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Peak Design's Everyday Backpack is the backpack I want to use every day

Peak Design's Everyday Backpack is the backpack I want to use every day


A backpack that reaches the summit of design

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Peak Design

This is not an ad for Peak Design, though it might read like it. It’s not a paid endorsement, though I can understand how my enthusiasm for the company’s first backpack could be misconstrued as such. See, I like the Peak Design Everyday Backpack — I like it a lot. It’s one of those rare products that makes you smile unexpectedly as you discover yet another great feature over time. I’d go so far as to say that it’s the most intelligently designed carryall I’ve ever used.

I have a bit of a bag obsession. It started about 25 years ago when I got hooked on backpacking and the weird sport of ounce-counting that comes along with it. My friends and I would compete to see who could pack the lightest bag and still survive the High Sierras in relative comfort; whereby comfort could be defined as pasta with sauce and water without parasites. I’ve owned dozens of bags for every kind of purpose, ranging in size from diminutive camera bags to giant rolling suitcases. My defect is that I’m never satisfied, especially with the bags I use the most: laptop bags. There’s always something that could be improved, something that’s not quite right. But that was before Peak Design sent me the Everyday Backpack to test. I have, at last, found perfection.

I have found perfection

I first became aware of San Francisco-based Peak Design in January when a handful of Verge reporters and senior editors arrived in Las Vegas toting the same messenger-style bags purchased through the company’s Kickstarter campaign. While I really liked the look and the magnetic closure, the Everyday Messenger bag was a bit too bulky and too camera-specific for me. Besides, for a price of over $200 I wasn’t going to forgo what I really wanted: a backpack. Six months later and Peak Design was back on Kickstarter with its Everyday Backpack. The company ultimately raised $6,565,782 from 26,359 backers to produce it, and almost $7 million more on Indiegogo in the form of preorders.

The Everyday Backpack is available in 20-liter (preorder for $219) and 30-liter ($249) sizes. I’m testing the 20L model, which I think is the ideal size for a primary-use gear bag. At this size, I’m able to comfortably carry the following: a 13-inch MacBook (it fits laptops up to 15 inches), a 9.7-inch iPad, a midrange DSLR with an 18-200 lens and macro lens, a USB battery pack, wireless and wired earbuds, a variety of adapters, numerous cables, a portable umbrella, water bottle, portable bike pump, front and rear LED bike lights, nylon raincoat, sunglasses, an extra pair of contact lenses, prescription glasses and drugs which may or may not be legal, lip balm, a notebook and pens, a knit hat, scarf, and a plastic shopping bag. And thanks to a bevy of compression straps and attachment points integrated right into the pack, I can unfold the plastic bag to create another 25 liters or so of external storage to carry groceries on my bike ride home. You can imagine then, the hauling power you’d have with the bigger 30-liter Everyday Backpack.

I’ve been testing the 20L backpack for about 10 days now in a variety of situations and weather. Peak Design claims its bags are "both the best camera bags and the best everyday carry on the planet." So I’ve tried using it in three different modes: as a dedicated camera bag, as a gym bag, and more often than not as a daily-use commuter laptop bag. As you can imagine, it serves some purposes better than others.

peak design everyday backpack
Quick release side access | Peak Design
An everyday commuter backpack

I "work from home" which is corporate speak for saying I work from pretty much anywhere I gawdamn please. I’m writing this up at my daughter’s gymnastic’s club, for example. It’s a 30-minute bike ride from my home; a ride I’ve done eight separate times in a variety of weather with the Everyday Backpack.


  • Quick-release loop lets me loosen the pack and swing it around to my lap while still leaving one hand on the handlebars. This trick allows me to access a water bottle in the expansive outer pocket, or unzip the side-access pockets to get at my gear inside. This quick access is my single favorite feature of the bag and it nearly obviates the advantages of messenger-style bags.
  • The expandable top opening is secured by a magnetic latch that can be fully opened and closed in silence with a single hand. The design is genius, pure genius.
  • There's a dedicated laptop sleeve with the zipper up top but behind the top opening so I can leave the pack closed when all I want is my computer. The pocket is smartly subdivided into a cable pouch up top and a dedicated sleeve that’s split into quick-access compartments for my laptop and iPad.
  • Weatherproof and durable Kodra fabric keeps my gear dry when I arrive, even after getting caught in a 20-minute downpour.
  • It stays in place without resorting to sternum or waist straps (though those are built-in and tucked away when not in use).
  • Handles on top and the side let me carry the backpack like a briefcase.
  • Built-in anchors and straps let me secure groceries or any number of overloaded options to the outside of the bag.
  • The bag even has a reflective strip along the outer base to make me visible to motorists at night.


  • I can’t think of a single one.
peak design everyday backpack
Flexfold dividers for quick reconfiguration | Peak Design
A camera bag

I reconfigured the Everyday Backpack to photograph the most demanding of all events: an eight-year-old girl’s birthday party with 12 of her closest friends.


  • The same maneuver that works so well for quickly swinging the backpack around for quick access to the side-entry compartment while commuting works even better with two feet firmly planted on the ground.
  • Flexfold dividers let me reconfigure the bag’s interior to accommodate larger items like the camera body, flash, and a telephoto lens. They also let me create smaller sub-compartments for a small 360 camera, GoPro, and a mini GorillaPod tripod. My larger GorillaPod tripod slipped into the side pocket securely with help from the bag's integrated compression straps.
  • Works with the full range of Peak Design’s (rather pricey) Capture Clips allowing you to sling DSLRs, GoPros, lenses, binoculars, and pretty much anything else off the shoulder straps for quick access.
  • The 20L bag makes me realize I don’t own nearly enough camera equipment to fill it, let alone the 30L size.


  • If you often find yourself in a scrum of photographers pressed lens to lens then you might be better off with the Everyday Messenger bag (but I’d opt for the Capture Clips, personally).
peak design maglatch
Peak Design
A gym bag

I twice tested the Everyday Backpack at the gym after removing the larger items like the electronics and notebook, but leaving the smaller bits like adapters, cables, and pens because they were all stored so nice and tidy in their little side pockets, and I knew I’d be too lazy to replace them in the morning.


  • Everything fit, but barely. I had enough room to place a squash racket and balls in the laptop sleeve (with the racket handle poking out the top); and then towels, toiletries, a folded plastic bag, keys, wallet, an elbow brace, and even a change of clothes in the main compartments.
  • The nylon bottom of the backpack allowed me to set it on the shower room floor without fear of soak-through or some unimaginable fungus taking root.
  • Again, the external storage saved the day allowing me to put my damp clothing and towel into a plastic bag and then cinch it to the pack with the included compression straps and mounting points.


  • My usual $19 sport bag is a cheap but functional nylon bag that’s immune to water damage from my sweaty clothes, a damp towel, or the tears of the children who probably assembled it. The twill, felt, and foam interior of the Everyday Backpack is not.
peak design top
Fully hinged top access | Peak Design
Other notable features
  • Sternum strap can be attached and tightened with one hand.
  • There’s a sneaky inner slip pocket with magnetic enclosure for hiding a passport, credit cards, or cash.
  • Luggage slip on the back of the backpack lets it slide over the telescoping handle of my wheeled luggage in an act of totable coupling.
  • Zipper pulls have a pickpocket security feature.
  • The keyring attachment is adorable.
  • This bag is one of the most stylish, yet functional, laptop bags I’ve ever seen.
Bottom line

In my experience, bags that are heavily marketed around design often end up being over-engineered to the point of uselessness. North Face’s $235 Access Pack with "ejector tabs" is a great example of this sad phenomenon. Its design is arrogant in its conceit that there’s only one right way to store your gear. That’s not the case with Peak Design’s $219 Everyday Backpack (20L). It’s perfect; perfect in thoughtful touches, perfect in material selection, and perfect in its adaptability. True, it’s not cheap, but you could spend much, much more (as I have) for an overpriced Tumi. The design of Peak’s Everyday Backpack is so delightful and so anticipatory of my changing day-to-day needs that it’s become my everyday backpack. You’d be wise to consider it for yours.