For everyman and everywoman: Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag review
Peak Design Everyday Messenger
Peak Design isn't a company that's satisfied with the status quo. The San Francisco-based accessory design firm aims to produce highly functional and stylish photo gear, designing each detail from the ground up. The company has run a number of successful Kickstarter campaigns to help bring their designs into production, and that's exactly how the Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag came to be. With a focus on style, substance and pockets for everything, the bag has been created specifically for photographers but can be used as a messenger bag by anyone with gear to haul.
The company was born out of the founder’s frustrations while traveling the world in 2010 with his camera gear. Peak Design's 're-think the basics' approach carries through in the Everyday Messenger, in ways that are immediately obvious – and some that aren't. From its angular appearance to a proprietary closure system, no detail is too big or small for the company's designers to re-think and re-tool.
Inside and out, it's obvious Peak Design has put effort into producing a bag that aims to get photographers of all levels through their day, whether they're on a shoot or on the way to work. Take a look at what sets the Everyday Messenger apart, and whether or not its fresh approach indeed translates to a better bag for everyone.
- Empty bag weight: 1.1 kg / 2.5 lbs
- Average Outer dimensions: 30 x 43 x 18 cm / 12 x 17 x 7 in
- Colors Available: Charcoal and Heritage Tan
The Everyday Messenger bag is comfortable to carry. I carried this bag while traveling on a couple of weekend trips, as well as around town for work and for shoots. I found it easy to use and comfortable to wear for the most part. A reversible, seatbelt style adjustable strap distributes the weight whether you decide to wear it as a traditional messenger bag, a low slung messenger bag, pop it on one shoulder or use the stabilizing straps as a waist belt.
Folks who are familiar with Peak Design’s camera straps will be familiar with the quick adjusting aluminum handle conveniently allowing you to adjust the length of the strap with one hand. This is a great feature for photographers who tend to hold their camera in one hand and might need to adjust their bag as they move along.
A patent-pending MagLatch closure system allows you to open and close the bag using one hand, and four latches allow the bag to expand and contract. A magnetic catch will close the bag shut and then a quick pull down on the latch lets you open and close the bag. The closure system did take a little getting used to, and when I filled the bag with my DSLR and a couple of lenses it didn't feel as secure as I'd hoped; I felt the need to double check the latch to make sure it was closed and catching properly. I found when the bag wasn't as wide or full, for example when I was using a mirrorless camera system versus a wider-bodied DSLR, that it became easier to manage. However, having to double-check the latch didn't deter from how much I liked the other features.
The bag does tend to get a bit bulky and cumbersome if filled to maximum capacity, however for someone who over 6' tall that is likely not an issue.
Thoughtfully designed flexible inserts allow you to configure interior compartments however you want. The Everyday's dividers are unique – while other camera bags offer rectangular foam pads that can be arranged to create space within a camera bag, the Everyday offers three 8-sided inserts. They are pre-folded so you can bend and flex them to your heart's content, configuring custom areas to contain and protect your gear.
One of the bag’s best features is how the inserts fold over to create a box-like area, allowing you to store gear on top of each other. I managed to store an 85mm lens, protected by the folded insert, throw a flash on top of that, with my camera body with a 24-70mm lens right next to it, and then another lens in the next compartment. It became a well-filled bag and I was confident that all was secure and protected.
A convenient waterproof zipper allows access to the interior of the bag while wearing it, making it easy to grab gear on the go. You don't have to take the bag off and put it down to get out your camera or a lens, rather just unzip and you can have your hands on your camera in no time. I did find it easier to pull out my camera body from the center of the bag rather than have it placed over to the side of the bag and wrestle the camera body from there.
A zippered front pocket has eight color-coded interior mesh pockets: four red, four green, meant to denote which batteries and memory cards are fresh and which are spent. I found this system really user-friendly, and it's just one more thoughtful detail that Peak Design has included for photographers. The front pocket zips all the way open and folds down to access whatever you have stored inside, or you can just zip down the top part and still get to your gear.
Inside the main compartment is an interior pocket, perfect for passports, travel documents, phones, cash, credit cards, travel papers, small notebooks. This pocket is also conveniently accessed through the top zipper opening.
There is another smaller pocket on the inside flap of the bag but even better, behind that pocket is a built in carry option for most tripods. One of the tripod's legs can slide through the back of the pocket, and with the flap closed the tripod can be carried braced on the front of the bag. This bag really does have hidden features everywhere.
|Photo courtesy of Peak Design|
The bag's stabilizing straps tuck away into side pockets and behind them are additional pockets – perfect for a lens cap. But of course, there's more: within one of those pockets is a tether with one of Peak Design’s anchor links that can be used to keep track of your keys.
On either side of the bag are anchor straps that can be used in conjunction with Peak Design's quick-release Capture camera clips. As I didn't have one of the clips I wasn't able to test this out, and while it seems like a good idea in theory as someone who is shorter than average this might make the bag slightly unwieldy for me.
A zippered protected compartment holds a 15 inch laptop, and if you need, an additional pocket will hold a tablet or notebook. This bag is not super-flexible and the addition of a 15" laptop makes it less so. Carrying photography gear and a laptop became a near impossibility for me, however, as it became too heavy and cumbersome.
The material is waxed, weather-proofed and looks smart too. I felt totally comfortable that my gear was protected while having to venture out in a downpour.
I enjoyed using this bag with and without my camera gear. It easily fit my DSLR, plus a couple of long lenses, or I’d put my laptop into the back pocket with a portable drive, plus a couple of notebooks and head off to a coffee shop. Where I found the bag worked less well for me was when carrying my laptop and DSLR plus lenses. I did that while traveling and found that carrying all of that gear for too long was just too heavy.
There is no getting around the fact that the Everyday Messenger bag is big, and just because you can pack it to its limit doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Flexibility of the bag becomes a little more limited with a 15" laptop in the back pocket. When the bag was full, I found myself double checking the Mag-Latch closure system just to make sure it was catching and closing.
The team at Peak Design seems to have thought of almost every detail and while the Everyday Messenger Bag is not cheap, it is certainly possible to use this as your everyday-everything bag, and you will certainly get your money’s worth.
What we like:
- Comfortable shoulder strap
- So many pockets make it functional and versatile
- Sturdy and well-designed
- Capture Clip anchor points on the sides of the bags
- Plus Peak Design offers a lifetime guarantee, for fabric, straps or zippers that fail, not for normal wear and tear obviously
What we don't like:
- Can feel too big if you are smaller or shorter in stature
- Bag becomes quite cumbersome with both a 15" laptop and DSLR + lenses
- Having to double check the closure system when the bag was more full
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