The Tenba messenger small bag is a light weight bag aimed at street photographers. It is designed to carry 3-4 lenses and a mirrorless camera or small/medium sized DSLR, as well as various other items you might want to carry on a day out.
I have had the bag for a couple of weeks and have used it in a variety of situations. Below is a review of what the bag is like to use in the real world. If you want to know the specs of the bag, watch Tenba's promotional video.
The Messenger bag is made from weather proof Cordura nylon, which is very durable, as to how weather proof the Cordura nylon is, it is hard to say but I was out in light rain for some time and there was no water leakage into the bag. The bottom of the bag has been moisture resistant panel and the back, of the bag is softly padded, which means the bag doesn't feel like it is banging around, when walking fast.
Empty, the bag feels light, weighing in at 2lb. I wasn't particularly impressed with the shoulder strap of the messenger bag, it is well padded but I find quite a lot of pressure was placed on one spot and the bag felt heavier on my shoulder, than Tenba's Black Label Small shoulder bag, with the same amount of equipment inside, even though the Black Label weighs slightly more.
Tenba Messenger bags uses their own TriAngle™ D ring. Personally I don't see much advantage over a normal D ring and I have found that it can make a squeaking noise when walking around with the bag in certain positions. There is also a hand strap which works well but doesn't look great.
To put it politely, the bag looks functional and isn't great looking. One of the issues is that the Cordora nylon does seem to collect fluff and hairs. The stitching is very solid and I am pretty sure that this bag will last a long time.
The Messenger small bag comes with lots of pockets, there are 2 cargo pockets for holding general gear, 5 zip pockets of varying sizes, 2 pen holders and a small pocket at the front, which could carry a passport or similar. At a recent event apart from carrying my equipment in the main compartment, I had my phone, wallet, keys, a set of poi, lens caps and brochures, with space to spare.
There are two ways to access the main compartment, the traditional way by undoing the top flap, or via the zip built into the top flap. When opening normally, Tenba have used smaller Duraflex clips, which makes it easy to un and re-clip the bag, single handed. There is then, a Velcro strip that keeps the bag closed when the clips are undone, this allows access to the front pockets whilst not opening fully and works well. Generally, I have the velco silencer flap, over the Velcro, whilst it isn't as secure, it is still easy to access the front pockets without the flap exposing the main compartment.
When out and about I generally use the top zip opening. This does allow for much faster access to equipment but I found the opening a bit small and had to fiddle about when getting out my Fuji X-E1, with a lens mount, as it would get the camera caught up.
The main compartment has a removable padded lining. When removed the compartment looks large for a bag of its size, making this an ideal general bag for just walking around town, when not carrying camera equipment. With the padding inside, the inside looks much smaller, especially when with the dividers in. Of course the bag can still carry several lenses, dependant on size and where you place the camera.
When accessing via the top zip, I put the camera on the top, as this makes accessing the camera much easier, the negative is, whilst the sides and bottom of the inner liner are padded, there is none at the top, so if the bag was dropped, there would be a chance that the camera could get damaged.
One of the areas, I have not been a big fan of in a couple of Tenba bags are the dividers, they work but never feel particularly well sized for the compartment and whilst this isn't a issue, it just makes the inside look untidy.
As a street photography bag the Tenba messenger small is a nice bag but it isn't perfect. I was disappointed with the shoulder strap and will probably change it for a different strap It is great to be able to access the camera quickly and I like the amount of pocket space the bag provides. The bag comes in 3 colours, black, burnt orange and green, from what I have seen, I would probably buy the burnt orange if I bought the bag at full price (I got mine on special offer).
When put against my Tenba Black Label small shoulder bag, it feels like a bit of a miss match to begin with. The Black label, looks much nicer and feels tougher but the Messenger allows much easier and faster access to equipment, not only through the top zip. The shoulder pad of the Black Label works much better but I didn't get nipple chafe from the Messenger's shoulder strap, unlike the Black Label. Being able to remove the inner liner for the Messenger bag makes it more practical for general use but the size of the Black Label smalls main compartment is much more comparable to the Messenger Medium bag. As for pockets the bags are quite similar, though there is more storage space in the Black Label.
So overall it is a little like swings and roundabouts when comparing the two bags. Of course my equipment can only go in one bag and my choice would be the Black Label. It isn't as practical but it feels more secure and I know for general used the equipment inside, is going to be safe.
This is not to say I won't use the Messenger bag but only for certain occasions or if I am just want to carry general gear around town.