Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag Review

What makes photographers spend nearly $5 Million on a camera bag?

No, there wasn’t the promise of free candy. Instead, there was innovation. A lot of it. $5 Million worth.

Today, I want to introduce you to the Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag, and give you a little look at what is truly the most forward thinking camera bag I’ve ever come across.

Now if you’re anything like me, you have spent many years searching for a great camera bag, only to be left a bit underwhelmed. Sure, we’re just talking about something to hold your gear – it isn’t rocket science. But despite cameras advancing in their technology at an exponential rate, camera bags have been more or less the same. Nothing bad about that per se, it’s just been a bit boring.

Then Peak Design comes along and shakes things up and we get The Everyday Messenger. For the best look at this little guy, check out the video above. This is something you’ll want to see in action. I’ll also give you a rundown here, with the key features, our thoughts on the bag, and who it would be best suited for. Let’s go!


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Big Details

The bad news right off the bat: this bag is in pre-order status, but it looks like they may start shipping any day now. You may start drooling as you hear more about it, and want to go buy yours immediately, so just a heads up on that. If you want to go oogle lots of pretty photos of the bag, and pre-order, head right here.

A fast backstory: the bag was launched on Kickstarter, raised $4.8 Million dollars, broke lots of records, and won lots of awards. Check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

The bag itself costs $249, and comes in two colours, Charcoal and Heritage Tan. Perhaps the hardest decision is which one to get! Ours is Charcoal and boy is it sleek looking. But the Heritage Tan has a more classic/adventurey vibe. Maybe one of each?

There are also a couple of neat little gizmos to go along with it. There’s the Field Pouch, for an additional $39.95, and this is one of those things that at first you wonder “What’s this for?” and then you realize the answer is “What isn’t it for?”. This thing can carry all your extras, keep things organized in your messenger bag, or you can use it as a tiny bag all in itself! I just got a new little camera and I’m seriously considering using the Field Pouch as a teeny bag for it. Super versatile.

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Then the Capture Clip – the gear that put Peak Design on the map. There are different levels of this one, depending on what kind of camera you use. Basically this is a way to attach your camera to the outside of your bag, keeping it super readily available, so you don’t miss shots. Perfect for walking around shooting, when you want to put the camera down.

Ok, those are the big details, let’s get down into the key features.

Key Features of the Everyday Messenger

Let’s run through some of the big features of the bag here, and our thoughts on them!

MagLatch Closure

I never ever thought I’d be so jazzed about how a bag opens or closes, but, like with so many things, Peak Design shows us just how awesome something can be when you think outside the bag box. The Everyday Messenger features the patent-pending MagLatch™ closure. Woah, yeah they trademarked that, and are patenting it. I think that gives you a hint on how neat this is.

So what’s a big problem with camera bags? Answer: How flinging-flanging hard they are to get open!

Whether you’re shooting, or wrangling children, your hands are often full. Opening your bag to get your camera out can become a Herculean task. So Peak Design came up with a better way. Through some magic of magnets and elastic and really sleek hardware, you find yourself opening it with one hand, effortlessly. And the ladder-esque array of hooks means you won’t have to struggle to get it in place to close it, it’ll just latch on wherever you happen to land. (Especially helpful if you really pack that sucker full). Watch the video to see the demo, seriously. I’m giddy just thinking about it. It works amazingly in real-world testing, as well.

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Now this is one part of the bag that I wonder how it will wear over extended use. So I got in touch with Art Viger, the lead designer on this bag, and he let us know all about it. The elastic that holds the clip is the strongest they could find, and doesn’t ever stretch past 50%, making failure unlikely. And even if the elastic does wear, it isn’t required for the system to work, so your bag will indeed still close. Nice to know!

Zippers

Peak Design took both accessibility and protection really seriously with this bag. The zippers are a good example.

First off, there’s a top zipper that gives you instant access to the bag (in case you don’t want to use the MagLatch). We have this setup on another one of our bags, and I can tell you it’s the kind of thing you never knew you wanted until you have it. From not wanting to whip open the bag in a crowded situation, to simply not having the space to open it up (like when it’s jammed in our van beside the stroller, and we still want to get in), the top zipper is, well, tops.

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Now this top access zipper does mean that the top handle of the bag can’t sit in the center (that’s where the zipper is). It does make the bag feel a bit off-balance when carrying it from the top handle. It’s a small annoyance, and I would definitely take the top zipper over a perfectly centered handle!

Finally, all of the zippers are weather sealed. Add that to the weather resistant, high durable fabric, and really really really great quality construction, and you have a bag that’s going to keep your gear safe from the elements, for a long time.

Flex-Fold Dividers

One of the hallmarks of camera bags of recent memory has been the little velcro, padded dividers that you use to keep your gear separate. This bag has those too, but they took them to the next level. The dividers in the Everyday Messenger are origami-inspired. What does that mean? They can fold and bend along pre-made lines to better fit around your gear. They curve around lenses to hold on to them better, and the tops can flip down to give you an extra layer of storage. Very very nifty.

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Strap

The strap on this bag is another example of innovation. First off, it has the slide adjuster that made us fall in love with the Peak Design Slide camera strap (See our full review of that here.). It makes it so fast to adjust the length of the strap. Then you can use a built in hook system to change the length even more.

What does that all mean? That you can change this guy from an over-the-shoulder style bag, to an across-the-body bag, to an across-the-back messenger bag all in a few seconds. There’s another strap for extra stability in the messenger carry, and it really makes it feel like more of a backpack than a bag.

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The strap itself nice and thick, has some padding on the top, and anti-slip coating to keep it in place.

Front Pouch

Ok, the front pouch on this bag. Seriously. I can’t tell you the last time I got a bag, and spent so much time oohing and aahing at the little details. That’s what really makes this bag. Non-stop brilliant details.

(And yes, we’re bag nerds, so this kind of stuff gets us kind of weirdly pumped up. Sorry.)

So the front pouch, it kind of drops down like a shelf. It doesn’t just open. This makes it way more accessible when you’re wearing the bag.

The front pouch itself has 8 little pockets, made of super high quality mesh and elastic to make it easy to store memory cards, and batteries and whatnot. And the pockets are even color coded red and green, making it easier to keep your used and new cards and batteries nicely organized.

Other Pockets

The back pocket of the bag has a big section for a laptop. Our older 15″ MacBook Pro fit, but it was tiiiight. There’s also space for an iPad or eReader, as well as a couple handy little pockets for pens.

The top flap has a little zipper pocket, and the inside of the bag has a nice slide in pocket for a phone or wallet.

The sides of the bag have Capture Clip anchor points. You can put your Capture Clip on the strap of fabric, and then easily attach your camera right on the outside of the bag. Then there are the little slide in pockets on the sides as well. They are handy for a lens cap, or possibly a cell phone (though ours stick out a bit when they’re in there, so I would be a bit nervous keeping it in there).

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One of my only complaints about the bag is that it doesn’t have quite as many exterior pockets as I would like. It would be nice to have one or two on the outside of the flap, for super quick access. You can use the back zippered pocket, and I can see how not including many exterior pockets would help keep bulk down. It’s just a personal preference.

Size

So the size of the bag is interesting. It’s very thin (and very light!). But it will definitely hold a lot. The whole thing really expands and flexes quite a bit! If you have a DSLR it will hold a full frame body and three lenses (plus all your extra accessories). If you shoot a mirrorless system you will have no problem fitting everything (and then some).

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On Rob it’s a nice fit, especially across his back. He’s 6’0″ so he’s fairly tall.

For Lauren, the bag seems a wee bit big. She’s 5’6″ which is average-ish. So for the ladies out there this bag might be a bit bigger than ideal. (Fingers crossed that they come out with a slightly smaller size! I’d be first in line!)

Field Pouch

Peak Design calls this the wing-bag for the Everyday Messenger, and that’s a great description. It is incredibly handy. It has 7 pockets, two of which are sealed with a zipper, and two are handy stretchy mesh. Perfect for cords, chargers, wallets, etc.

The whole thing closes with clever a roll-top velcro system, and can expand or fold down small that way. You can attach a Peak Design Camera strap to turn it into a bag, or a Capture Clip on the front, making it super handy for a mirrorless setup.

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This Field Pouch was designed to fit into the front pouch of the Everyday Messenger (as long as there isn’t anything else in the front pouch, otherwise it’d be awfully tight), or in the main section. A nifty little addition.

 

Who This Bag Is Great For

Travellers: This bag was designed along with Trey Ratcliff, a well known travel photographer, so it’s no surprise that this thing is perfect for travellers. It’s a great size to carry everything you’d need for a day out shooting, and also is carry-on size, fits under airplane seats, and even can attach to your rolling luggage.

Professional Wedding & Portrait Photographers: If you’re out on a shoot, this bag will both carry everything you need, plus be fast enough to get in and out of for quick lens changes. It looks good enough to take with you into a wedding, and is robust enough for an outdoor portrait shoot.

Those Looking For A Messenger Bag: What’s neat is that even if you’re looking for a messenger bag, not necessarily a camera bag, this guy will fit the bill. The dividers come out, making it very versatile for whatever you need a bag for. And if you do have a camera around, it’ll handle that well too.

 

Conclusion

I just came inside from a shoot. It’s snowy outside today, so I went out to test some iPhone lenses, and get some shots with my DSLR. I threw everything into the Everyday Messenger, and headed out. It fit my whole kit easily, and was comfortable to carry. Whenever I wanted to put my DSLR down, and switch to the iPhone, I just snapped it into the Capture Clip on the outside of the bag, and there it rested until I needed it again. I didn’t have to fumble with putting it back in the bag each time I wanted to stow it away. When I was done shooting, it was easy to open and close the bag with the MagLatch, even while wearing gloves.

It was simply a seamless, enjoyable experience using the bag. Every time I use it, in fact, I’m delighted. That’s the thing I’m coming to find about Peak Design gear: it is a joy to use. They come up with features that I didn’t even know I wanted, and now that I have it, I can’t imagine using anything else.

So do I recommend the bag? You bet. And I am incredibly excited to see what they come out with next.

 

Links & Extra Info

To watch a 20 minute video of lead designer Art Viger showing all the features of the bag, head here.

To watch a video just on how to use the strap (yep, there’s that much you can do with it), head here.

To pre-order the The Everyday Messenger bag, head here.

To pre-order the Field Pouch, head here.

To order a Capture Pro Clip, head here.

To see our review on the Peak Design Slide, Clutch and Anchor Links, head here.

 

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

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Comments

4 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. I cant believe you have given this review to the everyday messenger bag. I supported this “team” with my money what a waste. Also Trey does not care he is just living in a Nikon/MAC world somewhere…….

  2. I purchased this bag and love it! Very durable, easy to lug around with all of my gear in it and I think it looks good.

    Thanks for the review!

    Sean

  3. I have only one question. How do you attach this bag which I already own o a rolling carry on bag. I have not found a place where the bag has a provision for slipping over the rolling bags handle.
    thanks.

    • Hey Elliot, I don’t believe this bag has a dedicated strap for slipping over rolling bags. However, you might be able to fashion the waist strap to do that.

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