So let's be honest.. We love to travel and get in hard to get to locations but at the same time we are dreadfully stressed over taking our gear into these same locations. It would seem through all the bag purchases that I have made no one bag ever fits my exact needs and so... I look for the "next" bag in hopes it will fill my needs. Then I have non-photography bags that fit certain needs for the function they were made such as hiking or climbing but not photography needs so I find myself moving my gear from one bag to the next in hopes of some compromise only to find some of my needed hiking/climbing/adventuring gear got scuttled in lieu of camera gear. The process is frustrating to say the least.
I may have found the ultimate solution and in doing so added security for my camera and gear while keeping the flexibility of different purposes whether it is on the bike, in a backpack, overnight hike, whatever. Flexibility along with padded protection for the sensitive gear is something we all look for but typically give up one or the other just to get the job done.
Enter Tenba.. I first discovered Tenba while I was staying with Simon and Lisa Thomas with 2ridetheworld.com in North Carolina when they were traveling through on their way to Mexico. They have the same issues any traveling photographer has except with the added complexity of limited space and potential vibration/jarring issues. They want to protect their gear in the smallest amount of room possible while still having reasonably quick access to their gear when they need it. Traveling on two motorcycles certainly adds to the challenge.
They carry the Fuji X-T2 Cropped frame camera system along with a host of fantastic lens (more than mine by far) so keeping all of that protected in as small a space as possible was critical. Once I saw their gear, I knew it was only a matter of time before I had chosen from the Tenba line what I would use myself. I settled, for now, on a couple different items. One to hold the camera and a few lenses and the other to hold flashes and accessories. I admit, I'll likely need to get one more small bag in order to round out my storage needs however, with these two bags I'm able to pretty much carry everything I need short of reflectors, tripods, etc that would never fit in a bag anyway. Being modular I can continue to add bags as my equipment investment grows.
So, what does all this look like? In two small bags I have now not only replaced my old bag but also split the weight load of my camera gear into two smaller bags that now can fit in whatever bag that I am using for the task at hand. Off for a hike, ride, etc? I can now stuff my minuscule camera bag in a day backpack, an overnight backpack, a tank bag, pannier, whatever best fits my needs for what and where I'm trying to go. The flexibility as well as the weight reduction is amazing! Plus, the benefit of protection.
The first bag which was the most difficult to select was the bag to hold the camera itself along with my primary lenses I tend to carry. I settled on the Tenba BYOB 9 Slim Backpack Insert. If you have a standard DSLR this bag will likely not be large enough to house the camera base much less with an attached lens. They make a standard size for that type of camera. One of the reasons I chose the Sony A7II was due to its size in comparison to standard DSLR's. This is one of the benefits of the mirrorless systems is their size advantage. Size matters and in this case, smaller is better. The other reason I chose mirrorless was for fewer moving parts which for a motorcycle photographer is critical considering it's impossible to eliminate all vibration and jarring.
In the BYOB 9 Slim bag I have housed the camera body attached to a 24-240mm full frame lens, 85mm full frame lens, and a 15mm full frame lens. In addition, I was also able to place a polarizing filter, a memory container and my tripod base along with lens cloths and some batteries. Those with a cropped body could potentially fit even more due to their diminutive lens sizes as compared to full frame. All snug which that alone tends to protect as well.
But wait, there's more! As any photographer would agree, much like motorcycles, when it comes to camera gear, you only need...one more. So in reality, having my base and lenses while being primary, isn't all of my needed gear depending on what I'm shooting. Accessories can be just as important such as flash, remotes, triggers, etc. This is where my second purchase filled the need. Enter the Tenba Toolbox 8. My goal for this bag was to secure my two primary flashes, remote trigger, and typical needed accessories. Mission accomplished. If I don't need flashes, I can leave the bag separate, if I do, it's an easy add-on bag to toss in. The bag comes with multiple configurable space organizers allowing you to configure the bag how you want or need for your purpose. I am a fan of speed lighting and specifically 2 flash photography so having both accessible was important for me. They have smaller toolbox options for those not needing the same amount of room. Fantastic.
The overall build of both cases is sturdy including quality padding, quality zippers with easy pull straps, and finally well thought out design such as clear top for the accessories and the custom designed zipper arrangement in the BYOB for flip down quick camera access. If you are looking for quality functional camera carrying solutions look no further than Tenba. You won't be disappointed.
Until next time.. Click!
Tennessee has a landscape that is simply hard not to like and it covers a large swath of the Eastern US through some of the most interesting landscape found including the Appalachian Mountains. While it is easy to relate to the East side of the state to being chocked full of beautiful scenery from water falls to mountains its necessary not to under estimate just how beautiful the Middle TN Southern region can be. I caught a glimpse of this as I took the TN TAT back a few years ago and was surprised then just how beautiful the area was. Creeks throughout, Amish country with large beautiful horses, and dirt roads that went on endlessly, this place really has it all. And, its only about 1-2 hours south of one of the largest cities in Tennessee, Nashville.
Casey Hampton, fellow rider and ambassador for KTM, put this event on and has done so for several years perhaps since its start. Casey did a great job having several ride options available, fantastic routes, and multiple groups so the 160+ riders weren't running all over each other. While this ride was designed for both big bikes and small bikes alike, the overwhelming majority of bikes here were small bikes.. In fact, my BMW GSA, to my knowledge was the only one there. LOTS of KTM's, many Africa Twins, smaller BMW's, KLR's everywhere, and Super Tenere's rounded out the stable found at the ride. No matter what you rode however, you were welcome.
Honestly, as cold as it was when we all got there, I doubt we would have had any brand rivalry anyway as just huddling closer together be it in the restaurant or the 1 propane fire pit made us all instant friends. Let's just say it was uncommonly cool for April. For those who tent camped, the heat from coffee and gloves on hot engines were common sites and needs. Many of us were in RV's or motorhomes but there were also a large number who were tent camping. No matter what our sleeping arrangements, our desire to ride was the same. After all, the forecast didn't magically change right before we arrived so we knew what we were getting into.
It was raining when we got there on Friday and the temp was frigid hitting around 34 that evening maybe lower and as low as 29 Saturday night. The off and on rain most of Friday made riding difficult but for many not impossible. Casey had a night ride planned for Friday that would have been cool but the wet combined with the cold temps caused most of us to choose fireside chats as opposed to night riding.
Saturday, however, was a different story. Still cold and damp for sure with a bit of drizzle up into the morning but the excitement from a bunch of guys and gals ready to rip it up was overpowering the weather. We had about 5 groups head out at staggered times based on expected travel times to keep the 160+ bikes from cramping all over each other. For the most part it worked out very well.
There is one thing I can say as a big bike rider that the small bike riders love to ride fast! I can understand the excitement when beneath you is about 2-300 lbs vs 600 and power to weight ratio is off the chart.. But still running with these guys was a blast.. The sounds of the 10-15 engines all "Brapp-ing" (technical term) at once or going through creek crossings, facing different types of surfaces all led to be a spirited ride with lots of excitement along the way and at least in our group, no one dumped.
Probably the highlight of the ride at least that we got to take a picture of was the waterfall toward the end of the route. The whole area looked like you could see Frodo heading toward Mordor at any turn. It was a bit surreal. I wished that someone had been able to take a picture or better yet video of us all going through the creek for about 100yds as well as the crossing that just about swallowed my bike due to being loose gravel. It's clear I'm going to have to hook up my go pros again for future rides as i miss not having a way to record epic areas like that. Being out in touch with nature is really what adventuring is all about. At least part of it anyway.
After a long day of riding it was great to get back and enjoy a hot dinner from Fall Hollow Campground restaurant. I had the BBQ Ribs and they were amazing but many were eating the smoked meatloaf which I heard was fantastic as well.
Sunday ended up being short for me and likely a better riding day than Saturday was but I had to leave to go to another event where I was speaking in the afternoon. I'm told the Sunday route was great as well. To Casey Hampton and all the volunteers who made the spring rally possible, I thank you as I'm sure all the other attendees do as well. I look forward to seeing you at the fall rally!
Until then, ride on!
Adventurist at heart, David Mays looks to inspire others to live their life with focus and purpose. Experience and expansion is why we are here.