The MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L from Think Tank is a 25L backpack with a removable insert that can be worn as a shoulder bag or belt pack. This insert is padded and comes with padded dividers that can be shifted around to hold your camera gear.
The insert sits at the bottom of the backpack and is accessed via a zip in the left side of the pack. I find I can just about fit in a Sony A7 III with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens mounted along with a 24-70mm f/2.8. Alternatively, there’s room for a large DSLR like the Canon 5D Mark IV or Nikon D850 with a 24-70mm f/2.8 mounted and a second smaller lens.
Helpfully, the insert sits sideways in the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual and its lid can be tucked into a pocket in the backpack’s access flap. Consequently, you only need to unzip and flip open one fastening to access your camera gear.
With your camera gear stashed at the base of the backpack, the top section is available to hold all the other stuff you need on a day out on the trail. There’s plenty of room for a light jacket, a heap of sandwiches and a few accessories.
However, if you need more space in the backpack, you can remove the camera insert and open a trapdoor to create one large space. You can then carry the camera insert on the supplied shoulder strap and/or on the backpack’s waist belt.
Alternatively, Think Tank offers an optional Panorama / Horizon photo insert that fits in the top section to extend the camera-carrying capacity.
The top of the backpack closes with a drawstring and the main flap is held down with two snap clips. That’s a nice, flexible closure that lets you squeeze in just a little bit more.
As you’d expect, the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L has a few additional pockets to keep your kit organised. Helpfully, these pockets are a decent size. The pocket on the waistbelt, for example, has enough room for your phone, keys and a wallet. And the pocket in the top flap of the backpack has plenty of room for a few accessories such as a card wallet and a few filters.
Inside the main compartment, there’s also a zip-closing pocket at the front that has room for a few essentials. And on the other side, there’s a pocket to house a hydration bladder or a 15-inch laptop.
There’s a tripod attachment at the front of the backpack. This keeps the weight nice and central.
In addition, there’s a stretchy pocket on the left side of the backpack to hold a drink and/or mini tripod.
Think Tank has done an excellent job with the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L. It’s exceptionally comfortable to carry on your back. The straps are soft and padded without being too bulky. Meanwhile, the padding on the back prevents the contents from sticking into you.
I’m impressed by how much I can fit in the top of the backpack and the roomy pockets. However, I find I tend to carry my camera on a strap to leave space for another lens or two in the camera insert. Alternatively, I slip a lens in the top compartment amongst my other bits and bobs.
Maybe I’m odd, but I’m right-handed and I find it more natural to swing a backpack around my right shoulder to access any side pockets. The MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L’s camera insert is accessed from the left side. This means I need to swing it around on my left shoulder. It’s taken me a little while to get used to that.
The MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L lives up to its ULtraLight billing. It’s surprisingly light. But that doesn’t mean that the fabric is worryingly thin or weak. It has a nice durable feel.
During my testing, I took the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L on several four-mile or longer walks. I spent plenty of time dawdling with my camera and I found it comfortable throughout. As you’d expect after carrying the backpack for several hours, I was quite glad to take it off, but I didn’t experience any chaffing or have problems with pressure points.
I also like all the pockets, especially those in the top flap and the waistbelt. They’re useful for storing those bits that you always need quick access to such as your phone, purse or sunglasses.
In summary, I think the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L is an excellent backpack. I like its ‘standard backpack’ design which means it looks less like a camera bag than some other backpacks, and I appreciate its low weight and comfortable fit. The price also seems very reasonable.