Tenba bag shoulders camera gear with understated style


The camera bag that does the job without announcing itself, the Tenba Cooper.
The camera bag that does the job without announcing itself, the Tenba Cooper.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

I’ve carried many styles and price points on my rounded shoulder over the course of a photography career, and have a closet full of camera bags to prove it. I always found a reason to retire each bag, whether it’s an expensive name brand, cheap knock-off or proven hand-me-down.

Lately, I’ve been toting gear in a Tenba Cooper bag. I’ve done so for a few months now, long enough where my eyes should begin to look at other styles and brands. I’ve never been happier with a bag.

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There are four bags in the Cooper line, each constructed out of a charcoal gray waxed cotton canvas that is soft but sufficiently water-repellant (a rain fly is included with each bag for a downpour). There are black leather accents, generous pockets and sturdy zippers. The bags are styled to be stealthy and understated.

Tenba bag review
Two of the four Cooper camera bags by Tenba, the Cooper 13 DSLR, right, and Cooper 13 Slim.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac


What differentiates the Cooper from the retired bags in my closet is an important thing — it stays on my shoulder. Even in my long-ago gym days, I could never build up enough shoulder for a bag to stay up.

I carry one Cooper for my larger DSLR cameras and a slimmer model for a mirrorless system. Neither one tries to slip away. The shoulder strap is slightly thinner but there is a long wraparound pad with an underside textured with sticky rubbered dots. Sometimes, a shoulder pad can be so wide, it has no place on the shoulder, or at least mine, to settle.

That the strap has found a place on my shoulder may only be part of the answer. The rest may be explained by how balanced my gear feels in these bags. I haven’t changed what or how I carry but for some reason, it feels lighter when slung in the Cooper bag.

Tenba bag review
Overstuffed with pro DSLR gear.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Had to kick the tires

As a figure, I cut a wide silhouette and, thus, my gear bag tends to bang into people and things as I try to squeeze into tight places. The Coopers are a little more compact than other bags I’ve carried — which helps — yet it is padded enough to cushion encounters with sharp corners, hard edges or the regular bumps that come from moving in a dense crowd.

I’ve been enamored with camera bags before. I would use a new one for a couple of weeks and call it a romance in print. But after every honeymoon, the flaws reveal themselves either through wear or some scenario where the bag felt like a burden.

I gave the Tenba bags more time before this review. I’ve let them get wet, dirty, tossed around and overstuffed. With all the gear inside, I’ve walked a couple of miles with the bag on my shoulder. With one camera around my neck and another on my shoulder, the bag comfortably carried additional lenses and other accessories for day-long shoots.

Tenba bag review
The Cooper Slim with two mirrorless cameras, an extra lens, an iPad Mini and various other accessories.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Now for the discomfort, the price. The small bag runs about $170, while the largest of the four bags runs about $300. The price range is comparable to other quality brands constructing high-end bags and spending a couple hundred dollars to protect a few thousand dollars in camera equipment is a worthwhile investment.

Tenba designed the Cooper bag to last.

Here are the four bags: the Cooper 8 will hold a mirrorless camera, two to three lenses and an iPad mini; the Cooper 13 Slim will hold two mirrorless cameras with three to five lens. It can hold a 13-inch MacBook; the Cooper 13 DSLR can carry a full DSLR kit, including the heavier 70-200 f2.8 lens; and the Cooper 15, which carries your camera kit plus a 15-inch laptop.

Price and buy from: Tenba Cooper 8, $169.70 on Amazon; Tenba Cooper 13 Slim, $229.95 on Amazon; Tenba Cooper 13 DSLR, $245.95 on Amazon; Tenba Cooper 15, $299.95 on Amazon.

Cult of Mac received review units for this roundup. Read Cult of Mac’s reviews policy.


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