If you’re looking for a thin and light camera backpack that not only protects your gear, but also has enough room to let you carry your tablet or 11″ MacBook air, then you’ll want to check out the Tenba Discovery Mini Photo/Tablet Daypack. The Discovery Mini Photo/Tablet Daypack is a great way to take your camera gear on the road for the day but it also converts into a standard backpack in a matter of seconds. That flexibility, combined with the bag’s subtle but effective design and $109.95 pricetag combine to make a compelling way to carry your small DSLR or mirror less camera and a few accessories. Let’s take a closer look.
The Tenba Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini suits me rather well now that I am using a small Sony NEX camera and a 2013 11″ MacBook air. I don’t want a bag that is too large since, after all, the reason for reshuffling my gear was my desire to travel bit lighter. At the same time wanting a small and light bag doesn’t translate into my willingness to compromise on quality or protection. With the Tenba Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini I don’t have to compromise… much.
Weight: 1.95 lbs
Exterior Dimensions: 10W X 16.75H X 8.5D in.
Interior Dimensions: 9W X 7.75H X 6D in.
Laptop Compartment: 7.5W X 13.5H X 0.5D in. (Fits an iPad, tablet or laptop up to 11″ MacBook Air)
Tough, water-repellant nylon exterior
Extraordinarily lightweight construction (weighs only 1.95 pounds)
Heavy-duty, self-healing zippers
Compression straps secure and stabilize the load
Large elasticized micromesh pockets hold water bottle, gloves, etc.
Padded rear pocket fits an iPad or similar tablet up to 10 inches, or the 11-inch MacBook Air
Waterproof bottom panel keeps the bag protected if you have to put it down on a wet surface
Front accessory pocket perfect for phone or audio
WeatherWrap™ auxiliary cover included
Large top compartment for electronics, light jacket, lunch and more
Additional accessory pockets in front flap
Harness designed for exceptional comfort
We’ve seen backpack straps that are far more padded than the ones on the Tenba Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini. Still, considering the relatively light load your be carrying with this backpack they are more than sufficient.
Each strap has both a D-Ring and a fabric strap from which you can hang additional accessories such as a pouch for carrying your phone. The fabric strap also hides the attachment point of the D-Ring and, I suspect, makes it more secure.
The backpack also has a sternum strap to help spread the weight of any load you are carrying. It is highly adjustable with regard to both the placement along the backpack straps. This helps make the Tenba Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini a great pack for people of pretty much every height.
There is, however, no waist strap. I don’t think it is actually an issue considering this is such a small pack but if that feature is important to you this won’t be the right pack for you.
Considering the backpack weighs in under 2 pounds the design of the backpack straps is more than sufficient for most purposes.
Each side of the backpack features a large “elasticized micromesh pocket”. These have elastic at the top so you can quickly put items inside and know they are fairly secure. They are great for water bottles, gloves, and, thanks to the compression straps that sit right above each pocket, tripods and monopods.
These straps serve a double purpose and can be used to compress the bag’s contents once your gear is loaded inside. This, in turn, helps prevent items from shifting as you work your way through your day. I wish all bags had this feature.
The upper portion of the bag opens to reveal a nice storage space. It has a slot for a business card, a clear zippered storage area, an open storage pocket, two pen pockets, a key ring and a large open space for your day’s gear.
Below that is another zippered area that opens to reveal the camera storage space. It isn’t the largest camera organizer we have seen but it is totally sufficient for carrying a camera body, one or two lenses, a microphone and a few additional accessories.
As you would expect the camera organizer can be arranged in a variety of ways to best suit your needs.
There is also a clear zippered pocket similar to the one found in the upper storage space.
The Tenba Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini is an incredibly flexible bag. The camera organizer can be pulled right out of the bag. This means you can not only move your camera gear to another bag without having to remove and transfer each individual item. It also means you can quickly turn the Tenba Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini into a simple, general-use daypack. But that’s not the end of this bag’s flexibility.
The shelf dividing the bag into two storage spaces can also be removed. This yields a small daypack with one large interior space for whatever you need to have with you on any particular day. And when you need the backpack as a camera bag again you can put the shelf and camera organizer back inside in a matter of seconds. How’s that for flexibility?
The Tenba Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini may be light but it is also intended for use in the real world. The bottom panel of the pack is waterproof so your gear is safe even if you set the pack down on a wet surface. The bag also comes with Tenba’s WeatherWrap “auxiliary cover”. (That’s a fancy way to describe an extra cover that slips over the pack to keep rain and snow at bay.)
I am a big fan of the Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini’s design. It is close to ideal for the kind of gear I currently need to carry. The pack does fall a bit short for my particular needs however. Tenba notes that the pack “fits a DSLR camera system plus an iPad or similar tablet up to 10 inches (it even fits the 11″ MacBook Air)”. That’s true so long as your MacBook air isn’t in a protective sleeve and you are okay having to force the issue a bit. You see, the tablet/laptop compartment is just a tiny bit too small for my needs. You CAN carry an 11″ MacBook air but it feels a bit too tight and I like carrying my air in a sleeve. If, however, you are looking to carry an iPad (either size) or a similar tablet rather than a MacBook air the Discovery Photo/Tablet Daypack Mini will be perfect for your needs. I expect I’ll be using this as one of my go-to camera backpacks. I just wish the tablet/laptop compartment was a tiny bit larger. You can learn more and order yours here.
What I Like: Small, light but well-made and highly protective of your gear; D-Rings and a sternum strap give added comfort and flexibility; Camera organizer is easily removable for use i another bag; Removing the camera organizer and interior shelf yields a large general-purpose daypack; Dedicated laptop/tablet pocket
What Needs Improvement: Dedicated laptop/tablet pocket is a tiny bit too small for those of us using an 11″ MacBook air
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample