I’ve been using the Peak Design Everyday Backpack for the last 6 months and have truly given it a thorough workout.
It’s been on cross-continental flights, desert hikes, in crowded cities, on bustling buses, at the beach, and everywhere in between. Now I can finally report on the good, bad and ugly… well, there’s not much bad. Or ugly. But here’s my honest review.
Who Is The Everyday Backpack For?
If you are a scruffy hard-core Bear Grylls aspirant climbing a snowy mountain, knee-deep in the white stuff, and sleeping in a tent, then this bag probably won’t be the best fit for you. But if you’re a bit more normal, like me, and walk around cities with the occasional wilderness hike, then you’ve found the all-round bag of your dreams. You don’t even have to be a photography buff.
Peak Design have designed a backpack that looks stylish with clever functionality. It doesn’t shout “hey, I’ve got thousands of dollars of camera gear in me”, which is smart when I’m traversing an unknown city. And the low profile doesn’t get in the way when I’m meandering through galleries, museums or even squished like a sardine into peak-hour trains. You can use it for camera gear, travel gear, groceries, gym gear, school books, pirate treasure, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
The Everyday Backpack In Action
Here’s a few photos of me using the Peak Design Everyday Backpack.
Why I Like The Everyday Backpack
I won’t go into an exhaustive list of features because, well, this backpack just has too many. Some of these features are sneaky, and I only found them a few weeks or even months after donning the bag for the first time. It’s like the surprise that keeps on surprising. For more detailed under-the-hood goodness, check out this video and this one.
My stand-out features are:
Clean Smooth Lines
First and foremost, there’s no excess straps or clutter. Elegant, minimalistic contours give this bag a sophisticated sexiness, but it’s also packed with more features than a Swiss army knife. Every latch, strap and pocket has a well-considered purpose.
This provides easy no-look top compartment access with one-hand. Multiple anchor points allow the backpack to increase in size by 8L as needed, maxing at 20L. So when I’ve got a small load to carry, the bag looks smaller.
2 Side Access Zips For Main Compartments
The side access really sets this bag apart from others. It took me a little while to get used to it. But now I can’t go back. When the bag is swung around on 1 shoulder it can be tucked under an arm for easy access without taking the backpack off.
FlexFold Compartment Dividers
This is where the organisation fun begins. The Everyday Backpack includes 3 dividers which can be detached and rearranged depending on what you’re carrying. Each divider “platform” can be folded to snuggly hold items of all shapes and sizes – including camera lenses, camera bodies, drones, clothing, food, fairy-clad stationary, and more. I can fit 1 DSLR camera body and 3 lenses (including a 70-200mm lens) quite comfortably on the 3 platforms. Photos will only go so far explaining how this works, try this video which does a better job.
External Compression Carry Straps
Attach a tripod (or pretty much anything else) to the side or back of the backpack with compression straps that tuck away neatly. These straps can be configured in 3 different formats: vertical, horizontal or cross.
This is what makes the Everyday Backpack more of a camera bag. Hidden behind zippered sections within the bag’s sides, small pouches are perfectly sized for camera batteries (with red & black marking to easily identify flat batteries), memory cards, filters, cleaning cloths and other accessories. I also keep my mini-first aid kit here.
A 15” laptop easily slides into the zippered compartment at the back of the bag. The position of the compartment provides extra protection when in rough environments. And this compartment also collapses when not in use so the main compartment has more available space. A thin divider allows a tablet to slide in without worrying about the screen getting scratched. A small additional shallow compartment, accessible from the top zipper, is perfect for lens cleaning cloths, power banks, cables and other small frequently used knickknacks.
Waterproof Nylon Canvas Shell
I put the weatherproof-ness to the test and the backpack passed with flying colours. Water beads and runs off, leaving the contents toasty and dry inside. Zippers are also waterproof so no moisture leaks in. And while the bag is flexible, it has a good amount of rigidity at the same time which gives the contents better protection from mild bumps.
Carry Straps – Top & Side
Grabbing the backpack from the top or side never requires thought. I just reach for whatever part of the bag is closes to me, and there’s always a large soft, strong handle patiently waiting.
Swivel Shoulder Straps
I’ve never seen this feature on another backpack. Rotating anchored attachments to the primary straps make it easy to swing the bag under my shoulder and whip out my camera from the side access zipper. The additional benefit is that the bag feels comfortable regardless of your body width and height.
Theft Deterrent Zip Lock
The little features of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack make all the difference. Carrying valuable items in a crowded street should make anyone feel a little nervous. Fortunately, pick-pocketers will have a tough time getting your goodies since you can lock the zippers with a simple loop mechanism.
Airport-Ready Luggage Pass-Through
Simply turn the backpack on the side and slide it over the telescopic handle of any suitcase. Presto!
No design is completely perfect, and there’s always trade-offs to consider.
When a water bottle (or something else heavy) is placed in the side pocket, it makes the side zipper access a little fiddlier to use. The weight of the bottle causes the side compartment to flop open when unzipped and, depending on how big the water bottle is, can partially obscure the zipper. This issue is more pronounced when the bag is placed on the ground.
When the top compartment is full, perhaps with a jacket, it causes the sides of the bag to flare out and no longer be covered by the top fold-down cover. This gap allows rain, dirt and sand to easily enter the bag. So just be aware not to over-stuff the top compartment or gently push the sides back in. Or go ahead and stuff it, just as long as there’s no rain on the horizon.
Which Size To Choose – 20L or 30L?
I’d say most people would be fine with the 20L size, but if you’ve got more than 3 DSLR lenses, or you plan to use this as your primary carry-on bag for a long trip, then the 30L would be the way to go.
Here’s the important numbers on the 20L model in case you need them:
Material: Ultralight 400D nylon canvas shell with DWR coating
Dimensions: 46 H x 30 W x 17 D cm (18” H x 12” W x 6.75” D)
Weight: 1.81kg (4 lbs)
Colours: black (new), charcoal, ash, tan
Tip: Make It Even Better With The Capture Clip
Easily connect this clip to the backpack strap (or your belt with the Pro Pad), and instantly you’ve got a quick-release holder for virtually any type of camera. This frees up my hands while grabbing lenses, batteries or a cleaning cloth out of my backpack. Capture Clip’s quick-release anodized machined aluminium lock can withstand over 200 lbs of force so I’ve got peace of mind when attaching an expensive DSLR camera. I have to admit I was a little sceptical at first about how useful this would be, but now I can grab my camera in a split second and never miss that elusive shot.
I also use Peak Design’s Slide camera strap. It’s functional, versatile and comfortable while being easy to attach and detach. Now I can position the camera in just the right spot on my side while walking, and effortlessly grab it when needed.
The Bottom Line
The Peak Design Everyday Backpack isn’t the cheapest bag out there by far, but this will likely be the last one you buy. It’s built like a tank, even though it doesn’t look like one. It’s a pleasure to wear for hours on end. And you can take it anyway – a photography trip, fun weekend away, workout at the gym, sunny day at the beach or even the office commute. I’m completely sold, and will unapologetically say it will be a cold day in hell before you can pry this backpack out of my hands.