Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Review

The Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag has a comfortable carry, intuitive camera storage, and converts into a day bag if you want to leave your camera behind.

Our Verdict

8.1 /10
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  • Durable and highly water-resistant materials protect camera gear
  • You can remove the camera cube quickly for side missions
  • Great quality of life features on main compartment flap and shoulder strap


  • The materials don’t breathe well, so it can get sweaty
  • There’s no dedicated back panel padding for extra carry comfort
  • Without the camera cube, there’s no internal organization

Technical Details

98 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 142/145 Airlines

16 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Weight (lb)

    2.7 lb (1.2 kg)

  • Dimensions

    15.75 in x 12 in x 5.5 in (40 x 30.5 x 14 cm)

    Internal dimensions of the interior of the removable padded insert

  • Notable Materials

    Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Polyethylene, YKK Zippers, FIDLOCK Hardware

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Tablet Sleeve Size


  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information


Buying Options

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Full Review

At first glance, the Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag seems like a happy medium between a dedicated camera bag and something you could carry daily, whether you’re going to work or traveling across the globe. That said, we’re curious whether this pack is good at both use cases or if one suffers so the other can succeed. Let’s find out!

External Components

Before diving into this review, we should mention that this pack comes in four sizes. There’s the 9L Slim, 13L DSLR, 16L Slim, and 16 Pro. All four have unique features that might make you want to choose one over another, but they all seem to have similar design features as the bag we’re about to go over.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Back
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | The pack looks sleek.

We went with the 16L slim version because it combines size, capacity, and versatility well. We’ll get into all of that later…er, right now!

There are two colorways available at the time of writing. There’s Black, pictured here, and Blue with black accents. Both are sleek and don’t look like a camera bag, which is essential for blending into your surroundings as a documentary or street photographer and will come in handy while traveling if you don’t want to look like a tourist.

The external fabric has a TPU coating, which is very durable and water-resistant. The seams are sealed, too, which helps protect against rain, spills, dew, and whatever else might be on the ground of the city you’re exploring. That said, if there’s some radioactive goo ala TMNT, your camera gear won’t get exposed to it, and you might miss out on selling the billion-dollar story about a crime-fighting camera to a movie studio.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Full
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | This is the black colorway.

The zippers throughout the pack are from YKK, the best brand in the business. Seriously, these things are stellar. They’re smooth, easy to work with, and don’t get caught without user or design errors. There’s none of the latter, so it’s up to you, dude! Don’t worry; we believe in you.

The fasteners on the flap that conceals the main compartment are from FIDLOCK. They slide to the side, so you don’t have to worry about them popping off when you load a ton of camera gear inside. That said, they do take some getting used to. Once you’ve mastered it, they’re a breeze to work with and offer extra commendable security and ease of use.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Fidlock
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | The FIDLOCK fasteners.

A loop under either strap secures the flap, too, so you can tuck the excess strap underneath it to keep the pack looking sleek, which we appreciate.

Water bottle pockets on either side of the messenger bag let us stay hydrated while shooting. They aren’t huge, so you won’t be able to fit your 32-ounce Nalgene here; however, we appreciate their inclusion, and they stay out of your way if you don’t want to use them. They work with most standard width travel water bottles.

On the back side, there’s a luggage pass-through. It’s secured with a hook-and-loop fastener, so you can’t see it when it’s not in use, which we dig. Because of how the pack opens, you can still access almost all your gear while it’s on your rolling carry on luggage. There’s one zippered pocket on the back side that is covered, which is an ideal place to stow documents that you want to keep secure because you’ll get some extra protection from your bag’s handle.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Front
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | You can wear the pack a few ways.

The handle on the top is well padded and has a squishy cylinder inside, so you have something to hang onto while carrying your bag. We find it comfortable, making it easier and more tolerable to lug it through airport security or public transit. It’s also large enough to get your hand through comfortably, which is ideal.

The bag can stand on its own, which we think is a stellar feature. Sometimes, if you’ve got a heavy laptop, it can still lean over; however, in most cases, it’ll stay upright. This is ideal for shoots where you want to set the bag down to immerse yourself in your subject and still have quick access to your gear. Before you head out, this is good to test because you don’t want it toppling over with the top open!

Fit Notes

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Side By Side
Left: Kristyne Defever, Height: 5’5” (165 cm), Torso: 17” (43 cm) | Right: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm)

The back panel doesn’t have dedicated padding; however, a fair amount from the laptop compartment bleeds through to add comfort to the carry. It doesn’t conform to your body, staying flat no matter what, which might feel awkward for those with a petite frame. The padding makes things comfortable; however, the water-resistant materials aren’t very breathable, and there’s no mesh to promote airflow. Your gear will stay dry, but things might get a little sweaty, which we think is a fair trade-off.

By itself, the strap has no padding. That said, there’s a sliding section that offers comfort and padding. You secure it with a hook-and-loop fastener, and it can slide along the strap. It can’t fit over the hard plastic adjustor, but you can remove it and place it on the other side. The plastic adjustor can dig in depending on how you adjust it, but you can generally switch things around to find a comfortable fit.

There’s another feature on the sliding padded area that’s key to using this pack. The material that rests on your shoulder is grippy so that it won’t slide around on your body. You’ll either love or hate the feeling of this material; that said, you won’t have to feel it unless you’re wearing a thin tank top. It’s a big help for finding a comfortable position and ensuring it stays that way.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Strap
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | The strap is comfortable.

An included stabilizer strap is helpful for heavy loads, commuting, and cycling. It’s easy to detach, and you can attach it on either side, making the pack ambidextrous. If you don’t want to use it, the attachment points stay out of the way, which we dig, and we’re glad Tenba included it. In addition to stabilizing the strap, it can help disperse the weight, which is key when carrying a heavy camera kit like a Pentax 6×7.

The harness system is comfortable but lacks features to help promote airflow. Your gear will get there in one piece, and you’ll be comfortable, but you might get a bit hot on warm days. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a dealbreaker!

Inside The Messenger Bag

Earlier, we mentioned a pocket on the backside of the pack. This is a large, flat spot to stow a notebook, book, paperwork, or even a contact sheet or some negative archive sheets. There’s no organization here, and you can feel whatever you stow here on your side while you’re wearing the pack, so use it wisely.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Back Pocket
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | The back pocket is handy.

There’s another secondary compartment, but it’s hidden by the flap on the pack’s front. This one has two zippers, which means you can place them on either side to help access gear whether you’re wearing it on your right or left.

There’s a highly water-resistant pocket on the front side of the compartment and four liner pockets with a clear TPU window for an ID on the backside. If somebody finds your pack, they can contact you to get it back to you. This storage area is perfect for accessories like filters, batteries, and memory cards because you can access it while using the pack without taking it off. There’s enough room for tools, too, like a cable release or tripod bits and bobs.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Front Pocket
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | The organization inside the front pocket is intuitive.

You can access the main compartment in two ways. You can undo the FIDLOCK buckles and use the flap, which we find the best way to access and stow gear. The opening is so wide that you can get into the nitty-gritty of organizing your photography gear, and there’s a gusset on either side to protect the compartment from water exposure.

If you want something quicker, a zipper runs across the top of the pack. It’s covered by a fabric welt to prevent water from sneaking in and to hide it from unfriendly eyes. You don’t have as good of access here; however, you do have a quick way to get to your gear if a pretty bird flies by, you want to snag a perfect street shot, or your kid does something cute, and you want to snag a picture of it.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Empty Compartment
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | The main compartment without the dividers.

Once inside, the camera insert is where the real party is. It’s well-padded, has intuitive dividers, and stays out of your way so you can get to your camera gear quickly and easily. It’s easy to adjust the layout, but it might take some tinkering to get the perfect fit for your liking and your specific camera gear.

You can remove the camera cube and turn the bag into a day back, which we dig because it’s ideal for trips that feature photography days and non-photo-related adventures. You can take the cube out with your gear, find a safe place for it in your hotel room, and then use the bag to take everything you need for your hike, day walking across town, or going to the beach.

There isn’t much organization inside, so you might want to bring along a tech pouch, packing cubes, or other segmentation devices.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Walking
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | This pack is comfortable.

A laptop compartment and another liner pocket for a tablet are on the back wall. These are well-padded and fairly accessible when the camera cube isn’t in place, but it’s a little more challenging to get to them when your camera gear is there. It isn’t hard to access; however, it’s easier when the insert isn’t there. However, the insert adds extra padding for your electronic devices, so it’s a double-edged sword. There’s a small strap with a hook-and-loop fastener on it to hold the tablet and computer in place, which is handy and adds peace of mind.

As a camera messenger bag, this pack does extraordinarily well. It’s easy to use, and you have quick but secure access to your camera gear. It excels as a camera bag first; however, it’s no slouch as an everyday carry messenger bag, either. There isn’t wholesale organization, so you must tackle that yourself. Plus, it doesn’t look like a camera bag, so you can blend in with the crowd whether you have your camera or not.

Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag Handle
Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag | The top handle is comfortable.

If you’re looking for a bag that can do both, look no further than the Tenba DNA 16 Slim Messenger Bag!

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • The materials are lightweight and durable, which we dig
  • We’re curious about how comfortable the strap is on long shoot days
  • No issues so far with the hardware or buckles
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Materials are durable and highly water resistant, which is critical for camera gear
  • The harness system is incredibly comfortable despite not featuring much padding or aeration
  • The pack stands up on its own, which is handy for specific shoots
By Eric Hergenreder
Created December 13, 2023 • Updated December 13, 2023
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