In my post “favorite discoveries in 2016“, I mentioned the Peak Design Everyday Backpack, and promised a review at some point this year. This is that review.
I carry a backpack to work most days of the week. While I rarely bring my work laptop home with me, there are a number of other items that I want to bring, and I got into the habit of carrying a backpack or bag a long time ago. When Peak Design announced their kickstarter campaign for a backpack, I quickly knew I had found my next backpack. PD offered the choice of two sizes, and I went for the smaller, with a capacity of 20 liters, in the Ash colourway.
Accessing the insides:
With their Everyday Messenger, PD introduced MagLatch, a system to securely close a bag, which can be undone very quickly. They have carried MagLatch forward on the backpack, too, and I like it a lot. It offers four options for expanding the capacity, up to a maximum of approximately 20 liters.
On both sides of the bag, there are weatherproof zippers, which allows you to access the insides of the bag, and both sides includes additional small item storage, securely covered by a flap of fabric that zips into place. Finally, you can access the laptop compartment using a weatherproof zipper on the top of the bag.
Organisation and pockets:
While an excellent backpack for most users, it is clear that the main use case around which it was designed was for camera use. This is not a bad thing; far from it. The FlexFold dividers (three are included) lets you divide the inside of the main compartment into a number of smaller compartments, to accommodate anything from a number of small items (such as objective lenses, camera bodies, and flashes) to larger items (such as books, clothes, and boxes).
As mentioned, the sides includes a lot of small item storage, suitable for memory cards, pens, keys, and any number of other things you may wish to stuff in there. They are held securely with elastic pockets that offer a small bit of protection. On the inside of the top access, there is a magnetically closed pocket that fits things such as a passport or a power bank.
The laptop compartment divides into three sections, separated by felt. One section fits a large sized Moleskine notebook (I suspect you could get three or four in there; I have certainly been able to cram a lot of stuff in). The next holds a tablet, while the third, closest to your back, holds a laptop. It easily swallows my 13” MacBook, with room to spare.
There is outside storage, too. On either side, there is a side pocket, magnetically closed, which also incorporates a strap to hold longer items, and a set of two straps is also available from the bottom of the bag, providing yet more carrying capacity.
Straps, zippers, and handles:
The shoulder straps incorporate a sternum strap, which attaches to one of four positions on each strap. The latter uses a metal buckle, which is relatively easy to use once you’ve gotten some practice. One annoyance here, is that it is not designed with ambidexterity in mind, and is intended to be attached from left to right only.
The straps attach to the top of the backpack with a hinge that lets them adjust to the carrier’s body very well. This also aids in slinging the backpack over one shoulder to access the side of the bag. The straps are adjusted through the typical slide found on most backpacks. These slides are quite loose, and I have found that I need to re-adjust the fit most times I mount the backpack. This is a trade-off PD has had to make in order to make the bag easier to sling around to ones side.
The end of the adjustment strap has a generous loop to pull, and with a bit of use, adjusting the straps becomes second nature. What was originally an annoyance soon became a welcome feature. From comments made by the design team, I gather that the intent is for the bag to be carried high and tight. This means that the strap are a bit on the short side for those of us who prefer a looser fit.
The sides have zippers on both ends, and the pulls on these are made out of hypalon (with leather trim for the ash colourway). These zippers are designed so that you can loop them through the attachment points for the tie-down straps, to add a layer of security and theft prevention. In practice, I have found that I leave the bottom pull attached all the time, as I always zip from the top down anyway.
I would have liked to have seen that same solution on the zipper for the laptop compartment, but the current zipper pull works just fine. The carry handles (one on either side, and one on top) are sturdy and very comfortable. In the ash colourway, they come with a leather top covering, which both looks good and feels comfortable in my hands.
The backpack ships with a waist strap, which I removed very soon after receiving the bag; I very rarely pack the bag heavy enough that it is useful, and particularly with the high and tight carry setup that PD has had in mind when designing the bag, the bag rides too high on my back to use it anyway.
Back fit and panel, luggage passthrough
I am 173 cm tall, and weigh somewhere between 85 and 90 kg. The backpack fits my back perfectly, without looking bulky. The panel between the back of the backpack and my back is very comfortable, and the luggage handle passthrough has been very useful when I’ve taken the bag on journeys. I will add, however, that I have found the shoulder straps to be a bit on the short side, particularly in winter, when the chill hits, and we start wearing big heavy parkas.
While I have, from time to time, found that I might have enjoyed having the larger 30l version of the pack, in use the backpack has served me perfectly. It is comfortable on my back, and allows quick and easy access to all compartments, while keeping my belongings safely under wraps when they are closed. The bag is not cheap, but makes up for the sticker by outperforming any and all of my other daily backpacks and bags, to the extent that they have more or less all been left by the wayside, and are now only used for very specialised purposes.
The everyday backpack is living up to its name, and has become just that; my everyday backpack. If you think it might be for you, too, I encourage you to check PD’s support site, to grab a bundle or a free gift with your purchase.