Tenba makes some marvelous camera bags that look good and work great. I fell in love with their BYOB series when I tested a handful of them last year. They just revamped their Axis lineup of tactical bags with some innovative features, additional sizes, and new models. I spent some time with the new Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader holster-style bag. With a unique extendable feature that allows the bag to hold a camera with an attached 70-200 f2.8 lens, it’s an excellent camera bag for daily walkabout photography.
The Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader looks and sounds a lot like the Top Loader Pro AW series of bags from Lowepro. But Lowepro has just two bags in this range to accommodate lenses of different sizes. This bag has a feature where the bottom of the Axis Top Loader can be unzipped for more space. This allows you to take a DSLR (ungripped) or a mirrorless camera (gripped or ungripped) with even a 70-200 f2.8 lens attached (hood reversed). I’ll enjoy this flexibility going forward; now I often have to take my backpack just to be able to carry my 70-200 on a photo walk. There were times when the only case that could safely hold my 70-200 lens was a backpack.
I may have just found my favorite walkabout camera bag for quick photowalks around the city. Tenba extended most of the new features of their Axis V2 range to the Top Loader bags, which are available in two colors.
The Big Picture
- Compact but expandable to accommodate a camera with up to a 70-200 f2.8 lens attached
- Padded insert allows the inner space to be divided to keep slim accessories like a filter inside its case.
- Can carry it with the padded shoulder strap, or it can be hung on your waist belt.
- Reflective MOLLE Webbing on the sides and front
- You can add a Tenba Lens Capsule to almost double the space capacity of the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader.
- Neoprene sleeve inside allows you to conceal a tracking device such as an Apple AirTag.
- Elastic side mesh pockets provide extra space for accessories like filters, notebooks, small speedlights, and more.
- Generously sized handle on the top allows you to easily grab and go.
- Reversible silver and black rain cover included, which collapses into an inbuilt cover in itself
- No waist strap means the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader could swing a lot as you walk at a brisk pace.
- Tracking device pocket could have been slightly larger. My Tile Sport Pro tracker didn’t fit easily.
- MultiCam Black™ model is USD 10 more than the regular black option.
- Upper inner portion of the bag could have had an elastic sleeve, or at least tiny pockets for storing filters and/or memory cards.
This bag does the job of accommodating a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a large lens like a 70-200 well. The versatility of the expandable bottom means you don’t have to look for a separate bag to use for your daily photowalks to fit a longer lens. Tenba users will be pleased with the bag’s ability to easily add on items from their accessory range. The 3D airmesh side allows you to loop your waist belt through. I wish Tenba provided a waist strap as well. It’s a great bag to throw a single camera and lens into. But if you’re creative enough with your organization, you can easily add a pancake-sized (or slightly larger) lens as well. And the dedicated tracker compartment provides peace of mind about the bag’s whereabouts.
I’m giving the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader bag four out of five stars for its adaptable size feature and durability. It misses a star for the lack of an included waist strap and the inability to store slightly larger trackers in the provided pocket. That pocket really should have been expandable.
Want one? Check them out on Amazon if you’re interested.
I tested the Black version of the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader bag with my Nikon D810 and my AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f2.8G ED VR II. I also tried it with my Nikon Z6II, which had a Smallrig L Plate, and my Nikon Z 24-120mm. The tracker pocket was tested with an Apple Airtag, Tile Sport Pro, and Airbolt Smart Lock. We got to keep the Top Loader bag from Tenba.
Tenba has included a “hidden” neoprene pocket inside the front compartment to store a Bluetooth or GPS tracker. While this is a nice addition to a camera bag, this pocket could have been slightly bigger. Or it could have had a zipper on one side to add different-sized trackers.
It easily fits an Apple AirTag, but it wasn’t so easy to get my Tile Tracker Pro in there. The product page for the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader says it can hold a “Tile Bluetooth Tracker.” This is possibly in reference to one of their smaller, newer models. Tenba says this is the first camera bag to include a hidden pocket for such trackers.
Top loading bags aren’t new, so while Tenba has some competition in this field, they’ve built a compact shoulder bag with most of the usual features in there. But they’ve also added some new features and improved upon some existing ones compared to other brands. The first of note is the top handle. This isn’t just a thin belt strap attached as an afterthought like some top-loading bags have. It’s a decently-sized, ribbed grip handle that you can use to lift the bag off surfaces to sling across your shoulder. Your fingers will find it comfortable to hold on to when taking the bag’s weight off your shoulders or waist.
Two metal hooks are on either side of the bag. Thankfully these aren’t painted. They won’t look scratched up when the strap hooks move across them over time
The side of the bag meant to be closest to your body is padded with a 3D airmesh. This is usually the kind of material that backpacks have on the inner side against your back. There’s space behind this airmesh to loop your waist belt or hip belt on the Axis 20/24/32L Backpacks. It could have been used as a way to stop the bag from swinging too much as you walk. For this, Tenba should have included a slim waist strap with a buckle. The gap is probably not big enough to slip over the trolley handle of your roller bag.
I’m always weary of elastic side pockets, as it remains to be seen how long the elastic lasts. That said, it’s not something really tight, and it seems to stretch comfortably. It easily accommodates water bottles and speedlights.
Here’s a missed potential. The inner side of the upper cover of the bag has nothing besides Tenba branding and the model of the bag. It could easily have used an elastic sleeve or a few pockets for memory cards and accessories. It’s thick and padded well to protect your camera gear, but I think it’s an area wasted in terms of storage capability.
I’m very pleased the shoulder strap has the 3D air-mesh on the underside. This also ensures that the bag doesn’t slip off your shoulders as you walk. It’s an adjustable length strap, of course.
Tenba has added MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing on the sides and front of the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader bag. This allows limitless expandability with Tenba accessories and military-standard pouches and accessories. The webbing is reflective, so if you’re cycling or walking at night with this bag, it helps you stay visible to traffic.
Use the front pocket (which has a sleeve to make a partition) to store filters, notebooks, smartphones, or any number of accessories that can fit inside it.
The upper side of the front compartment is also where the neoprene pocket for the tracker is located. Again, I think this should have been bigger. Hopefully, V3 will correct this.
The inside is spacious, and Tenba has included a padded partition too. But this is only attachable to the two velcro strips placed off center. Larger strips could have made for a more customizable interior. Not a complaint, but it does limit the internal partition size to just one option. I guess you could just take it off the velcro and stick it between the camera/lens and whatever else you want.
Tenba doesn’t list any waterproof or weather-resistant capabilities for this bag. The upper part of the bag (without any protective cover) was able to keep water out of the bag.
The rain cover doesn’t completely cover the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader bag. The 3D airmesh at the back is completely uncovered by this. Keep this portion close to your chest in the rain, even with the rain cover over the bag.
You can tuck away the rain cover into a small pocket built into itself. You can then toss it into the bag or just store it elsewhere. The bag has no dedicated pocket for the rain cover like some other top-loading bags do.
The generously long strap has a shoulder pad. The upper side is made of the same material used for the top of the bag. Its air mesh padding keeps your shoulders comfy, though I occasionally found myself switching shoulders.
The lack of a waist strap aside, this is a comfortable bag to walk around with. It occasionally swings a bit, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed if you get a waist strap from elsewhere. I’d buy one of these straps if Tenba sold them.
I didn’t have any compatible accessories that could be used with the MOLLE webbing. But I’m confident it’ll perform as advertised.
Ease of Use
Expanding the depth of the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader bag is as simple as unzipping the base of the bag and pulling it out. There’s a small tab you can grip on to while pulling out the base.
As long as the lens hood is retracted, it should be reasonably easy to fit your camera and lens inside.
There’s a lot of space inside. If the inside was lined with more padding options, I’d probably be able to partition it to store additional stuff inside, even without expanding the base. You could fit in a power bank, memory cards, pen, notebook, filter, water bottle, phone, Swiss Army knife, and a face mask without much effort.
Collapsing the expanded portion is just as easy. You can either just push it back inside, or pull on it from the inside and zip it up
Who Should Buy The Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader Bag?
Anyone who wants a daily carry camera bag for quick photo walks will find the spatial expansion capabilities of the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader useful. Keeping in line with the other bags in the Tenba Axis V2 series, it’s rugged and durable: understandable as Tenba has a history of making bags for the military. Do you like using a 70-200 f2.8 for street photography (like I do)? Then this is the perfect bag for you. Are you a photographer who only carries one lens while out on assignment? Take the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader on one of your photo jobs to see how it performs. I think with a bit of engineering, you could fit more than one lens inside if your primary lens isn’t too long. In fact, just about every kind of photographer could find some use for this bag on short photo assignments.
Take from the Tenba Axis V2 Top Loader product page:
- Weight: 1lb / 0.5kg
- Outside Dimensions (in): 7.5W x 10.25-14H x 6.75D in.
- Outside Dimensions (cm): 19W x 26-36H x 17D cm
- Inside Dimensions (in): 6.5W x 9.25-13.25H x 5.8D in.
- Inside Dimensions (cm): 17W x 23-34H x 15D cm
- Capacity: Mirrorless or DSLR camera with attached 24-70mm (or 70-200mm 2.8 when bag is expanded). Also fits DJI Mavic and other compact drones.
- Warranty: 5 Years
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