Airport Security Roller
I’m a documentary filmmaker, not a still photographer, and so I was a little surprised to discover a great carry-on for video gear at Think Tank Photo. Thanks to its large interior and flexible partitioning system, the Airport Security is easily adapted for video, audio, lighting, or any other gear you just aren’t going to leave in the hands of airline baggage handlers.
We put the Airport Security through a good workout recently on a 10-day, 6-airport, 3-rental car shoot starting in Idaho, moving across five New England states, and finishing up in South Florida. When we travel lighting, electrical, and tripods are left to their fate in checked baggage; cameras and microphones stay with us on the airplane. This is what we want in a carry-on case:
1. Holds two complete camera set-ups (cameras, lens hoods, batteries, power supplies, filters, mics, cables, tools) and a laptop.
2. Large compartments that are quickly customized for different gear packages.
3. Zippers, handles, and wheels are industrial quality, and the case rolls both off-road as well as on pavement.
4. Fits easily in the overhead baggage compartment and protects the gear when other passengers jam their luggage in against it.
5. Locks and doesn’t look like a camera case.
The Airport Security does all of the above, plus it offers some ingenious features that lift the spirits of a traveling cameraman.
Security: Locking zippers on the main compartment and a built in cable lock tucked way in an outside pocket–pull out the cable and lock it up to something solid in an airport lounge, rental car, or hotel room. It’s much quicker than the heavy bicycle cable locks we carry for the same purpose.
More security: Padded straps convert the Airport Security from a roller to a backpack. Think Tank says this is for carrying the case where it won’t roll, but for us it’s for sketchy third world airports (think Port-au Prince, Haiti) where you have to be in constant physical contact with the gear or it will be stolen.
TSA friendly: A TSA officer took one look inside and said, “You’d never guess there was all this expensive stuff in there. Looks like just any another suitcase.” Inside everything’s in plain sight, so TSA will speed you through the visual inspection routine.
Rain cover: It could also protect a camera from dust, rain, or spray on a boat.
Quality construction: The signature feature of the Airport Security Roller is that it is built tough.
• Wheels– best I’ve seen on any roller; very smooth on pavement, good stability on rough ground.
• Telescoping pull handle– long, strong, and smooth. Don’t lift the case with it, but you can pull and push it just about anywhere.
• Zippers—industrial YKK, the best. They track smoothly, even with the case bulging in overload.
• Grab handles on top, side, and bottom for wrangling the case into and out of vehicles and overhead compartments.
In the past four decades, we’ve hauled a lot of gear through a lot of airports. Thirty years ago I lugged my Arri 16 BL wrapped in a down parka inside a gym bag. Twenty years ago I stuffed my Betacam in a hollowed out suitcase padded with upholstery foam. But last week the Airport Security carried 50 pounds of critical equipment through six airports and seven shooting locations, in and out of vehicles and hotels– inconspicuously, in total security, and with little physical effort. That’s progress.
Morganstar Media is a Bay Area media company specializing in historical biographies and environmental documentaries.
Contact Randall Morgan