Review by Jordan Trimas
Let’s face it, with the smörgåsbord of gadgets that most of us use these days, having a few different bags to accommodate and protect our cherished portables is paramount. Despite a few minor drawbacks, the Tenba Messenger Large Photo/Laptop Bag ($110), may be good enough to replace a couple of your bags, backpacks or cases — especially if you’re a photography professional/enthusiast or techie with a DSLR and a laptop.
The Messenger is a lightweight, easy-to-use, and aesthetically pleasing bag with plenty of storage options constructed with high quality durable materials.
Its most useful feature is a zipper in the top flap that allows access to your goods anywhere in the bag without having to put it down and unclip. It also allows you to keep the contents of your bag discreet, since you don’t have to open the bag’s main compartment to access the smaller stuff, which is key if you’re carrying thousands of dollars in camera gear (and a of course, an MBP).
While its compact design sheds a little more padding than I’d like in some places, its generously padded and grippy shoulder strap and its back padding were ample made the Messenger very comfortable to carry. The main flap isn’t bulky so it was easy to access the many pockets variously sized pockets and the main compartment even when moderately crowded with cameras, lenses, a laptop, several accessories, and even an extra shirt. This bag definitely scores an A for versatility and comfort.
There’s also a convenient padded insert which allowed me to switch from work mode to non-work mode by easily pulling out my camera, lenses, speedlights, etc. in one fell swoop, so it could be used in both camera bag and classic messenger bag mode. Although the insert for the large-size Messenger we tested could be a little bigger to fill up some extra space.
Unfortunately, the Messenger is not without flaws. Even though it would make it more bulky, the flap could definitely benefit from some padding to protect my camera from a blow or bump to the topside. If anything falls on top of my bag, I have no protection other than a single layer of canvas and maybe a girlish yelp if I see it happen.
The stitching also seems inconsistent. There’s overstitching in a few rather unimportant areas; and the fact that there was less stitching around the handle on the top of the bag made me wonder if it’d come apart after a few years of carrying it while packed with my nerd gear.
If you like messenger bags for their ease of use and utility, this will make any photographer’s day a little easier. It’s well designed, looks good, and is made with durable materials. If you’re looking for something more tank-like to combat gadget injury, this might not be the right bag for you.