The Tenba DNA 11 Camera/Messenger Bag Review

The Tenba DNA 11 Camera/Messenger Bag Review

Tenba 1

Here I am again with another camera bag video review and this time it is for the latest Tenba Messenger bag, the DNA 11. Not so long ago I did a bag review for their last messenger bag , the “Mini Messenger” and I really liked it. The DNA 11 is a refinement of the older series and is made better, is more functional, and is IMO an overall better bag. At $129 it is tough to beat for versatility, function and design. You can see my quick video overview of the bag below and if it floats your boat you can buy it at B&H Photo for $129. It is a great bag among the sea of bags out there in the world!

You can check out all of the offerings from Tenba at their website HERE. 

Watch the video below to see what it looks like and what it offers  you for your $129 of bag money!






    • Cosimo, speaking as objectively as possible, the main differences on the Tenba bag are the quick access zipper in the top, the fast magnetic clips on the front, the heavy-duty body armor base panel, the reversible silver/black rain cover, the trolley strap, and the bike strap to anchor the bag behind you.


    • I can only speak on behalf of Tenba, of course, but our quality has been excellent for 37 years. We use YKK zippers, Fidlock clips from Germany, welded steel D-rings and seatbelt-grade webbing. We don’t make a single consumer-grade bag; only professional products. It’s as much an obsession as a company policy.

      Regarding comfort, we just upgraded the DNA bags with a new shoulder strap that has a low-profile removable pad so you can decide when you need the pad, and when you might not because the bag is not filled. And the strap pad has a silicone coating on the bottom so that it doesn’t slip. All the bags out there in the world have the new strap already.


      • Ok thanks for reply. I need information because I live in Italy and is difficult to find a store where I can try the bag. I would like a soft and flexible bag to conform to my body.

  1. Hi Steve, how tall are you? I went to a local store that only had Tenba 15 and Tenba 8. So there was no way for me to measure the Tenba 11 against myself. It looks kinda big in your video, so I just want to roughly measure it against myself. I’m 170cm tall. Cheers.

  2. Thanks folks for the great discussion. Shout out to Steve Huff for the great vids. Does anyone know if the DNA 8 will accept the Oly em5 with grip and 12-40 2.8? Thanks!

    • HI I can’t comment directly but its a very good size bag for mirrorless.

      I currently have in mine

      Fuji X-E2 with baseplate/additional grip and while this is not as big as em1 with battery grip I have got it in there with a tripod base plate on it as well which took it up to close to the EM-1 dimensions. I know the base plate is Arca Swiss but one of my tripod has a built in head that is not arca so I have to frig it and use the tripod release plate, annoying but there you go.

      The bag is very versatile as well as the X-E2 I have the

      18-55mm Kit
      55-200mm Lens (beast of a lens in the mirroless world, its a fatboy.
      35mm Prime.

      The thing I love about this bag is that all 3 lens fit and most importantly all 3 lens fit in any of the compartments, so I can have one lens on the camera the other two either side, with ANY lens on the camera. Ie I don’t have to reconfigure the bag when I change lens.

      I should add that the compartments are flexible and they give you both vertical and smaller horizontal dividers, such that I could fit another prime in above the 35mm, the 18mm and 27mm pancakes easily, and probably the 14mm or 23mm at a push. The horizontal dividers are set up with velcron in such a way that they only have it one side to they fold up easily to get at a lens underneath. In this configuration I would have to swap lens around a bit when I changed one onto the camera, but this folding action means I could have two vertical pockets set up that could take the kit and the primes, and when its got the kit in it there is enough room the for horizontal divider to be folded vertical to accept a bigger lens.

      The top zip is fantastic for access and save you having to use velcro and creat noise. The mgnetic buckles are the best thing to happen to camera bags ever so easy to use. Slide them off to open and then just hold them near each other and the snap together due to magnets, super easy to get into, but the velcro gives you some security.

      THe caddy is fantastic addition as well as I have a bigger bag for when I am on my bike or skiing and I can just pull caddy out and drop it into rucksack.

      great great bag that fells almost like they designed it just for me.


  3. I’m so glad to meet to this nice bag, after 3 other expensive trials. I feel so comfortable now and it encourages me to move around to find good scenes.

  4. Can you please confirm if you can that a Macbook Pro 13 Retina (2013) will fit correctly. I know you showed the Macbook Air 13″. I know Tenba’s site says max of Macbook Air 11″ but since you showed 13″ I am hoping the Pro 13 Retina will also fit fine.

    • Scott,
      Ymmv regarding the meaning of correctly but I have MBP13 Retina and just bought DNA11 based on trying it out a store sample. Based on my standards, yes it will fit comfortably albeit without any padded protection at the bottom and the sides. My MBP has inCase hardshell cover attached and then inserted in a tight fitting neoprene sleeve. The bag accommodates this setup when inserted in the same gap Steve inserted his laptop. It does stretch the bag slightly but without stressing the seams. Beware that it is a quite tight fit especially when loaded with DSLR and lenses. At the store, I stuffed the bag with 5DIII with 24-105 attached, a 70-200LII without the collar and a 600EX-RT borrowed from the store along with my protected laptop. The bag can accommodate all though the front flap will not come all the way down and there will be some bulge. If you do not like overstuffed bags, then that maybe a dealbreaker. If you take the removable insert out, then no problem carrying the laptop: the bag is so flexible that it widens to accommodate the 13″ MBP as well as slims down significantly, assuming a profile of sleek laptop carriers without screaming out that there is a laptop inside. Just be sure to first encase your laptop in some kind of protection.

      It would be very rare for me to carry that much equipment in this bag all at once – I have a larger bag to accommodate all that. For me, this bag is for daily commuting use and for my purposes, it does what it does — carry a laptop in a slim profile but on days I need to carry a DSLR with a lens or two, it can also accommodate it. I had also considered Tenba’s Messenger Mini which was just the right size and could accommodate 13″ MBP but the drawback is that it does not have removable insert that allows for slimming – for that, I had to step up to Messenger Small which is too large for what I was seeking. Also, they looked more like a camera/laptop bag compared to the DNA series.

      Hope this helps

      By the way, I have a 40mm pancake – that attached to 5DIII and inserted sideways (lcd screen facing your hip and card slot side facing up), they fit beautifully in this bag even with my laptop setup.

      • Thanks for the detailed explanation Heidi! I am also considering the DNA 11, and am torn between the Tenba DNA11 and Mini Messenger. The bag will double as my briefcase for work and will carry my 13″ MBP. I have a incase soft sleeve that I use so I have no problem sliding that into the DNA11 like Steve did in the video.

        My question is, if you take out the camera insert, and slide the 13″ MBP into the bag, how much can the bag shrink down in depth? The tenba site spec’s the DNA11 as 6.5-7.5″ deep, which is a little bulky for me. I wonder if you take out the camera insert will the bag shrink down to ~ 4-5″ deep? Thanks in advance!

        • Hi Derek,
          Sorry for the late reply. The bag itself has no padding except for the laptop compartment. Therefore, without the camera insert, the bag really slims down, definitely to 4″. I hope that helps.

  5. Thank you for demonstrating 13″ MBA fits in the bag. My bag situation has been turned upside down since I have upgraded from 11″ MBA to 13″ MBP. Think Tank’s Retrospective 7 served me so well with the 11″ MBA setup but when I started looking for bags that would accommodate 13″ laptops, most of them were too large for my liking (why the sudden jump in size?) I wanted something tight and compact just like my Retro 7 and the DNA 11 seems like the bag that would fulfill my wish. I am also looking at Think Tank’s CityWalker 20 but I prefer the looks of DNA 11 (and the top access!)

    Thank you once again for the informative and entertaining review.

  6. Ok, but what if you want something smaller? I have a Nikon V1 and I want something that I can carry all the lens in. Something along the lines of the Crumpler Mild Enthusiast S, but not so high and better lens sorting.

    Any ideas for us little guys?

    • Roger, if you’re looking for something like the Tenba DNA 8, but in a smaller size, I can tell you that on February 1st we’ll be introducing a smaller bag called the DNA 8 which fits a mirrorless camera and an iPad Mini. It was designed basically for the reasons you stated: cameras like the V1 are so much smaller than an a7 or GH3 that we felt they needed a bag all their own.

  7. I’m always wondering if bag manufactures are making any effort to reduce the weight of their camera bags. All camera manufactures are trying to reduce the weight of the cameras aggressively, and we concern the 100 gram difference between the cameras, but once we put cameras in the bag, the difference between the cameras are totally ignorable, because the camera bag is so heavy compare to the weight of the cameras.

  8. Wow a 13inch MBA fits in there. The bag is huge indeed. Regarding some of the design features though (top zipper, ability to slide onto a roller case, raincoat), they came with my 7 year old Lowepro Stealth Reporter AW200.

  9. Nice bag…there are a lot of nice ones out there…just find one that works for you…I use the domke medium courier bag …rugged wear version which is waxed canvas…I have used it in snow , rain and my equipment stays nice and dry…if I want to go lighter I use a small tamrac slingback 70 …nice review Steve…that padded shoulder strap looks really inviting…but you can always just pad the one you have…happy New Year

    • The address card can start off,” for more equipment and/or if did not find want you are looking for:” then your address. Looks like a nice bag.

    • David, after they’ve checked the address and gone around and done over your home 🙂

      Steve, I gained the feeling you find this one too big for your own use (“big and bulky”). I’d share that view.

      As an exercise I recently took a Billingham “Airline Stowaway” bag around the world (including the US). These are very slim profile bags but deep enough to carry an Nex-7 and (in my case) 4 lenses (the longest a vintage Elmar 90mm). Plus batteries, cards, remote, Minox tripod and a Canon Ixus 125 back-up. Sure, I had other gear back in the luggage case, but for daily use the AIrline Stowaway attracted little attention and held most of what I needed.
      Kind of liberating.

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