Our favourite photographer lays down the law when it comes to traversing the dirt-strewn streets of Southeast Asia with a trusty everyday backpack made in Vietnam. Words and photos by Vinh Dao.
The definition of “everyday” in the Oxford Living Dictionary is “happening or used every day; daily”. It’s a pretty ballsy statement when a company uses the word everyday to brand a product. This is even more true when the company in question is a bag manufacturer.
When Peak Design sent me their second “Everyday” branded piece of kit, I thought that their work was cut out for them. As a photographer, if something is touting itself as an everyday use item, it’s going to get a genuine test from me.
That’s guaranteed. I reviewed their Everyday Messenger Bag in an earlier issue and I did write that it was a fantastic bag. However, the overall conclusion came down to: in situations when I need to carry a bunch of camera kit around, it just wasn’t big enough.
So, does their Everyday Backpack fit the bill?
When I first opened the box, which had obviously spent way too much time in Vietnamese customs, I was once again floored by how sleek the bag looked. I’m comparing the Peak Design backpack to my regular go-to bag: a Rush 24 backpack made by 511 Tactical.
Where the Rush 24 bag wears its function on its sleeves, the Peak Design backpack hides its function just below the surface. I opted for the 30 litre option in an ash colour. It is definitely a looker for something that I imagine toting around to grimy locales, or just carrying kids around darting around in the rain.
The Everyday Backpack sports sleek lines with subtle tan features on the sturdy straps and zips. Peak Design’s patented Maglatch system is prominently displayed on the pack and gives top-loading access to the spacious main compartment. You can also access the main compartment with two side zips as well. The side access can be secured to thwart pickpockets by undoing the zip strap and looping them through fasteners near the zips.
Speaking of the main compartment: it’s pretty spacious on it’s own and adding in the three FlexFold Dividers makes it the most flexible backpack I have personally ever used. Once velcroed into position, the dividers are rigid and can hold up to quite a bit of weight placed upon them. This is obviously huge if you enjoy collecting antique, breakable travel memories, lugging expensive camera lenses and all means of fragile items. Nobody wants to open up their pack to find shattered stuff everywhere only to spend the next hour or two carefully cleaning it all out, wary of stabbing yourself and ruining that fine ash colour.
I have been using the bag extensively for the past three weeks. It’s become my main bag for a long family relocation from Ho Chi Minh City to the UK, along with becoming my everyday bag exploring a new city.. So far, it hasn’t disappointed in the “used every day” department.
Loading up the pack isn’t an issue. Using the flex dividers as zones for items makes organizing the inner compartment easy peasy. There are four latches that make the pack as expandable as you need it to be. Using the top latch gives a total of 8 extra litres of space which is great when you need it all to fit inside.
Along with the cavernous inner compartment, each of the side compartments has a set of padded pockets ready for all sorts of items like pens, power packs and other accessories a busy person may need for the day. It even has a pocket for a 15” laptop that also has a small compartment to quickly access any items you need quick access to. This was absolutely perfect for holding passports, boarding passes and even an Amazon Kindle.
If you need to store items on the outside of the backpack, there are a few options. Both sides of the backpack have pockets that can hold larger items. There are integrated straps that secure larger items such as a tripod using loops that are strategically placed throughout the bag.
You can also store a tripod underneath the pack as well, using the same style of system. They even included a strap system to fit a mid-sized drone like a DJI Phantom on the back of the pack.
It’s probably the most comfortable backpack I have worn in awhile. I have had the pack filled to the brim and haven’t had any issues with the weight on my shoulders. The shoulders straps are thick and do a great job of distributing the weight equally. They also have a quick release feature using your thumb that allows you to swing your bag around on one shoulder to access a side loading compartment. Once you have what you needed, all you need to do is swing the pack back and use your thumb again to adjust the strap back to its original spot.
There are a couple of thick strips that run the length of the pack that serve a dual purpose. Not only do they give some padding for your back, they separate from the bag just enough to slip securely over the handle of a rolling trolley suitcase. Given the propensity for rain in the UK, it’s pretty reassuring to know that the backpack is covered with a weatherproof 500D Kodra shell and DWR impregnated. There are a few scuffs from day to day wear that easily rubbed off with a wet towel which also impressed me as well.
Like the earlier Everyday Messenger bag, the Everyday Backpack is produced in Vietnam. Once again, the crew at Peak Design felt confident to use the same supplier for it’s newest product.
The Everyday Backpack can be found online at www.peakdesign.com or at the Raw Shop in Tan Binh District.