Peak Design changed the way photographers carried their cameras with the introduction of an innovative clip. Now, they're taking on camera bags. We tested their Everyday Messenger to see how it performs.
What Is It?
The Everyday Messenger ($US250) is a versatile new photography-specific bag from Peak Design that was just funded on Kickstarter -- it's now available for pre-order. They built it from the ground up -- rethinking how not just a camera bag should look and perform, but how a convenient all-round messenger bag should too. The company promises that the Everyday Messenger is "totally dialed" -- in their own words: "every last bit of it does its job perfectly and fits together flawlessly."
Reinforced straps on either side of the Everyday Messenger allow for the placement of Capture -- the company's super-useful camera clip -- for even quicker camera access.
There are a ton of well-designed photography bags out there, so what makes the Everyday Messenger stand out?
The most unique aspect of the bag is its integration of proven and loved Peak Design accessories and materials -- along with a few new ones.
The bag's quick-adjusting strap is constructed from super minimalist but burly padded seatbelt-style webbing.
Peak Design's new MagLatch in action.
MagLatch, a metal latch designed by Peak Design allows for secure, blind, and one-handed closure of the bag's main compartment. Need quicker access to your gear? A weatherproof top zipper lets you dive right in. Need to grab your camera even faster? Reinforced straps on either end of the bag were designed to support Capture (the quick-release camera plate that Peak Design was founded on), for the ultimate quick grab. The end straps work equally well with the new Capture Lens ($US80), which is also being launched as part of the Everyday Messenger campaign.
The Capture Lens ($US80) frees up photographers' hands for quick and secure lens swapping.
What is the Capture Lens? Well, it's a secure, hands (or elbows, knees, and thighs) free accessory for swapping lenses. Gone are the days of precariously tucking precious glass underneath an armpit while you execute the swap. With the Capture Lens, users can secure their lenses to a quick-release, dual-sided mount (right now they're available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras) -- freeing up all ten digits up for the task at hand. I've been using it. And it's awesome.
The Everyday Messenger was designed to carry users' photography gear and everyday essentials in a way that is seamless and convenient.
At its core, a camera bag should carry and protect photography gear. Most camera bags do so by using thick, rectangular interior pads. Know what are not rectangles? Camera lenses. Peak Design addressed this problem by creating thin, flexible EVA foam pads that can take on a variety of shapes and sizes. Ditching the photo gear to carry just everyday stuff? The pads are thin enough to tuck neatly out of the way.
There is plenty of room in the back zippered pocket for a 15" laptop and tablet.
A zippered back pocket holds up to a 15" laptop and a tablet. A smaller front pocket boasts several mesh dividers for the organisation of everything from hard drives to passports, charging cables, memory cards, and everything in between. Outer pockets on either side of the bag hold sunglasses and smartphones; EDC is rounded out by a couple more internal sleeves and pockets.
The Everyday Messenger expands from 13.5L to 20.5L depending on the MagLatch's attachment position.
A sleek accordion design allows the bag to expand between 13.5L and 20.5L without making any adjustments. Stuff it with more stuff; it gets bigger. Take stuff out; it gets smaller. The MagLatch's attachment position controls the expansion.
The Everyday Messenger's shell is constructed from a 500-Denier Kodra synthetic canvas that's been treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish, creating a splash-resistant exterior, while the bottom features a waterproof liner. Water-resistant top zippers round out the bag's weatherproofing, ensuring gear stays dry in the rain. The fabric looks and feels top-notch; its extremely high thread count should ensure durability.
Additional features include a tripod carry sleeve in the main flap and a key leash that utilises Peak Design anchors.
As previously mentioned, the bag's strap is constructed from the same seat belt material used in the Slide, but is padded for additional comfort. The smaller carrying handle is also constructed from the same padded material. Additional stability straps for carrying the bag behind your back can be neatly tucked away when not in use.
Critical points are reinforced for durability.
Aluminium, pivoting attachments connect the strap to the bag; their rotational abilities were designed to ensure tangle-free movement. They work as promised; their mobility does not seem to detract from their durability either.
The Everyday Messenger uses high-density EVA foam protective panels for the bag's exterior. It seems like they'd take the brunt of a low-speed bicycle crash; but I wouldn't want to bash them in with a baseball bat. They certainly offer more protection than that jacket I normally wrap my camera in for transport.
If a product is made from solid materials and has great features -- but its construction is sloppy, it's not a good product. Fortunately, that's not the case with the Everyday Messenger. Even the hand-sewn, pre-production model I've been testing looks and feels solid.
Areas of heavy use feature (around any connection points) reinforced stitching. The weatherproof zippers run smooth; they don't snag. Rivets provide extra reinforcement for the carrying handle and strap; their backs are cleanly hidden from view. The end straps which were designed for the Capture are burly enough to support a camera body and lens hanging off of them. Every seam has been thought out; then carefully executed.
Flexible inserts allow for easy expansion.
What's It Good At?
The Everyday Messenger is an incredibly versatile bag that can be used not just to carry camera gear, but for carrying everyday essentials as well. It's well designed, solidly constructed, and its use of high-quality, DWR canvas protects gear even while travelling in inclement weather.
The Everyday Messenger cleverly integrates with other Peak Design products like Capture, and with the availability of new accessories like Capture Lens, photographers have a better option than ever for swapping lenses on-the-fly.
When fully stuffed, it fits underneath aeroplane seats (even in coach;) combined with its quick access laptop sleeve and organizational options, the bag is an ideal travel companion.
Not a fan of grey? The bag comes in tan too; both look great depending on your style.
Good luck trying to pull a D810 out from a side, through the top zipper.
What's It Not Good At?
When fully loaded with heavy gear, the Everyday Messenger is pretty awkward to carry. Even with the padded strap (and the use of the stability straps) it still puts a lot of weight on one shoulder. I've been lugging around a Lenovo LaVie Z, a Sony A7S with the 16-35mm and 24-240mm lenses, some GoPros, and a handful of accessories. Even with my relatively lightweight gear, the weight still takes a toll. Find yourself regularly carrying a lot of heavy gear? You'll definitely be better served by a traditional backpack style bag that more evenly distributes weight.
Though the MagLatch is clever and cool, when the bag is fully loaded, it's hard to get it to catch. Maybe MagLatch is smarter than me too, because I find myself second-guessing the closure even when the bag isn't full.
The Everyday Messenger's top zipper is convenient for quickly accessing the main compartment, but if you store your camera on either side of the bag, instead of the middle, it can be difficult to pull it out -- and that's with the relatively thin Sony A7S body. I imagine that trying to pull out a D810 from the side would be next-to-impossible.
The Everyday Messenger has plenty of room for the Sony A7S with a couple zoom lenses, a GoPro carrying case, and bear spray -- just in case.
Should You Buy It?
If you regularly carry a lot of big, heavy camera gear, you'd probably be better served by a camera bag that uses two shoulder straps to better distribute the load. If weight isn't as big of an issue for your kit, the Everyday Messenger is definitely worth checking out.
It has excellent integration with Peak Design's accessories and, when used in conjunction with them, it functions as a great gear carrying hub. Even if you're not invested, its versatile design, solid materials and construction, and innovative features still make it a great everyday carry, even when leaving the camera gear at home.