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Peak Design Bags: 1 Year Later.

It’s been just about a year since I switched back to Peak Design (PD) camera bags, switched back? Yup, so you may ask, what tempted me to use other bags in the first place as a loyal PD user? A fair question deserves an honest answer. When PD first announced their Everyday Messenger Bag back in the summer of 2015, I immediately backed them on KickStarter because, after using PD product for 3-4 years at that point, I knew this was going to be good. Yes, it was, and I loved it, but about a year later we moved to Virginia (we’re a military family) and that’s when things changed. Wanting to check out some camera stores in the area, I found a couple in the northern Virginia area and one in particular specialized in camera bags, new and used. They would allow you to come in with your current bag and compare shop, to try them on, even pack some gear in and see how they felt! That’s when I found the ThinkTank Mindshift 15″ Messenger Bag, it felt great on the back. While it lacked many of PD’s features, it seemed to have more room inside, felt good, so I made the leap. Not bad mouthing ThinkTank in any way here, I still use many of their products and they are a terrific company making quality gear. However, in time I missed some little things in PD bags like their MagLatch system, there is no better way to get in and out of a messenger bag, period. With the ThinkTank’s Mindshift bag, I had to click open the fastener, take out the needed item and click it shut. It seems like a small thing but I found myself leaving the bag open most of the time while out shooting, out of convenience. With the PD bag, just push down on the MagLatch, open it and get the item out, then let the flap drop and it almost always catches on the MagLatch connection. Top zipper access in the 15″ PD bag, built in color coordinated battery holders (for charged/uncharged), luggage pass through on the back, and the flexi-fold style dividers to stack lenses were what I missed. Did these little things mean enough to go through the hassle of selling the current bags on eBay? Well, yes they did, because all those little things added up, and I missed them.

After years of searching for the perfect bag I’ve learned this, there is NO perfect bag. No matter what the latest bag innovation is, the new lighter than helium construction, magical pockets that hold everything beyond your wildest dreams, and most of all…. the famous photographer who endorses it will not matter when you head out shooting. What will matter is if the bag meets your needs. Know this, it will NOT be the perfect bag and some things will work for you and some won’t. For that reason I have a number of PD bags for different purposes, mostly defined by the lenses I’m walking out the door with. Unlike the one-time purchase of the supposed perfect bag mentioned above, acquiring bags has been a process. When going out with large, 100-400mm lens, the Everyday Backpack 20L Zip v2 (shown here) fits the bill. I’m not a fan of camera backpacks, but in this case they distribute weight better when carrying a heavy load than messengers or slings. The PD 20L Zip is just big enough to hold that big lens, plus the Canon EOS R with a 24-105mm attached, and a 15-35mm and 30mm stowed. It can be carry-on for air travel or tossed in the back of a car plus it’s weather proofed as well. Frankly, this bag doesn’t get used as often as the others because I don’t walk out every day carrying a 100-400mm lens. However, there’s no reason to think it won’t hold up well, it’s built like a tank. Does it offer everything I would like? Nope, again no bag will, but it does meet a majority of my needs/wants, like side access to the camera and not having a bunch straps flopping around. I do wish the 20L Zip had magnetic backpack strap holders like other PD bags, not sure why this model lacks them. Again, no perfect bag…

My main carry bags are PD messenger bags, they just work better for when out walking. I have the 15L and that I keep loaded out relatively similar to another 13L so I’m not hunting for stuff inside. This is the Everyday Messenger 15L (left) which carries either the 24-105mm or 15-35mm attached to the EOS R (stowing the unattached lens) and still has room for the 30mm lens. This bag may not be available anymore as I’ve not seen in on the PD site for a while, only the 13″ version is currently for sale there. You can still find it on eBay starting at about $60 used and $130 new and at Amazon as well. The Everyday Messenger 15L is like having a mini office in front of you, when you swing the bag in front of you it’s easy to switch lenses or safely dig through the bag. The other often used bag is the Everyday Messenger 13L (below) which is similar in design to the 15L but missing the top zipper which makes sense as it wouldn’t be practical to fit a DSLR with lens attached through the smaller opening. The Everyday Messenger 13L carries either the 24-105mm or 15-35mm attached to the EOS R and stowing the unattached lens. I’m happy to say that after carrying both of these messenger bags the majority of the time for the last year they both have minimal to no wear, which is kind of amazing. They’ve both held up well in the summer heat and cold rain of Yokosuka, Japan where I’ve lived for the past two years. Even the insides of both bags still look amazing!

When heading out and wanting to travel light, usually because I’m going with the family, I have two PD Sling bags. The larger of the two is the Everyday Sling 10L v1 (right) and this usually carries the EOS R with a 24-105mm attached and leaves room for a few smaller items. I didn’t purchase the Everyday Sling 10L v2 simply because I had the v1 a few years ago and really liked it. When deciding to go back to PD bags, I saw they still had this bag in their clearance page and jumped on it. While I’m sure the v2 is a great bag, I went with what I knew and missed. This bag is my go-to bag with the EOS R if I plan to be walking all day and going someplace new and want to travel light. The other Sling bag is the Everyday Sling 6L (below) which is when walking with just the EOS R and 30mm attached, generally places I’ve been before and might get a cool shot, going out to eat, or street shooting and don’t want to draw attention. In Japan, restaurants and food stands can make for great stock photography subjects, the small lens and small bag help to not draw attention. Both of these sling bags are light and give great protection from the elements. They have held up well, just like the Everyday Messenger bags, and look fantastic on the inside and exterior.

Since buying PD bags last year, I’ve been more than happy with how they’ve held up. I didn’t set out to own this many camera bags, but I’ve finally figured out something; while the latest and greatest camera bags may promise to be the last you’ll ever buy, they never fit that bill. In all honesty, PD also makes bags that don’t work for me… R-R-Really?? Yup! Their Everyday Backpack 20L and 30L which I had previously owned (the 30L) and, while it was a great bag, it just didn’t work out but happily the Everyday Backpack 20L Zip v2 worked much better. Also, their 45L Travel Backpack and Everyday Sling 3L didn’t seem like it good fit for what I do and that’s what I mean about “NO perfect bag” because, while these are award winning bags, they weren’t what I needed. That’s why I have so many bags, who wants to carry a 20L bag when a 6 or 10L sling will work? With the exception of a few companies (like PD) making bags, they’ve got to sell what appeals to a majority of photographers and that’s where the concessions come in. While they’ll get a big name pro to endorse the bag, not even two pro photographers will have the same packing needs and their desires in a bag will differ greatly as well. The chances of your needs and expectations lining up with their’s is probably very slim. Find bags that suite your needs because, when it comes to camera bags, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Finally, these highly customizable bags offer great protection and can handle just about anything you throw at them. These Peak Design bags have stood up well over the last year, just as the other PD products I’ve used since 2012 or so. I have no problem recommending them to photographers and non-photographers alike!

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