Over the years, I’ve tried dozens of different solutions for carrying my gear and could never find anything that was perfect. Normal bags simply didn’t have the padding or layout to support fragile camera gear.
On the other hand, typical camera bags were often big and cumbersome. As someone who is an avid hiker, I needed a bag that could support both photography equipment AND outdoor gear.
Then, like five years ago, I discovered the Tenba BYOB (I purchased the “7” specifically). So, in this review, I’ll be covering my (incredibly long-term) impressions of why I think this bag-in-a-bag is actually awesome. Let’s dive in!
- Lightweight and durable
- Fits a body plus small lenses
- Slides into any bigger bag
- Safe and padded
- Super tight front pockets
- Side pockets can’t hold much
Verdict: For those looking to find the happy medium between a normal bag and a camera backpack, this might just be your answer. Keep reading for my opinion or check out what others have to say.
Size & Weight
First off, completely empty, the Tenba BYOB weighs a conservative 8oz (227g), so even light packers (like myself) won’t see a massive weight difference. The exterior dimensions of the bag are 10.5 x 8.0 x 4.5 inches (27x20x11cm), allowing it to slip into even smaller daypacks (I usually put mine in my Osprey Daylite).
I’ve thrown this thing in my (tiny) daypack for hiking and it fits snugly alongside my 48oz water bottle. It even fits my a7iii so long as it has a small-ish lens attached!
On the sides, the Tenba BYOB has two mesh pockets. They are fairly tight, but are capable of holding spare batteries. Tenba’s marketing claims that you can fit a water bottle in the side pockets, but it’s EXTREMELY tight.
On the front are two very thin but deep pockets. I use these front pockets to store a spare cable, my USB SD card reader, and sometimes an extra battery. There is also a small metal ring that one could attach a carabiner to, allowing you to carry keys, a small flashlight, or even a sling strap.
On the backside is a large pocket. This can be used for pretty much anything. Spare cables, batteries, or perhaps even a small notebook. As a bonus, the top lid can be tucked into this pocket, which sounds convenient but is a feature I haven’t used much. On the top of the bag, there is a small carrying handle. The feel of the handle seems a bit weak, but it has held up in my years of use.
Durability & Longevity
In fact, the entire bag has held up well. I’ve certainly mistreated mine, but it looks brand new still. After years of use, nothing is frayed, the side pockets are not coming loose, and visually it’s still in great condition. The outside is made up of water-resistant nylon and mine has definitely survived a few rainstorms.
Update 12/2023: Still zero durability issues. It still works and looks the same as the day I bought it. I’ve crushed it in airplane luggage, tossed it across rooms, and it’s even survived a water bottle leak in my backpack! Shoutout to Tenba for keeping my a6000 alive.
The inside of the Tenba BYOB is fairly spacious, and includes a few adjustable velcro inserts to accommodate a range of setups (somehow, I’ve lost all but one). Depending on what you want to put in there, it could hold anywhere from 2-4 small lenses and a camera body. I found that I could fit my Sony a6000 and a few small primes (lenses roughly the size of the Meike 35mm F1.7, for example) with a little bit of room to spare.
For full-frame users, I’ve found that it can snugly fit my a7iii, but only if I have a relatively small lens. If you use any large zooms (like the Tamron 28-75 pictured below), you may want to upgrade to size 9 or 10.
On the inside of the lid, there is a zippered pocket allowing for storage of flat or small objects. I like to use this spot for storing my phone’s SD adapter in addition to a few spare cards. Batteries can also fit up here, but it is awkward and I would not recommend it, just use the side pockets instead.
The padding on the inside of the Tenba BYOB seems pretty secure. I’ve personally dropped mine (on accident) from standing height onto concrete, and all my gear survived. Perhaps I simply got lucky. It should be noted that this insert will usually be in a larger bag anyway, so it’s unlikely to get banged around too much as it is.
At one point, I dropped the bag from about 7 feet (I foolishly hung it from an adhesive sticky hook thing). One cheap lens (poor quality anyway) took a bit of a hit, but the rest of my gear took the drop just fine. That’s crazy good padding.
Overall, I’ve owned the Tenba BYOB for about four years, and I can confidently say it was well worth the money. I don’t carry a lot of gear, usually just the body and a small prime, so I don’t need the space of a dedicated camera bag. For day hikes, I’ll slip this into my Osprey daypack along with a water bottle, some snacks, and I’m good to go. Everything fits well, and I’m confident my gear will stay safe inside its own seperate little bag.
This bag comes in a few different sizes. The first being 7, which, as I stated earlier, is what I chose. The largest size is 13, which is huge, and would be well suited for those with large full frame setups. There is also a 9 and a 10, which is a better middle-ground.
So yeah, if you don’t have a ton of gear, and hate actual camera backpacks like me, I’ll drop a purchase link down below so you can check it out for yourself. Thanks for reading!
Buy from Amazon <– affiliate link, which means I get a (very) small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for the support!