Think Tank Unveils New Sling Bag; Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Sept 9, 2010
Think Tank sling

California-based bag manufacturer Think Tank made two announcements yesterday: a new sling-style bag called the Sling-O-Matic; and that the company is celebrating its 5th Year Anniversary.

According to Think Tank, its new sling bags "can be easily switched back and forth to either shoulder." To get more details and to see a video of the Sling-O-Matic series in action, click here.

More info on these two announcements can also be found in the two press releases below.


Think Tank Photo’s New Sling-O-Matic Series
The First Sling Bags with Easily Reversible Shoulder Straps

SANTA ROSA, CALIF – Think Tank Photo today announced that in October it will release the Sling-O-Matic, the photo industry’s first sling bag that can be easily switched back and forth to either shoulder. The Sling-O-Matic’s adjustable, fully padded shoulder strap “automatically” slides along a set of rails to change which shoulder the bag can be worn on.

This innovation is the solution to the problem inherent with sling bags: they are designed to be to worn over one shoulder only.  With one smooth motion, the Sling-O-Matic can be quickly switched to the opposite shoulder without losing the characteristics that have made sling bags popular among photographers.

The Sling-O-Matic series offers three unique bags to choose from, depending on the photo gear a photographer needs to carry.  The Sling-O-Matic 10 can carry a pro-size DSLR and three to four lenses, including a 70-200 f2.8.  The Sling-O-Matic 20 and Sling-O-Matic 30 can each carry a pro-size DSLR and four to six lenses, including a 70-200 f2.8.  The Sling-O-Matic 30 also features a separate laptop compartment for carrying a 15.4” laptop.

Key Features:
•  Industry’s first sling bag that can be easily switched back and forth to either shoulder.
•  Each bag fits a DSLR with up to a 70-200 f2.8 lens with lens hood in position.
•  All bags are flexible to fit most pro size DSLRs with a lens attached.
•  Discreetly stylized to avoid obviously appearing like a camera bag.
•  Long side pocket for carrying a tripod, large water bottle, or other accessories.
•  Large handles on three sides.
•  Wide zippered pockets on front, back, and side.
•  Business card pocket for identification.
•  Removable/adjustable straps and waist belt for additional stability.
•  Small storage pocket for storing removable straps.
•  Fully padded compartments for protection.
•  Seam-sealed rain cover included.

“However flawed their basic design, sling bags have long been a favorite among photographers, especially those who like carrying their gear on their shoulders,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank Photo president and lead designer.  “With the Sling-O-Matic we solved one of their biggest problems, which is that carrying heavy equipment solely on one shoulder can cause pain.  Within just a few seconds, photographers can quickly switch the load – and the weight – from one shoulder to the other.”


A Think Tank for Camera Bags
Think Tank Photo Celebrates 5th Year Anniversary

SANTA ROSA, CALIF.  U.S.A – One most often associates think tanks with groups of analysts pondering such heady issues as energy policy and global peace.  But a think tank dedicated solely to camera bags?  This didn’t stop designer Doug Murdoch from doing just that five years ago when he launched Think Tank Photo (

Think Tank Photo’s roots are those of a classic American start-up.  Like Hewlett-Packard and Apple, Think Tank Photo literally began in Murdoch’s poorly lit garage in Northern California. There, surrounded by bolts of fabric, sewing machines, and a cutting table, he created a revolutionary vision for the camera bag business.

Like a classic think tank, Murdoch founded his company on the principle that its output—the camera bags –should be the result of soliciting input from hundreds of professional photographers and having his team of world-class designers mull, sift, argue, prototype, and refine different designs. 

“As someone who had made a good living designing bags for numerous brands, I could have comfortably continued doing that work,” said Murdoch.  “But I knew there was a very big opportunity—a new business model—that had the potential to revolutionize our industry.“ 

For years, Murdoch and his former colleague, Mike Sturm, had the opportunity to design products for the photo industry and observe how other camera bag companies determined  what to create.  They concluded that camera bag requirements specific to professional photographers were not really being met.

“This was wrong,” said Murdoch, “and an opportunity.”

As lower prices were becoming such a dominant force in camera bags, he realized that there was a niche available at the high end for tailored, well constructed bags.  What the company might lose in volume, it could make up in superior design and quality that justified higher prices.  Thus, the underlying business model for Think Tank Photo was born. 

While Murdoch and Sturm teased apart the industry and probed for the hidden opportunity, their thoughts kept going back to two photojournalists from their past who had wanted to provide input into their designs:  Pulitzer-prize winner Deanne Fitzmaurice and Kurt Rogers.  With over 50 years of combined front-line photojournalism experience—from wars to weddings, from sports to politics—Fitzmaurice and Rogers had seen and photographed it all.

They all wanted Think Tank to be an actual think tank, a place where the very best photojournalists and other professional photographers would have a powerful voice in designs, policies, and how the company grew.  

Their newly released Sling-O-Matic shoulder bag is a classic example of how the company’s “think tank” solved a basic problem that had been plaguing the industry.  Sling bags, which are shoulder bags that until now could be worn over only one shoulder, cause fatigue. 

“That is exactly the problem we solved with our new Sling-O-Matic™ sling bag,” said Murdoch.  “Professional lenses and bodies are really, really heavy.  A full day in the field with a traditional sling bag slung over one shoulder invites exhaustion and muscle and ligament damage.”

Think Tank Photo’s Sling-O-Matic is the photo industry’s first sling bag that can be easily switched back and forth to be worn on either shoulder. With one smooth motion, the Sling-O-Matic can be quickly switched to the opposite shoulder without losing the characteristics that have made sling bags popular among photographers.

In only five years Murdoch and his colleagues have been able to grow Think Tank Photo into a major force in the global photography accessories industry. 

“Our goal now is make our gear available to every serious photographer in the world,” said Murdoch.  “We work with retailers and distributors in all corners of the world and invite others to represent us in their countries.

“Starting Think Tank was a tremendous personal risk.  But, based on my relationship with photographers I knew that if we truly listened to their needs and created products that reflected those needs, that they would support us in kind.  By staying true to our vision and mission, our dream of being an innovation-driven and customer-focused company has come true.”

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