Do you have a good camera bag?

October 4, 2016

It takes about twenty-nine hours to drive from Columbia, Missouri to San Diego, California. This I learned back in January when a couple friends and I road-tripped out West to pick up a buddy and bring him back to the University of Missouri so he could begin classes in the summer. The drive out to Cali held many surprises (but what good trip doesn’t), most notable of these being that we saw more snow over the course of a couple hours in Arizona than the entire winter season in Missouri, it is in fact possible to do the stanky leg in the passenger seat of a Chevy Tahoe, and a poorly lit gas station near the Texas-Oklahoma border littered with bullet casings at 2 in the morning. Even though Bertha (the Tahoe) was mighty thirsty, the three of us prayed our way about 6 more miles down the road, rolling into a well-lit and well-populated gas station on nothing but fumes and the grace of God. All in all, it was a fantastic trip – one that all of us would do again in a heartbeat.

Amidst more than just a couple hours of carpool karaoke and plenty of praise for Bertha (who persevered despite many obstacles), the unsung hero of the trip for me was my camera bag. Almost a month prior to this journey westward I purchased a messenger-style camera bag from Creve Coeur Camera to take over as my primary bag. The bag I’d been using, fabulous as it has been to me, isn’t without its inconveniences. Designed with adventuring and hiking in mind, my backpack-style bag doesn’t play well with the over-the-shoulder strap on my camera, and constantly removing the backpack in order to change lenses eventually gets annoying. The mid-sized Tenba messenger doesn’t hold quite as much camera equipment as the Kata, but has room for more than I probably need. Being able to bring my Pentax K-5, a 50mm and 100mm (both 2.8 Macros), a 35mm, a 10-17mm fisheye, and battery charger all in the main compartment – and in a bag that only takes up as much space as a particularly fat Yorkshire terrier – is fantastic. When you’re spending an obnoxious amount of time in a car with three other people (including the Californian friend) space is a precious commodity. On the way West there was room to spare, but the drive home saw enough stuff crammed into the back to turn the rearview mirror into more of an accessory than a safety feature.

The quick access zipper at the top of the bag proved its worth many times over. Driving through beautifully snowy Arizona, I tried to snap some shots from the back seat without too much success. But we did end up pulling over on the side of the road a couple times to admire the view, and I was able to grab some decent shots then. The top-down camera/lens access was most beneficial once we actually got to San Diego. During our two-day stay, longboards were our primary means of transportation. I’m an avid boarder, and we took every chance we got to skate. Day one saw us skating around the San Diego Pier and a little bit into the city. Never having to stop in order to switch out equipment made my life much easier.

Another feature of the Tenba that I use frequently is the cross-body strap that keeps the bag secured so that it doesn’t swing around all over the place during activities more vigorous than walking, and it works very well. I had enough confidence in the bag to pull out my camera, change lenses and snap a couple shots while we skated down a scenic expressway by the sea at speeds of roughly 15-18mph.

I actually didn’t end up taking a lot of pictures on this trip, only around 250. While my camera was always on my shoulder either holstered in my bag or free and ready to be used, I found myself enjoying most of the views (and the shenanigans) without my face pressed up against a viewfinder. It’s so important to get out from behind the camera when you’re out with people you love, or adventuring. I thoroughly enjoy photography, but if you try to capture every picturesque thing you see it can become pretty stressful, and you can miss out on moments with friends or family. Shooting with film drastically changed my attitude towards shooting with digital in this respect. All in all, the trip out West and the return to Columbia was incredibly peaceful and relaxing. It was great to leave town for a while, and to do for something other than a family emergency.


The number of camera bags out there is overwhelming. There are so many different styles both practically and aesthetically to choose from that it can be really hard to make a decision while shopping for camera bags. It’s totally worth it to take your time and make sure you get a solid bag, not compromising or settling for something that will just get you by. The right bag will make your life and your adventures so much better because rather than being a necessary evil, it becomes a trusted companion that facilitates the photographic process.

I have absolutely no regrets about purchasing the Tenba Messenger. I still use my other bag when the adventure calls for it, but the Tenba is my daily shooter. It’s a fantastic little bag, and I highly recommend it.


Tenba Messsenger DNA 11 Review

- Nestor Martinez, Columbia, MO Store Manager

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