..........with the Benro TMA 27C and GD3WH in a supporting role
Like many photographers, I’m on the quest for the perfect camera bag. The Tenba Shootout 32L was pretty awesome especially when the mission was mainly photocentric. However, with winter setting in and the adverse conditions in the Cuillin mountains mean the need to carry more gear so the search for the perfect bag was back on.
In winter, I might be carrying ice axe and crampons, bivi or camping gear for a night spent out on top of a mountain for sunrise/sunset photography. Adverse weather means more clothing and food, stove, sleeping bag and more so something bigger than 32 litres is needed. Also, given the chance of torrential rain or snow and high winds, 100% waterproofing is a requirement.
Whilst carrying out research, it was clear that very few packs would meet my requirements but I was intrigued by the Tenba system of inserts which are padded cases which can fit in any pack you like. As Tenba’s website says….
“Turn any bag into a camera bag with Tenba's BYOB inserts. The BYOB 10 fits a mirrorless or DSLR camera with 2-4 lenses (up to attached 70-200mm 2.8). The BYOB Backpack models have a vertical orientation and wide top-access opening that makes them especially easy to use in backpacks, totes and other tall bags.”
This sounded about as perfect as I could imagine. I could use one of my existing packs and put my camera gear in the Tenba insert which could easily be placed in a 100% waterproof drybag inside the pack.
After using the BYOB over the summer and in ever increasing wintry conditions, in rain, snow, gale force winds and even a little sunshine, I can say it’s a simple bit of kit and simple is best. No unnecessary gizmos or design features to add weight or go wrong. Simply a protective cocoon for my camera gear which does all that’s asked of it; keeps my kit organized, protected and readily accessible.
BYOB is an acronym for Bring Your Own Bag and this means I can use one of many back packs which I already own. Thus for really bad conditions, I use an Arcteryx FL45 which has a roll top and is fully waterproof so I can be out in bad weather knowing my gear is safe and dry then take out the BYOB insert when the light and conditions are right.
Conversely, if I’m out for a couple of days I might take a 65 litre Arcteryx Bora which has masses of space for all the gear I need, photographic and mountaineering. The BYOB is totally versatile and if I’m going to the shops or just out on a car trip I can just grab it and my Benro tripod and I’m good to go. In other words, it’s a useful camera bag in it’s own right as a stand alone item.
Multiple dividers and Velcro mean you can design the interior to fit your gear. With a bit of playing around, I fine tuned the interior so it can hold all I need;
Sony A7RII with Zeiss Batis 25mm lens attached
Sony A6000 with 35mm F2.8 lens attached
Zeiss Batis 85mm lens
Sony 55mm lens
Benro Filter holder and CPL, 3 soft GNDs in padded cases and 2 NDs
Cleaning cloths, spare batteries etc.
The design is clean and simple, streamlined and easy to pull out of a pack. In the lid is a clear zipped pocket perfect for accessories and the see through plastic enables me to quickly check essentials like batteries or memory cards are inside. On both sides there are stretchy pockets suitable for lens caps or small items but I haven’t actually used them.
A strong grab handle on the top enables the insert to be easily extracted from a pack or can just serve as a carry handle. The shape and dimensions make the insert nice and stable, a useful attribute when balancing gear on small ledges high on cliffs and ridges. The two way zip means you can open just as much as necessary to extract the required kit. The fact that the zip not only covers the two edges of the front face but also the top means it’s easy to remove a camera and attached lens when the insert is inside a pack.
The simple design is above reproach and after months of use shows no signs of wear and tear despite lots of abuse in pretty atrocious conditions at times. The insert has been placed on wet grass, muddy ground, snow and ice and still looks great. I usually try and put the BYOB on top of my pack or a dry bag but inevitably in a rush to take photos it ends up on all manner of terrain. It’s not marketed as water resistant or waterproof but it shrugs off damp and drizzle, mud and more. Ideally, a mark two version could have a waterproof base, but that’s me being a bit picky.
So far, the BYOB seems to be the best solution I’ve tried. In an ideal world, a pack company would make a 60-70 litre backpack which was weather resistant and had easy access to something similar to the BYOB insert yet stacks of room for other non photographic gear. The search continues but the BYOB definitely does the job.
All photos taken using Benro’s carbon fibre TMA27C tripod with the GD3WH geared head. This is a fantastic combination and perfect for landscape photography. The geared head is faultless and I love the precision and ability to make minute adjustments in all 3 different planes. The tripod replaces the TMA28C and is fast becoming indispensable. With two rather than three leg sections, it’s faster to set up and take down and feels a lot sturdier. On the down side, it doesn’t pack down as small but that seems a small price to pay for the added benefits. In time, I’ll be doing a review on the tripod but so far, it’s a winner.
A big thanks to Tenba UK for supplying the BYOB and Benro UK for the tripod and head.
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