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November 16, 2006

Tenba Shootout Backpacks

Like most photographers I have a closet full of camera bags that have been castaway for one reason another. Most fell out of favor because they were either too uncomfortable to carry for long periods, too small for all the gear I needed to carry, and/or didn't allow fast enough access to my equipment.

For about a year I was using my Lowepro Stealth Reporter 650 AW or Lowepro Stealth Reporter D400 AW Camera Bag as my daily bag depending if I needed my laptop with me or not. But since both are shoulder bags they become quite uncomfortable when walking more than in and out of a building. Don't even consider them for hiking on rough terrain.

Determined to find the perfect backpack to carry my gear when hiking or walking longer distances I drove four hours South to my favorite camera retailer, Calumet in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They have a very large selection of bags from Lowepro, Tamrac, Tenba, and other companies on display. Unlike some other retailers, you can try them on and off over and over or fill them up with gear and not be hovered over or shot dirty looks by the staff. Calumet's people are just too friendly to act like that.

After carefully comparing all the backpacks I narrowed my selection down to the Lowepro CompuTrekker Plus AW Camera Backpack and the Tenba Shootout Backpack Large. Both have an about equal amount of space to easily accommodate my cameras, lenses, flashes, pocket wizards, other accessories, and my notebook computer. Both also feature weather rain jackets, the ability to strap on a tripod, and attach optional accessories to carry water bottles or an additional lens.

The Tenba has thicker padding, higher quality weather shielded zippers, thicker/more comfortable shoulder straps, and a nicer, more rugged/water-resistant feel to the fabric. But, this all comes at a weight penalty making it approximately a pound heavier. Despite the extra physical weight I found the Tenba much more comfortable to wear. It distributed the weight much better which actually made it feel light when on my back!

In addition to the two Stealth Reporter bags I mentioned before, I've owned several other Lowepro models and I have been very happy with all of them when it comes to the padding and protection they offer and their construction quality. But, for some reason the CompuTrekker just didn't measure up to them and it was uncomfortable to wear, even when empty. When loaded with two camera bodies with lenses it was painful! It just didn't contour my back properly and it was actually sharply digging in. Decision made -- the CompuTrekker went back on the shelf.

The Tenba Shootouts come in four different sizes and either Black and Silver or Black and Olive colors. I feel the large Black and Silver has more of a camera bag, "come and rob me," look to it. I ultimately decided on the Tenba Shootout Backpack, Large, in Black and Olive since it looked more like a hiker's backpack. I purchased mine at Calumet for $199.99.

The very next day (Sept 30), on my first outing with the backpack, I placed my smaller tripod in the bag's tripod carrier but one of the straps that help secure the tripod came unraveled just while I lightly grasped it to attach it to the clip on the other end. The strap unraveled without any stress or pressure being applied to it!! I was shocked and worried about what I would do! It was the end of September, peak of Vermont's foliage season. I didn't want to take another day to drive all the way back to Calumet to exchange it. So I figured I'd try contacting Tenba but I was worried that I'd have to send the bag back to Tenba before I got a replacement and therefore I would be without a backpack for the balance of the foliage season. What a bummer.

I emailed Tenba that evening stating that it wasn't convenient for me to drive back to Calumet to exchange it as I live over four hours away and I do not wish to be without a backpack if I must send it to Tenba for repair. I asked what other options were available to me.

A few days later (after Yom Kippur) I received a reply from Michael Hess, President of Tenba/RoadWired, apologizing for the defect and he promised to make things right. Which Tenba quickly did! They sent out a replacement bag overnight. I've been using the replacement bag for a little more than a month now and haven't had any issues. The same strap on this one is fine, and my friend just bought one and his is ok too, so I believe the issue was just an isolated manufacturing defect.

In every respect I've been very happy with my Large Tenba Shootout and I'm probably going to order the Small version for days when I can do with less gear.

Large Tenba Shootout Specs:
Outside dimensions
16.5W x 20H x 12.5D in
42W x 51H x 32D cm

Inside dimensions
13W x 18H x 7D in
33W x 46H x 18D cm
Specifications are approximate.

2 Digital SLRs, 7 Lenses (up to 500mm), Flash

Fits most 17" laptops

Other Tenba Shootout models and accessories:
Tenba Shootout Rolling Backpack, Large, in Black and Olive
Tenba Shootout Rolling Backpack, Large, in Black and Silver
Tenba Shootout Backpack, Medium, in Black and Silver
Tenba Shootout Backpack, Medium, in Black and Olive
Tenba Shootout Backpack, Small, in Black and Silver
Tenba Shootout Backpack, Mini, in Black and Olive
Tenba Shootout Backpack, Mini, in Black and Silver
Tenba Shootout Lens/Bottle Caddy
Tenba PW-7 ProDigital 2.0 Series Media Wallet

Posted in Photography , Product Reviews & Purchases by usrbingeek at 2006-11-16 21:30 ET (GMT-5) | 3 Comments | Permalink


Hello! nice site!

Posted by: none at December 8, 2006 07:32 PM

Have you ever tried to fly with this? I'm concerned that the medium size is going to be a strain on some carry on requirements and just trying to find feed back from any one who might have taken any size flying with them.


Posted by: melissa at April 28, 2009 02:55 PM

When flying I use the Think Tank Airport Acceleration 2.0 Backpack.

Never tried bringing the shootout on an airplane.

Posted by: usrbingeek at April 28, 2009 03:08 PM

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