Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L – Review

When it comes to choosing a camera bag it’s a very subjective exercise and as everyone knows, you’re not a real photographer unless you have at least a handful of them.

I have a few different bags that I use in different situations, day bags, shoulder bags, travelling back packs and hiking backpacks. I purchased the Peak Design Everyday Backpack to replace my existing day pack which up to this point had been the Lowepro slingshot 200AW. I’ve been using the Lowepro almost since I started my photographic journey, sadly I need a little more space in my day pack now so it was time to look for an upgrade.

When the Everyday Backpack was announced as a kick starter it was surrounded by a lot of hype. Hailed as a revolutionary backpack, designed by photographers, for photographers. I was intrigued by the design and the back story when I watched the launch video but at the time it seemed a little over priced for a backpack. I decided to let the hype die down and wait for the product to hit the market before taking the plunge. I wanted to read some real world reviews and get the thoughts and opinions of the average photographer after using the backpack for a while.

A year after launch there were plenty of reviews and forum posts available if you did a little searching on the internet. I read a lot of these with interest and earlier this year I decided to part with a chunk of cash and order one.

I don’t write reviews on gear as soon as I get them as they’re often prejudiced by the newness factor and the fact that we’re trying to justify the purchase (for those of us that don’t get free stuff to review). I like to use them for a while and get a real sense for the product and find out if any issues are real, or just teething problems.

I’ve had the Everyday Backpack for around 6 months now and I’ve been using it in a variety of scenarios but as I said previously, my main reason for purchasing this backpack was to replace my day pack. When I say day pack, I mean when I’m going out for the day with my camera but photography may not be the main activity.

I opted for the charcoal version, mainly as it looks less like a camera bag, but also because I may not always use it as a camera bag. I can’t speak to the other colours, but the charcoal version came packaged like a bag of charcoal. After unpacking it I set about familiarising myself with the various pockets and compartments to get some idea where I might put different pieces of kit.

My first impressions of the bag were ok, but not great. The zips on the side pockets were difficult to operate, the side pouches didn’t seem large enough to hold either a water bottle or a tripod and the waist belt didn’t look very comfortable or practical for taking the weight of the pack for long periods. Also, when the waist belt wasn’t in use, it’ took up space in the already small side pockets.

I decided to load it up with a fairly typical amount of gear for a day trip, D500 with a 17-50mm 2.8 lens attached, a 14-24mm f4 wide angle and a 105mm 2.8 macro lens. Add to that some cleaning materials, spare batteries, filters, travel tripod and a water bottle. The inner compartment of the bag is also a lot different to other camera bags the space is separated by thin divider which fold in various ways to create individual gear spaces.  Unless you’ve actually seen these dividers, they’re difficult to explain. Fortunately, Peak Design have made a video explaining them.

The 20L backpack comes with three dividers as standard and the first thing  I noticed was that while there was enough space for all of the gear,  anything stored in compartments on the uppermost divider was no protected from anything placed in the top compartment. If you use this space for a lens, it worth bearing in mind that anything you place in the top compartment is  going to move around and bang against anything stored on the top shelf. I eventually purchased an extra divider to prevent this. It does reduce the size of the top compartment but can be removed if you need less kit and more free space.

The first time I put on the backpack, I was surprised how comfortable it was. The straps are thinner than you would normally see on a camera backpack but were  comfortable enough. They are also designed to pivot on points rather than be stitched in place which adds to the comfort as the straps conform to the shape and width of the wearer. After wearing the pack for a longer period of time, it does become uncomfortable if your carrying a lot of gear. The sternum strap also causes the straps to chafe against the rib cage if its worn too tight.

On the first trip out with the everyday backpack, the weather wasn’t exactly ideal but it was a good test for the waterproof qualities of the bag. The walk lasted a couple of hours and the rain wasn’t heavy but a constant drizzle. The main fabric of the bag is definitely waterproof and there were no signs that any water had got into the main compartment. The top zip that provides access to the laptop and iPad compartment were a different story. When unpacking gear from that compartment there were signs of leakage. The fabric immediately inside the zip was damp and it had soaked around three or four centimetres into the compartment. Thankfully I wasn’t storing anything in that compartment at the time but it did give me cause for concern over the waterproof qualities of the zips.

Since that initial trip, I’ve used the backpack multiple times in wet conditions. On a recent trip to Poland, the bag got its most severe test. I was out for most of the day in heavy rain and I’m happy to say there was no sign of any leakage in the top zipped compartment or anywhere else in the backpack. I can only conclude that on the occasion that the bag leaked, I either didn’t close the zip correctly or that the top flap wasn’t closed correctly and the leak came from that point rather then the zip itself.

As I said at the beginning of this post, you’re not a real photographer unless you have several camera bags, and while I say it a little tongue in cheek there is a certain amount of truth in it. I firmly believe there is no one bag that is perfect for all situations. You wouldn’t use a forty-five litre back pack for a trip to the zoo and likewise you wouldn’t take a shoulder bag on a fifteen mile hike. The Peak Design Everyday backpack isn’t the perfect backpack, but it is perfect for certain situations. For me those situations are days when I’m out with my camera but photography may not be the main focus of the day, or alternatively when I don’t want to carry a mountain of gear. If you’re looking for a versatile backpack full of features that isn’t just a camera bag, you won’t go wrong with the Peak Design Everyday Backpack.

Thanks for stopping by, have a good one.

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