Wandrd Veer 18L Inflatable Backpack Review
While many camera bags are attempts at holding as much equipment as possible, the Veer 18L from WANDRD goes in another direction.
Every bag is created with an intent, a use case which drives the design choices. In the case of the Veer, that intent is clear: offer a serious and solid option for minimalist travelers (or city dwellers). Despite its simple characteristics, the Veer 18L is actually a system built in layers.
The first layer is the bag itself. Some people will use it alone, without any other accessory. And it can work that way, especially if the load isn’t too heavy.
The second layer is the inflatable back. Given its very light weight, we argue that even the purest minimalist traveler should use it, as it seriously increases comfort and structure, without taking away internal space.
The third layer is the camera cube, which turns the Veer 18L into a camera backpack.
The last layer is the lens case (which we did not test). It expands the possibilities of the Veer system by allowing photographers to carry one or two extra lenses. There won’t be any particularly quick access to switch lenses if using this case (or any other brand’s, for that matter) but the option is there, to expand the options beyond the one-camera-and-lens combo.
Since all the accessories are inflatable, they all integrate well with the compressible logic of the Veer 18L.
At 18 liters, this backpack offers a decent volume, adequate for the intended purpose. In addition to the camera cube, the bag will let the user carry a tablet or small laptop, a jacket (especially if also compressible), a lunch, a water bottle or travel tripod, and a few extra odds and ends. This is impressive for a bag which can be compressed to the size of a book!
The fit will vary depending on the wearer's body shape. It is hard to comment on this in general terms. Ideally, one should always try a backpack before deciding on a purchase. For our tests, the Veer 18L was worn by a 182 cm (6 feet) tall male and a 160 cm (5 feet 3 inches) tall female. With a medium load, the fit was comfortable in both cases. Wearing the Veer 18L without rest for many hours will eventually get more tiring than with a heavily padded backpack. The load will have a great influence over long-term fatigue.
The shoulder straps gave a good level of comfort. They would not be sufficient for a large load, but with a 18 liters maximum volume, they are perfectly adequate. The sternum strap is useful, especially given the lack of hip straps. Adjusting the sternum strap’s position on the fly is not possible: one has to take the bag off the shoulders in order to do so.
Giving access to the camera equipment is probably the biggest challenge backpack designers face. There are four main options:
- Front access (the bag needs to be set down)
- Back access (shoulder straps must be removed, then the bag swiveled around the hips)
- Side access (one shoulder strap kept on and the bag swung to the front like a sling)
- Swivel the whole camera compartment (only Mindshift Gear does this)
WANDRD went with the most common way, side access. It works as expected. It is easier to dig inside the bag if the left shoulder strap is lengthened before swinging the bag to the front, as is generally the case with this method. Reaching the camera can be done in a few moments. Putting it back is a bit more challenging.
The backpack is reasonably stable on the shoulders. Having the bag fuller actually helps stabilize the camera cube, which is likely to be the heaviest part of the total load.
The extra pockets offer a surprising level of organization for such a small bag. The top and front pockets are useful and the side pocket is deeper than what is often found on larger bags. Other manufacturers should take a look at what WANDRD did here.
Ventilation is always an important matter with backpacks. In this regard, the Veer 18L does well enough, and better than expected. With the back panel’s open weave and the shape of the back support, there is a lot of space for air to flow. We were impressed by how well this worked during use. Users who decide not to use the inflatable back support will find that ventilation is considerably worse.
There is no rain cover available for the Veer 18L. However, the bag itself is fully protected against water ingress. Our tests show that the fabric is properly treated and should have no trouble repelling water, even under a severe downpour. The camera cube, thanks to its shape, also offers good protection, with the top flap as the only entrance point for water.
Folding and unfolding the bag is done in about a minute, including the time needed to inflate the back panel and camera cube. The bag does not need to be neatly folded: stuffing it inside its top pocket is all that’s needed. A bit more care should be taken with the camera cube in order to match the length of its pouch. The backpack, the back panel and the camera cube all fit easily inside the reversed top pocket of the Veer, with some room to spare. The packed setup can be compressed to less than 2 inches in thickness, or simply hung on a larger travel bag via the provided clip.
A lot of thought went into the design of the Veer 18L.
This backpack does not try to do everything. It has one purpose, and the designers made sure it serves that purpose as competently as possible.
As a travel companion for photographers who want to travel light but still have their camera on hand and well protected, few solutions are as efficient as the Veer 18L. The materials and assembly are beyond reproach and the bag should last a long time. It should be possible to fit the compressed bag inside almost every piece of luggage.
The Veer 18L does not have an extensive list of features and characteristics. On the other hand, it is unique on the market today, and is a welcome new option for photographers.