Tenba’s DNA 15 backpack is the company’s latest addition to its DNA messenger bags range, which is aimed at street and wedding photographers. Designed to be stylish, discreet and easily accessible, the backpack mixes premium materials with practical functionality.

The Tenba DNA 15 backpack really is a bag of two halves. The top half, accessed by its Velcro roll top, is a general compartment for storing accessories as well as your more practical needs, like food and extra clothing. The lower compartment contains a removable insert for storing your cameras and lenses.

The DNA 15 can also store up to a 15-inch laptop within the main compartment, and a front pocket attached to the lower compartment allows you to store items such as spare batteries, memory cards, cables, etc.

The Tenba DNA 15’s material is water resistant, and like its predecessors in the DNA range, the bag features Tenba’s magnetic Fidlock clip, which connects the roll top to the lower compartment, ensuring the bag is compact and secure.

The Tenba DNA 15 makes the most of its 46 x 28 x 22cm size and can hold one DSLR or two mirrorless camera bodies, as well as two or three lenses up to 70-200mm.

It’s also got a tripod pocket on the side with a quick release strap you can secure over the legs.

The Tenba DNA 15 back pack is priced £165.

Tenba DNA 15 backpack review: build quality

Build Quality

A lot of attention to detail has gone into the Tenba DNA 15 backpack’s construction. The material is water repellant, but in a stylish, classy cobalt grey design – not the usual naff Nylon material you sometimes get.

The magnetic Fidlock clip is a really nice piece of design. It works very well, keeping your bag’s contents secure but also giving you very quick, one-handed access.

Undoing the Fidlock clip, the Velcro connecting the roll top design is strong and high quality. Unroll the Velcro connection, and you’ll be surprised how tall the bag is at full height.

On the back of the DNA 15 backpack is a padded, mesh material that keeps your back cool and softens the load. The shoulder straps are also lined with this material, along with a sternum strap and a waist strap at the base.

The Tenba DNA 15 backpack’s zippers all feature cord ringlets with wide rubberised grips for your fingers to quickly latch onto and pull open.

The bottom of the back is square, helping it stand upright no matter what’s inside, and it’s covered in thicker water-resistant material. Overall, the Tenba DNA 15 backpack’s build quality is some of the finest I’ve seen in a street photography bag.

Performance

In the past I haven’t been a fan of camera bags with removable inserts. They promise quick access, but usually what has happened is I have to take the bag off, set it down, fight with a weak zipper and remove the insert completely.

The Tenba DNA 15 backpack has changed my opinion of this style of bag. With the top compartment full with my hoodie, a mini tripod and a few other assorted bits, I kept a Panasonic GH5 and a spare lens, plus the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II in the lower compartment.

When I wanted to swap kit I was surprised at how easily I could stab a finger at the pulls on the zipper, open it one motion, and then the insert sort of rolls forward naturally, allowing me to get what I need and blindly push it all back together.

The camera insert is removable, but there is a very handy webbing that connects the compartment door to the lower half compartment. This means you can, without looking, open that compartment and pull the insert forward to get what you want without having to worry about your collection of pancake lenses spilling on the ground.

The dividers are customisable, and though a Nikon D850 was a tight fit, I was able to even pack a DSLR of its size in the bag.

The Fidlock clip was also a handy feature that I could manoeuvre one-handed. It’s real benefit, to me, was how much more compact it made the bag.

In fact, I found the DNA 15 backpack gave me a lot of flexibility for a day out shooting. I could pack a camera body (the GH5 + 12-60mm), a spare lens (20mm pancake) and a 360 camera like the GoPro Fusion in the lower compartment.

Then in the top compartment I could pack a mini tripod with GoPro mount and a phone mount, a Rode mic and a lapel mic, plus a hoodie, snacks, a book and various other items. One day I knew it was going to rain and was even able to roll up my waterproof coat into the bag.

Never did I lumber under the weight of the bag, either. Partly this is because it’s not designed to carry loads of heavy kit, but it was so light that I hardly noticed it was on my back.

And because it’s one of the more stylish bags in my arsenal at the moment (this is a review model that will need to go back soon) it also proved handy as a smart-looking bag I could bring to business meetings while still bringing the gear I need.

Verdict

The Tenba DNA 15 not only changed my entire perspective on bags with removable inserts but has shown me that a camera backpack can be smart and stylish and appropriate for client meetings, as well as shooting discreet street photography.

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Tenba DNA 15 backpack review
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