Amateur Photographer verdict

The Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack is a very nicely designed and made bag with lots of practical touches. Its unusual front opening brings some unique benefits, too.
  • Unique front opening
  • Lots of dividers for camera compartment
  • Made from weather-resistant coated fabric
  • Comfortable to carry when full
  • Capacious roll-top upper section
  • Full-frame users may find the capacity too small

Most camera backpacks follow the same few formulae when it comes to accessing your kit. But the Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack is a bit different. Rather than having a conventional flap-type opening on the front, side or back, it unzips and pulls open from the front. This lets you get at your camera and lenses from above while the bag is upright.

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack at a glance:

  • $230 / £200 
  • 28 x 50 x 20cm external dimensions
  • Holds a camera and 4-6 lenses
  • Compartment for 16in laptop
  • Weighs 1.36kg
  • Available in black or blue

This bag is a two-section affair, with the bottom half for your camera kit and the upper part for personal items. Alternatively, you can fold away the divider between the two sections to use the bag as a conventional backpack. I’ve also used the lower section to carry a small shoulder bag instead.

The unique opening design has a couple of advantages. Firstly, it lets you get at your kit without having to lay the bag down and potentially get either the front or the harness dirty. It also means that your camera and lenses are most unlikely to fall out of the bag by accident. Last but not least, the two zip pulls to the camera compartment can be locked together using a padlock for extra security when you’re travelling.

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack key features:

  • Two sections: Your camera kit goes in the lower half of the bag, with a large roll-top upper section for personal items
  • Side pockets: On one side there’s a stretchy mesh pocket for a water bottle, and a sturdier pocket for a tripod on the other
  • Laptop compartment: A separate, generously padded rear pocket holds a laptop with a screen size up to 16in
  • Harness: The shoulder staps and back panel are mesh covered and decently padded. There’s also a tuckaway unpadded waist belt
The back and harness are well padded and mesh covered to help minimise sweating. Credit: Andy Westlake

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack in use

The camera module measures 26cm wide, 20cm tall, and 13cm front-to-back. It fits snugly into the base, secured by three strips of Velcro. Plenty of repositionable dividers help make the best use of the available space.

The pull-out front opening combines practicality with security. There’s a large laptop pocket at the back. Credit: Andy Westlake

Tenba suggests the bag can hold a camera and 4-6 lenses, which is true if we’re thinking about relatively small optics. For example, I was able to carry the Fujifilm X-T5 with 10-24mm f/4, 16-80mm f/4 and 70-300mm f/4-5.6 zooms, plus 27mm f/2.8 and 56mm f/1.4 primes. But you probably won’t be able to squeeze in three full-frame zooms side-by-side, as they’re typically larger in diameter.

The biggest lens that will fit is a telephoto zoom such as a 100-400mm or 70-200mm f/2.8. But don’t expect to get much more than a camera and standard zoom alongside.

The camera module can accept a camera body and maybe up to 6 lenses. Credit: Andy Westlake

The top section is unpadded, which helps keep the bag relatively lightweight, at 1.36kg. It has a couple of handy open-topped pockets inside, and the roll top can either fold down snugly to minimise bulk, or expand to hold such things as a jacket, your lunch, or essentials for an overnight trip. There’s also a useful organiser pocket on the front for small accessories.

A trolley strap on the back of the bag allows you to slip the bag over wheeled luggage. That’s not unusual, but this one is in two sections that stick together with Velcro, which means it can also be used to strap down the harness and stop the shoulder straps from flapping around. This can be really useful when taking the bag on a train or plane.

The front organiser pocket will hold such things as sunglasses and small accessories. Credit. Andy Westlake

Overall, the bag is very nicely constructed using sturdy TPU coated water-resistant fabric, with weather resistant zips at the front (although not, curiously, on the laptop compartment). There are even reflective strips on the shoulder straps and the front to help keep you visible to traffic in the dark.

A rain cover is also provided, which is generously sized to cover anything that’s in the side pockets. It’s silvered on one side to reflect the sun on hot days, and black on the other.

The raincover is quick and easy to fit, and large enough to protect the contents of the side pockets. Credit: Andy Westlake

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack: Our Verdict

I’ve used the Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack for a number of trips and events, and have come to like it a lot. I prefer its unique mode of access compared to other similar backpacks, and I appreciate the versatility and sheer capacity of the roll-top upper section. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for this kind of two-section backpack.

Amateur Photographer Testbench Gold

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