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Verge Editor’s Choice: Peak Design Everyday Backpack

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backpack Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

If you want to call it peak hipster, I won’t argue with that. I won’t argue and I won’t care. The Peak Design Everyday Backpack expresses an opinion that not everyone will agree with, but that’s why I like it so much. This backpack’s designers believe in a sort of stylish modularity that sacrifices maximum space efficiency for the sake of better access to your stuff and, in all honesty, sharper looks.

Is it vain that my top choice of backpack is motivated in part by the way it makes me look? Yes. And it’s also real. As with the majority of other everyday gadgets and items, we’re long past the stage of merely utilitarian concerns when picking bags. Aesthetics absolutely do matter with our choice of gear carrier, and it so happens that I love the style of the Everyday Backpack.

First of all, it’s gray. Gray works in combination with practically anything, as the popularity of silver cars will attest. But beyond that, the unique design of the Everyday Backpack feels somehow transcendent of time and context. It’s not specifically for college, the office, the coffee shop, or the gym, but it fits seamlessly into all of those environments. I can take this bag to a luxury car show or to a music festival or to an art exhibition. Or I can wear it on my commute on the underground.

Or I can stuff some smashed avocado sandwiches in it and go on a hike.

My point is that the Everyday Backpack lives up to its name primarily by virtue of its aesthetic versatility. At $260, it’s pricey, but it doesn’t scream “expensive” in the same way that a Waterfield Staad backpack does. The Peak Design bag is attention-grabbing without seeming to grab for attention. When I snuck it into my review of the 2016 MacBook Pro, half the comments I fielded after publishing were about the brand and model of the backpack I was using. Yes, there’s vanity in wanting to not appear vain, and the Everyday Backpack is a winner in this unspoken design metric.

peak design 360

Good looks are enough to get me intrigued in a bag, but what distinguishes the Everyday Backpack is that it works as well as it looks. This is the first backpack I’ve used with side access to its entire main compartment, and I’ve loved it. Being able to flip the bag around my body, keeping one strap still on my shoulder, and just extract my camera from the side of the bag makes me downright giddy. The zippered laptop space at the back also has a shallow pocket that is ideal for carrying my passport and boarding pass when flying. And the adjustable shelving inserts mean I can have this bag as either a well organized, multi-tier gadget pack (as I usually do) or an unstructured chasm of space for when I just want to stuff a bunch of clothes into it.

Every zipper on this bag works with beautiful smoothness and is weather-protected to boot. The handsome gray material feels good to the touch, seems impervious to wear and tear, and shrugs off water with ease. Fit and comfort are also exemplary.

The Everyday Backpack does have downsides, and they’re more numerous than just the steep price tag. Due to its curved bottom, this bag will never stand up on its own. Because of its tailored design, this nominally 20L backpack feels a lot smaller than its advertised size, and it definitely doesn’t handle bulky or irregularly shaped objects well (though you can use the provided straps to attach things to the outside). The modular internal shelves attach to the bag with velcro, so if I load up the top one with heavier items like a camera and external battery, it’s liable to slip down due to that weight. On any other bag, these would be substantial issues, but I’ve found myself willing to forgive them with the Everyday Backpack because of everything else that’s so good about it.

When I think about what the Verge Editor’s Choice means to me, I think of products like the Peak Design Everyday Backpack. This is not the bag for everyone, and there are more spacious and functionally versatile backpacks out there, but it makes me happy to use it.

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