I have been relying on Peak Design’s camera clips and straps for a while now. Every camera I use is festooned with Peak Design’s signature red and black Anchor Links, at the ready for Cuff, Clutch, Leash, Slide or Slide Lite to snap into place as needed and no more wrapping old-style thin neck straps around my wrist before shooting, hoping they would not unravel during tense moments to come.
Peak Design’s straps have helped me bid goodbye to all that unneeded stress and I rest easy in the knowledge that if my precious gear slips or drops, then the straps will catch them long before they hit the ground.
My collection of Peak Design products is more than affordable insurance that my gear won’t meet preventable fates on concrete, tarmac or gravel.
I was a little apprehensive, though, about trying out Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger 13 bag. I had seen two of the bag’s older brothers in use during Fujifilm Australia’s ‘People with Cameras’ event in Sydney early this year and both Everyday Messenger 15s looked, well, just a little too large for me to carry comfortably throughout a long day behind the camera.
Or in my case, hauling two cameras-plus-two-lenses rigs and assorted accessories during day-long urban documentary projects.
Both EDM15-toting photographers at ‘People with Cameras’ looked happy enough with their camera-carting choices.
But, my shoulders ached at the thought of all that gear hanging off a spine compromised long ago by carting flight cases on and off airplanes during my years as a corporate photographer with mining company clients.
My gear during the ‘People with Cameras’ event comprised Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses, and lately I have been investigating Fujifilm’s larger, heavier APS-C cameras and prime lenses.
If M43 cameras and lenses got a bit too much sometimes with my customary shoulder bags and backpacks, would their APS-C equivalents prove a bridge too far?
And then Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger 13 arrived.
A Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4, Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 and, needless to say, a new Clutch and Cuff, had arrived a couple of days before the bag so what better test to put this classic documentary photography camera and lens combination to than transporting them all day, every day, with the EDM13?
This kit has proven to be a next-to-perfect combination, although I am now itching to add a second X-Pro2 to it so the EDM13 will contain two of them back to back for quick and easy lens selection.
A little heavier, perhaps, but a damned sight more convenient with each lens attached to its own dedicated camera, and more practical now that swinging two rangefinder cameras from my neck is too demanding.
Core to the EDM13’s design is its expandability and capacity for accommodating equipment of varying shapes and sizes – it may be smaller than the EDM15 but its internal size is big enough for smaller documentary assignments.
Peak Design’s MagLatch closure device and FlexFold dividers are key to the bag’s ability to handle just about anything I throw into it, within reason.
So is its thoughtfully-designed front outer pocket, divided into a set of smaller pockets for batteries, cards, LensPens, remote release, SD card holder and more.
The EDM13’s four battery pockets allow me to carry three spare NP-W126 Li-Ion battery packs, flipping them over to show their terminals instead of the orange rectangle on the opposite end, and thus signify they need recharging.
Each origami-inspired FlexFold divider can be repurposed to hold one camera-plus-lens, or one lens with a smaller camera-plus-lens above it, or one long prime lens like the intriguing Fujinon XF 90mm f/2.
I cannot vouch for how well the EDM13 carries non-rangefinder-style cameras and zoom lenses though – other documentary stills cameras like my Fujifilm X100 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 are smaller than the X-Pro2 and lighter.
I can vouch for the need for care when removing and especially inserting a rigged up X-Pro2 like mine, with permanently attached MHG-XPRO2 hand grip to counterbalance the weight and size of the 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 lenses.
Since attaching the hand grip, I have noticed sequences of black frames on my X-Pro2’s SD cards after carrying it in the EDM13 – detective work determined the cause is the camera’s jutting shutter button lock in combination with the large soft release I favour for drastically reducing lag time from seeing an image to shooting it.
Those blank frames are products of Fujifilm’s ergonomics decisions for the X-Pro2 – a minor but persistent annoyance in my humble opinion along with the camera’s jutting diopter control dial, one I hope will be rectified in the X-Pro2’s successor.
If needing to carry larger cameras like Fujifilm’s X-T2 rigged with VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Boost Grip and the longer and wider prime and zoom lenses to which that camera is well suited, then look at Peak Design’s newest additions to the Everyday bag line, the Backpack, Tote and Sling.
I have high hopes for the Everyday Backpack as the next step up in transportation for more varied documentary assignments better suited to the X-T2 and a larger set of lenses – like architecture, distant action, cityscapes and microphotography requiring portable lighting.
Regardless, all Everyday bags share traits I have come to appreciate on the Everyday Messenger 13 – its key lanyard and pocket, all-too-rare provision for today’s larger smartphones like the iPhone 6S Plus, secure zipped and velcroed space for a Mac Book Air or iPad Pro, documents and notebooks, and stabilizer straps.
Straps of a different sort have proven bugbears with other makers’ camera bags and backpacks – ever placed one on the floor or bench next to you only to see a a stranger kick or trip over them?
Peak Design has, wisely and brilliantly, mostly done away with straps and big plastic hardware and where straps must remain they have neat aluminium clips and hooks and can be stowed inside a dedicated pocket.
That is something I hope to see other camera bag makers emulate – in fact one has appeared on another bag in for review and it works a treat.
The Everyday Messenger 13’s aluminium strap hardware is effective, except for the one minor gripe I have – its shoulder strap adjuster tends to allow the strap itself to slip out and along, requiring checking and adjusting every so often.
Perhaps a two-sided clamp might be better, but otherwise, Peak Design’s aluminium hardware is stylish and functional.
Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger 13, a “bag for cameras and essential carry”, is a brilliant solution for transporting the smaller kits best suited to highly mobile assignments like street or documentary photography and photojournalism.
The EDM13 also does duty for carrying items for daily personal use, for office work or going to interviews, without betraying your other status as a photographer, for which I was berated during a job interview a few years ago.
I like the Charcoal-coloured version for its stylishly textured look and feel, and how it so easily blends in with contemporary street and office attire.
Nothing about the EDM13 screams “photography bag” and I could not find a trace of leather in it – very welcome in these days of rising veganism and animal cruelty awareness.
The one test I could not, disappointingly, put the Everyday Messenger 13 to is its resistance to water – its arrival coincided with the sudden end of late winter rainy season, so that conclusion needs to wait for another day.
Oh, and the photographs above where I try out various travel tripods and monopods in my collection – “travel” seems to be a word of many definitions though as you can see I found 3 Legged Thing‘s Equinox Leo certainly met their description of it as a “professional micro-traveler”.
I finally got to try out the Messenger Bag in the rain, and it did not pass the test. Instead of beading off, rain drops hit the fabric then soaked right in. Luckily I ducked under shelter and my camera gear was safe.
After getting in touch with the Peak Design support team, we discovered that my example of the bag was from a prototype production run the fabric of which had not received its durable water repellent (DWR) coating. Peak Design immediately sent a replacement Everyday Messenger Bag 13 that has continued to acquit itself well throughout thick and thin, rain and shine.
Meanwhile, having an anti-wastefulness bent, I asked Peak Design for advice on the best waterproofing solutions to apply to the original bag’s Kodra fabric. The best and most easily obtainable locally was Nikwax Cotton Proof, which can be applied to garments in a washing machine or diluted with water and painted on.
I am new to aftermarket waterproofing but can see the value of always having products like Nikwax on hand, even when correctly waterproofed in manufacture.
In further conversation with the Peak Design team, I learned that the new backpack, sling bag and tote bag range receives extra waterproofing including two layers of polyurethane. Everyday Messenger bags manufactured after mine will have received the same two extra layers of waterproofing.
Article header image made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f1/4 lens; product photographs made with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 with Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens and lit with Rotolight Neo 3 Light Kit with Neo Barn Doors and Neo Chimera Softbox; photographs at ‘People with Cameras’ made with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with Olympus M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens.