Friday, December 27, 2013

REVIEW: MindShift Gear Rotation 180° – FINALLY A Proper Hiking Backpack (Special Offer)

MindShift Gear Rotation 180°

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows that Think Tank Photo makes my favorite camera bags, so outside of Kelly Moore Bags I’ve been reluctant to spend much time reviewing bags from other makers. This isn’t because I haven’t used other bags, but more because I’ve been so disappointed with others that I’ve tried that it hasn’t been worth my time to write about something that I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending to my readers. My camera insurance article explains why I take my camera bags so seriously, so when I first heard about this new company called MindShift Gear (which is actually a spin off of Think Tank Photo), I was a bit skeptical.

The Problem

I wondered, why would ThinkTankPhoto mess with a winning formula? They make bags that are brilliant for travel and rough and tumble photojournalist, so what’s there to improve upon?

North Cascades, Washington State
North Cascades, Washington State 2007 – Ron Martinsen

I live in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest where I can literally drive 5 minutes away from my house and take beautiful mountain hikes, so I can relate with the numerous complaints I get about gear and camera bag weight. Personally when I hike these days I just take my X20 (or a camera I’m reviewing like the X100s) because I don’t want to be bogged down with a heavy bag and gear. However, some of the best photo opportunities happen on those hikes so often I really wish I had my 5D Mark III or a camera like the D600. Given the conditions under the forest canopy, a tripod like my Gitzo GT1541 is handy to have too, but things add up quick so who wants to do that? Well, from what I hear from my friends – pretty much everybody wants to! This leads to people doing silly things like putting their gear in their hiking backpack where stuff bangs against each other and gets scratched, and finding what you need can be a mess. This has caused me to get asked NUMEROUS times if there was a good hiking backpack that could also hold camera gear, but still hold things like water, a change of clothes, food, etc… that you’d typically want on a long hike.

The Solution

MindShift Gear Rotation 180° Rotating Animation
Here’s what they mean by Rotation 180
Get to your camera and basic gear without taking off your backpack!

It turns out the folks at Think Tank Photo got this question so much that they decided to do a Kickstarter Campaign to gauge the interest in them forming a new company dedicated to making camera bags for the outdoorsman instead of the traveller or photojournalist. This different focus would place weight, comfort, and ample storage above all others – yet there would still be the things we love about TTP bags – like durability! The result of that campaign was that people gave an overwhelming YES by contributing over $100,000 more than the $30,000 they needed to form this new company and develop this new bag in just 30 days! This extra funding resulted in the hikers dream bag becoming a reality with all the bells and whistles you could hope for! Based off the old Think Tank Photo Rotation 360 Camera backpack design, this bag offers a small bag to hold your camera, and some basic essentials. The photos below show some possible configurations that I think cover most photographers real world configurations when going out for a hike:

MindShift Gear Rotation 180° inside the rotating compartment
Camera and a
70-200mm? – No problem

Rotating beltpack can be configured to hold a wide array of pro size camera equipment. It will hold a pro size camera with up to a 70-200 f2.8 lens attached.Camera & lenses or a flash? Sure, no problem!

While the mini-bag isn’t huge, it covers about as much gear as most people would want to carry on a hike. If you keep your camera on something like a BlackRapid RS-Sport, then you can carry even more like up to 5 standard size lenses as shown above. For me the configuration on the far right most accurately represents how I plan to use this bag.

Yeah, but what about my other stuff?

The large 17 liter back/top access upper compartment can be used to hold essential non-photo gear. Way more than a camera bag, this bag is ready to hold gear that can save your life

My blog readers literally scale mountains on the weekend here in the Northwest (example), so sometimes the extra stuff in the bag can literally save your life. The photo above shows that this bag is designed with serious outdoor hiking in mind. Of course, MindShift Gear realizes that there will be other times where you just want a camera bag and ideally you want one investment that can serve both needs. This is where this handy insert comes in to make your big compartment a full-on camera bag like you are used to from Think Tank Photo:

The padded camera gear insert holds photo gear up to a 70-200mm lens with body attached and several other lenses.
Insert this into your main compartment to convert this bag into a traditional camera bag

Water Anyone?

Side hydration pocket accepts bladders up to 3 liters and keeps water separate from other gear.
Store up to a 3 liter
water bladder in a dedicated hydration pocket

that includes a tube pass-through where you see the water drop graphic Long hikes require water and typical hiking bags keep this in mind by having a place to store your water bladder. This bag was designed this this in mind, so there’s a dedicated compartment just for your water that also works to hold things like your Rogue XL Pro Lighting Kit when you aren’t scaling mountains.

What about that darn tripod?

One of the most frustrating things when you are hiking is trying to carry a tripod because do-it-yourself solutions end up beating you to death with the tripod, and holding it in your hand gets old QUICK. As a result, many people leave the tripod at home for an activity where the tripod is often needed the most (for long exposure landscape shots).

There are multiple options for attaching and carrying the tripod, including a multi-purpose removable tripod cup (included) that can also be used for securing a snow shovel.Easily hold a Really Right Stuff BH-55 head with a Gitzo GT1541
in any of the three ways shown here

Mindshift Gear thought of this too by offering three ways to hold your tripod without having it beat you to death! The photo above shows three possible configurations. The far right offers the most stability, but I prefer the middle configuration the most for my BH-55 head with a Gitzo GT1541 combo. However, there’s also times when you have the tripod already out and you need to trek around the trail a bit for some additional shots. This scenario was covered to in this awesome tripod extended configuration:

The Tripod Suspension Kit is an innovative accessory that allows hands-free mobility with your tripod-mounted camera attached to the shoulder harness.Tripod Suspension Kit
I literally shouted out BOOYEAH when I saw this feature on my bag!
I want this on EVERY bag I own from henceforth!

But wait, there’s more… (sorry, no Ginsu knives included)

MindShift Gear Rotation 180° AccessoriesA wealth of accessories available (some sold separately)

These guys literally thought of everything, so unlike a normal bag there’s a crap load of accessories (some included, and some sold separately). I’m sure this is just the beginning too as readers like you are probably thinking “yeah, but what I need is…”.

Video Walkthrough

This bag has so much to show that a video is really helpful to appreciate it all. Even though I didn’t go into all the details I still ended up with two videos that are over 8 minutes long each! My bag has all of the accessories on it when I start the video so you can see how they work. I start with my video review which just goes over the bag itself with no gear inside:

Next up I have a video with a bunch of stuff inside including clothes, keys, flashlight, and more...

Hopefully my videos give you a better idea of what this bag has to offer. It's my understanding that MindShift Gear will stand behind these bags the same as Think Tank Photo, so if you are dissatisfied for any reason just contact them so they can make things right or issue a refund.


When I read about this bag I knew I wanted one, but more than anything I knew A LOT of my readers would want one too. As a result, I contributed $500 to the Kickstarter Campaign with the no gift option because I wanted to see this bag happen. I never imagined that so many people would give away their money to see this product happen, but they did (many receiving nice gifts for their donation). Of course this prompted some people to say “hey, what the heck does Think Tank Photo need donations for – those guys are probably super loaded and driving Ferrari’s!”. Well the reality is that Think Tank Photo is still only a small 30 person company that reinvests heavily in itself, so Kickstarter donations were the only way to make this new bag and company happen. They were also generous enough to send me a bag to review so I could bring this article to you. I’m really loving what I see with this bag and I can’t wait to put it to heavy use this summer. I’ll report back if I see any issues that give me cause for concern.

Where to order & SPECIAL OFFER

Click here to order today and enter the discount coupon code RONMART to get FREE SHIPPING.

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If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this. I was given a bag to review for this article, and I contributed to the KickStarter campaign for this company. This is NOT a sponsored review (in fact, it’s just the opposite) and I’m NOT an investor or part owner in this company.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity


Peakbagger said...

Just curious what you think of the tripod suspension kit now that you've had time with it. Do you still find it valuable?

Ron Martinsen said...


My apologies for the delayed response.

I love my tripod kit when I'm walking around, but it does annoy me when I set the bag down on the ground. It requires me to lay the bag flat which can get it dirty, so that's annoying. With that said, I still wouldn't go without it as I much prefer the bag hold the tripod than me. :)