Yet another messenger bag...

A review of Peak Design's Everyday Messenger Bag
By Mark Lyndersay
This is what I crammed into Peak's new bag on its first outing. Two Canon full-frame bodies, speedlight, 40mm f2.8 STM lens, 20mm f2.8 lens, 17-40mm f4 lens, LimeFuel battery pack, iPad Air with Logitech keyboard cover, Manfrotto Carbon Fiber tripod. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

At the precise point that I pledged to buy the new
Peak Everyday Messenger Bag on Kickstarter (US$4.8 million was raised on a request for $100,000), I knew there was something seriously wrong with me.

It's not as if I don't have a bag to fit my gear into, but I'm getting dangerously close to becoming a bit OCD, if not metrosexual, about having the right bag for the right occasion.

My heavily internalized argument identified a need, between my small and really quite neat
Think Tank Retrospective 10 (SLR and lens) and the larger Think Tank Urban Disguise 60 (SLR with two lenses, three speedlights and an extra body, laptop and tablet, reviewed here) for a medium-sized medium-sized bag that had a smaller profile than the larger bag but offered larger capacity than the much smaller and neater one.
Plus, the guys from Peak had done a remarkable job of selling the many new features and innovations they built into the Everyday Peak Messenger.

Here are some first impressions (
click on a thumbnail to view larger).
On delivery, the bag made it clear that it was special. I'm used to receiving boxes stuffed with air-filled plastic that have notably unfragile bags inside them.
Peak basically shipped a tiny pillow, stuffing the bag into a triple strength paper bag that just fit the profile of the compressed product.
This saved me a fortune in shipping and I still haven't had the heart to dump the bag, which demands to be used for something else.

Peak ships a very direct and straightforward product.There are just three dividers (ThinkTank ships almost a dozen of varying sizes) , but the Peak dividers fold down neatly, offering the possibility of a second level of packing for gear.  I'd have liked to see just one more in there to organize speedlights or a light meter.

I bought the optional gear pouch, but haven't figured out how to make use of it. It's made of the same soft natural feeling material as the bag, but without the reinforcement, so while I understand it's intended purpose, as an organizer, it's pretty floppy and really needs to go in a bag rather than stand alone as Peak's rather hopeful marketing suggests.

I'd planned to put a camera body, a couple of zoom lenses or maybe three primes if I'm in a mood to shoot that way into the bag. It was also possible to stick a flash, an external battery pack and an extra body in without problems.
The bag does expand as promised and does so without losing its basic form though it does tend to bulge a bit in the middle.

The metal latches, which form a stepladder of sorts on the outside of the bag readily notch up and down to meet your volume demands on the bag's space.
The front pocket doesn't seem to expand as readily and seems designed to accept flatter items, though wrapped cables fit easily enough into it.
Unfortunately, crammed with stuff, a penalty is paid first in the sleeve service aside for a laptop or tablet.

As packed, I wouldn't have been able to carry my laptop and my iPad with a keyboard cover was a disturbingly tight fit.
The laptop sleeve at the back of the bag is simply too flexible for what's supposed to go into it and a heavily packed Everyday Messenger, which tends to curve in the middle as its' packed, according to its design, will quickly reach a point that demands a larger bag if a full laptop kit and its supporting gear are required.

The shoulder strap, made from the material that's used for safety belts feels tough and comfortable, but the company hasn't thought through their padding for it, particularly what happens to it when the strap is fully extended.
It probably made sense to have the padding be an integral part of the strap. It's comfortable and robust, but it also ends three inches short of my shoulder when the strap is completely extended, which it needs to be to fit my tall frame properly (I'm six foot six).

I'm sure the padding is perfectly wonderful, but it would just be really nice to be able to have it on my shoulder instead of completely off it.
But the Everyday Messenger does have one trick that's likely to make it a critical player for day-to-day assignments.

Peak looked at the top of the bag and the way it merges with the covering flap and decided that space, often unused and gifted to air would be a nifty place to put a small tripod.
On my first job using the bag, a tripod, often a painful addition to the travel process was not only required but in the Everyday Messenger, agreeably fitted .

I think I'll have to consider putting some padding between the camera and the tripod legs and that folding flap system may get some reconsideration on that front, but the tripod, so often a mutant addition that fits nowhere and ends up an annoying weight dragging on one hand, snugly fits into the top of the bag. 

The total package went through a scanner, onto a small inter-island plane and into the small overhead compartment with room to spare. Nobody gave it a second look.
Which after years of having a tripod grafted to me as a folding wart is a huge improvement in getting around.
A small light stand and double fold umbrella would go into that space easily as well.

Every bag won't do everything. The bag that swallows up all your gear is a huge tugboat yoked to you, the neat small one demands tough decisions about what to pack. 
On the basis of a single day long assignment with the Everyday Messenger., I'm convinced of the wisdom of most of the choices that Peak's design made in the construction of their new bag.

There are a number of features I haven’t mentioned, all of which require that you buy more fully into Peak’s growing camera support ecosystem and have a greater zone of comfort with a camera mounted temporarily to your actual bag. 
But even with my outlier caveats (lots of consumer goods aren't made for people at the extremes of height) this is an excellent bag and I’ve got no buyer’s remorse at all.

The Peak Everyday Messenger Bag is very well made, thoughtfully designed and an excellent carrying option for a small to medium-sized pack of gear.
Packed and staged in the small overhead bin of an inter-island small jet, there's room to spare even with a tripod buckled in there.
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