Airlines are becoming increasingly difficult for the photographer
A review of the Tenba Roadie 21 Roller
First Class Travel
Elegance and Protection
Tenba Roadie 21 Roller
NOTE: You can get a closer detail view by clicking any of the photos below
As photographers we need to take our photo gear as carry on luggage and why wouldn’t we, It is glass optics after all. The permissible bag sizes and weights are getting more and more difficult to meet and with an increased risk of of your gear being tagged for the hold. This is a terrifying prospect for our high end optics. And it is random! At the gate you will see a massive expedition backpack get waved through and a modest one just a cm over get tagged for the hold! For a few years now I have been travelling with the fear of having my prized glass taken off me to be unceremoniously thrown into the hold. I have also been yearning for some wheels.
Tip: Before flying get some camera insurance is the first essential piece of advise. Then read the small print.
Tenba Roadie 21 Air Roller
This bag can go in the hold….period. Caveat, pack gear properly, nice and snug.
Tenba Roadie 21 Roller (the version I’m using and featured in all the photos)
This bag has an outer zip allowing a laptop which would need removing and the long divider inserts (included) used to add further cover to the gear like an additional wall (see photo). Caveat pack very snug. This arrangement would see your gear safe in almost any regular circumstances even if taken off you for the hold.
The photos show how I choose to use the long dividers for extra protection. The long dividers can be used in place of the inserts for long lenses but also provide added protection when used to cover the gear as in the photo on the right.
Practical Secure Protected
The Tenba Roadie 21 Roller is one phenomenal bag that addresses my concerns elegantly, robustly and with great care to security. It it is of a size and weight that most airlines will allow as carry on albeit that is a fluid situation. The opening front panel has seat belt style hinges which mean you can access your gear without the “door” falling back onto the floor or straining. When combined with Tenba Packlite BYOB this offers a complete solution for travel. Unless on arrival at a destination you daily take all the photo gear around with you then there is a hybrid version, the Roadie Hybrid Roller 21 that uniquely has a backpack harness that tucks away when not needed, this option may suit your needs better. But the BYOB packlite allows you to decant gear from the Roadie into the packlite via the ingenious removable ready to go insert enabling just the gear you might need for the day. Brilliant.
Make no mistake the photo gear inside the Tenba Roadie 21 Roller travels first class
It has wheels, but they are exquisitely engineered wheels with carbon steel bearings that do not seize up with the heat generated in use as is typical of wheels on cheaper bags. they are smooth on the photo gear due too the engineered shock absorbing system. They are built, as is the bag with very high quality and robust materials throughout. The Roadie doesn’t just look elegant, it is so well thought through. On the outside the features include top quality YKK zippers, the fastest easiest tripod carry system I have ever seen which consumes a small tripod such as the Benro Slim in an instant with all three legs tucked away, a braided steel cable with padlock can be deployed to secure the bag to any suitable lashing point in car boots, train luggage holds and anywhere else where you might need that additional security safe in the knowledge that the main compartment is also locked with TSA approved combination lock. The 15inch laptop compartment can also be locked with a padlock through the zips. The ballistic nylon is also very tough and would take some breaching if attacked with a knife. The security systems on the bag would take a sustained attack to get at your gear. Certainly enough to prevent the opportunist from making off with your camera, drone, optics etc. Still on the outside, there is a three stage handle consistent with the engineering and quality throughout the bag, a joy to use with smooth easy actions and a solid feel. There are three grab handles around the bag that are heavily padded and have the added comfort of leather on the grip sides. These handles make for easy lifting to place in overhead cabins and car boots from any orientation. Also on the outside (tucked away in a fold) is a a pull out strap with a simple metal hook to enable the hanging of additional luggage from the the bag, I love this. The rear zipped pocket houses a recessed slot for a battery pack in order you might charge your phone while on the go. The phone would sit within the zipped pocket while connected to the recessed battery. It is so well thought out.
Navigating around the features of the bag is like an ultra intuitive interface
Literally I have this thing with bags where I can easily forget which pockets I have used for what items resulting in opening various pockets and zips before locating the item I’m looking for. Equally frustrating when you can’t recall the size, depth or shape of a pocket and try several (each time!) Before finding the right home for an item. I imagine we might all be different in this respect but I find Tenba bags seems to know what I’m thinking and everything just seems right, quick and easy. I have this same affection for the intuitive configuration and design with my Benro Shootout 24L Backpack and Tenba DNA bags.
Inside the Roadie 21 Roller there is a reinforced frame which has a level of protection akin to a hard case. I have sat on mine at airports while waiting in queues. The interior insert layout is infinitely adjustable to meet individual needs and is quickly changeable but has an ingenious removable insert that can be placed in a small bag once you have arrived at your destination. I use the Tenba Packlite BYOB 10 which fits the Roadie removable insert nice and snug. If you follow this advice I recommend also taking the padded shoulder protection which is removable on many bags. I use the one in the photo from my Tenba DNA 10 which just adds the needed comfort if you have some weight the straps would otherwise dig. The interior inside door zipped pockets use a mesh that is very durable and useful for being see through.
This bag represents uncompromising protection, elegant looks, total function and value for money. When you are considering the cost, a bag built with this integrity has a reassuring price tag because you just know Tenba have built in the value. Buy once, cry once. Your gear is worth it.