Peak Design Travel Backpack Review
Calling the Kickstarter campaign for the Travel Backpack successful would be an euphemism: the campaign closed with almost 14,000 backers.
Peak Design's reputation is good, so this level of popularity is not surprising. But then again, if the company's products are popular, it's because they deliver. This bag is no exception.
Set to ship in December 2018, the Travel Backpack is different from most camera bags meant to do one thing only. This bag tries to do a lot, which is always risky.
Seen purely as a travel tool, it proposes many very clever elements which succeed in making the traveler's day easier. The stowable straps, streamlined exterior, finely tuned size, numerous handles, well-divided pockets, several ways to access the interior, weatherproof fabrics and comfortable fit are a few of its qualities. We must also list the sturdy and large laptop/tablet compartment, the outward-expanding side pockets, the hidden sleeves, the external straps and the optional rain cover.
Then again, photography isn't an afterthought. It is part of Peak Design's DNA, and takes a central role in the bag's design and operation. The bag's rigid shape and padding is a good start. The camera cubes are solid and inspire confidence. Their organization is easy, if not revolutionary, and the inclusion of shelf dividers and the movable small pocket are certainly nice. Having the option to use the cubes as standalone cases is icing on the cake. We find that the medium cube might be a bit large for some people, while the small is a bit... small. Having an in-between, taking up one and a half packing units, could be an idea to consider in the future, as it would free up space inside the bag to carry other items, such as the tech of wash pouch, maybe.
Gear access is relatively easy when wearing the bag, but using the two larger camera cubes means all of the gear won't be accessible without taking off the bag. This being Peak Design, they provided with adequate locations to attach a Capture Clip or lens pouch. The side pockets are also deep and will easily hold most tripods, not being limited to small travel versions.
Even with our prototype, the fabrication quality is impressive. We like that the bag can expand, but even more that it can contract by the simple use of two push-buttons. Backed with a lifetime warranty, this bag should last a very long time.
The numerous accessories make the travel line a true system. They integrate well together and complement each other nicely. The cost does stack up, but luckily users won't need them all. They also cannot be used all at the same time inside the backpack when fully loaded.
With this company, we are used to well-designed products, innovative ideas, new twists on classic concepts. The Travel Backpack does not disappoint. The designers have turned a boxy backpack into a travel companion full of helpful tricks. Traveling with it as a photographer is a pleasure.
- Ideally suited for travel: size, weight, streamlined exterior
- Stowable straps
- Three camera cube sizes, options for all photographer types
- Camera cubes can become sling bags
- Very comfortable in use for various body shapes
- Water resistant fabrics, reinforced bottom
- High-quality accessories, turn the bag into a travel "system"
- Lighter than a similarly-sized suitcase
- Can turn into a day bag or expand as needed
- C-clips not as convenient as we would like
- Ventilation no more than adequate
- Accessories end up being expensive
Who is it for
The Travel Backpack is obviously aimed at travelers. Its size is tuned for air travel but this bag will be relevant in just any type of trip. Filled with photo gear, it doesn't offer quite as much space for travel essentials and clothes, but each traveler will find his or her balance. The numerous options and possible configurations make it easy to adapt. This bag will be as relevant in the trunk of a car as in a plane's overhead compartment.
As of this writing, the bag is available for $299.95. Accessories will increase the price but bundles are available. This is not a cheap bag by any means. Price aside, the Travel Backpack is close to being ideal.
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