If you’ve read my MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 25L review then you’ve probably realised that the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 36L is a larger version. It has the same design but with 36L capacity. The word ‘dual’ is included in the name because there’s a removable insert at the bottom of the backpack that can be attached to the supplied strap and worn as a shoulder bag or belt pack.
With the insert removed, there’s a trap door that you can open to use the full capacity of the backpack.
Inside the padded interior, there are repositionable padded dividers that fit around your camera gear. This can hold a camera such as the Canon 5D Mark IV or even a doubled-gripped model like the Canon EOS-1DX II with a 24-70mm f/2.8 mounted along with a 70-200mm f/2.8 and another small lens or a flashgun. I used it to carry the Phase One IQ4 XF 150MP medium format camera with a lens attached.
Above this section, the 20L main compartment provides plenty of room for other gear like a jacket, warm clothes or a substantial packed lunch. Of course, you can stash a few extra bits of kit in there, but you’ll need a lens wrap or something similar to give some protection – a fleece does the job.
This main compartment has a drawstring closure which helps compress soft contents. Then the lid flips down and is held in place with the snap locks.
Although the UltraLight Dual is an outdoorsy-style backpack, there’s a laptop compartment that can carry a 15-inch device. Alternatively, this can be used to carry a 3L hydration bladder.
In addition, the main compartment has a zip-close mesh pocket for small bits and bobs. Plus there’s a good-sized pocket on the waist belt and the lid pocket has plenty of room for essentials like your purse and keys.
There’s also a stretchy side pocket for carrying a water bottle or small tripod.
You can attach a standard tripod to the front of the backpack, which means the weight is central. However, there’s a strap inside the main compartment that needs to be done up and tightened to keep the tripod in position when you walk.
- Exterior Dimensions: 28 x 53.5 x 22cm / 11 x 21 x 8.7-inches (W X H X D)
- Camera Compartment: 25 x 25 x 16.5cm / 9.8 x 9.8 x 6.5-inches (W X H X D)
- Weight: 1.5Kg / 3.3lbs
- Volume: 36L
- Read our guide to the best camera accessories
Like the UltraLight Dual 25L, I find the UltraLight Dual 36L very comfortable on my back. However, the extra 9L capacity means the bag is a bit longer, so the 25L version sits a little better on my 5ft 2-inch frame. My 6ft 2-inch partner, however, is happy with either.
The camera insert fits in a zip-closed compartment at the base of the backpack. This is accessed from the left side of the bag. Helpfully, you can get into this without putting the bag down, so there’s no need to worry about wet, muddy ground.
However, as the opening is on the left side of the bag, you have to swing the pack around on your left shoulder. While this keeps your right hand free to open the zip and pull out your camera, it feels more natural to swizzle a backpack around on my right shoulder. Perhaps it’s just me, but that’s my stronger arm and my dominant hand.
I carried bigger, heavier kit in the MindShift UltraLight Dual 36L than I did in the 25L backpack, with a lens and a few bits in the main compartment. Consequently, I was more aware of the contents on my back, but the padding kept me comfortable.
Think Tank has also done a nice job with the shape of the shoulder straps. They fit around my neck without feeling like one or other will slip off my shoulder. As the chest strap is moveable and adjustable, it’s comfortable and takes some of the weight from your neck/shoulders.
It’s a similar story with the waist belt, but as a UK size 8, I have to set it to the shortest length when I’m wearing summer clothes.
Think Tank has produced a nice, light backpack that’s got lots of capacity without being too wide. It means you don’t feel like a turtle or struggle when walking down bus and train aisles.
Given a choice between the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 36L and the 25L pack, I’d probably go for the 25L bag because it suits my size better. However, the 36L backpack is perfect for when you have a bit more to carry. It’s also a good choice for taller photographers.
Think Tank seems to have a very good grasp of what makes a comfortable backpack. While the MindShift Gear UltraLight Dual 36L is light, it doesn’t stint on the padding where it’s needed to keep it feeling good.