The Tenba Shootout 14L Slim is a small and sleek backpack that’s rather unusual in that it caters mainly for those that use a mirrorless camera or compact DSLR, or other relatively small-sized imaging gear (such as a small drone).
It’s a new addition to Tenba’s Shootout Collection of adventure camera backpacks that comprise the original 24L and 32L and another new entry, the Shootout 16L DSLR.
Despite its small size, a well-packed Shootout 14L Slim can help you take an impressive amount of gear on your next photography adventure.
Weight empty: 1.4kg
Materials (exterior): water-repellent nylon
Materials (interior): microfibre
Dividers: 10 lightweight Velcro dividers
Holds: 1-2 mirrorless or compact DSLR cameras with 3-5 lenses
Most camera bags made for minimal equipment are sling bags, which are fine for urban shoots, but they don’t cut it when hiking – but using water repellent fabrics and a waterproof base panel, the Tenba Shootout 14L Slim weighs just 1.4kg when empty despite having almost everything a big hiking camera backpack has. A weather wrap stores in a pouch in the main compartment designed to hold one or two cameras and between three and five lenses.
That area, though restricted to 20x38x11 cm, has an impressive 10 Velcro-attached customisable (and very lightweight) dividers for storing cameras, lenses and accessories. One of them is a sturdy central spine through this compartment, and though it can be removed it does add a lot of stability. There’s an area for a camera body at the top, though top access to the bag has been swapped out in favour of a soft sunglasses pouch accessed from the outside. There are also two waterproof pockets inside the lid to the main compartment.
If all that lends the Tenba Shootout 14L Slim an outdoorsy feel, so does the bladder compartment on the front of the bag. On top of that is another pocket and, piled on top again, are two more zipped pockets that work well for camera batteries, portable power banks, cables and other small items you might need quick access to.
However, the highlight of this backpack’s exterior are two stretch pockets on the side ideal for a water bottle, gimbal or tripod. There are no fewer than three straps on each side to secure your gear. That's a great design, but it makes us wonder if the undercarriage really needs two Velcro loops for strapping a tripod to. Either way, they can be completely removed.
Human-centered features include a hefty grab handle on the top, two shoulder straps complete with loops for that bladder’s tube and a sternum strap, and an AirFlow system that really is just three slabs of nylon-coated foam with a channel running between them. There’s also a basic-looking (and removable) waist belt.
There’s even an adjustable trolley strap for attaching the backpack to the Shootout 14L Slim of your wheeled luggage while you’re in the airport.
Quality and usability
The Tenba Shootout 14L Slim hates full-frame DSLRs. We tried and failed to squeeze one in comfortably, though it was close. No, this slim backpack is at its best with a compact DSLR or a mirrorless camera.
The main compartment is hamstrung by the bag’s small size. While larger camera backpacks have at least one side access point, and certainly top access, the Shootout 14L Slim offers neither. In fact, the only way to extract your camera is from behind the shoulder straps. So how do you access your camera while hiking? The backpack’s waist belt has no hip pads, but it does allow the wearer to twist the entire bag through 180º to make the rear of the backpack accessible. Tenba calls this the Pivot-Fit harness.
Initially we were disappointed that the front pocket can’t take a laptop, and while we managed to easily fit a 10-inch tablet in there, it proved more useful as a custom-made home for a hydration bladder. For wilderness photography that’s a great feature; the shoulder straps have loops for securing a hydration bladder tube.
We were able to wear the Shootout 14L Slim fully loaded for a long hike without any problems, with the shoulder straps – though appearing a little spare at first glance – doing a reasonable job. Nor did we miss having a side access panel, though the Pivot-Fit harness doesn’t work all that well if you’re wearing a jacket or waterproof layer.
The Shootout 14L Slim will suit anyone using after the essentials. It’s well designed for the outdoors, it’s got plenty of flexibility and can be customised to carry anything you want – as long as you don’t need a laptop or a full-frame DSLR. You could even remove everything from the inner compartment and use it as a weekend bag.
If you’re using a full-frame DSLR then consider upsizing slightly to the slightly deeper Shootout 16L DSLR Backpack, which is essentially identical but can take full-frame DSLR. For 70-200mm lenses, tablets and laptops, choose the Shootout 24L or 32L (though the hydration bladder pocket is sacrificed). Whichever you go for you’ll get a well thought-through design both inside and out. Lightweight and low-cost, the Shootout range eschews over-engineering and gives you what you need for a low price.