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Is the perfect camera bag still eluding you? If so, Tenba has a great DIY option worth checking out. Dubbed the Tenba BYOB Camera Insert, it invites you to actually Bring Your Own Bag while still protecting your camera gear. Here’s more about what fits in the insert, plus pros and cons about using it as your new camera bag.
The Tenba BYOB Camera Insert is a padded shell meant to carry and protect camera gear while being carried inside another non-camera bag. It consists of a soft yet durable outer shell that easily molds to fit the shape of other bags, such as suitcases, handbags, and backpacks. Unzip the insert and you’ll find padded interior dividers that can easily be configured to hold gear of all shapes and sizes.
On the outside, there’s a handle for carrying the insert as-is if desired. Or you can purchase the BYOB Packlite Bundle, which includes a BYOB Camera Insert and an easily storable Packlite bag. The optional bag is rather thin, yet very durable and easily expands to hold the Camera Insert, or compresses to a size that will fit in your pocket.
There’s a range of sizes available for the BYOB Camera Insert, with the smallest being the BYOB 7 (best for inserting into a purse or handbag). The largest is the BYOB 13, which is big enough to hold a DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, plus 2-3 additional lenses. In this case, I’m testing out the BYOB 10 with the Packlite bag included.
Even though Tenba doesn’t really refer to the BYOB Camera Insert as a camera bag, it really can function as one. This insert is very well built and feels very solid and durable. Pockets line the exterior of this bag, with two flexible mesh accessory pockets on the ends. There’s even a solid top handle to help with removing the Camera Insert from another bag or to carry the Camera Insert on its own.
I used the BYOB 10, which was advertised to carry a “DSLR or Mirrorless Camera with 2-4 lenses.” At first glance, it looked like a large DSLR, such as my Canon 5D Mark III, would be a challenge since the BYOB appears very slim and narrow. It turns out that the BYOB has quite a bit of depth, allowing it to carry its suggested load, and then some. I appreciated the inclusion of flexible padded dividers that made it easy to pad stacked lenses to take full advantage of available space.
With the Tenba BYOB 10, I was able to pack the following camera kits. In the case of the Canon kits, it was definitely a tight fit, but the zipper did close all the way in both cases. For the Sony kit, I still had room to spare.
The Tenba BYOB is efficient at packing and protecting your gear while also maintaining a slim profile. This makes the camera insert truly flexible, as it snugly fits into a wide variety of bags. I appreciated this for several reasons.
First, it was nice to not be restricted to having to carry a typical camera bag. I could literally choose ANY large bag I had and convert it into a camera bag. This is especially handy if you want to fly under the radar with a bag that is not so obviously a camera bag.
Second, the BYOB addresses the constant problem of being limited by the amount of baggage you can typically take with you when traveling. Usually, the two-bag carry-on restriction for airline travel means that at least one bag needs to be your camera bag. With the BYOB Camera Insert, you can easily turn your dedicated camera bag into a more multi-purpose bag that can hold additional items.
The list of what bags you can stuff the BYOB Camera Insert into will vary based on the specific size of your bag. During my tests, I was able to stick my BYOB 10 into the following bags, each with room to spare:
All in all, the BYOB Camera Insert is a very simple concept that is executed well. Thus, it’s hard to find too many points for improvement.
The one thing I’d say is that the optional Packlite bag could use some improvements in terms of aesthetics. It is made of a thin water-resistant fabric that packs down to an incredibly small size, but at the cost of the bag appearing very wrinkled when unfolded. As a result, this Packlite bag is great to use if you really need it, but it won’t earn you many compliments.
What do you think of Tenba’s BYOB concept? Would you try it out for yourself, or do you have another camera bag that you’re dedicated to? Let us know in the comments below.