the pack for holding a drink or mini tripod.
There’s plenty of room in the main compartment, but on a few occasions I found myself wishing for another external pocket. It would be handy to have somewhere to store a phone or compact camera without having to open the main section.
- Exterior Dimensions: 33 x 50 x 19cm / 13 x 19.7 x 7.5inches (WxHxD)
- Interior Dimensions: 27 x 44 x 14cm / 10.6 x 17.3 x 5.5 (WxHxD)
- Weight: 1.4Kg / 3.0lbs
- Volume: 20L
The MindShift Gear PhotoCross 15 feels a bit wider and stiffer on your back than the MidShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L or 36L. However, it’s not so wide that it slips off my shoulders, and there’s a chest strap with a wide range of vertical movement that helps keep it in place.
The person using the PhotoCross 15 in the photographs here is 6ft 2-inches. He finds the backpack an excellent fit.
The shoulder straps are nicely padded and well-shaped. I find them comfortable to wear and I was able to carry the bag over a few miles up and down a few alpine slopes. I carried an eclectic mixe of gear including a Panasonic S1 with a 24-105mm f/4 lens and Canon 250D with 10-18mm 4.5-5.6, 18-55mm f/4-5.6 and 55-250mm f/4-5.6 lenses, a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III and a DJI Osmo Pocket.
Unlike the MidShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L and 36L, the PhotoCross 15 opens on its right side as you wear it. This means you have to swing the bag around your right shoulder to access the contents without putting it down. As a right-hander, this feels more natural to me than opening a bag on the other side.
Think Tank has used T-pulls on the zips. While these are easy to grip, they’re a bit more fiddly than the looped pulls on the UltrasLight backpacks. A looped pull just needs one finger to pull it, the T-pulls need two. It’s a small point.
I took the MindShift Gear PhotoCross 15 on a trip to the French Alps and it felt like a good choice of bag. It has decent capacity without being too big and gives your kit a good level of protection. It’s also comfortable to wear.
It reminds me of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L, which is one of my favourite bags. The MindShift backpack feels more durable, but the Peak Design Backpack has the convenience of an opening on either side of the bag. This means that if you load the bag with gear, you don’t have to pull a lot of the contents out while you hunt for something on the far side.
This niggle aside, given the choice between the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L and the MindShift Gear PhotoCross 15 for a day out in the hills, I’d opt for the MindShift backpack.