New photography bags come and go so often that you wonder how many more types there might possibly be to release. After all, how much is there to a backpack?
And what is so different from one to the next? The best camera bags can truly enrich your shooting experience, and yet there’s never going to be a camera bag that everyone will like, nor can you get away with having one bag for all situations.
Shooting in an urban environment will require something modern and unobtrusive – a classic bag that just happens to protect your camera kit. A wildlife photographer will need capacity for longer lenses, while a landscape shooter needs waterproofing to be a priority.
The Tenba Fulton v2 (we tested the generous new 16L size with amped up weatherproofing) reminds you what a good camera backpack can be: functional without being nerdy, classy without being luxury, roomy without being gargantuan and comfortable enough for a long day out.
While this review focuses on the 16L backpack in a Black Camo Colourway, 10L and 14L versions are also available. Tenba states that the 10L has room for a mirrorless or DSLR camera with 2-4 lenses, plus an iPad or iPad Pro up to 11 inches (28 cm). The 14L should hold a mirrorless or DSLR camera with 3-4 lenses, plus a laptop up to 13 inches.
Weight empty: 1.27kg
Materials (exterior): water-repellent nylon
Materials (interior): brushed tricot
Waterproofing: yes, plus included rain cover
Dividers: 9 velcro dividers
Holds: mirrorless or DSLR camera with 5-7 lenses (up to attached 70-200mm f/2.8)
While the original Tenba Fulton design came in 10L and 14L sizes, this second iteration also includes a roomier 16L option, which – as well as simply housing more camera kit – can take a laptop up to 16 inches.
This makes it much more versatile, allowing the v2 to become a commuter bag or office bag, as well as something suitable for content creators and pro photographers who tend to carry their MacBook Pro with them everywhere they go.
In terms of design, the new 16L Fulton builds on its predecessor rather than overhauling it – which is fine, given how popular the original bag was. There is, however, a marked improvement in the bags weather resistance; it features a sealed, water-repellent zipper on the front compartment, and comes with a rain cover that’s included loose inside the main compartment.
The bag itself is made from a water-repellent canvas which feels sturdy without being plasticky, and the stitching feels like it’s been built to last.
The main camera compartment features a brushed tricot interior – for those of us not in the know, tricot is a cross-woven, textured fabric, with two yarns twisted around the weft yarns to provide a strong, sheer fabric. This equals durability, and a product that's likely to last a fair amount of rough handling.
One small design gripe is the mechanism for fastening a tripod onto the side pocket of the bag. Rather than there being a quick release clip or buckle, there's just a side strap side that you pull tight to keep the tripod secure. To stow or remove the tripod you have to loosen this strap and then pull the tripod all the way out. Sounds simple, but more often than not, the tripod legs get caught on the loop and getting at the tripod takes far longer than you'd hope.
Capacity and usability
Moving onto the capacity of the 16L Fulton, the main compartment has room for a DSLR or mirrorless camera, extra lenses, plus flash guns or video accessories like mics and LEDs. Adjustable velcro dividers keep everything in place neatly, and it’s easy to reconfigure them to suit your needs.
On one occassion, I was able to carry a Nikon D800 and Sony A7 III (both with kit lenses attached) plus extra lenses and chargers. You could also use the Fulton v2 purely as a drone bag, as it would definitely fit a DJI Mavic with accessories.
Elsewhere, there’s the sizeable padded pouch at the front of the bag, a tripod or monopod pocket on one side and a water bottle pouch on the other. Personal gear – clothing, keys, or in my case, snacks – goes in the rolltop, which can be (as the name suggests) rolled down tightly, or expanded to provide extra space as and when you need it.
At first, I thought this design would be more of a hindrance than a help, but it takes seconds to open up the pouch and delve in to find what you need – great news when you’re peckish on a street photography assignment. Likewise, while you have to take the bag off or swing it onto one shoulder to get to the rear-access camera compartment, this isn’t a problem, and provides a sense of security if you’re shooting in a busy environment.
The Fulton v2 16L was a joy to carry around on a city shoot all day. Like most modern camera bags, it has a padded mesh to keep things sweat-free against your back, although as we were testing it in UK winter temperatures, we can’t vouch for how effective this is in warmer climes.
The padded straps are comfortable, and for female shooters or those with smaller frames, you shouldn't experience the bag slipping off your shoulders as can sometimes happen with bags designed purely with men in mind. Not a moan, just an observation.
The Fulton All Weather backpack comes with Tenba’s signature Dual Sided WeatherWrap – the raincover – which is silver on one and black on the other for a more discreet look. Fortunately we didn’t have to use it during testing, but it feels just as well-made as the rest of the backpack and will suit those who want to continue shooting even in showery conditions.
Although we have to return our sample of the Fulton v2 16L imminently, we'd be keen to add it our rotation of everyday bags – especially when shooting in the city.
The Tenba Fulton v2 16L will suit photographers after a modern bag that houses all the essentials in a waterproof, ready-for-adventure design. It’s very secure, surprisingly spacious, and can be easily customized as a drone carrier, as well as a photography bag for urban shooters and content creators. The ability to carry a 16-inch MacBook Pro will really suit those who shoot and edit on the go.
If you’re using a full-frame DSLR with longer telephoto lenses, you might find the camera storage a bit too small for your needs, as 70-200mm lenses are really the maximum the backpack can take. However, modern mirrorless shooters should have more than enough space for a full day's work. Smart and sensible, the Fulton v2 range provides versatile storage for a sensible price.