The Peak Design Everyday Messenger Camera Bag – Review
Camera bags are a very personal choice. Some people want design over function. Some want function over design. In my opinion, there has never been a camera bag that delivers both. Until now!
I’ve had the Peak Design Everyday Messenger for about a month now, and I absolutely love it. I’ve been using and trying many different bags out trying to find that one that fits within my lifestyle. My camera bag journey has been long and frustrating at times. I’ve had the F-Stop Gear Loka – decided it was too big for everyday, but great for travel. I then went to the F-Stop Gear Bandon messenger bag – a really cool design, but just didn’t fit my needs. I then realized I wanted something that looked a little nicer, so I went with the Ona Bags Leather Prince Street – this is a beautiful bag, very classy and a gorgeous patina on the leather after months of wear. Again, it just didn’t give me everything I wanted.
For months and months I kept hearing about this project that Trey Ratcliff was working on with Peak Design for the best camera bag in the world via a Kickstarter campaign. I was very skeptical. It’s a big claim to say you are going to design the best camera bag in the world. I followed the campaign, and I even think it got funded in record time for $4.8M. Anyway, I’m a huge fan of Peak Design as I love their straps, so I thought I’d keep an eye on this.
I saw the launch of the product and I must say, at first I wasn’t impressed. On the internet, the photos and videos didn’t do the bag justice. After months I finally decided to take the plunge – and boy am I glad I did. Now on to the review:
The Peak Design Everyday Messenger is a fantastic bag. Is it perfect? No. Is it close? Absolutely.
In the time that I’ve had it, I’ve pretty much put it through its paces based on my lifestyle. I’ve carried it to shoot street, I’ve carried it for photo assignments, I’ve traveled with it and also have just thrown my stuff in it to go down to the coffee shop to hang out. It has performed beyond what my needs are, and looks cool.
Why it fits in my lifestyle
This bag is a perfect blend of function and design. I like being able to carry around a single bag that doesn’t look like a conventional camera bag. It is stylish. Like most others, I also have a real day job. I’m a Marketing executive in the Entertainment industry, but I also like to carry my camera with me everywhere I go. This bag is perfect enough to carry to the office, client meetings or out to a specific photo shoot.
I have 3 specific load outs that I can easily pack depending on my situation, and the Everyday Messenger along with the Flex-Fold™ dividers allow me to maximize the space in a quick and simple way:
Everyday carry-to-the-office-or-coffee shop load out
I keep this load light. It is basically my Macbook, Fujifilm X-T1, XF23mm, XF10-24mm, Peak Design Cuff Wrist Strap, Peak Design Slide, laptop charger, extra batteries/charger and memory cards.
In the main compartment, I keep the Flex-Fold™ dividers at the half-height fold for a slim profile. I have the compartments divided in 3. Left one: laptop & camera chargers. Right one: XF10-24mm. Center one: My Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF23mm.
Landscape shoot load out
This load out is a bit more involved, and probably my heaviest one. It is my Macbook, Fujifilm X-T1, XF23mm, XF10-24mm, XF18-135mm, Lee Filters Seven 5 kit, Triggertrap kit, Induro CT-114 Tripod, Peak Design Cuff Wrist Strap, Peak Design Slide, laptop charger, extra batteries/charger and memory cards.
In the main compartment, I get creative with the Flex-Fold™ dividers. This system allows me to configure the main compartment of the bag to stack my gear, but without compromising the safety. I keep the gear that I’ll need to pull out the most on the top stack – mainly my Lee Filter kit.
Portrait shoot load out
This load out is very similar to my Landscape load out in terms of how I configure the Flex-Fold™ dividers. I carry my Macbook, Fujifilm X-T1, XF56mm, XF18-135mm, XF23mm, 2 Canon 580EXii’s, Honl grid, Phottix double fold 36” shoot through umbrella, Peak Design Cuff Wrist Strap, Peak Design Slide, laptop charger, extra batteries/charger and memory cards.
Much like the landscape load out, I stack gear in here by using the Flex-Fold™ dividers. On the left: laptop & camera chargers. Center one: XF18-135mm. Right side: Canon 580Exii’s. I stack the remainder of my gear on top of the dividers, and it works out great.
I got the charcoal finish and this bag just looks great. It has a very classic messenger bag look and feel, and also has this really cool retro mid-century design. It has a very clean design and cool color combination. There are no extra straps or other things hanging off of this bag to clutter it up.
I will say that this bag is quite a bit wide for me since it is designed to hold a 15″ laptop. I have an 11″ Macbook and Fujifilm mirrorless camera setup, so my footprint is fairly small. Even though it’s a bit wide, it still works really well for me.
Function & Storage
This bag is highly functional. Highly. The thing that makes this bag amazing are the origami-inspired Flex-Fold™ dividers. These things are absolutely brilliant. One of my biggest complaints is that other typical camera bags have these velcro-covered foam pieces that just suck. You can never get them placed exactly where you want them, so you get them to a place to where you just give up and shove your gear in there. With this Flex-Fold™ system, you can accurately place these dividers in the bag precisely where you want/need them. In addition, they fold into different shapes and heights that really give you a ton of flexibility with your storage options.
The rigid multi panel design allows this bag to expand and contract depending on how much (or little) gear you have inside. I have 3 different ways I pack this bag and I have noticed that on my most minimal one, the bag is very thin. Even when I have the bag packed to capacity, it still maintains a perfect width.
Like most other bags, this one has a laptop and tablet sleeve. The two are separated inside, so you can carry both without them rubbing against each other. Often times when I travel, I like to bring both with me. I especially like how easily accessible they are in this bag (top zipper pouch).
You can easily carry your tripod with this bag. They have a built-in sleeve that you slip your tripod in for easy carry. I have an Induro CT-114 and it fits a little snug, but fine. I imagine that most people are rocking the Three Legged Things tripods these days, so they are probably a bit more compact than what I have. I still make do, as I absolutely love my tripod. A great feature for a messenger bag.
The MagLatch™ closure system is pretty amazing. The bag has this really simple magnet closure system with 4 different height/volume positions. At first glance I was a bit concerned about this magnetic clasp for security reasons, but after using it in person, it is a real genius invention. The clasp is super secure and easy to open/close with one hand.
The Everyday Messenger also has a lot of great storage and pockets. On the front flap there is a color-coded system (red and green) that allow you to sort your used/unused memory cards and batteries out in the field. There are 2 pockets on the side for quick storage of your phone, keys or even lens caps. Lots of great, well thought-out storage on this bag.
There are 2 Capture attachment points that allow you to carry your camera outside of the bag if needed. I love this feature because sometimes you just want your camera out of your hands, but easily accessible without having to get in your bag. The Capture Clips are really a cool feature that allows your camera to be right at your fingertips without having to carry it.
The quick access top zipper allows you to reach into the main compartment of your bag while it is slung over your shoulder. Sometimes you just need to reach in and grab something without wanting to set the bag down and open the front flap. This is very convenient for street photography or film shooters.
Wearability & Comfort
This bag is surprisingly comfortable. Of all the messenger bags I’ve owned, this one is the most comfortable. I think it is a combination of this bag being rigid and reinforced along with the adjustable Peak Design 2″ Slide-type bag strap. If you are not familiar with the Peak Design Slide, this strap is easily adjustable with a single buckle that allows you to slide the strap to a different size/position.
The adjustable Slide-type strap allows you to carry this bag as either a traditional messenger bag as well as a shoulder bag. There are also some side stabilizer straps that allow you to stabilize the bag around your waist or even use them to attach the bag to your luggage while traveling. When not in use, these straps tuck away in the side of the bag.
This bag is very durable and waterproof. I’ve taken this bag through airports, on hikes, in storms and shoots to where I am constantly going in and out of the bag. This thing is very strong, built very well and really does well in inclement weather.
The outer shell is made from a waxed 500D Kodra shell and a DWR undercoat.
If you’ve made it this far, I would recommend checking out this video from Peak Design. It goes over tips/tricks/functionality of the Everyday Messenger Bag.
Wish List for Peak Design Everyday Messenger V2
As with many other products, I’m sure this bag will evolve over time. I just hope that they listen to the feedback from day-to-day users. This bag has the ability to be perfect. Here are a few of my wish list items:
- I would like this bag in a really nice leather. I love leather – it’s durable and classy.
- Custom embroidery – would be nice to allow us to put a logo/name/whatever on this bag in a inconspicuous place.
- Instead of using the stabilizer straps for luggage storage, it would be nice to just put a durable sleeve on the back of the bag.
- An optional pad to put over the slide strap – sometimes if you are carrying heavy gear, it would be nice to have a little padding.
- I would like 2 sizing options – one to accommodate a 15″ laptop and one to accommodate smaller. I’d love to have a 4″ smaller bag option.
All in all, this bag is fantastic. I love it, and plan on using this bag as my everyday carry and for travel. If you have any other specific questions, feel free to hit me up at email@example.com.