Mini Review: Peak Design Everyday Messenger

May 20, 2016

By Greg Scoblete

It’s time for a confession. We’ve never felt that photo bags are all that exciting.

Functional? Sure. Stylish? Occasionally. Indispensable? Absolutely. But throw-your-money-at-it, stop-us-in-the-hallway-of-a-tradeshow-to-talk-about-it exciting?

Apparently, yes.

Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger bag touched a nerve we didn’t think existed. It started with its blockbuster debut on Kickstarter, where it raised half a million dollars in a single day on its way to being the best-funded bag in the crowd funding platform’s history. We received our unit in late January a bit after, we though, the hype had died down. It accompanied us to two trade shows (WPPI & NAB) where we were repeatedly stopped by people wanting to see the bag, touch the bag and talk about the bag.

Seriously. It was a little weird.

About The Bag

The Everyday Messenger 15 it has three removable dividers that can fold down, origami-like, to protect smaller gear. One of the core virtues of the Messenger is that it’s designed to essentially expand or contract based on how much you stuff in it without giving the appearance of slack when it’s on the lighter side. The main flap attaches via a magnetic latch system with four different latch points, depending on how much you’re carrying.

There’s a laptop sleeve large enough for a 15 inch laptop and pouch for a tablet. The 15-inch version of the bag which we tested can house a full frame DSLR and up to three lenses. It’s definitely better suited toward DSLR bodies and lenses—we used it with two mirrorless bodies (the Olympus PEN-F and Sony a6300) and their respective lenses and they were swimming in there. (The newly announced Everyday Messenger 13 bag is better for mirrorless shooters.)

It retails for $250.

During WPPI, photographer Karen Seifert of I Heart NY Photography saw us with the bag and decided to buy her own. She used it extensively for several destination weddings (including in Vietnam) and kindly agreed to share her thoughts with us, too.

What We Liked

“It’s really surprising how much you can fit inside,” Seifert says. “You can easily fit two bodies, three lenses, two flashes as well as any triggers/batteries etc and even a little bit more.” Sievert loved the iPad pocket and how the bag’s size adjusts to accommodate your gear. As we both discovered, this is a great travel bag as it can slide beneath a cramped seat on an airplane, even when fully loaded and still give you a bit of legroom.

Esthetically, the bag is a beauty. A recurring comment we heard from anyone who stopped us to chat about the bag was how nice it looked. All the components—straps, latches, the weather-resistant material and the external Capture Clip—are well built. The hardware is first class.

The magnetic snap enclosure, another of Seifert’s faves, is another great touch. It’s quiet and opens and closes quickly. The internal dividing system works pretty much as advertised–it’s thinner than your typical foam divers without seeming to trade much away in terms of protection. For our smaller mirrorless bodies, the top flap of the divider could be folded over the camera for extra protection.

What We Didn’t Like

Since we’ve lead off with a confession, here’s another: we’re not big fans of messenger bags. We’re more backpack people. Your mileage may vary, but as with many messenger bags we’ve used, the Everyday Messenger grew more uncomfortable and more unwieldy the more we loaded it up. The adjustable shoulder strap, while incredibly durable, wasn’t all that comfortable as the weight increased. It could have used more padding. We used the bag for more photojournalistic purposes than Seifert and found the bag didn’t have as much natural space for things like pens and notebooks (yes, we still use those).

Seifert says she wished it stood upright a bit easier when packed to capacity and that the zippered compartment at the top needed to be a bit wider—providing greater/faster access to the bag’s contents. If you’re a mirrorless shooter, it would be nice to be able to buy at least one extra divider, but they’re not sold individually (as far as we can tell).

Bottom Line

If you’re a fan of the messenger bag form factor, the Everyday Messenger should really be at the top of your list. It’s roomy, stylish and cleverly designed. We wished the shoulder strap were more comfortable and it had a bit more upright stability, but on balance, it definitely earns its accolades.

(Karen Seifert of I Heart NY Photography road testing the Messenger in Vietnam. Photo: Hong To)