Gear Review: Peak Design Everyday Bags

We heard about Peak Design in time to back the 2013 Capture Camera Clip v2 Kickstarter campaign. Since then, we’ve backed three more Peak Design Kickstarter campaigns,  purchased accessories through their online store, and made an IRL purchase from their booth at PhotoPlus Expo 2014.

Full disclosure: Also in 2014, we joined the Peak Design affiliate program. The affiliate link at the bottom of our Capture Clip review has earned us a couple hundred bucks over the years, which we’ve use to help offset the annual fees we pay because we’re over the photo storage limit for a free WordPress blog.

Opening Thoughts

The accountant in me admires the way Peak Design has leveraged Kickstarter 7 times over 7 years to launch an increasingly broad range of carry systems for photography and videography gear, generating more than $15 million in cash flow thanks to crowdfunding. In my experience, their products are well made, their fulfillment goes pretty smoothly, and they are committed to being a socially responsible company, looking at their supply chain, product life cycle, and supporting conservation efforts. Read more about how they’re taking action here.

In 2015, Peak Design expanded their product offering to include bags – thoughtfully designed for camera gear and much more. With sleek, durable exteriors and multi-pocketed, flexible interiors, Peak Design has positioned these bags to be your everyday carry.

I’ve been using the Everyday Messenger since my Kickstarter pledge was fulfilled in January 2016 and the Everyday Backpack and Everyday Tote since my pledge was delivered in January 2017. It’s a solid basis upon which to share my use case for each bag, along with likes, dislikes and other bits of feedback. For current specifications, colour/size options, and other product details, follow the links to Peak Design’s website.

Everyday Messenger

peak-design-everyday-messenger

Use Case

Peak Design entered the camera bag space with the 15-inch Everyday Messenger. I never expected this to replace the pack I use for hiking. Instead, I planned to use it for urban explorations, loaded with an Olympus OMD body, a couple of lenses, tripod, snacks, water, and the various bits and pieces needed for a morning photo walk through a city park or an afternoon at a museum or gallery.

After just a couple of outings, it was clear this wasn’t going to work for me. My middle-aged body does not appreciate bearing a load on just one shoulder. Thanks to clever straps and buckles, there are a couple of other carry options for the Everyday Messenger, but these didn’t alleviate the problem.

Rather than leave it gathering dust in some closet, I opted to use my Everyday Messenger for everyday storage of pretty much all my camera gear: six lenses, flash, tripod, reflectors, battery charger, filters and more. Thanks to Peak Design’s well-considered compartments and divider system, there’s a properly-sized and padded spot for each bit of gear. That makes pulling the equipment needed for a particular day’s outing very fast. And having everything in one place makes for easy transitions between our home base in the city and our alternate base in the Canadian Rockies. After being jammed in with the rest of our luggage during 50+ trips to the mountains and back, the Everyday Messenger still looks new.

peak-design-everyday-messenger

Likes

The Everyday Messenger is great to look at. It doesn’t scream camera bag and blends in well at the office, while commuting or out and about. Thanks to several zippered compartments and bendable FlexFold™ dividers, your imagination’s the limit when it comes to organizing your stuff. And even when you think there’s not a bit of room for anything else, Peak Design’s MagLatch™ closure makes it possible to add yet another piece of kit. The bag is weatherproof (including the zippers). To top it all off, there’s a lifetime warranty.

Dislikes

It’s heavy: according to our kitchen scale, the 15-inch Everyday Messenger weighs in at 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs) when empty, a full .5 kg (1.2 lbs) more than the 20L Everyday Backpack and the Everyday Tote. It’s weight exacerbates the shoulder/neck strain I experience when carrying the Everyday Messenger around for a half-day photo walk. And while it’s perfect suited to its role as the portable storage place for my camera gear, US$250 seems like a hefty price tag for a repository.

Everyday Backpack

peak-design-everyday-backpack

Use Case

Given the neck/shoulder ache I experienced after carrying the Everyday Messenger, I was keen to switch to the 20L Everyday Backpack when it was launced a year later. As expected, this is my go to bag for a day dedicated to urban photography, such as during Beakerhead. Well thought out zippered pockets and slot compartments, along with the FlexFold™ dividers, allow me to carry everything needed for a full day of assignments: a spare MFT body, a couple of extra lenses, flash, tripod, filters, snacks, a tablet, phone, cable and battery pack, snacks, water, etc. During the five days of Beakerhead 2017, I carried my Everyday Backpack as many as 25,000 steps/day, in everything from pouring rain to sunshine. During good weather, I use a Capture Clip for ready access to my camera. Otherwise, it’s stowed in the weatherproof Everyday Backpack, but easily accessed thanks to the ingenious active side access feature: axial strap attachments let you remove swing the bag front of you to get in and out while leaving the shoulder straps in the usual carry position!

Serpent-Mother

Likes

Like the Everyday Messenger, the Everyday Backpack looks good – a nice touch when you’re switching between photographing free outdoor events and paid admission indoor events on the same day. Fully-zippered side panels include tuck pockets for SD cards, batteries, lens cleaning kit, filters, spare batteries, and more. I use the external side pockets for a tripod and water bottle. In the main compartment, bendable FlexFold™ dividers are easily movable to fit your exact requirements. And inside the zippered laptop/tablet compartment, there’s a tuck pocket for my phone and other small valuables. Even when I think the bag is fairly full, the MagLatch™ closure makes it possible to stow a light jacket if the day warms up. Again, the bag is weatherproof (including the zippers). Given all the features and good strap and back padding, the empty bag weighs a surprisingly light 1.05 kg (2.3 lbs). To top it all off, there’s a lifetime warranty. For those with a larger than MFT camera system, it’s worth taking a look at the larger, 30L capacity Everyday Backpack.

Tidbit

As soon as CGP Grey started describing his most recently-purchased backpack on Episode 63 of Cortex podcast (co-hosted by Myke Hurley), I knew he was talking about a Peak Design Everyday Backpack! It took him awhile to find the subtle pd logo, which confirmed my intuition! 🙂

Dislikes

The quick slide strap buckles that are essential for the brilliant side access feature have a downside – they gradually slip as you walk. Ironically, the heavier the load, the less slippage. While requiring a periodic tug on the quick release loops, the slippage would be a very minor irritant if the straps slipped at the same rate. With my pack, however, one side slips much faster than the other, so I’d end up with a lopsided weight distribution every 10 minutes or so. I contacted Peak Design about the issue and they offered to replace the pack, but since the side access feature depends on the ability of the buckles to slide on the straps, they couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t have a similar issue with a replacement back. It’s something they’re trying to fine tune for the next generation. In the end, I opted to keep the original pack and solved the problem with a 99 cent clip-on latch that Mr. GeoK found on eBay. Lucky for me, the strap with the slippage problem is the one I don’t use for side access!

peak-design-everyday-backpack

Since the straps on the Everyday Backpack are well-padded, I find attaching a Capture Clip v2 very challenging. Despite its lighter weight and overall smaller dimensions, it’s easier to attach a v3 Capture Clip (review coming soon).

Finally, I would not opt for the Everyday Backpack for hiking, because the hip belt doesn’t do a great job of transferring the load from shoulders/back to hips – something my hiking-specific pack does very well.

Everyday Tote

peak-design-everyday-tote

Use Case

An Everyday Tote was a last-minute addition to my Everyday Backpack Kickstarter pledge and am I ever glad I succumbed to the impulse! This is the bag I most often carry in the city. It looks professional when carried to business meetings and then, with a couple of quick strap adjustments, converts to a backpack-style carry for a photo walk through an urban park or gallery. Here’s my typical load:

 

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Likes

The Everyday Tote looks polished enough for the boardroom and is practical enough for a half day urban photo walk. Unlike the Everyday Messenger and Backpack, the Tote has no internal zippered compartments. Instead, a pair of bendable FlexFold™ dividers can be positioned to suit your specific needs. Along with the many internal and two external slip pockets, I’ve been able to find just the right place to tuck away everything I carry on a typical trip into downtown. The only zippers are the parallel zippers at each end, cleverly connected to the same zipper pull so that you have easy side access to a lens, reusable coffee mug or whatever you store at the ends of the main compartment. Empty, the Everyday Tote weighs 1.05 kg (2.3 lbs). The fabric of the bag is weatherproof (as are the zippers), but I don’t consider the Tote weather sealed as the top opening is closed with a pair of fairly strong magnets, but no latch. overlap or flap to seal off the opening. At US$190, it’s the least expensive of Peak Design’s Everyday bags. Again, there’s a lifetime warranty.

My favourite feature? The option to carry this bag as tote or backpack. I leave home with the Everyday Tote in backpack configuration, for the walk to the train station. On the ride into downtown, I quickly adjust the straps to tote mode for a more professional look. Then, as needed, I’ll adjust the straps again into backpack mode as appropriate, such as during this recent gallery visit:

peak-design-everyday-tote

Dislikes

While my favourite feature is the option to carry this bag as a backpack, the straps are not padded, so I wouldn’t want to carry it this way too loaded up, nor for more than a few hours at stretch. And while it’s possible to carry a tripod on the exterior, I avoid this because it makes the bag unbalanced and bulky.

Closing Thoughts

No single bag is going to meet every photographer’s needs. If you’re considering a new bag for all or some of your gear, I recommend carefully considering your most prevalent use case and then checking lots of reviews before placing your order.

If you have a question about any of the Peak Design Everyday bags that I haven’t already covered, feel free to leave a comment with your query and I’ll do my best to answer.

If you decide to purchase a Peak Design bag (or any other Peak Design gear), we would really appreciate it if you take advantage of our 10% off affiliate code at the Peak Design online store. Simply clicking through these links will give you 10% off orders of US$19.95 or more.

Fine print:

  • In accordance with Peak Design’s February 2018 update to its affiliate program, the 10% discount caps out at $15/order.
  • Also in accordance with Peak Design’s affiliate program, the discount is not applicable to bundles/already discounted items.
  • If you purchase through our link, we will benefit from your order. How much? We earn a 10% commission, capped at $15/order.

Since we joined Peak Design’s affiliate program in 2014, reader purchases have generated about $150 in commissions, which help offset the hosting costs of this blog. We realize you can access this same discount through many Peak Design affiliates and appreciate your support of Out and About with the GeoKs.

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