Tenba Cooper 15 Bag Review

Tenba Cooper 15 Bag Review

There are 3 different sizes in the Tenba Cooper messenger bag lineup. The Cooper 8, Cooper 13, and Cooper 15. The Cooper 15 being the biggest, meant for 15 inch laptops and DSLRs, while the 8 more for small mirrorless. But the entire lineup consists of 8 different bags.

The Tenba 15 was an expensive bag when it was released at $299, and it is still expensive ($239 at Amazon at time of publishing). And to justify this price, it was marketed as a premium bag made with canvas, and full grain leather accents. While it was designed for photographers, it is also convertible for other uses as well since it has an easily removable camera divider.

Features:

(straight from their page):
“The Cooper 15 DSLR Messenger Bag was built to accommodate a mirrorless or DSLR camera (up to pro size w/ grip) with 4-5 lenses (up to attached 70-200mm 2.8), and the rear padded sleeve will hold a laptop up to 15 inches. The bag includes Tenba’s signature Whisper Hook™ closure which enables the flap to be opened with almost no sound, and the Quick Access top zipper allows for the secure exchange of cameras and lenses.”

Tenba’s Advertorial on the Cooper Bags

Dimensions:

  • Exterior: 41 x 29 x 20 cm / 16 x 11.5 x 8 in
  • Interior: 38 x 28 x 17 cm / 15 x 11 x 6.5 in
  • Laptop Compartment: 38 x 27 x 3 cm / 15 x 10.5 x 1 in
  • Weight: 1.6 kg / 3.6 lbs

This doesn’t include the expandable side pockets.

Cooper 15 on Domestic SouthWest Airline Flight – Personal Carry-On

Design:

I get all the benefits of a messenger bag, without the inconveniences of my old Timbuk2 messenger bags yet with exterior construction of soft but water resistant canvas, with upgraded leather accents. This bag has access to almost everything without having to open up the main flap, with zippers that have the right amount of ruggedness. Altogether a handsome bag that looks as expensive as its retail price suggests.

Zipper opening up top allows you to access inside the bag without opening the flap.

The main interior of the bag is one big open space, pre-fit with a divider insert made specifically for each Tenba Cooper. This insert can slip in and out to reconfigure easily – much easier than using my other 15″ Messenger Bag I use a lot. The one it comes pre-configured is three columns with dividers in each further separating the insides.

The inside area is completely removable in one take-out bag liner.

Since I’m out of town right now with the bag, I’m going to share how I currently have the bag configured.

I left one third completely empty to fit a Peak Design Tech Pouch. Its part of my everyday carry kit so if I’m heading somewhere that I don’t need the whole messenger bag, I just pull the Tech Pouch right out.

Example of what I pack in my EDC pack

For regular carry, I leave the middle third for my Sony A7III, with a Samyang 35mm 2.8 lens most of the time. But I’ve also configured the A7III with a 24-70 2.8 Art Lens, with battery portrait grip. Sometimes I go a bit lighter and put my Fuji Film X100F in the spot, and use a divider to put other miscellaneous items up top.

The other third I currently am testing the Obsbot Tail Ai camera, plus charger, accessories, and a Gnarbox 2 (also testing). If I weren’t testing these items I’d probably carry another lens or flash.

The laptop compartment in the back easily fits my Macbook Pro 15 Retina, and iPad Pro 12.9. And for the trip I’m currently on, I packed my Samsung Notebook 9 Pro plus the aforementioned iPad Pro. It can hold more than I’d normally want to for a shoulder bag, and also does not require opening the main flap since its right in the back where it belongs.

On both sides there are the aforementioned side pockets, which can expand to fit 24-70 2.8 lenses(!) as well as a good water bottle or two. I currently have a Snow Peak Kanpai bottle, and laptop power adapter in mine at the moment.

One negative is that the pockets do not have lids or caps to secure items. So hypothetically if one were to run after a bus or train with something that wasn’t snugly fit or secure, there’s a possibility that something could fall out.

Side pocket holding my Kanbai Thermos

One thing I wish the bag had was a bright interior. I’m often in environments with poor lighting, and it doesn’t help that a lot of things I bring happen to be in bags, cases, etc that are colored black. With a grey interior, its that much more difficult to see. So I use a Tom Bihn Organization Pouch for some things.

Inside of the bag with my purple Tom Bihn Organization Pouch

The size is just right for a personal carry item on most domestic (USA) airlines so I will be traveling with this or the Peak Design EDC Messenger Bag over the next few months.

There is also a rain cover included, which I will likely not be using because the material already has built-in light rain resistance and where I’m going I’m probably not going to be out in a downpour for long anyway.

If there was one thing missing. Its the option to convert to a backpack carry like ThinkTank did with some of their messenger bags.

So far I’m pretty happy with this bag, and it makes a great alternative to my Peak Design Every Day Carry Messenger Bag 15 offering different carry options that make more sense in some scenarios and easier to convert from full messenger to messenger with camera carry inside.

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