Gear Test: Tenba Shootout

The old saying ‘the proof is in the pudding’ couldn’t be more appropriate when it comes to this camera bag. I had the opportunity to review this product last year during the Big Bag Review (see the October 2014 issue), and walked away thoroughly impressed with its ease of use, durability and functionality. In fact, this camera bag was adopted by my wife and has become her bag of choice.

In 2010, we purchased our first Tenba bag, and after much wear that borders on abuse, the older Shootout still looks like it did the day we purchased it.

Now, six months later, after my first review of this backpack, and much ‘love’ by my wife (which I would akin to absolute abuse), this bag has held up and still looks like the day it arrived on our front step.

Besides its good looks and ability to stay that way, this bag offers a lightweight, comfortable and safe method of keeping your gear on-hand.


Gear-Test-Tenba-Shootout-2Its construction is, no doubt, durable. Built with ruggedness in mind, its shell consists of heavy-duty, water repellent nylon. All pockets and pouches needing closure are sealed with heavy duty YKK zippers equipped with plastic-covered wire pulls. The stitching is clean and, for the most part, unseen. There are no worries about having unsightly, dangling, loose threads here and there. The handle and all of the straps are also made of rugged nylon with many points of adjustment. The portion of the pack that rests against your back is thickly padded for extra comfort and can be placed in a manner whereby air can circulate between you and the pack. Both the shoulder straps and lumbar support (removable when not needed) are covered in a moisture-wicking smooth lycra that keeps sweating to a minimum. Unless you are trying to sweat off last night’s pizza, that’s always a plus!


Gear-Test-Tenba-Shootout-3When Tenba constructed this pack, they definitely made the need for storage a priority. On the inside of the main compartment flap there are two very large, reinforced, see-through pockets with a separate memory card wallet. Also located here is a small side opening, a see-through pocket for your business or identity card. The full length, padded pocket on the outside of the main flap is deep and wide enough to carry your iPad. Although, with the size of phones these days, this may be considered a phone pocket! In addition, on the front flap, they have added two smaller pockets with netting, which are great for storing memory cards, batteries, extra business cards, etc. Between the back padding and the body of the pack is a slim, zippered and padded side entry pocket large enough to carry a 15” laptop. Located on the base of the pack are two zippered pouches, one of which contains a reversible rain and heat cover. Keep in mind that black can absorb a lot of heat, so the heat cover may come in handy to those that live in hotter climates. The second contains a foot pocket so a full-sized tripod can be strapped to the back of the pack.

Gear-Test-Tenba-Shootout-4Each side of the pack consists of pockets and pouches, too. One side boasts a full-length pouch for carrying your monopod, or a 12” sub sandwich, and an elastic pouch, perfect for securing a water bottle or your beverage of choice. The opposite side has one zippered pouch above the quick access side panel. If you remove the right strap from your shoulder and swing the pack to your left side, your camera is quickly and easily accessible from this quick access side panel. This specific pouch is intended for a body with an attached lens up to 300mm and has a pocket within its flap specifically for a lens cloth. Lastly, the deep interior provides you with many cushioned dividers. There’s ample room to carry two DSLR bodies, two to three large lenses and a first aid kit or other accessories. If you are going somewhere without your gear (who can imagine that?) the dividers can be removed for everyday use. But, I imagine that once your gear is in this pack, you won’t want to take it out.


Gear-Test-Tenba-Shootout-5Because of the properly placed straps and harnesses, regardless of the weight you may be carrying, this pack seems to be very balanced once it’s on your back. You never know when you might need the balance of a ballerina to shimmy your way across that fallen tree over a roaring river! Every zipper continues to pull as if it were its first time. The shoulder straps and lumbar support are super comfortable, with their extra padding and moisture-absorbing lycra fabric. The motion of swinging the pack from behind to one side of you is seamless and not awkward as some may think. But, I think the design of the ‘Air Flow’ back is one of my favourites. The breathability of the space between your back and the Shootout keep you from looking like you just stepped out of the gym from a two-hour workout!

In summary, this is a durable camera bag which looks good and has plenty of storage. The makers clearly thought through even the smallest detail, which escalates this bag to top of the line. I simply can’t recommend it highly enough.

Keith’s Key Points

Heavy duty construction
Tons of storage
Easy to adjust
Cool and comfortable

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About Author

Keith Briley

Keith is a professional landscape photographer and owner of Charleston Photography Tours in South Carolina, USA. When he is not on a quest to capture light and chasing adventures, Keith can be found instructing workshops.

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