Gear Review: Tenba Roadie II Hybrid

Last summer, at the end of a wedding, I found myself struggling while leaving a wedding reception. I had finally built up my gear to a point that, while I had everything I needed (including backups), I couldn’t carry it all. Thankfully my assistant was able to help me, but right then and there I decided things were going to change.

The first bag I ever invested in was the Canon Backpack. And it was awesome. It still is. It’s the perfect size and the perfect price for a starter bag. I can’t even count how many weddings I hauled that thing to, and it was great. However, there reached a point where I couldn’t fit all of my gear in there anymore. It was seriously as full as it could be, it was heavy and uncomfortable to lug around, and I ended up with a million other things that also needed transported. It just wasn’t efficient anymore.

I scoured the internet looking at reviews, and eventually decided to get the Tenba Roadie II Hybrid. Let me just say… I LOVE IT. I’ve been using it for about a year now and I pretty much don’t know what I’d do without it on a wedding day. It’s about the size of a carry-on suitcase, albeit much heavier. I have to admit that I hate carrying this thing up a flight of stairs… but it does roll so 9 times out of 10 I’m not complaining. Look at how pretty it is!

The best thing about this bag is that I can fit my laptop in the front pocket when I head out to a wedding. I do same-day slideshows at the reception, and before I got this bag, I would have to carry my laptop in a separate bag (or often just in a laptop pouch). Now, it just goes right in with the rest of my gear.

Here’s a little sneak peek into the bag. The two empty spots are where my 5Dmkii and 50mm go… but I had to have something to shoot with! Everything has a spot in this bag so it’s easy to know if I’m forgetting to pack something back up before leaving the reception. A little tip: I keep a snapshot of the full bag in one of the pockets so I can refer to it when putting things away. Sometimes I forget where the smaller items actually go. It’s like a giant puzzle… that you have to put together in a loud, dark reception hall! ;)

Not shown here are the zippered pockets on the (for lack of a better word) lid of the bag. I keep all of my extra camera batteries in there, along with instruction manuals, business cards, filters, and other small items that would get lost in the main compartment.

How does this bag fit into my workflow? Well, when I leave my house on a wedding day, all of my gear is packed into the Tenba. When I arrive at the wedding location, I’ll take my camera body, a few lenses, a spare battery, and my memory cards and put them in my Kelly Moore bag. This is the bag I carry around for the first portion of the day, while my Tenba stays in close proximity in the trunk of my car. If I need anything out of it (not very common), I’ll send an assistant to fetch it. Then, for the reception, I’ll bring it in to the hall to set up my off-camera lighting and get started on the same-day slideshow. When it’s time to head home, I’ll pack everything back into the Tenba, and walk out with the empty Kelly Moore across my body, the Tenba rolling behind me, and a light stand in my hand. (You can put the light stand in a pocket on the front, but when I have my laptop in there, I don’t do that. I’d rather carry the stand than damage my MBP.)

So there you have it… a quick and dirty (literally… my bag is quite dirty!) review of the Tenba Roadie II Hybrid. PS – it’s called a hybrid because it has a pocket on the back where shoulder straps are stored in case you actually have to put the bag on your back and carry it. I’ve never had to do this, but I thought it would be nice to have that option in case. Someday I’ll need it, just the one time, and it’ll make it worth it. Although I’m not sure I’d be strong enough to stand up with it on my back… ;)

Happy Wednesday!

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