TENBA SOLSTICE 24L BACKPACK
This is more of a review because I received this pack from the nice team at MAXXUM. I do not get paid in cash or receive kickbacks for sales but I give an honest review of the pack in return for the product.
I tend to have long lasting relationships with my camera bags. the one I had before the TENBA arrived was my very first bag, I've had it for 10+ years and it works really well, but its no good for walking or hiking. I’ve tried a few other bags along the way but nothing really impressed me to the point that I would recommend it. I take my reviews seriously and like to promote quality gear, not just because I’m given something for free.
However, when MAXXUM sent me the Solstice 24L to review I wondered if the relationship with my trusty old bag was coming to an end, and that perhaps this might be the start of a beautiful new relationship.
My first impressions when I opened the box was that the pack looks good, I know this isn't a feature but come on, its important right?! I have the black version and it is smooth and sleek, its a cross between a camera bag and a hiking day pack.
I like my packs to be solid on the outside but have a great deal of padding on the inside, if I can feel my equipment bouncing around then its game over for the bag. If you’re out hiking, photographing a wedding or even just cruising the streets there is usually a lot of fragile equipment in your pack so I want my bag to be robust enough to take a knock while ensuring my gear is safe and sound. The TENBA seems to be built with travel and landscape photographers in mind, it is a rugged yet comfortable backpack.
It has a cool party trick that allows you to sling the bag around in front of you, reach for the next lens or camera, and sling the bag back — all without ever having to put it on the ground. This happens because the pack is accessed from the back compartment rather than the front like most packs, so when you have the waist strap on you are good to go. I like this because it keeps things clean, especially in the wet, however I was a bit concerned about the strength of the clasp that fastens the waist strap, more on this later.
The main compartment is filled with padded dividers that can be arranged to accommodate a lot of gear, multiple lenses and 2 bodies, more than enough space. At the top of the bag is a nice roomy pocket that would fit your food, drink, raincoat, beanie, gloves etc. This area doesn’t have the velcro dividers, but it is accessible both through the main zipper panel and a separate zipper at the very top of the bag so you can get to it with or without taking the bag off.
At the front of the pack is a smaller pocket that includes a laptop sleeve. There is also lots of little pockets to store things like cards, batteries, filters etc. The two exterior side pockets will fit a small tripod and the bag includes a removable rain cover in case it rains.
What I Liked
It’s lightweight. My gear is heavy enough without the pack weighing me down.
Top and rear access to main compartment. Tasmania can be wet on a good day, I hate having to put my pack on a wet or dirty ground, this pack fixes that problem.
It sits up on the base. My other bag always falls over because the base isn't stiff, so I end up lying it down and once again it gets dirty. The TENBA base is very sturdy and hasn't fallen over yet.
The outer material is water resistant nylon and easy to clean. Overall the material the bag is made from is really nice.
Smooth zippers. I know this may seem a bit weird but i like my zippers to work nicely and without resistance. Its the small things, right?!
What I didn't like
The chest strap didn't sit right, it may have been how I had it setup or even the shape of my body but I couldn't make it comfortable.
The padding on the straps is a little light on. This is designed to be a hiking camera bag so it needs a little more padding in the areas that cop all of the strain, such as your shoulders.
My biggest concern with the bag was the waist strap. Look, I love the swing around feature so I can access the pack without putting it down but the whole system relies on one clasp to make sure the pack doesn't fall from your body. That clasp wasn't robust enough to make me feel care free about swing the pack around.
Overall the proof will be in whether or not I keep using it. So far I can say that I've moved a lot of my equipment into the pack and I really like it. The old bag now seems to be used for storage and is in the cupboard, says it all I guess....