Tenba Roadie Air Case Roller Review
We like people. And that makes sense, because we’re photographers who photograph people. (Plus, we have 5 kids, but that’s a story for another time.)
So what does that have to do with Tenba and their Roadie collection? Quite a lot, actually.
Back in 2016, Andy was at WPPI, riding on a bus solo with a bunch of strangers to a launch party for something or another. He struck up a conversation with Peter, who was sitting across from him and works for Tenba.
A year or so later, we were getting desperate to update our travel gear (lots of destination work coming up).
Since we believe in supporting companies that are run by good people and who care about their customers, we sent Peter an email, and the rest is, as they say, our history with Tenba.
In short, we loved our bags, sent Tenba a slew of photographs for their new website, and became ambassadors for them.
Let’s keep it simple. There’s a maximum score of 10 for each of these five categories:
Performance, Features, Quality, Style, and Value (probably not necessarily in that order but 50 points max regardless).
If it performs well, has the features we need, is manufactured well, looks good, and doesn’t cost too much? Count us in!
We scored our Tenba Roadie cases a solid 10/10 for performance. Why? Because we actually use them. All the time. And they are all we use now.
They perform well. Very well.
We take them to every single session, dragging them out into the desert and rolling them into airports and various luxurious hotels and venues. We take two to weddings and one to portrait sessions.
Other than our Westcott softbox and an Avenger light stand or two, all of our gear fits in our cases. And there’s even a side pocket that will fit one of our 12.6′ Avenger stands, as well as a retractable handle onto which we can easily slide a shoulder bag when we need one.
Features. What features are you looking for in a case that you can take on an airplane? It’s gotta fit your gear, right?
Well, this will certainly get the job done.
For our purposes? In one Roadie, we can fit the following:
- Two Nikon D750s;
- Our lenses (typically, a Nikon 24mm f/1.4, Nikon 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift, Nikon 50mm f/1.4, and our ever-so-trusty Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8);
- A couple of Nikon SB-910 speedlights;
- Miscellaneous batteries, modifiers, and various odds and ends (prisms, a piece of copper pipe, etc).
Other features of the Roadie that we think are pretty rad include:
- A removable padded camera insert and EVA foam dividers;
- Water-repellant 1680D ballistic nylon (exterior);
- Tenba’s patented layered wall construction (Air Case tech) so you could check it if you had to;
- The ability to fit in the overhead bin on regional aircraft or under the seat in front of you on larger aircraft;
- User-replaceable components (wheels, extending handle, etc.);
- A TSA-approved zipper lock and a rain cover (in case that water-repellant ballistic nylon isn’t protection enough).
We wouldn’t say we beat up our gear too badly, but we did put our two Roadies through their paces, from the desert to Europe to the East Coast of the USA and back again.
We regularly get ’em dirty, clean ’em up, and roll ’em into fancy hotels. No problem.
We’ve let our kids jump on them and may have even dropped them a time or two. We’ve rolled them up stairs and tossed them into our van (rather unceremoniously) when in a hurry. And you can take them off road without a worry!
They barely look used at all.
Heck, this one time? Andy had to get on a non-photography-related flight on the quick. He ripped out all the inserts and packed enough clothes and personal items in his Roadie to last him several days.
Also, Tenba backs up their gear. The Roadie is a quality bag and comes with a limited 5-year warranty.
That said, we’re pretty sure the wheels and wedge feet will have to be replaced at some point (ours are, in fact, a bit chewed up upon closer inspection). Still, again, those are made to be replaceable.
We’re going with a 9/10.
Let’s be real. We all like to look our best, and no one wants an ugly backpack, bag, or case for their gear.
We really like that Tenba went for it with the Roadie: clean lines and that high-end luggage aesthetic.
At the same time, our Roadies aren’t screaming, “Hey! Look at us! We’re expensive luggage and have thousands of dollars worth of gear inside of us!”
And that’s important. We think they’re pretty stylish.
Convince us they aren’t, if you can: 10/10!
It costs how much? That’s always the kicker, right? Here’s how we look at it: if you’re going to put your gear in something, that something better keep your gear safe. It has to perform.
And it needs to last. Realistically, we have a family, and we aren’t ones to throw money around for no reason.
So, if you’re like us, and if your criteria is similar, you’re going to be approaching, and likely eclipsing, the $400 mark when shopping for a travel-friendly case for your camera gear.
You will do just that with the Tenba Roadie Air Case Roller 21. Of course, you can downsize and get a backpack or downgrade and skip the Air Case tech. That’s just not for us.
All that said? A similar case from a competing company will find you spending similar cash. Is $400+ a lot for a piece of luggage? Sure. Of course! Maybe? Probably.
Still, in this case, we’re not afraid to drop some cash for something that will last and protect our gear well.
The Roadie‘s value? A solid 9/10.
Overall, we’re giving the Tenba Roadie Air Case Roller 21 a 48/50 (96 percent, which is a solid A in our grade book).
We’re big fans of Tenba’s products. And, no, it’s not because we’re Tenba ambassadors. If we thought their gear was crap, we wouldn’t be Tenba ambassadors.
See you next time, and if you have comments or questions—or just want to say “Hey!”—hit us up on IG (@sunshineandreign).
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.