Wandrd Veer 18L Inflatable Backpack Review
The Veer 18L constitutes a self-contained product, much like the packable rain jackets of yore.
The Veer 18L exists in three colors: Black, Rust (a kind of orange), and Cobalt. We are testing the Cobalt version.
A small clip is accessible in the compressed state. When the backpack is expanded, it can serve to attach keys.
The camera cube ships with a small compression bag, which can be stored inside the Veer in its compressed mode.
Turn the pack inside out and the backpack is revealed. The process takes only a few seconds. The pouch which holds the bag while compressed then serves as the top pocket of the backpack.
Once unfolded, the Veer is ready to be used, and some people who really wish for a minimalist solution might stop here. However, the bag can be further improved.
First, it ships with an inflatable back panel. Easy to inflate and made of surprisingly sturdy material with wide edges (so it won’t fray easily), this panel slips inside the backpack in a dedicated sleeve along the back. It gives the Veer a welcome amount of rigidity and stiffness and improves comfort. Its open structure serves as a way to limit the added weight. It also works wonders for back ventilation.
Inserting the inflatable panel inside the backpack is easy and straightforward. We expected the back panel to be thicker and stiffer once inflated, however the final result is comfortable and not too thick.
The camera cube is also inflatable.
One or two breaths are enough to fill it, but blowing with a little force is advisable. When expanded, its walls are reasonably thick and offer a good level of protection. It is not fully rigid, which makes sense since it quickly becomes firmer under compression. Having it be too stiff to begin with would run the risk of it breaking instead of bending.
A flap closes the cube down, held in place by a small Velcro tab.
Two reinforced holes close to the top opening can serve as handles, or even attachment points for a strap, but the cube isn’t really meant as an external carry solution. Inserting the camera cube is also easy. A mesh panel holds it in place and prevents it from moving.
Adding the back panel gives a little more bulk to the backpack.
When filled with the two inflatable add-ons, the Veer has even more structure.
The bag uses only one type of fabric for the whole exterior: there is no additional protection against abrasion at the bottom. Still, the fabric is thicker than we expected for a minimalist bag. Without being too heavy, the fabric appears resistant and has a nice feel to it. It is protected against water and should survive without problem under the rain.
When filled, the bag is wider at the top than at the bottom.
The front of the bag shows one long zipper, giving access to a large but thin pocket.
When the zipper is completely lowered, a small folding flap prevents content from spilling out. This is a nice touch and shows good attention to details.
Two narrow bands of webbing are sewn on each side of the front zipper. This is a surprising inclusion on a minimalist bag, but a welcome one. The bag’s weight is kept well under control even with elements such as these, and they can be very useful to attach a carabiner, straps, etc.
On the right side is a water bottle holder. Gusseted along its whole length, it can hold a relatively large bottle, and could also carry a travel tripod. It is surprisingly deep.
Stashed inside is an elastic with a pull tab, which can help stabilize longer objects. A small loop is located above the bottle pocket, which could also help.
The top pocket, which reverses to hold the bag when folded upon itself, is of a decent size, with a wide opening. The clip accessible when the bag is folded is located inside this top pocket, and can hold keys.
The back of the backpack is covered with a honeycombed fabric. By itself, this fabric offers little rigidity or breathability, even though the fabric is sheer.
When combined with the inflatable insert, however, it becomes stiffer (a good thing) and air flow is much improved. The shape of the inflatable back panel makes sense when seen in that light.
This is a minimalist backpack. As such, we would not expect thickly padded shoulder straps. Indeed, the straps are thin and completely unpadded. Given the relatively small volume of the backpack, this is not necessarily a bad thing, and is certainly in keeping with the minimalist ethos. Honeycomb holes match the back panel’s appearance and provide ventilation.
A sternum (chest) strap is provided. Its height can be adjusted, with a few discrete positions available. A sliding adjustment rail is always welcome as it gives a finer control over the position. This wouldn’t work well with the thin shoulder straps, however.
Comfort with the straps is perfectly adequate. Thick padding is of course desirable in general, especially with heavy loads. Considering the small volume of the Veer, and the subsequent limitation regarding amount of photo equipment, it is unlikely that this bag will ever become too heavy. The straps are a good match for the intended purpose.
There are no hip straps, nor would we expect them on such a bag. Straps have a tendency to dramatically increase the total weight of a bag.
The top features a grab handle. It is wide and even offers some padding.
The zippers are easy to operate. The side access zipper features a small clip and its counterpart is located at the top. This lets the user partially secure the backpack, preventing undesired access or accidental movement of the zipper.
The other zippers on the Veer are terminated by a small wavy plastic tab. All zippers are sealed and weatherproof.
There is no denying the wow factor of the Veer 18L. It’s hard to believe that a full-fledged camera backpack fits into the compressed pouch. Once expanded, the Veer looks and feels like a regular backpack.
The quality of assembly and the choice of materials leave us without complaints. The bag packs a surprising number of elements and features given its minimalist credentials. The relative thinness of the inflatable elements can be surprising at first, but make sense after a short period. The camera cube is thicker than the back panel.
There are larger bags on the market, others with more padding, better adapted to wearing for long periods, capable of carrying more photo gear. To our knowledge, there are no other complete camera backpacks able to be compressed to roughly the size of a thick hardcover book, while being significantly lighter. This really sets the Veer 18L apart.