I would like to think of myself as a minimalist in terms of gear, needing only one camera and one lens to capture the perfect shot. However that rarely ends up being the reality. As I have progressed in my photography career, the amount of items I may need to bring with me on a shoot have increased in order to take the sorts of images that I seek. This is why I have been searching for a bag that can carry all the gear I need, but not feel like I’m bringing my whole studio with me. I need a bag that can do more, and do it better.
Enter the Peak Design Everyday Backpack, a seriously well thought-out DSLR backpack designed both for average day use, and more equipment-heavy shoots. It comes in two colors, and two sizes: 20L and 30L, and in this review I will lay out why I think this is easily one of the best DSLR backpacks that has ever been made.
Overview: Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L review
Overall, this is an incredible bag and I love it. It is extremely well-made, and you can tell that every single detail was given considerable attention and thought, specifically with the needs of modern photographers in mind.
- Large carrying capacity with customizable segmented compartments
- Decently comfortable weight distribution, even with heavy loads
- Tough engineering and construction makes this bag weather sealed and secure
- Accessibility from side zipper pockets makes finding the right gear easy
- Lacks a serious waist strap for better weight distribution
- No built-in compartment pouch for Camelback water bladders
I have tried out a LOT of bags, and it’s true that no DSLR camera backpack will ever be perfect for everything. However, this bag is so well-made, and does such a great job at carrying everything I need without feeling all the weight of my heavy gear. I highly recommend it.
Ok great, but is this a good DSLR camera bag for hiking?
Short answer? Yes and no.
The Everyday Backpack by Peak Design is definitely a good DSLR backpack for hiking, but that is not what I would consider to be its primary use-case. There are a few reasons for this:
This DSLR backpack is great for hiking because the shoulder straps are sturdy and comfortable, and do a great job at distributing the weight so it’s not all resting on your collar bone. I also like how you can sling the bag easily over your shoulder to open up one of the side access zippers to grab your camera, without putting the bag down. Additionally, the weather-sealed materials and zippers make me feel pretty confident using this bag in the elements and outside knowing that my gear is going to be protected.
There are however a number of reasons why I will still prefer to grab a different DSLR backpack, like my Lowepro or even a backpacking bag like my Osprey, if my adventure is taking me on an extensive hike. For one thing, the waist straps on the Peak Design backpack (although useful and clever), are nowhere near as substantial as the more serious backcountry backpacks that I am used to. Solid waist support is a major factor in distributing the weight off your shoulders, and on a longer hike, can make a huge difference.
Additionally, the lack of a built-in Camelback bladder pouch is a bummer. While I do love that I can easily put my water bottle in the expandable side pouch, it isn’t quite the same as being able to have a large amount of accessible water via a hose as part of my pack.
Serious carrying capacity
In this 30L version of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack, I can carry every single thing I might need for a designated shoot, without problem. Granted, most shoots I won’t need every single item that is pictured above, but the point is when I DO need this much gear, I can bring it all on-location in a single bag. In this bag, I can bring:
- Nikon D810 DSLR camera body
- Two Nikon Lenses: 14-24mm f/2.8 & 70-200mm f/4
- Secondary camera: Sony a6000 with Zeiss 16-70mm f/4
- ProMaster Xc525C Carbon Fiber Tripod (one of the best lightweight tripods for landscape photography)
- 15″ Macbook Pro laptop
- Really Right Stuff PG-02 Pano Gimbal Ball Head (read more below)
- Shutter release remote, extra batteries, extra SD cards, Peak Design camera strap, headlamp
- Tiffen lens cleaning pager
- Seagate 4TB portable external hard drive
- Smartwool Jacket, Northface Beanie, and Black Diamond Gloves
- Warby Parker prescription sunglasses
- Hydro Flask insulated water bottle
Right now I know what a lot of you are thinking: “Ok that’s great, but there is no way that I need ALL that gear with me… is this bag overkill or is Justin just crazy?” As I mentioned, on most shoots you likely won’t need your laptop, gimbal, or other equipment, which makes this bag’s ability to expand or collapse based on your needs a key feature.
The additional gear my DSLR backpack has to carry
One of the many styles of photography that I focus on, is creating ultra high-res multi-row stitched panoramas for a fine-art gallery based in NYC. To do this, requires the use of a specialty gimbal ball-head in order to match up the images correctly, and to avoid stitching errors like parallax. Carrying heavy additional equipment like this is definitely not ideal, but it’s worth it for me to hike with the extra weight to be able to create these incredibly large and detailed images.
Therefore, I need to bring this extra heavy gear, and I need a bag that can carry it, compartmentalize it, and keep it safe from my other items (like lenses and camera bodies). The Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L allows me to do that.
Here is the final result, an image that 42 images stitched together and will be sold as an ultra-high res large format fine art print. It wouldn’t have been possible without the additional gear that I was able to bring with me that day:
Everyday Backpack 20L vs 30L Size Comparison
When purchasing my Everyday Backpack, I debated with myself for a very long time between the two sizes. On one hand I wanted the smaller version, because of it’s more sleek profile feels slightly less intrusive and bulky, but I also knew that I was buying this bag so that I could carry everything I need. Ultimately I went with the 30L, the larger of the two bags, but deciding which one is right for you will depend on what you need the bag for.
As I elaborated on above, I need to be able to carry additional tripod / gimbal equipment that the average photographer doesn’t, and I need to be able to fit all of it into a single bag. The 30L was the right choice for me. However if you are looking for a solid day-pack, and your gear doesn’t typically extend beyond a single camera body, a couple of lenses, a tripod, and other assorted items, the 20L might be the better choice for you. My friend who purchased the 20L let me borrow it for a day, and it was more than enough space for a typical day shoot, but in a slightly slimmer profile.
Design and features of this DSLR bag
The way the engineers at Peak Design have prioritized access, is part of what makes this bag so unique and so great. They made this video that showcases some of the features that really set it apart:
Final assessment and recommendation
This is an exceptionally unique and well-designed DSLR backpack, and I’m glad I purchased mine. It definitely doesn’t fulfill the needs of every shoot that I go on, like if I’m hiking for miles into the wilderness, or if I’m just out on a casual shoot. But for the occasions I need to bring a more extensive gear lineup with me (if I’m shooting night photography, or multi-row panos for example), and I need everything to fit neatly and be accessible, then this is definitely the bag I reach for.
It’s comfortable, secure, protected, and efficient. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid bag.
When you consider everything that this bag can do, and the craftsmanship that went into it’s design, it is actually very fairly priced relative to other DSLR backpacks. I hope this review of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack has been helpful for you in your decision.