Traveling Cross-Country with the Peak Design Everyday Backpack

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Traveling Cross-Country with the Peak Design Everyday Backpack

With travel plans on the horizon, I knew it was time to get a proper backpack. I opted for the Peak Design Everyday Backpack v2 in 20L, because I felt the size would work best for airplane travel. Another factor in my decision was that I simply needed something for—you guessed it—everyday use.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack v2
Peak Design Everyday Backpack v2

A key selling point for this bag is that it can compress and expand easily, so you can stuff as much or as little as you want and the overall size and shape of the bag will adjust accordingly. When I’m packing for a week of traveling, I'll have something large enough and, then, when I’m walking around New York City, it can be quite slim. The ability to expand and downsize, depending on my carry, is super handy and I used it often. A huge benefit with all the air travel was that the 20L version does fit under the seat in front of you on most airlines.

The Everyday Backpack v2 is weather resistant with a durable nylon exterior and a waterproof bottom panel. The entire bag is not waterproof, so learn from my mistake of toting it around in the rain thinking the inside would be bone-dry. During the worst of the storms, the bag would display some dampness at the very top, inside around the zippers in the laptop pocket. Seepage did not extend deep enough to reach my 15" MacBook Pro, but it is a little concerning if you plan to spend time outdoors.

As a photographer, I took full advantage of the modular organization system. Using the included dividers, I tetris-ed my camera and attached lens into the bottom compartment. On another day, I could probably fit two lenses in there; it all depends on the size of my gear. Extra lenses and accessories go in the compartment above it, followed by my miscellaneous items or clothing in the third compartment. The dividers are sturdy but flexible, cushioning my gear while also holding everything firmly in place.  Also, the bag is laid out with side-access zippers so you can get to your equipment immediately without needing to remove the bag from your back completely. This system works remarkably well.

My favorite pocket is the one in the laptop compartment. This has turned out to be the perfect place to keep any loose cards or tickets, as well as various cables that I might need while I travel. This whole section rests behind the shoulders of the bag, and it is also perfect for sliding a phone into for quick access. My least favorite pockets are the ones on the sides, both inside and outside the bag. Internally, these pockets are only suited to thinner items and, although they are somewhat expandable, I only ever keep a couple of batteries, business cards, and pens in them. On the outside, these pockets are quite tight, enough so that inserting a regular water bottle requires a bit of effort. In addition, if you want to use it for a tripod or light stand, it doesn’t feel super secure without the external carrying straps. Essentially, the external pockets weren’t quite right for any of the items for which I wanted to use them.

There are a few other complaints I have about the pack. Among the top is that there aren’t any zipper pockets on the outside of the bag for storing things like notebooks or pens. This seems like a fairly obvious feature for a bag. The other is that the pack is quite rigid, which makes sense because it keeps my cameras and lenses well protected, but takes a bit away from its “everyday” label; it seems purpose-built for protection.

In the end, I do have to give it to Peak Design for the Everyday Backpack v2. Even with my personal issues with the bag, it is the best one I have used by far, especially for carrying camera equipment and normal stuff together.

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