Things have come around full circle with the Peak Design Everyday Backpack.
I’m a bit of a gear head, but when it comes to bags and carry, I dislike the ‘adventure' of finding the best bag that suits my needs.
It’s because I always end up with wardrobes full of bags, never used, taking up a lot of space. I compare little features from each bag that seem a decent enough justification to use one over another, the wheat rises to the surface, while the chaff remains at the bottom of my closet.
I’ve been a big Peak supporter since their very first kickstarter. I originally backed the Everyday Backpack in a 20L charcoal. It wasn’t for a dissatisfaction of the product that I moved on, but rather, an insatiable curiosity and a knowledge that you don’t really know what you don’t know. How might I know if there’s a better camera backpack out there for me if I don’t go and experience some?
So I did.
I went through a few Lowepro bags (the Protactic 450 II was my fave, but that beast is way too huge), Chrome Niko, Wandrd Prvke, some Herschel bags and some North Face ones too.
Half my wardrobe was filled with bags, to the point where I had to literally give some away.
Throughout that experience and through the years of battle testing these bags, there was always something off - always little things I didn’t like more than another about each bag. The Protactic was great, but too big for every day use and city exploring while travelling. The Niko opened up on the outside and had flimsy dividers, but the bag was sturdy. The Prvke tried to be a bit too clever and was structurally floppy, even though it kinda looked cool. All the other bags were a lousy attempt to shoehorn camera pouches into regular backpacks, and none of them really worked out.
Perhaps it’s me being too specific with my requirements of what a good camera backpack should look like, but as a minimalist, I’m always looking to find the very best of whatever it is I’m using, so I can use that 1 thing, use it well and clear out the chaff in my life.
When it comes to a good travel camera backpack, I’m looking for something that is:
Small, but expandable - This is to purposely restrain me from bringing too much gear. I deliberately got the 20L version to force myself to travel lightly and maximise the most out of the gear I decide to buy and bring.
Thoughtfully designed for cameras - Because a regular backpack just doesn’t cut it. Quick access, tripod holding ability, space for knick knacks, organisation.
Thoughtfully designed for travel - A laptop sleeve, theft prevention access points, weather resistance, a discreet looking body that doesn’t scream “I have thousands of dollars worth of gear in here”.
Aesthetically pleasing - Because I only have 1 bag, it better look damn great with the rest of my minimalist travel outfits.
Allows me to be nimble - This comes down to the overall volume and profile, but as a city-dweller, this is huge. I move around a lot and mobility is the most important thing to me when it comes to travel.
Without diving in to a full review (of which there are a bajillion on the internet), the Everyday Backpack is certainly all of those for me, but of course, it isn’t perfect.
I hate the straps on longer days out, especially when I’m carrying a heavier load. They’re okay for a couple of hours, but the thinness really wears on you. It doesn’t come with a rainfly or rain protection, even if the shell and zippers are (somewhat) water resistant. The waist strap isn’t locked/folded at the end of the strap so you can accidentally pull the entire strap through the fastener (this problem is even worse on the main strap of the 5L Sling, too).
However these minor details are just that - very minor. Almost inconsequential. I really had to nit-pick to come up with them. Objectively speaking, I have a much harder time coming up with things I don’t like about the Everyday Backpack than I do with just about every other camera backpack I’ve ever used. That’s what speaks volumes here.
And so, here I am. In 2019. After having burned through a pile of cash, having banked only life lessons, a lone backpack that has stood the test of time sits in my closet now. It’s the Peak Design Everyday Backpack, 20L, in all black, and I’m happy it’s back in my life.