I’ve been a fan of the adventure photography accessories company Peak Design ever since I was first introduced to their products back in 2012. They make gear that makes it easier to take photos while adventuring.
One of the company’s latest projects was to re-imagine the popular messenger bag for photographers. They are travel and adventure photographers themselves and it shows in the details of The Everyday Messenger Bag.
While many professions are finding ways to avoid having to carry a laptop everywhere they go, photographers can only do a few little sorting tasks on tablets and smartphones. To really get into the editing process, we still need to load our photos onto a computer and go from there. For this, PD created a separate pocket specifically for laptops. My 15″ MacBook Pro fits into this pocket perfectly. In fact, sometimes I feel like it fits too perfectly. The laptop must be exactly square to slide in and it can be a little snug to get it out again. Though, it provides good training to build stronger finger grip strength. Nevertheless, those of us who are borderline neurotic about space use efficiency will feel at ease here. The laptop pocket is divided up into four different slots. If you don’t have a 15″ laptop to take up all of the room, there’s a smaller slot where a tablet could fit with two side slots for pens or other small items. This rear-access laptop pocket makes it a breeze when going through airport security screenings. Unless of course you have TSA PreCheck, in which case that rear sleeve is great for when you get to the gate early and have time to get some work done.
The flap-top lid has a beautiful closure system using a magnetic quick connect and a very secure laddered hook grab. The stylish silver hardware uses a clever design with an integrated magnet that allows the flap to just be left alone to close after digging something out of the bag. This magnet keeps the hook in line to grab one of the metal rungs for a secure closure. I’ve only had one instance where the hook was a little too effective and was hard to open when I had the bag absolutely stuffed full of gear. Otherwise, I really love not having to think about closing the bag at all simply because it will do so on its own.
The main compartment of the bag comes with three removable and adjustable origami-style dividers to customize the interior to fit your specific photography kit needs, including extra lenses, chargers, filters, camera bodies, etc. The micro-Velcro tabs do a great job of holding everything in place as well, keeping all of your precious photography equipment secure. Other clever touches include a horizontal pen slot and a flat zippered pocket perfect for keeping small cords organized.
The secondary zippered pocket sits under the main flap and is divided up with smaller elastic mesh pockets with green and red tabs to keep track of used and unused batteries or memory cards. There’s also plenty of room for a small notebook and other important items. I do wish the whole pocket was about an inch or so deeper to be able to keep my covered passport vertically tucked away in one of the larger mesh pockets. Also, I’d rather the zippered pocket not be covered by the bag’s main flap. It feels a little silly to have to open the Everyday Messenger to then open the zipper just to get into the pocket, although not enough to deter me from using the bag.
Each of the wings on the exterior of the Everyday Messenger are equipped with a sturdy strut of fabric designed for one of Peak Designs’ flagship products – the Capture Pro. As long as you’re working with a relatively short lens this works great. My 16-35mm is just at the cusp such that if the camera is attached to one of these wings, I’m always certain to set the bag down very carefully (yes, even more so than normally) because the lens is pointing right to the ground. I don’t tend to use this feature much anymore and prefer to attach the Capture to the chest strap to keep it right in front of me. Then, when I set the bag down, I just lay the camera on top of or next to it. For version 2.0, I’d like to see one of those side struts replaced with an external pocket like the one added to the new Everyday Backpack (that will be a whole ‘nother review).
One more level of organization and versatility comes with the Field Pouch. Certain bundles of the Messenger Bag include the matching Field Pouch and it has been great to have along on my travels. It’s the perfect size for an extra hard drive and its cables. Or, it can also fit a medium sized lens if you want to ditch the big bag and just take a camera body and an extra lens when traveling light.
My final little gripe with the bag is how it’s balanced. Without a laptop in it, I can sometimes get the bag to stand up on its own, though, I rarely trust it to remain that way. I usually end up leaning it against something when I set it down just to be sure. When it does leans, it favors falling forward, which is fine since that’s the natural way for me to lean it when I take it off my shoulder. But when I have my laptop in it, the bag will not stand on its own and will always fall over to the backside. Now, when setting it down, I have to remember if the laptop is in there or not, and consciously think about which way to lean it. Is this a big deal, no, it’s totally petty. But in the moment when I set the bag down wrong and it flops over the other way it always puts a grimace on my face and I have to make the split decision to fix it or leave it. I’ve gotten better at just leaving it. I’m not sure if this is something that can be resolved on the design side considering everyone is going to load their bag differently, it is just what has manifested in my experience.
But let’s not end on a downer. As mentioned above, I’m still using – and loving – the bag. While the look of a product is neither the least nor most important feature to me, I must admit that I love the aesthetic of the Everyday Messenger. From the Weatherproof waxed 500D Kodra exterior to the stitching details, the refined metal hardware, and the industrial styling, this bag looks sharp and feels good to touch and wear. All of that is to be expected from Peak Design, as they are very detail oriented.
peakdesign.com | Everyday Messenger 13” $220; 15” $250