Review: Think Tank Photo’s new Phantom Airport Helipak

Here is my jenny, pre-Think Tank Helipak mode of transport. Terrible!
Here is my uber low-budget, pre-Think Tank Helipak mode of cardboard. Terrible!

When it comes to transporting my DJI Phantom drone, I probably win the award for most frugal, basic option.

Yep, I still transport my drone in the original packaging it came in. Hey, it’s not a bad option! But it’s cumbersome, inefficient and one of these days, I’m sure the cardboard is going to break off.

There are a few solutions to my minor transporting disaster on the market — HPRC and GoProfessional make hard cases. GoProfessional also has a backpack option. Photographers may be familiar with the durability and quality of Think Tank Photo’s bags. And now, Think Tank Photo has added a backpack built specifically for the DJI Phantom to their inventory.

It's the size of a small person (and holds all my gear!).
It’s the size of a small person (and holds all my gear!).

At $239, Think Tank Photo’s Phantom Airport Helipak is built with the traveler in mind, providing lumbar support, an adjustable shoulder harness, and a removable padded waist belt.

It’s small enough to fit in an airplane’s overhead compartment (check with your air carrier) but definitely gargantuan enough to fit loads of gear, including your Phantom, DSLR camera,  spare lenses, a laptop and small accessories — all at the same time.

I have to say, carrying a bag that’s half my weight is certainly going to need a sturdy build with lumbar support!

But the bag itself is fairly light and not bulky considering what it’s able to carry. I would still bring this with me on a hike or day of flying at the beach in lieu of a rolling hard shell case.

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A custom divider set specifically designed for the DJI Phantom series allows you to reconfigure your bag depending on the gear.

Unlike its competitors, which primarily are founded on a pre-cut piece of foam fitted into a sturdy box, this backpack utilizes removable closed cell foam dividers. This serves two purposes: it maximizes space by allowing me to fit items where the foam would be, and also allows me to move the dividers for a custom fit — excellent for packing my camera and lenses along for the trip, or even putting together an overnight back of non-drone items to travel to a conference with just this bag.

The one part where this backpack narrowly misses the mark: fitting the propellers without having to remove them from the copter.

Ready to fly! (Except for those pesky props)
Ready to fly! (Except for those pesky props)

I distinctly recall a shoot I did with some of the Amelia Droneharts finishing pretty late and heading off right away to the airport. I sat at the airport entrance, unscrewing my propellers and trying to make sure they wouldn’t get lost in my cardboard box. Pathetic? Yes.

This backpack nearly solves that. You can place the drone in the backpack as-is with only having to unscrew two propellers. You could probably do some reshuffling to make the Phantom fit with all four propellers.

Designed by a company that has a track record in designing camera bags, this bag fulfills the commitment to detail of its sibling backpacks — small zippered sections, handles on the top and side, and a protective, removable cover.

I'm small; this backpack is big.
I’m small; this backpack is big.

This backpack is an excellent all-in-one solution for transporting your Phantom wherever you’re going — whether it’s on an airline, on a hiking trip, or simply storing it. Though priced slightly higher than its competitors — the wealth of features it provides is well worth the marginally cost disparity.

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