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Review: Tenba Large Messenger Bag

The Tenba Messenger Large Photo & Laptop Bag is a great medium to large sized messenger style shoulder bag. At first look it doesn’t look like a camera bag which is a MAJOR plus because you are not walking around with a bag that says “look at me I have thousands in expensive camera gear on me”! I will say that when it comes to a camera bag I am very picky on the feel, look, size, and protection it offers. This Tenba Messenger camera bag is just that; large enough for several lenses, a body or two, and needed accessories. It is by far my favorite!

I bought this camera bag in late 2009 and it has been my one and only every day camera bag of choice since. I have never owned a backpack style bag personally because I never enjoyed how bulky they look and are. Also on a trip to Taiwan with a professor the TSA officer asked my professor (who had a lowepro backpack on) what type of camera system he shot. However, as I walked through the detectors they had no clue that the bag entering the x-ray machine was a camera/ laptop bag. At that moment I knew not only did I have a great bag but I had one that does not look like a camera bag.

Features:

  • Removable photo insert provides padded storage for a SLR body with two or three lenses and a flash.
  • Bottom reinforced with rubberized, moisture and abrasion-resistant panel.
  • Thickly padded, contoured shoulder strap and hand grip for all-day carrying comfort.
  • Dual Duraflex® flap clips provide security, while large Velcro® patches allow for quick ins-and-outs.
  • 3M Scotchlite™ reflective trim on front flap for nighttime visibility.
  • Optional laser-engravable version can be customized with name, logo or other personal identification.

Specifications:

Interior Dimensions

  • Width: 17 inches
  • Height: 12 inches
  • Depth: 5-8 inches

Exterior Dimensions

  • Width: 17.5 inches
  • Height: 12.5 inches
  • Depth: 5.5-8.5 inches
  • Weight: 3 lbs

Laptop Compartment Dimensions

  • Width: 16.5 inches
  • Height: 11.5 inches
  • Depth: 1.5-2 inches
  • Weight: 3 lbs
  • Fits most laptops up to 17-inches

Also Includes

  • 638-251 Messenger Removable Photo Insert

Summary:

First off I must say that this bag is VERY well made and I have been impressed with its ability to stay together under all I have put it through. This included traveling to Asia, around the US, and even being hit by a car on a bicycle (yes I had this bag on me and was hit by a car running a red light and the only damage was a small screen crack on my laptop). As I mentioned earlier I knew I didn’t want a backpack since they are large and bulky and many scream CAMERA. Don’t get me wrong, backpacks are great but for what I was looking for; quick gear access and a bag that looks nothing like a camera bag, this messenger bag works much better. Another major fact to me wanting a shoulder bag is that when I travel, I travel with a hiking backpack which contains all of my change of clothes for the trip and this shoulder bag carrying my gear. That’s it. Both bags are carryon and there’s no need for me to check in any luggage. This helps me save money and headaches by not having to lug suitcases around on subways, buses, trains and planes.

I haven’t done a whole lot of traveling since my big trip to Taiwan but I have taken this bag out on 2 survey boats and it has held up greatly. Both surveys were in the Gulf and lasted for a min of two weeks and this bag allowed me to take everything I needed/ wanted with out fear of damage to my gear. And as states before, no one ever thought I had a camera until they saw me with it on deck. Fully loaded this bag still fit under the seat on the airplane allowing my backpack to fit in the overhead container.

Function:

In regards to capacity, this little bag sure can hold a lot of gear. For a typical trip I usually pack the following:

  • Canon 5d MKII (No Grip)
  • Canon 24-105 f4L (Hood Reversed)
  • Canon 70-200 f2.8IIL (Hood Reversed)
  • Tamron 17-35 f2.8-4 (Hood Detached)
  • Canon 15 f2.8 Fisheye
  • Canon EF 1.4x teleconverter
  • Canon 430 EX II flash
  • 6 CF Cards
  • 2 Spare Canon LP-6 Batteries
  • Benro Tripod (Attached to Bottom via bungees)

If I wanna travel a little lighter for the day I’ll leave the teleconverter and 17-35mm at home or in the hotel. Then I walk around with a smaller rig which can make the long 10-12 mile photowalks a bit more bearable.

This bag has 2 main ways of accessing your gear. You can unbuckle the two buckles as seen and then pull up on the flap that is help in place by Velcro but this is can cumbersome and loud depending on your location. However, there is a second method to accessing your gear. If you look below you can see that above the two zipper pockets there is a long (bag length) zipper sticking out. This zipper actually opens up to the main compartment allowing you access to all your gear quickly and quietly. I find that in an urban environment this works great b/c you can pull your camera out, get the show you want, and then put the camera away quickly and smoothly without drawing attention to yourself. This is much better than a backpack that you would have to take off, put on the ground or bench, unzip (exposing most of its contents), and then putting the camera away. This also allows for quicker lens changing so that you don’t miss that great shot. It is truly awesome! =)

Available Colors:

Tenba offers a wide range of colors for this bag that would fit anyone’s pallet. At the time I bought my bag I originally wanted the Green bag but it was sold out everywhere and I was impatient to order it online. So I found a brown one at Camer Co-Op here in Houston and got that one. Not my first color of choice but now its as much apart of me that I can’t imagine having a different colored bag. This bag and I have been through so much! Rain, Snow, Heat, hit by car, and BEER!



The Verdict:

I LOVE THIS BAG AND IT IS AMAZING. Not much else is really needed to be explain that this has been by far one of my most favorite camera bags I have ever owned. It’s not too small and it’s not too big. It’s just the right size for the camera setup I use. I honestly don’t think I could step down to a smaller Tenba messenger or up to a bigger bag. It’s just great in every aspect and suites me very well in my shooting and travel style.

If you like to travel light and have easy, quick access to your gear then this bag is definitely a great option for you. You will not regret it.

Where To Buy:

Find the lowest price on this item in the Pixtus Amazon Store located here:

Tenba Large Messenger: Black

Tenba Large Messenger: Navy Blue

Tenba Large Messenger: Plum

Tenba Large Messenger: Olive

Tenba Large Messenger: Burnt Orange

Tenba Large Messenger: Platinum

Tenba Large Messenger: Chocolate

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