A surprisingly large percentage of modern consumers carry an assortment of technology with them on a daily basis; from smartphones and laptops to digital cameras with interchangeable lenses and USB battery packs to keep everything charged. Bag designers are constantly trying to keep pace with our changing demands and need to carry a variety of tech goodies. This is where the Tenba Cooper 13 DSLR messenger bag enters the stage. This hybrid laptop and camera bag promises to deliver an all-in-one solution for our gadget transportation needs thanks to a removable camera insert and an impressive selection of expandable pockets. Is this Jack of all trades destined to be a master of none? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
The designers at Tenba created the Cooper 13 DSLR to accommodate a DSLR with up to three lenses (up to a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens). The rear padded laptop sleeve holds a laptop up to 13 inches and we tested this bag at various times with both a 13-inch Apple MacBook Air and a 13-inch HP Spectre x360. The laptop compartment offers reasonable protection but we would have been happier if there was a little more padding on the exterior side of the laptop compartment.
Tenba Cooper 13 DSLR Bag Specifications:
- Weight: 2.8 lbs(1.3 kg)
- Exterior Dimensions: 14.5W X 10.5H X 6.5D in. (37 X 27 X 17 cm)
- Interior Dimensions: 13.5W X 9.5H X 5.5D in. (34 X 24 X 14 cm)
- Laptop Compartment: 13W X 9H X 1D in. (33W X 23H X 3D cm)
- MSRP: $249.95
The exterior of the Cooper 13 is a Peach-wax cotton canvas with 20 percent polyester reinforcement that is protected with a double layer of water-repellent PU coating. The bottom of the bag is further protected thanks to a waterproof, full-grain leather base panel that is also abrasion resistant. This not only protects the contents of the bag if you set it down on wet pavement but also makes it easy to wipe off the bottom of the bag.
Slim side pockets on either end of the Cooper 13 feature a zippered expansion panel allowing you to enlarge the pockets to hold a water bottle or a lens up to 24-70mm f/2.8. That said, while the side pockets might be large enough to hold a lens we aren’t particularly comfortable with the limited padding around those side pockets … at least not enough to protect an expensive lens.
The back side of the Cooper 13, the side with the padded laptop sleeve, also features a Rear trolley strap that slides over the extending handle of rolling luggage or a large equipment case for secure piggyback travel.
The exterior hardware consists of metal buckles that secure the shoulder strap to the sides of the bag and plastic YKK zippers with hand-riveted full-grain leather zipper pulls. A single metal YKK zippered pocket in the main flap provides additional storage for smaller items that you need quickly such as a mobile phone or your keys.
A “quick access” top zipper allows you to reach into the bag to grab your camera or lenses without opening the front flap. Unfortunately, we found that this quick access flap doesn’t open wide enough for most DSLR cameras. This won’t be a problem for smaller cameras, but you’ll have to open the main flap of the bag if you need your DSLR.
Of course, opening the main flap reveals one of the bag’s key features; special quiet velcro closures let you open the flap in almost perfect silence by pulling down on the main flap before pulling away from the bag. Under the main flap you’ll also find a secondary zippered closure inside for additional protection from accidental spills and additional security from curious strangers.
The only problem with the secondary zippered closure is that the sides are open and allow water to enter the bag. Tenba solves this problem in two ways. First, two small rain flaps fold down from the top edges of the main flap to cover the corners and deflect water. Unfortunately, these rain flaps are too small to be reliable and sometimes the rain flaps failed to cover the corners of the bag if the bag was fully loaded with gear. This is probably why Tenba included a second waterproofing solution in the form of a “WeatherWrap” rain cover that fits inside a small accessory bag and is reversible, with silver on one side to reflect the sun, and black on the other side for a less conspicuous look.
The interior of the Cooper 13 is covered in silicone-coated, water-repellent ripstop nylon and the removable camera insert is made of soft, brushed tricot. As we mentioned earlier, the removable padded camera insert protects a DSLR or smaller mirrorless camera along with additional lenses (up to a 70-200mm f/2.8) and a flash. The Protective EVA foam dividers can be repositioned in any configuration. Of course, if you aren’t a photographer you can easily remove the padded camera insert to convert the bag for general-purpose use. However, once you’ve removed the camera insert the Cooper 13 really does look like a “man purse.”
After using the Cooper 13 DSLR bag for the better part of a month this reviewer was left with the distinct impression that this bag would have been better if Tenba had left out the “DSLR” part in the marketing materials. The reality is that the Cooper 13 is a surprisingly good messenger bag that is capable of holding a 13-inch laptop and a small camera or other items. In other words, it’s a good “man purse” for someone who carries a variety of tech.
This bag only runs into problems when you try to make it work with a large DSLR and multiple large lenses. For starters, the interior dimensions of the bag don’t really accommodate a large DSLR with battery grip, and even if you use a smaller DSLR you’ll have trouble pulling the camera out through the small opening for the “Quick Access” top zipper. This isn’t a problem for smaller mirrorless cameras or a compact camera.
On the other hand, if you plan to remove the padded camera insert and simply use the Cooper 13 as a hybrid laptop bag and man purse then there are less expensive messenger bags on the market with even better padding around the laptop compartment. Bottom line, the Tenba Cooper 13 DSLR was clearly designed to be flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide variety of people but in the end it appeals to a very niche market.
- Canvas exterior has water-repellant coating
- Quiet velcro offers nearly silent opening
- Multiple pockets and removable padded camera insert
- Laptop compartment provides limited padding
- Side rain flaps might be too small to keep rain out of the bag
- Quick access top zipper too small for a DSLR