There are many camera bag makers out there. However, despite the plethora of the supply , I find that often the products line-up is rather conventional with,too often, unimaginative, if not downright impractical designs. Fortunately, a few of these camera companies providing innovative products which fill a real gap on the market. New York based TENBA company is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative companies on the market.
Take the Tenba Packlite collection for instance : The PACKLITE is an original concept consisting of a lightweight collapsible self-stowable “nylon envelop” which turns into a shoulder bag by adding a BYOB photo insert (BYOB stands for ”bring your own bag). This collection comes in four different sizes (labeled 7,9,10 and 13). For the purpose of this review, note that I tested the BYOB 10.
The packlite does not intend to be your main camera shoulder bag but instead supplements your larger bag and potentially save the day !
Even when one travels with, say a photo backpack or a rolling case, there are times when a photographer will need a smaller, more discreet outfit.
Let ’s say , for example, that after carrying your equipment all day on your assignment on your large backpack or rolling case you want to carry a smaller load to go out in the evening.
Or, simply when you must have small equipment to a museum or any social event when large equipment in large bags may be frowned upon .. if not outright forbidden.
Now you have a perfect solution for those times : Simply take the BYOB insert that you had in your rolling case (or in your suitcase) unfold the packlite mesh envelop and here you have a discreet and lightweight shoulder bag in a New York minute (pun intended).
The TENBA Packlite is well-made and with one small exception, perfectly designed for photographers. A nice touch, often forgotten by other bag companies, is the side mesh pocket perfect to store a water bottle (lots of other camera bags makers seem to forget that photographers need water too !) (or maybe an accessory). The strap is adjustable so that the bag can be worn across the body.
Additionnally, The Tenba BYOB insert can be used on its own to turn your everyday backpack into a dedicated Photo backpack. I, for one, use a backpack on 90% of my photo assignments because most of them involve traveling by train and/or plane followed by long walks.
I had used other inserts before being introduced to the BYOB but I now plan on using only the BYOB because its extra height (compared to other photo inserts) allows for more storage (not to mention easier access to the equipment from a top opening bag) compared to other inserts.
Depending on how much equipment you want to carry, you will choose the size that works for you. I choose the BYOB 10 that provides a lot of storage options for your equipment . In the BYOB 10, I can store my Olympus mirrorless with 3 or 4 lenses, plus my GR and its converter plus extra batteries and sd cards on the top inside pockets. The BYOB inserts also have outside pockets on all sides and the top can be stored in the pack pocket. A really ingenious design !
Icing on the cake, the packlite stowable bags and the inserts are very reasonably priced . You can get the packlite for less than $25 here and the BYOB 10for less than $50 here which makes it a very good option for a convenient shoulder camera bag on the go.