Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack Wins The Carryology Best Active Backpack Award – with REVIEW

Readers of the Carryology website have voted Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack into first place in Carryology’s Fifth Annual Carry Awards held recently. Carryology describes the Everyday Backpack in glowing terms as “A supreme ‘crossover’ bag, this weatherproof pack [which] excels just as well in everyday use as it does during photography sessions or on the move. From photographers to travelers, to commuters and adventurers, this pack nails crazy sets of carry needs.” 

Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack 30-litre bag in Charcoal. In both its colours and size variations, the Everyday Backpack has been voted the winner of carry specialist website Carryology’s 2017 Carry Awards V for Best Active Backpack.

I would add cinematographers and moviemakers to that list of potential Peak Design Everyday Backpack users, given the ever-growing popularity of small, eminently portable mirrorless hybrid cameras for movie production. Mirrorless cameras can fit into bags too small for most higher-end camcorders.

The guiding principle of Peak Design’s Everyday series is bags for creative people who may or may not work professionally as photographers or moviemakers but who almost always carry some photography or video equipment, and that is a description fitting millions nowadays.

How much photography gear can the Everyday Backpack 20-litre and 30-litre bags carry?

The answer, in short, is a considerable amount as the two images above attest. I don’t recommend using the 20 litre or 30 liter Everyday Backpacks as full-time, all-day dedicated camera bags though. I have certainly tried doing exactly that and became exhausted early in the day with shoulder and back pain setting in.

The reason? Peak Design’s relatively lightweight shoulder straps and back pads with much less padding than found in dedicated camera gear-only backpacks. I have a couple of dedicated photographic backpacks, one medium-sized and the other rather large, and they have more padding than the two Everyday Backpacks and can be packed full of equipment for a long, neck pain-free day in inner urban locations or out in the fields of exurbia.

As their name suggests, the Everyday Backpacks are made for everyday carry duties for an assortment of objects and not just camera gear, such as personal items and assorted bumf required during a day at the office or any other non-photography job.

Gallery, Peak Design Everyday Backpacks, 20 litres and 30 litres capacity

The 20 litre and 30 litre backpacks share the same configuration shoulder strap padding. I wavered one which size to choose, on the basis that it may be wiser to select the smaller one so as to avoid overfilling it and causing too much strain on a body damaged from years of carrying heavy equipment.

After thorough research, I settled on the 30 litre size on Charcoal. My choice was based on the bag’s internal flexibility. I could remove all three origami-style Flexfold internal dividers altogether, or arrange one two or three as demanded by the gear and other paraphernalia for any given day.

My most common arrangement is to have one divider at the base of the bag for extra padding for heavier gear, a space above it for smaller pieces of equipment then another on top for personal items. That flexibility is what distinguishes Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack concept from all the other mixed-use backpacks I have owned and discarded after their limitations grated just a little too much.

At the moment my primary one-camera-plus-everyday bag is Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger 13, the smaller version of their Everyday Messenger 15 released several years ago. I have the Charcoal grey version and it looks suitably anonymous and non-photographic while carrying just enough gear for unexpected photo or video opportunities as I go about my daily routine.

From messenger bags to backpacks

Until the Everyday Messenger 13 I was not a fan of messenger bags. Too oversized, too sloppy organizationally and I suffered headaches every time I used one. Peak Design’s messenger bag gets it just about right, with enough room in the main compartment for a mirrorless camera with prime or smaller zoom lens attached, and one or two lenses in the adjacent subdivision.

There is plenty of sized-just-right provision for a small portable computer, small to large tablet, mobile phone, papers, notebooks, keys, SD cards and other storage media, pens and more. The bag’s pockets are well thought out enough that I can keep my personal items in it day and night.

I use the 30-litre Everyday Backpack when needing to carry all of the above plus some larger items of unconventional sizes and shapes such as mono and stereo microphones, headphones, recorders, battery grips and cameras mounted in camera cages.

Camera bags designed around the needs of the average DSLR photographer can prove challenging for items of this nature, with their tight-fitting rectilinear subdivisions intended for DSLR cameras, lenses and accessories. Video camera microphones like Røde’s Stereo VideoMicX and even their VideoMic Pro are an example of this.

Mould, cruelty, our planet’s future and fitting in

I chose the Charcoal rather than Ash version of the Everyday Backpack despite conventional wisdom that carrying heat-sensitive items in hotter climates would be better served by lighter coloured bags to absorb less heat, for four reasons – mould, cruelty, our planet’s future and fitting in.

Climate change has hit Sydney hard in recent years in many different ways but foremost in regard to photographic equipment is mould. Our climate is more sub-tropical than temperate now and there has been an epidemic of mould throughout the metropolitan region. Anything made of leather or with leather trim can suddenly sprout ash-grey fungus with the spores taking up permanent residence, never to be rid of.

Spores and mould can spread like wildfire and that is not helped by too many apartments and houses being poorly ventilated semi-sealed boxes with little to no insulation, no central heating or effective cooling and poor airflow. Fungus loves such environments. Renters complain about mould then receive eviction notices, according to recent reports in our remaining newspapers.

There is more to it than this. The production of leather, like all of animal-centred agribusiness, is inherently cruel despite industry claims to the contrary. Animal husbandry is hugely wasteful of the earth’s resources and a meat-heavy diet is inherently unhealthy, contributing to ever-growing greenhouse gas emission and climate change.

As to fitting in, despite constantly rising temperatures, this culture remains wedded to wearing black, carrying black accessories and riding about in huge glossy black European SUVs, in these keep-up-with-the-Joneses suburbs at least. Choosing non-leather Charcoal rather than leather-trimmed Ash is a win in several counts.

I hope that all camera, camera bags and accessories makers will give these issues some deep thought followed by positive action.

Some thoughts and recommendations

A common theme with all the backpacks I have used over the years is that further subdivision is always necessary for better organization and protection. I use bags within bags, cases within cases, in even the most well-compartmentalized bag or backpack.

The rectilinear bags and cases I use in conventional photography bags and packs are not the best fit for Peak Design’s non-rectilinear design ethos. Look instead to smaller bags and cases the Peak Design team designed alongside its larger bags and backpacks.

Peak Design’s Field Pouch and Range Pouch appear to be perfect fits for their Everyday Backpack, Messenger, Sling and Tote, great for protecting small items inside the larger bags as well as, with the addition of a Peak Design strap, gaining easy access to those same items outside them.

Should I add an Everyday Tote to my camera bag collection?

The Everyday Tote is an intriguing bag, unique amongst the products of camera accessories makers, the perfect solution to my needs when I was on the other side of the fence between creative talent and creative agency, talent-finding, commissioning then producing and line-producing the work of other photographers and moviemakers.

When I need to do that sort of work again, then the Charcoal Tote will be top of my list of essentials.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image by Peak Design from the Peak Design website, styled and resized in ON1 Photo Raw 2017.

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