Review and photography by Mark and Leslie Degner
We recently received the new Tenba Shootout Backpack 24L to try out and were really interested in seeing what it’s like, since we’ve never used or tested a Tenba photo backpack before even though the company has been making camera bags for many years. The new Tenba Shootout series of backpacks is designed for photographers and videographers and comes in three sizes: the smallest being the 18L, the 24L, which is the one we reviewed, and the larger 32L. All are made with high quality nylon fabrics for water repellency and durability. They’re all weather sealed and have rubberized YKK zippers, Duraflex clips and heavy reinforced stitching so they appear to be very well made and rugged.
The pack itself is deep, but it needs to be to accommodate a pro-sized DSLR with a tripod mount plate attached. The main compartment has movable dividers that can accommodate one to two DSLR bodies and four to six lenses (up to 300mm f/2.8 attached to a body), as well as a laptop up to 15 inches. There is also a smaller side access door that allow a camera to be removed from the pack without having to take it completely off. We found that it was a bit tight for the DSLR with tripod mount plate on, but still accessible. However, the side access door was easily big enough for Leslie to remove her Olympus E-M1 with the 40-150mm f/2.8 with tripod mount on the lens.
The Pivot-Fit harness system is designed to adjust to different shoulder shapes for a comfortable fit on most people. The 7.5 cm wide padded shoulder straps and 10 cm padded hip belt are adjustable, allowing for a custom fit that doesn’t cut into the body while still allowing the pack to rest properly. The shoulder straps are covered in a moisture-wicking lycra material that slides easily over your clothing.
There are several pockets on the front and sides of the bag. Some of the pockets are designed for videographers to hold cables and microphone equipment boom sticks, but they’re not just limited to carrying those things. There are mesh pockets to hold a water bottle and compression straps on both sides to help hold things close to the bag. Also included with the backpack is a media wallet that holds up to four media cards and a microfibre lens cloth. On the 24L and 32L models there’s a tripod holder on the back of the pack that holds a tripod securely and keeps the load balanced. It has a couple of handy feature for travelling, such as the zippers on the main compartment, side access that can be locked and adjustable trolley straps that go over the extending handle of a rolling suitcase.
The Tenba Shootout Backpack comes with a detached rain cover that’s stored in a pocket at the base of the bag. A neat feature of the rain cover is that it’s reversible; black on one side to match the colour of the backpack and silver on the over side. The silver side is designed to reflect sunlight so that the bag doesn’t heat up, but it also could double as a reflector to bounce light into your subject in a pinch. Since the rain cover is detached it could also be used as a ground cover to kneel or sit on when out in the field and it’s wet.
We loaded a bunch of our camera gear into the Tenba Shootout Backpack, adjusted the straps and belts to fit and headed out for a hike to see how it performed. Leslie tried it out first. Since the backpack was full of cameras and lenses she found it to be heavy when she first picked it up, but once it was on and properly adjusted she thought it very comfortable and hardly noticed the weight. Many photo backpacks that she has tried in the past rode too low, resulting in the weight being more on her shoulders rather than on her hips, but this pack rode nicely on her hips and distributed the weight properly. Due to our height differences — Leslie is 5’2” and I’m 6’ — we often find that if a photo backpack fits one of us well, the fit isn’t as good for the other person. So we were very pleased to see that the Shootout 24L Backpack also fit me very comfortably, making this a versatile backpack.
We suggest that if you’re at all serious about a backpack for your camera gear, and want one that fits comfortably, go and have a look at the Tenba Shootout Backpack line and try one for yourself. Tenba packs are available at Vistek. The Tenba Shootout Backpack 24L is a rugged, well-designed backpack and has a lot to offer at $299.95.