Peak Design Packing tools

Peak Design's travel line also includes six different 'Packing Tools,' sold separately. These tools are intended to help simplify the ordeal of packing camera gear with personal items. Below you'll find details on each, with an overall conclusion and score for the travel line at the end.

Peak Design Camera Cubes
$49.95 (S), $69.95 (M), or $89.95 (L) |

Here's the Camera Cube (medium) packed with a full camera kit inside the Travel Backpack 45L alongside a Packing Cube (small).

So clearly you don't want to just throw your gear into this cavernous bag and stuff t-shirts and socks around it in the hopes that it will stay safe. Say hello to the Camera Cube.

The Camera Cube is pretty much exactly what it sounds like - it's the guts of most every camera bag you've seen. The medium size that I got comes equipped with:

  • 4 basic short dividers
  • 2 basic long dividers with flexible portions for
    bending to shape-fit your gear
  • 2 folding origami style dividers
  • Small velcro pocket wall liner

There are a couple of other brands that have implemented larger backpacks that can be customized with smaller 'cube-based' gear bags such as Mountainsmith and ThinkTank. These are really difficult to compare because they all end up being so different but price-wise, there aren't any huge disparities here. If anything, Peak Design's cubes are a bit on the expensive side given they don't come equipped with optional straps to be used on their own.

The folding dividers in here are slightly different from Peak Design's other foldable dividers.

That being said, if you do own Peak Design straps (or really any other strap you may want to use), all three of the different sizes have attachment points. These same attachment points are used to secure the cube inside the main bag using C clips and the side zippers on the cubes can then be stowed so that the main bags side panels give immediate access to your gear.

C Clips in the Travel Backpack conect to nylon loops on the Camera Cube. Stowable side access zipper for integrating side access with the Travel Backpack.

Design-wise, the camera cubes are so simple and utilitarian in appearance that they don't look like they're meant to venture outside the main bag. They're made of the same 400D nylon shell and are lined with high density foam. Though they're not particularly sleek or sexy, they're certainly protective.

They call 'em cubes for a reason, though they're really more rectangular than cubic.

In terms of storage capabilities in my medium sized cube I was able to fit (seen above):

  • Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 28-70 f/2.8 attached
  • Nikon 70-200 f/2.8
  • Nikon 35mm f/2
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8
  • Nikon SB700 Flash
  • Bronica RF645
  • 4 AA batteries

This package was a little on the tight side but I definitely could have managed to fit more if I had wanted to push it.

Ultimately the size of this cube dictated how I used the 45L bag. It takes up roughly 2/3 of the bag's main compartment which doesn't leave a lot of room for clothes and other necessities. I would recommend a smaller camera cube for anyone that's really looking to travel with just one bag. For those of you interested in something more similar to a gear suitcase, I would recommend either the medium or large depending on how many other things you want to bring with you and how much gear you're planning on packing.

Peak Design Tech Pouch
$59.95 |

Tech Pouch empty. Tech Pouch loaded.

The Tech Pouch offers a simple, secure solution to keeping your tech odds-and-ends all in one place. It has one main zipper enclosure with several pockets and dividers as well as another smaller outer zipper pocket. I think it's a great option for those that plan on bringing a more complete shooting kit with them that includes things like hard drives, extra batteries, memory cards, cables, etc.

Design-wise, I would say the tech pouch is a small step above the camera cubes in that it shares that angular feel to Peak Design's other products and doesn't have the same clunkiness that the cubes do. One important note is that the Tech Pouch is made from water repellent nylon to keep your stuff dry.

The Tech Pouch.

I found that while the tech pouch was nice to store some extra pieces for backing things up and keeping everything organized, I could have just as easily organized all of those things in a fairly basic pencil pouch. The organization and security of it is reassuring, but $60 is a high price tag unless you know you plan on using it a lot. It makes sense that someone traveling with a computer as part of their kit would want this, but it definitely doesn't come cheap.

For those that do plan on using it a lot I think you'll be delighted with some of the features including a fairly spacious 2L main compartments and enough pockets and sleeves to organize all your small items (although I found the sleeves to be a bit on the small side for things like hard drives and Full-Frame DSLR batteries).

Peak Design Wash Pouch
$59.95 |

The Wash Pouch.

Nearly identical to the Tech Pouch in its outer design, the Wash Pouch features one main zippered opening with several compartments and sleeves - there's also a zippered outer pocket. Unlike the Tech Pouch, the Wash Pouch is less divided on the inside and feels a bit less reinforced with foam. It also features a metal hook for hanging, though it does not fully unfurl like other toiletry kits on the market. One small gripe is that the fabric that attaches to the center from the sides will often get caught in the zipper.

Wash Pouch empty. Wash Pouch loaded.

If you want a fancy looking toiletry kit that matches your main bag in both brand and style, then by all means buy this, but again $60 seems like a very high price tag for something this simple. By contrast you can buy an REI branded Shower Roll for half the price of Peak Design's.

Shoe Pouch
$24.95 |

Shoe Pouch comfortably holding my running shoes.

Peak Design I love you, but anyone thinking about buying this should just reach under their sink and grab a plain old plastic grocery bag and throw their shoes in that. The Shoe Pouch is essentially just a 70D nylon bag with a single zipper up the middle and a velcro sealing self-storage case that it can fold up into. I can see it also being useful in regards to dirty laundry or storing a wet bathing suit or something like that.

Shoe pouch unfurled, aka a bag. Shoe pouch tucked inside its attached storage pouch.

To be perfectly honest, $25 isn't ludicrous for this so again, if you REALLY want to have the whole ecosystem, then by all means get this thing. But, I'll stick with my grocery bags for shoes.

Packing Cube
$29.95 (S) or $39.95 (M) |

The main compartment of the Packing Cube, opened up.

Made from the same 70D nylon as the Shoe Pouch, the Packing Cubes are split into two sides and are very expandable. The small size that I used expands up to 9L and the medium size expands up to 18L. According to Peak Design they can each fit 10 and 20 T-shirts respectively.

A look at what the Packing Cube looks like when it's expanded.

There's not much to say about these in terms of their design. The Packing Cubes are soft grey nylon bags with zippers. They feel sturdy in their fabric construction though I imagine if you really wanted to tear a rip in these, it wouldn't be impossible.

Using these was another one of the small surprises I found with this whole system. The packing cubes really can fit quite a bit of clothes in them if you pack effectively. I only needed clothes for a single weekend when I used mine but was able to fit enough shirts, socks and underwear for myself into the small size Packing Cube without really expanding it at all.

Rain Fly
$29.95 |

This should really just be included with the 45L bag and I'm pretty disappointed that it costs as much as it does. It comes in it's own pouch that can store behind the front panel of the 45L bag and attaches to two hidden gear loops. Its made of 200D siliconized ripstop nylon.

Overall conclusion: Peak Design's travel Line

One big happy family of camera and travel packing and carrying options

As I said at the beginning, what you're looking at is a line of many products that are designed to be used together but can also be interchangeable with other products. How you use this system and what you decide to include in it is up to you. Everyone's going to want to bring slightly different things with them on their different trips to massively different places.

For the kit that I used - which includes the Travel Backpack 45L, Tech Pouch, Wash Pouch, Shoe Pouch, Packing Cube (small), and Camera Cube (medium) - you'd be looking at an overall price tag of $545. That's really high in my opinion. That's not to say it isn't worth it (except for you Shoe Pouch, you aren't worth it), but it is to say that this can be viewed as kind of a designer bag system (again, not unlike Apple).

How you use this system and what you decide to include in it is up to you

If you wanted the ultimate flexibility to use this system in as many ways as possible, Peak Design offers the 'Whole Enchilada' for $680 and comes with all three sizes of Camera Cubes, both sizes of Packing Cubes, all of the other pouches and a rain fly. Lose the camera cubes and you can get the Travel Bundle for $490. None of these are cheap, certainly, but whether or not they're worth it rests on you and how you use them.

If I were looking into buying this I would get the 45L bag for $300, the Rain Fly for (regrettably) $30, 2 small Packing Cubes for $60, and the small Camera Cube for $50, leading to a total of $440. Again, this is only $50 shy of the Travel Bundle which gets you much of the same plus more, just minus the camera cube.

Overall rating:

Too long, didn't read

The Peak Design Travel line is aimed at unifying all of your gear, clothes and traveling accessories into a single bag and it does this well, but for a price we think is cost-prohibitive. Those who got in early with the Kickstarter discounts certainly had good reason to do so, but the high price tag of this system as a whole makes it very hard to recommend to the average user.

If cost is an issue I'd recommend pinpointing what you like about the Travel line and searching for more affordable bags and pouches that do similar tasks for less money. If the cost doesn't deter you, the Peak Design Travel Line will charm you with its design, construction and usability.