I normally tend to stay away from sharing thoughts on gear and camera bags. However, for this post I am doing exactly that. I want to talk about the drone backpack, the Helipak from Think Tank. Now first off, I just want to say that there is no perfect backpack, however this one comes close!
I have been flying my DJI Phantom 3 for the last year and have just been using one of the GPC backpacks. It is a great option for transporting the phantom, I like the foam cutouts that keep everything secure, I like the side pockets and the dedicated laptop compartment. I even had a custom made case that I could attach to fit the gimbal portion of my Ronin in for longer trips and for my trip to Haiti (Shooting In Haiti). However, the one downside is, you could only fit the drone, controller and batteries in it. As mentioned before the foam cutouts are great to keep the drone secure, but it takes up quite a lot of space. Space that could be used for another camera, lens, etc. you get the picture.
This brings me to the Think Tank Helipak. One of the only bags out there where you can fit more than just your drone in it. Upon unpacking the bag I was already impressed with its quality. It reminded me of my Lowepro Trekker 450, large and super comfy on the back. I was immediately happy with this purchase. I loaded up the bag with the DJI Phantom 3, three batteries, controller, Canon 5DMiii, 35mm 1.4, camera batteries, laptop and ipad mini. It was still quite comfortable on the back and there was still room for two more camera lenses. The other aesthetically pleasing aspect that I really like about the helipak is that although it is deeper than most backpacks, it has a relatively narrow profile. Making it a bit easier to walk around with, in the bush, crowds of people etc. I also liked how rigid and stiff the dividers are separate the drone from other accessory compartments. I was a little worried at first that this would not be as protective and secure as the foam cutouts that so many other bags have. However, after seeing the bag in person, I’m not worried at all about this being an issue.
So how is the bag actually out shooting? The answer, perfect. I decided to test it out by going back up to Whonnock Lake, with my family. The Think Tank Helipak was perfect. It allowed me to fit everything I wanted to bring, my phantom and DSLR, with a few lens. I didn’t have to bring multiple bags, it was all in one place. I know other bags are implementing this as well, but I figured I would mention it, I like that the bag can double has a landing pad as the top of the bag is flat. I didn’t use this feature at Whonnock Lake, as I just took off from the narrow dock. However this could be handy, if you’re filming on a rocky beach or uneven terrain. I also love the quality and the robustness of both the handles. I really like how they included the handle on the side of the bag as well, makes it easier to load in and out of a vehicle.
When I say "The Bad" its not really bad, more of a small concern. I would simply like to see a few more smaller pockets with zippers. There are three larger zipper pockets when you open up the lid of the backpack. These are great for storing props and larger accessories, but it would be nice to have something in the front compartment, where you would keep your laptop and ipad, where you could securely keep memory cards. I know it’s a small thing, but for me, memory cards are one of the important accessory in my kit.
Now at the end of the day, this is just a bag. It won’t necessarily make you a better filmmaker or drone pilot. However it will make your life easier. I would definitely recommend this bag if you are an outdoor adventure filmmaker and/or photographer. It is a great way to transport your gear.