My Farewell Gift: a Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L

Fully load Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L

When I retired from the university I got a voucher from my own research group to buy photo equipment at Foto Konijnenberg in Den Ham. I took some time because I wanted to buy something special. Something, that reminded me of the very innovative environment I used to work.

After getting acquainted with Capture from Peak Design in San Francisco, I had a closer look at their products. The backpack I had in mind was a compact one with space for a full frame camera with the 28-300mm or 70-200mm attached and separately the 14-35mm lens. And besides that some room for a water bottle, a compact rain jacket, and a lunch. Looking at the website of Peak Design, I found the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L. I deliberately choose the 20L one, instead of the 30L, because I wanted a compact backpack for photography during a hike in the woods or a stroll through a city. It is compact: without extending it is only 12L. 

The main characteristics of the Everyday Backpack are:

  • innovative way of packing: while attached the dividers can easily be shifted left or right; the outer parts of the dividers can be flipped left or right or both (split); the dividers can also be left out;
  • easy access of equipment:  with a simple pull on one strap, the backpack can be swung in front of you like a slingbag; the camera with attached lens or other lenses can then easily be accessed form the side of the backpack (both sides); 
  • easily extended: the top compartment can be kept small, however, if you want to put more in it, it can easily be extended (another 8L) and still locked solidly; also, there are smaller straps to attach something on the outside, like a tripod, a yoga mat, or sleeping bag.
  • sufficient space: a 15″ MacBook and an iPad Pro easily fits; and a small compartment for an iPhone;
  • many small innovations: carrying the bag from the top or from the side;  carrying on top of rolling luggage; straps can rotate to adjust to different body sizes; locking the zippers; tuck-away waist straps,  horizontal strap that can be operated with one hand to keep the main straps in place; etc.

My first use of the backpack was for a photoshoot. So, the backpack was fully loaded as you can see below.

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Until now, I used it only once, so it is still too early to tell whether I like the bag, however, I am impressed with the comfortable way I carried a fully loaded bag and am I also impressed with the many innovations that make it comfortable to use. And note, it is NOT just for photography. It is really a multi-purpose bag.

So again, thanks to my research group for giving me this gift. It will definitely always remind me of my research group!


Which camera bag to use?

For long hikes I am very fond of a backpack. It gives me freedom to move around easily and the extra weight is at a comfortable place. I used to have Lower SlingShot 100  AW (All Weather), however, with first getting my D700 and later my D800, I had to look for a larger backpack. The SlingShot had the advantage that in one swing I could take out my camera and have easy access to the accessoires.
IMG_0875Nowadays, I use the Lowepro Transit Backpack 350 AW which is almost as easy to use as the SlingShot and at the same time offers more space to take several lenses with me. The additional advantage is that I can also take my MacBook Air and iPad. I am also able to attach a Bottle Pouch to take a bottle of water.
Last year I also took it to Barcelona. For strolling through the city it is very convenient, however, in the metro, where I almost got robbed, I felt less comfortable. So, now I use a Lowepro Messenger 180 AW which I can carry in front of me, to keep an eye on my equipment. I can also carry it on my side or back. It is very spaceous, so no problem taking my D800 and several lenses, and my iPad. When I take the car to a photoshoot I usually take this bag.
In case I only want to my camera with one lens I take a simple toploader.

Carrying my camera in the Alps

When my family and I are in the Alps, we hike trails that last 6 to 7 hours. My main challenge is how to carry my camera during these hikes. I normally take my camera and my 16-35mm lens. Together this weights something like 1.6kg. Preferrably, I like to carry my camera in a backpack, however, around “every corner” there is another beautiful scene. This means that I have to take out my camera almost continuously. So, in the end I was carrying my camera with a strap around my neck, which is not a good idea. It is too heavy around the neck and the camera continuously bumps against my body while walking. So, I started to look for another solution.
First I found a strap that firmly presses the rear of the camera against my belly. For regular hikes and a lighter camera this works fine. For me it did not work. Recently I found the B-grip. It allows me to carry the camera pointing down around my waist. It is very comfortable to walk with and the camera is always ready to shoot with. I still take my backpack for another type of lens, food, water, and, if necessary, warm clothes. Sometimes, when it is foggy, it gets pretty cold.
IMG_0860After becoming a fan of the B-grip I also bought the handstrap. The release plate of the handstrap can be used both on the belt holster and on a regular tripod. So, it is very convenient for shorter and longer hikes. Only during portrait photo shoots with the battery grip attached, which is very convenient for vertical shots, it would be nice if the handstrap could be removed from the camera quickly.
Here are some nice pictures of the Alps I took during my hikes.