Yes, this is a post about a man talking about a bag.
Yes, I realise that's never a good thing.
Yes, I agree, any bag will do basically, even a generic backpack or a shopping bag…
For those of you who need something more versatile on occasion though, this article is for you.
Normal service will resume soon, no more gear talk for at least the next six months.
I was approached by the Peak Design people to try a prototype of their new Peak Design Everyday Sling bag, as featured in their latest successful Kickstarter campaign. This one and their other bags are still available for pre-order here: https://www.peakdesign.com/everyday-sling
For product shots and specifics on size, check the link. I won’t be copying that info down here, just my thoughts and experiences with it after two months of steady use.
Once shipping starts, expect to see it in stores near you as well. I had some previous experience with their products and I always ordered mine from The Netherlands.
I’ll emphasise that I am not affiliated with their company, and my opinions below are my own. I also don’t get any commission or benefits from this review, other than having had my own prototype bag available for my travels. The prototype was a near-finalised design, and the included letter stated that the final product would be produced to an even higher standard, though I have to say that at no time did this feel like an unfinished product.
As I’ve written in previous posts, I like to travel light. Very light even. Often, I won’t even take a bag, just a camera on a strap and a spare battery or some film tucked somewhere into a pocket.
Unfortunately, the circumstances or the weather don’t always allow me to travel that way and for longer trips I’ll usually want to take some more gear. For those times, I’ve been using a ThinkTank Retrospective 5 these last couple of years. It’s a small bag, with a retro design, removable padding (which you don’t need anyway) and just enough space to hold two small mirrorless or film bodies, each with a small prime attached, and some basic accessories. Or one body with two spare lenses. The downside of that bag is that it’s not very comfortable to wear for very long periods, and the material is not rain repellent. It also looks aged, which is a good thing mostly, but for more classier destinations, it looks a bit too old and worn. I was told on several occasions to take that dirty old bag from the table at bars or restaurants, so that’s a good indication of the effect it has on people.
So, enter the Peak Design Everyday Sling. The major differences are is that it is water repellent to a good degree, it’s bigger and it has a completely different styling, which is more urban and definitely not retro or hipster.
The biggest ergonomic difference is that this one is carried significantly higher up on the back. It feels most comfortable halfway between the shoulders and belt, while normal messenger style bags usually tend to rest much lower and to the side. This makes it more comfortable to wear, as long as it’s not too hot. When it was very hot and humid, it caused a significant amount of discomfort due sweat buildup on the lower back. For any subtropical travels where you might expect those conditions, I would rather recommend a backpack with a well ventilated back. In the normal average European weather though, this was never a factor. You can wear it on the hip like other messenger bags, but due to it being a tad larger and also slightly more rigid, this did not feel as comfortable as the natural position on the back. The best way I could describe it then is a hybrid bag. The comfort of a backpack, but the security and versatility of a messenger bag. For people who move around on a bike, this is easily the best bag of it's kind. Just pull the quick adjustment strap tight and it stays in place perfectly while riding.
The outside shell is made of Kodra, which is remarkably weatherproof as I found out in Manchester earlier last week. The zippers and locks are equally weatherproof, so getting caught in the rain or snow is not the immediate panic situation it used to be. I’ll always recommend that you don’t push your luck and look for shelter anyway if it’s anything more than a passing shower. But at least you can rest assured your gear will stay dry when you need it.
The front pocket is expandable and comes in nicely when you need to carry more than your usual kit. For normal day to day use, I prefer not to keep anything of value in it since it’s more easily accessible to pickpockets. I usually just keep my shouder strap and wrist strap in there for when I need them. The front pocket and the inner compartment can be sort of locked by attaching both straps to each other, a feature I’m still getting used to but does look like it will at least slow down or annoy a pickpocket long enough for you to notice them.
On the inside the good news continues with minimal but sturdy padding and flexfold dividers that can be shaped into any shape required. I can happily say they are big enough for most smaller prime and zoom lenses, and will allow you to stack two lenses on top of each other with padding in between. This way you could for instance take a camera like a Fujifilm X-T2 and up to 5 smaller lenses. The interior pocket features separate compartments for small accessories such as batteries, memory cards, film,… The compartments feature green and red stitching to help you remember which batteries and/or cards are full or empty. The final production version will also feature a Peak Design Anchor lock on the inside, so you can quickly and safely attach your keys using the same anchor link as you would on a camera. My prototype version however was still lacking this feature.
The other end of the interior features a separate divider for a small tablet, like an iPad or in my case a Surface Pro 3. The Surface Pro 3 will fit with its dedicated keyboard, but I doubt you’d be able to fit anything larger than that. An iPad Pro probably won’t fit, but I didn't get to try it. Any tablet will add to the rigidity of the bag, that’s why I never take one when travelling. I use my phone for my online needs and will only sort through my images when I get back home. Film usually stays in a drawer until I have collected enough rolls to send off to the lab.
The top placed zipper needs to be closed to secure the contents of the bag. Whereas messenger bags with a flap allow some leeway to squeeze a little bit more into the bag, this one most definitely does not. I would have liked to see the same lock mechanism on this one as is featured on its larger sibling, the Peak Design Everyday Messenger. Considering this bag is usually carried more on its side when it’s on your back though, I figure the reason for the zipper is probably because smaller items might fall out otherwise.
On the bottom we find two adjustable straps that allow you to attach a small tripod or a collapsible light stand. My Gitzo 1541T fits like a dream, so it’s safe to assume most modern travel tripods will do too.
Other notable features are:
- A quick adjustment shoulder strap with the same easy adjustment mechanism as found on the Peak Design camera straps.
- Adjustable strap lugs on the side allow for more long term customisation of the strap.
- Capture Clip attachment points on both sides of the bag so you can carry a camera or accessory on the side for quick access.
- Folds flat when empty, so it’s easy to carry in check-in luggage.
- Rolling briefcase and luggage strap on the back, for easy attachment to a larger bag.
- Carry-on sized and fits under airplane seats easily (without the tripod).
So, what are my own thoughts after two months of use? Well, it’s a mixed bag (pun intended).
I love the build quality, weather proofing, comfort and overall design of the bag. But... I wished it was just a bit smaller. I still feel that it has been designed with a DSLR and iPad in mind, and for my usual needs, that is just slightly too big. It’s classified as 10 litres internal space, while I just wish there was a 5 or 7 litre version so we could at least have the option to travel even lighter.
That being said, do I prefer it over my old choice, the ThinkTank Retrospective 5? Yes, definitely. Considering they both cost more or less the same, I’d have a hard time recommending the ThinkTank to anyone who does not absolutely need the smaller size or the weathered look of the Retrospective. The Everyday Sling is just so much better in all other aspects, it’s not even a close call anymore. The rain repellent coating in itself is a big selling point, all the other usability upgrades are just icing on the cake.
So, what kits could you expect to transport with this bag? I’ve tried out some practical setups so you can have an idea what to expect. As always, you’d best try it out in store before purchasing if you are in doubt. The following lists are based on what I found to be easy to fit into the bag without overstretching it and still be comfortable to wear for an extended period of time.
The usual accessories like batteries, strap, memory cards, Peak Design Capture Clip and cleaning kit are always included.
The strobist kit
Fujifilm X-T2, 16/1.4, 56/1.2, Fujifilm X100T, Cactus V6 trigger, Cactus RF60 flash, one collapsible light stand, small foldable softbox or shoot through umbrella.
The natural light kit
Fujifilm X-T2, 16/1.4, 56/1.2, 50-140/2.8, collapsible reflector, travel tripod.
The landscape kit
Fujifilm X-T2, 10-24/4, 35/2, 50-140/2.8, travel tripod, filter kit, flashlight.
The film shooter
Hasselblad Xpan, 45/4, Nikon FM2, 50/1.8, ten rolls of film, Fujifilm X100T.
The old school medium format shooter
Hasselblad 503CW, 80/2.8, 120/4, a spare magazine back, five rolls of film, Fujifilm X100T, travel tripod.
Fujifilm X-T2, XF 35/2, pack of cleaning wipes, 5 spare diapers, pack of disposable diaper bags, set of spare clothes, small towel, bottle of water/milk.
Fujifilm X-T2, XF 16/1.4, XF 35/2, XF 50-140, Fujifilm X100T.
If you have any further questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below.