Peak Design Everyday Backpack v2 review: A backpack you’ll really use every day: Digital Photography Review

Photo: Tim Barribeau

There’s a thin line between ‘thoughtfully designed’ and ‘over-engineered’, and picking up the current iteration of the iconic Peak Design Everyday Backpack ($300), I was worried it was the latter. Instead, I was met with an incredible balance of looks, practicality, and valuable extra features, the sort that makes every day a little bit easier. Despite its rigid shape, it’s well-built and as comfortable as you can hope. All of that, and it looks fantastic on your back in just about any situation. There’s a reason this thing is as popular as it is.

First introduced in 2017 through a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the Everyday Backpack underwent a minor redesign in 2019, updating it from the version we originally reviewed in 2017 – and it remains the high water mark for camera backpacks.

Key Features

  • Smart and adjustable internal dividers
  • Plentiful pockets
  • Useful extras, like straps and adjustments

Specs (from manufacturer)

30-liter model:

  • Size: 33×48.5×27 cm (13x19x10.5″)
  • Weight: 2.11kg (4.65 lbs) with dividers
  • Max laptop size: 16”
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Example loadout: DSLR camera body, 4-5 extra lenses, accessories

20-liter model:

  • Size: 33x46x21 cm (13x18x8.25″)
  • Weight: 2.01kg (4.43 lbs) with dividers
  • Max laptop size: 16”
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Example loadout: DSLR camera body with lens, 2-3 extra lenses

Style with substance

Photo: Tim Barribeau

There’s a pretty solid argument that the Peak Design Everyday Backpack is the best-looking camera backpack on the market (though I’ll be the first to admit that’s hugely subjective). Compared to almost every other camera backpack I’ve reviewed over the years, it’s one of the few I feel comfortable calling ‘sleek’. The Everyday Backpack isn’t bulky or overloaded with extra dangly bits and attachments.

This is a bag that feels more at home in the city than in the wilderness, at least aesthetically speaking. It’s a bag that I would take into the office if I had one I needed to go to. And this is all on top of being an extremely effective camera bag.


Buy the Peak Design Everyday Backpack:


But camera bags, by their very nature, are rigid. It surprises people who are more used to the ergonomics of modern backpack design. When you’re trying to protect your gear, that rigidity gives you extra safety – but it plays hell on your back. There’s only so much a thin layer of foam can do against a rigid surface. And the Peak Design tries its damnedest and does as well as you could hope for. After a couple of hours, I won’t pretend my back wasn’t sweaty and sore. But it was better than many other camera bags I’ve worn. Its straps distributed the bag’s weight well on me, and they have a well-considered swoop design that helps them sit more flush against the (my) body. Crucially, the padding on the straps isn’t so bulky that it would interfere with the swing-around motion to get into the side of the bag. Unfortunately, if you want the extra support of a hip belt, that’s a $30 additional fee.

But an interesting side effect of the bag’s popularity is that where once it was an easy way to carry your gear without looking like you had thousands of dollars of metal and glass strapped to your back, now it’s such an identifiable bag that it broadcasts its content to the world.

Folded and fun

The FlexFold dividers can be reconfigured on the fly wherever they’re needed on the interior.

Photo: Tim Barribeau

Even with its good looks, the Everyday Backpack remains, at its core, an extremely functional bag for carrying cameras (and honestly, just about anything else). This comes primarily from the bag’s internal organization system. Like most camera bags, you can rearrange its innards using velcro dividers. But Peak Design’s “origami-inspired” FlexFold dividers allow you to alter their shape without having to un- and re-velcro them into different configurations. You can flip small panels up or down to create sub-sections or pass-throughs. This means you can easily swap from a space for a camera body to a long, tall zoom lens.

The bag I tested is the 30-liter version, and there’s also a smaller 20-liter one, and 30 liters is pretty damn voluminous. You’re easily going to be able to throw two sub-full-frame camera bodies into this and three to four zoom lenses (or an entire collection of primes if you mostly shoot fixed, like me). Peak Design claims that you can fit a full-frame DSLR strapped to a 70-200mm into this, too, and I believe them, though like other mirrorless converts, it’s not something I can easily verify.

The downside of having a bag this large is that if you use small lenses, they don’t fit snuggly. But in that situation, chances are a 30-liter bag is more than you need.

Photo: Tim Barribeau

This modularity also makes it great for other purposes, like as a diaper bag! Using it, I appreciate the ability to adapt on the fly so that if I only want to bring one or two lenses, I can sequester those easily and open up the rest of the space as needed. Where once it held an extra body, with a flip or two of a divider, it fits a jacket.

Thanks, it has pockets!

An abundance of straps and pockets help you carry things, even outside the pack.

Photo: Tim Barribeau

There isn’t a single pocket on the Everyday Backpack that doesn’t have some addition that made me think, “Oh wow, that’s a smart idea.” You know those little pockets at the top of your bag where you usually stash an essential or two, like battery packs or a snack? There’s one in the laptop slot and a second in the main pocket. Not a big deal, but hey, nice, right?

The ultra-wide handle at the top of the bag ended up being super useful for me. It’s one of those things where when you’re grabbing your bag up off the ground, it’s just that much easier to snatch it up since you’ve got a bigger target. It’s a nice touch when you’re heading out the door or quickly shifting from location to location. I didn’t find the side handles as immediately useful, though I can see the use-case for them.

Photo: Tim Barribeau

The laptop slot has a fascinating u-shaped sling that you can adjust to the size of your laptop, so your fragile computer never rests directly on the bottom of the bag, and it’s always high enough to grab easily.

The side access pockets run the whole length of the bag so that you can reach just about anything through them. They open from either end thanks to double zippers, which can also be tied off to stop them from unintentionally opening.

The zip pulls can be looped through the bag’s attachment points to keep them closed.

Photo: Tim Barribeau

The outside of the bag has two straps for stowing extras, such as a jacket, bike helmet, or collapsed reflector. These straps stash away in a dedicated little pocket when you don’t need them. Similarly, the side water bottle pockets have straps to stabilize a small travel tripod, umbrella, or anything else that sticks out pretty far. One even has a key catcher with a smart way of clipping in your keychain – one of Peak Design’s own camera strap anchors, naturally.

This is only scratching the surface of some of the features. There are also things like a sternum strap, the intelligent use of magnetic closures throughout the bag, the doodad pockets tucked away inside other pockets, and more.

My only complaints with the bag are fairly minor. All the extra add-ons and features make it fiddly. You have to remember what strap goes where, which pocket zips closed vs. snaps, and how to attach and detach things when needed – but you get used to it with time. These features also all add up when it comes to the bag’s weight: the 30L version I reviewed weighs more than 2kg (4.5 lbs) when empty, which is substantial.

An overloaded bag is an ungainly thing, and even the Everyday Backpack struggles to make the bulk look good.

Photo: Tim Barribeau

And, controversially, I don’t love the Everyday’s most recognizable feature: the flap top with the specially designed clasp. It’s certainly quicker to get into than a traditional zip or buckle, but when you start to load it up and make use of its expandability, the top of the bag becomes a misshapen mound.

Conclusion

The Peak Design Everyday Backpack has earned its place as one of the most popular dedicated camera bags currently available. Built from the strength of the earlier Peak Design messenger bag, it became one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time, and more impressively than that, it stuck the landing, producing a bag that performed up to all the company’s promises. And since then, Peak Design has only improved on the original. There’s a reason the Everyday Backpack is probably the most common camera bag to spot in many major cities.

The bag nails everything it sets out to do. It’s a backpack that slips between the world of camera bag and commuter bag effortlessly; it looks as at home on a subway as it does on an airplane or at a photo shoot. Its ingenious layout system lets you change up your carry on the fly without flipping up and moving around velcro tabs. Every inch of the design is devoted to useful extras that are as functional as they are delightfully surprising.

“It’s a backpack that slips between the world of camera bag and commuter bag effortlessly; it looks as at home on a subway as it does on an airplane or at a photo shoot.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re taking multiple bodies, lenses, and a tripod on a day shoot or you’ve just got a small mirrorless with zoom tucked away amidst your carry-on supplies. The Everyday Backpack really is a backpack you’ll use every day.

What we like What we don’t
  • Smart internal dividers
  • Usefully sized and placed pockets
  • Thoughtful extras to make it suit your needs
  • Very well built
  • All those extras are fiddly and need to be wrangled
  • Can be heavy
  • Everyone knows you’re carrying a camera, for better or worse.

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