I have used and reviewed Tenba backpacks before (Tenba Shootout Actionpack 14L) and since it was a nice backpack designed especially for GoPro users but a bit small if you have other gear as well I wanted to take a look at the Tenba Solstice 20L Backpack. This has more volume (20L instead of 14L) and instead of the organizer pouches (which are fantastic btw) it has the familiar velcro separator walls you see on most camera backpacks.
Tenba Solstice 20L Backpack overview
The Solstice lineup has the 24L version, the 20L version the 12L version backpacks in either black or gray/blue and 10L and a 7L sling bag also in black or blue/gray. The 20L version that is in the limelight in this review I feel is a good size for fitting some camera gear and personal stuff in it. For me, the butter zone usually falls in the 21L to ~30L range. (the Wandrd PRVKE 31L is for me the maximum size where it still is a nice compact day to day bag). The Tenba Solstice has the traditional top compartment, the big modular compartment that you can access from the back and the smaller pouches in front.
Here are some spces from tenba.com
- Weight: 2.75lb / 1.2kg
- Exterior Dimensions: 11W x 19H x 9D (inches) / 28 X 48 X 23 (cm)
- Can fit 1-2 DSLR cameras with 4-6 lenses (up to attached 70-200mm f2.8)
- Tablet pouch /laptop pouch up to 10″
- Fits the DJI Mavic or other compact drones
- Two exterior side pockets for tripods or water bottles
- adjustable side straps
- Removable rain cover
- Front loops to attach items
- Waist straps
- Adjustable height chest Strap
- Rear-opening camera door (can open without taking the bag off)
- Adjustable dividers
- Rigid top compartment
I was testing the blue/gray version but I think I prefer a black camera bag as it`s more low-kay and stains and scratches that you will inevitably get on the bag will not be as apparent. I don`t mind the color combination but in the end the color always boils down to personal preference.
Tenba Solstice 20L – a closer look
The first thing I noticed right away with this bag is that It felt
The bag has pretty much One huge compartment accessible from the back and from the top. The velcro panels give you freedom to adjust the inside layout as you please based on what gear you use. In my case I needed space for one DSLR with a wide angle lens (Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM ) Two GoPro cameras, An external HDD, Gnarbox, External Flash, Canon 24mm F1.8 lens, A wearable gimbal (in its case) SD card and battery pouch and sunglasses case. This all fits in the main layout (and leaves some extra room). They way the Tenba Solstice is designed is that the top compartment is also accessible from the main back compartment and this fits larger items like clothing, food, another DSLR etc. I used it to store the accessory hard case that holds all my necessary GoPro stuff like screws, mounts, cables, lights and bunch of other smaller items. I was very happy with how all the gear can be fitted and how much space this bag has.
There are two types of panels inside: gray ones are thicker, more rigid and covered with soft canvas whereas the blue panels are a bit thinner and covered with smooth canvas. So blue panels can be attached to the sides of the bag and to the gray panels but not to eachother.
The top compartment has one nice feature I quite like- the top lid is semi-hard (insert penis joke…). This means it keeps its dome-like shape and adds extra protection if you happen to bump into someone or if your backpack is stored in between other stuff in a fully packed car for example. The inside of the top lid also features a zipper mesh pocket for phones, travel documents, etc.
You will also find the rain cover tucked inside a small pouch inside the bag on once side. The Rain cover is absolutely essential part of a good camera bag because in addition to keeping your cameras dry during a rainy day it`s also a great security feature. Pull the cover over your backpack when in crowded places or if there`s any danger of pickpocketers and it becomes ipossible for anyone to get inside your bag without you knowing it.
The front of the Tenba Solstice 20L has one main zipper compartment that has a slide-in pouch for a tablet or a small laptop and three smaller pouches for phones, documents, pens, chargers, etc.
Both sides have pretty big pockets that are folded in to keep them from flapping around or getting stuck. They are large enough to fit a tripod, a larger water bottle or a thermos in them. The side straps can be used to secure the items in place – especially important to attach a tripod to the side of the bag.
The waist straps can be used not just to take the load off your shoulders but also to access the back panel without putting the bag down. Since the Solstice 20L doesn`t have a side door to access the main compartment to reach for your camera you need to take the bag off and lay it down every time you need to get something from the back compartment. You can, of course, keep the main camera in the top compartment or try to balance the backpack on one shoulder and sneak stuff in and out or balance the bag on a knee to avoid putting the bag on the ground but the waist straps really come in handy with this.
If you have the waist straps clipped you can just slide out of the shoulder straps and slide the bag from back to your front. The bag will rest on your waist and will not fall down. From here, you can open the back compartment and get whatever you need. This is a perfect solution to keep your backpack clean and dry and you can change camera lenses without worrying where to rest the lenses or the camera for the switch. With the straps attached to the bag, not the back panel, like on the Wandrd PRVKE, there is no concern the zipper or the seams will fail.
What I love about the Tenba Solstice 20L Backpack
- Modular dividers
- Top access to the main compartment
- Semi-rigid top
- Waist straps
- Rain cover included
- Wide side pockets
- Super-comfortable back padding
Things I don`t love
- The color
chemeis not my favourite, but you can get it in all black as well.
- Shoulder straps seem a bit flimsy at the top.
Tenba Solstice 20L Backpack – Final verdict
I really like this bag. It`s more DSLR oriented than the Shootout series so If you are looking for a dedicated action camera bag, go for the Shootout or the InCase Action Pack but if you have all sorts of camera stuff the Solstice is a good choice.