Hands on: Peak Design Everyday Backpack

Peak Design is building the perfect camera bag, and it’s nearly there

If there is one thing we can be sure of about designers behind Peak Design’s newest camera bag, it is that they are perfectionists. The preproduction review unit of the new Everyday Backpack 20L that Digital Trends received was accompanied by a warning: Some features of the bag were still not finalized and may not function properly. The zippers weren’t quite smooth enough, the dividers a tad too large, the belt strap wasn’t included and needed to be redesigned, and there may be a loose thread here and there.

But had that warning not been attached, there’s a very good chance that most of these things would have gone unnoticed (okay, the absence of a belt strap was pretty obvious). Either way, Peak Design has made it very clear that everything will be fixed and improved before the bag actually enters production.

It is that kind of attention to detail – to fix even that which isn’t broken – combined with genuinely innovative design that makes Peak Design products so successful. It also doesn’t hurt that its marketing team has dialed in the recipe to running a successful Kickstarter campaign.

A backpack that fits like a glove

The Everyday Backpack was announced earlier this summer alongside two other bags, a tote and a sling. It is only the second time Peak Design has launched a bag, after the company’s first, the Everyday Messenger, secured nearly $5 million in Kickstarter pledges on a $100,000 goal.

Peak Design looked to Kickstarter again for its new bags – this time seeking $500,000. But that number may as well have been pulled from a hat; the project is close to the $5 million mark with 3 days still to go at the time of writing ($4,945,282, to be exact). Future customers (over 17,000 of them and counting) already know that they will love these bags.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack-back
Daven Mathies
Daven Mathies

So what is it that makes a Peak Design bag, and in particular the Everyday Backpack, so special? It starts with a novel approach to changing the fundamental concepts of how a camera bag works, but doing it in a way that is both intelligent and intuitive.

On the outside, durable Kodra weave fabric is accented by custom hardware, which provides an appealing look and functional purpose. The sternum strap, for instance, forgoes the standard plastic slide release buckles in favor of metal clasps that attach securely but allow the strap to easily be removed when not needed. They look great, feel great, and work well – so naturally, Peak Design informed us they would be improved upon before the first production run.

For all its intelligence and elegance, the real selling point of this bag is comfort.

The main compartment is accessible from the top and both sides. The side flaps provide additional organizer pockets, and keep accessories protected by a padded zipper cover. A separate laptop compartment is accessed from the top, and includes sub-compartments for a tablet and phone.

Weatherproof zippers secure the side access and laptop compartments, while the top flap uses the same Maglatch system first introduced with the Everyday Messenger. It latches by simply pressing the flap gently against the bag, and can lock to four different positions to allow the compartment to expand by up to eight liters without having to adjust any drawstrings, straps, or zippers. When the extra space isn’t needed, the main compartment folds in on itself at the sides, keeping as minimal a profile as possible.

Inside, three of Peak Design’s clever dividers organize space in a number of ways. They can rest flat to provide a shelf for gear and act as a passthrough from one side of the bag to the next, or subdividers on the ends can be folded up to seal off compartments and create new ones. Of course, the dividers can be removed completely to maximize internal capacity, as well.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack-back
Daven Mathies
Daven Mathies

But for all its intelligence and elegance, the real selling point of this bag is comfort. It would be odd to go so far as to say a backpack fits like a glove, but it really does come close. The shoulder straps rest just where they should, and even without the sternum strap or waist strap, the pack sits very securely against one’s back. It may not be the lightest backpack out there, but it would still be easy to wear it for an extended time. It also features three grab straps for easy pick-up-and-go regardless of how the bag is laid down.

First impressions

There may never be a perfect camera bag, but Peak Design has certainly come close with the Everyday Backpack. The 20L size tested is probably all most photographers would need, but those who plan to carry additional gear or want more general luggage space can opt for the larger 30L pack. And of course, as an Everyday bag, it will appeal to people who aren’t photographers, as well.

The Everyday Backpack, along with the other new bags, is scheduled to ship this December. If you get to it while still on Kickstarter, it can be yours starting at just $200 (or $189 if you’re lucky enough to get in under the limited early bird special, which are still available as of this writing). After the end of the campaign, it will jump up to $260. Unfortunately, it is time to send our preproduction unit in, but we’ve certainly enjoyed having it.

Highs

  • High-quality materials
  • Versatile design
  • Looks great
  • Surprisingly comfortable

Lows

  • You’ll have to wait until December
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