The Peak Design Travel Backpack – 30L
If you’ve read any of our previous posts you will know that we generally don’t carry backpack camera bags anymore – well, we occasionally do, but rarely. Usually, we’ll use a backpack camera bag only when in transit between destinations. We will then revert to the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L (V1 & V2) for our day-to-day use. So, when the Peak Design Travel Backpack range was originally released it didn’t really pique our interest. Everyone has different methods of carrying gear and what works for us does not necessarily work for someone else. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if this backpack bag can be utilised in our travel photography.
For this review, Peak Design has kindly supplied us with the Travel Backpack 30L – Sage (colour).
Straight out of the bag, our first impression is that this is a dual-purpose bag that is not solely designed for photographers. Based on the information on the Peak Design website, it is not promoted as a camera bag. It seems to us that Peak Design has tried to find some middle ground with this bag by keeping both photographers and general users happy.
Based on its 30L size, the bag is more designed for the *short-term traveller and photographer and is designed to be used with Camera Cubes and Packing Cubes that can fit neatly inside. Unfortunately, we did not receive any cubes to test in the bags, but every indication is that they will indeed fit comfortably in the bag.
*There’s a 45L version of the bag that may be suitable for longer trips.
The big plus for this bag is the fact that it conforms to aircraft carry-on regulations as far as the size is concerned. This will make it easier for those that want to take those short-term trips and use budget airlines that charge like wounded bulls when it comes to adding fees for checked-in luggage. Keep in mind though – the bag may conform to aircraft carry-on regulations in size but just watch the weight of the packed bag. Some airlines only allow a maximum of 7kgs per bag. So once the bag is packed with some gear, clothes, shoes, tripod, and accessories, you may be struggling to conform to the weight restrictions for carry-on luggage. We circumvent this issue by splitting our gear between a backpack camera bag (or this bag) and the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L, as this bag is classed as a bag for personal items and can sit underneath the seat in front of you.
When reading this post, please keep in mind, that we always travel as a couple and therefore we are able to carry a lot of gear between us. This is why we can use the smaller Everyday Sling Bag 10L that under many instances would be too small for a single photographer. Therefore, we will review this bag as if we were a single photographer to give it more relevance to the majority of photographers.
Peak Design has always used quality materials in its construction and this bag is no exception. The shell is constructed using the same specifications as the popular Peak Design Everyday Backpack.
The bag’s shell has been constructed using *weatherproof 100% recycled 400D nylon canvas and is impregnated DWR (Durable Water Repellant). This is a coating that makes the fabric water-resistant. It is also double PU-coated (coated with 2 layers of polyurethane), making the fabric water-resistant, lightweight and flexible. The bottom of the bag, which is usually the most vulnerable area of a bag, has a stronger 900D waterproof liner, making it more durable and protecting it from the extra wear and tear.
As with all the Peak Design bags, the exterior is clutter-free. Camera bags can sometimes turn into a messy tangle of straps, and as much as we love our Vanguard Alta Rise 45 backpack camera bag it does have a tendency of getting messy. The Peak Design Travel Backpack shoulder straps neatly pack away behind the back support while the sternum strap can be quickly and easily secured to one of the shoulder straps. If you are using a hip belt (sold separately) then this can also be tucked behind the back support. The results are a tangle-free and streamlined bag that is easily placed into overhead storage on aircraft.
*Weatherproof (aka water-resistant) – usually the material has a coating that will cause water droplets to bead on the surface giving it added protection, however, it will not make the bag impervious to penetration by water. To produce a bag that is Waterproof would mean a completely different material thus adding considerable weight to the bag. If this is a concern, we suggest you purchase a rain cover for the bag. You could also try spraying the bag with a fabric protector, however, we’re not sure how that would react with the material’s current coatings. We could not find any information on their website saying that this would be an issue.
Above: The Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L – Black. This is the rear view of the bag. The right-hand shoulder strap has been packed behind the back support for illustration purposes
All camera bags will have 1 or maybe 2 handles. Even travel luggage will have multiple handles to make life easier when lifting the bag, however, the Peak Design Travel Bag 30L has 5 handles !!!. Yep, you read correctly! There are large low-profile handles on the back (which can also be used as luggage handle pass-through), top (more like the top of the back of the bag) and bottom. There are smaller recessed handles on the left & right sides of the bag, however, access to these could be hampered by what you are using in the expandable side pockets of the bag eg. a tripod, large water bottle etc.
There are 2 included straps that are located in an inside pocket when you first purchase the bag. These can be used for connecting to the 10 reinforced loops scattered around the exterior of the bag when attaching extra equipment.
There’s also a small compartment on the right-hand side of the back of the bag that is not mentioned in the documentation, but serves as a place to store a luggage tag or some form of identification if the bag is lost.
The shoulder straps are comfortable and well padded and as mentioned previously, store seamlessly behind the back support when in transit. The straps are easily adjustable by pulling downwards on the nylon loops attached to the bottom of the buckle. The shoulder straps also contain the well-designed fully-adjustable sternum strap. Both sides of the sternum strap can be secured to the right-hand shoulder strap. When using, pull on the attachment with the nylon hook to remove it and hook onto the left shoulder strap. Tug the nylon hook to secure it in place. The sternum strap can slide up or down to the most comfortable spot. This feature is used on several of their Everyday Bag range and works really well.
On the front of the bag towards the bottom is an inverted magnetised pocket that is quite deep. At first, we were a little baffled about what this pocket would be used for but after a bit of research, we realised that this pocket has been designed to accommodate the 2 included straps that attach to the bag to hold exterior items. When not in use the straps can stow away in this pocket, although, you could also stow a waterproof cover for the bag here as well.
Peak Design has opted for durable #10 UltraZip zippers. The UltraZip zippers have been customised for Peak Design and have the PD logo engraved. The zippers are also equipped with theft-deterrent pulls attached. The main compartment zippers can be interlocked using these or even better, secured to one of the attachment loops at the bottom of the bag for extra security. The main compartment entry zipper is located at the back of the bag as this makes it difficult for thieves to access the main compartment when the bag is being worn. You will find the main compartment zipper just above the handle at the top of the bag. This is the only access point for the interior of the bag. The larger 45L version of the Travel Bag also allows side access. Further forward, and closer to the front of the bag is the only external storage pocket in the bag. Peak Design refers to this as a “Quick Stash Top Pocket” (more about this in the Bag Interior). There is one more zipper on the exterior of the bag that allows the expansion of the bag from 27L to 33L. You will need to expand this if using the packing cubes inside or if you are using it purely as a luggage bag and need a bit of extra space. When closed this zipper sits unobtrusively at the very bottom of the bag.
That’s it for the bag exterior, and if you are still awake, we’ll now delve into the interior of the bag.
The first entry point to the interior of the bag is the Quick Stash Top Pocket which is accessible at the top of the bag towards the front. Even though there are 2 zippers the pocket only opens marginally. Inside, there is a wide main pocket which is the width of the bag. On each side, there is additional storage. There’s a wide zippered pocket that also has smaller pockets for smaller items such as SD memory cards and camera batteries and there are also 2 similar-sized pockets and a smaller pocket that can accommodate other smaller items such as a small torch, blower brush, and remote control etc. The pockets are all constructed from a stretchy material that allows the pockets to expand. Ideally, this section of the bag is designed for those items that are frequently needed without having to open the main compartment. Oh, and by the way, you’ll also find the obligatory PD sticker in one of the small pockets – one more for the collection!
As mentioned earlier, the entry point to the main compartment is guarded by two durable UltraZip zippers at the top of the bag just above the beginning of the shoulder straps. The zippers open the bag completely. The interior of the bag will seem a bit boring as there really isn’t that much to it, but keep in mind, that this bag was primarily designed to be used with packing cubes. The bag will also need to be in the expandable mode to use the packing cubes. The 30L bag is designed to take a maximum of 3 cubes. This could be one small camera cube and two small packing cubes or one medium camera cube and one small packing cube. The configuration will depend on how much gear as opposed to clothes you are trying to fit into the bag. The ball is in your court as to how you want to utilise the space!
At the bottom of the interior storage are two large zippered mesh pockets. These are ideal for those items that are not frequented that much as you will need to remove any items in the bag to access them. Along the inside edges are more zippered mesh pockets. It’s within one of these pockets that you should find the 2 straps for exterior attachments to the bag. Unfortunately, if you are using the camera and packing cubes, they will have to be removed to access the mesh pockets. Around the edges, you will also find 8 loops that have been strategically placed to allow the attachment of camera cubes for those that want to set the bag up for camera gear.
Last, but not least, the inside of the lid of the bag has large dedicated velcro-sealed sleeves that can fit a laptop up to 15” or a small tablet. Unlike some of their other Everyday bags, you cannot adjust the internal height of the sleeve for smaller laptops so if you have a 13″ laptop it may sit further down in the sleeve.
Left: The Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L can take the large camera cube but this will take up most of the interior space. Depending on how much gear you want to carry will determine the configuration of the camera and packing cubes. If you want to combine both then an ideal combination would be a medium camera cube + small packing cube. If you are a minimalist photographer then you could use a small camera cube and two small packing cubes.
These are purchased separately as well as in sets, and as mentioned above, can be configured to the bag purchased. However, as useful as these are please note that while the Camera Cubes have side access, only the 45L version of the bag has a corresponding side access zipper. Therefore, your gear can only be accessed from the top of the Camera Cube when using the 30L bag. If you plan to utilise the travel backpack as your main camera bag when travelling we would suggest you consider the 45L version as the removal of lenses in the field is not ideal with the 30L bag. It will mean that you will have to remove the bag from your back, open the bag, and then open the Camera Cube to access your gear. This is not an issue for us as we would not be using the 30L bag as our day-to-day camera bag. We would use the Medium Camera Cube with the bag for some of our gear in transit but use our Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L for our day-to-day use.
Also, once the Camera Cube is secured in place with the provided plastic clips, both the zippered mesh pockets on the sides and base of the bag are difficult to access without removing the Camera Cube first.
The Camera Cubes are extremely well made. The Flex Fold dividers are very rigid and perfect protection for your gear. A Medium Camera Cube will generally hold the following –
- 1 full-frame DSLR with an attached 70-200mm lens + 6 lenses or
- 2 mirrorless camera bodies + 8 lenses
As mentioned earlier in the post, just remember, that the bag may conform to aircraft carry-on regulations in size but just watch the weight of the packed bag. Some airlines only allow a maximum of 7kgs per bag. We are pretty sure that both configurations above combined with clothing, shoes etc may exceed the carry-on allowance of 7kgs. If the carry-on allowance is 10kgs then you might be OK.
Above: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L + Medium Camera Cube – Open
The image above shows the Medium Camera Cube in the bag. The Medium sized cube will take up two-thirds of the interior space. Inside the cube is the following –
- Sony A7RIII + attached Sony FE 70-200 f/4 lens
- Sony FE 24-105 f/4 lens
- Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero-Distortion lens
- NiSi Close-up Lens Kit (below Flex Fold divider)
- Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE lens
- Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro + adapter
- Samyang 12mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens
- Sony FE 16-35 f/4 lens
- Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE lens (below Flex Fold divider)
- Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE lens
We would rarely carry the Tamron 90mm Macro lens with us when travelling so this space could be utilised with a spare camera body such as our Sony A7Rii. With this configuration, the bag weighs 7.8kgs without anything else in the bag so this setup would possibly exclude us from flights that only allow 7kgs as carry-on luggage. Therefore we would split the gear between this bag and our two Everyday Sling Bag 10L (keep in mind that there are two of us). For us, the only other option would be to purchase a second Travel Backpack 30L. This option would allow us to easily split the gear and have enough room for Packing Cubes and even a tripod to stay below the 7kgs threshold.
As a solo traveller/photographer, you may want to consider the Small Camera Cube and utilise the rest of the space with Packing Cubes.
SIZE, COLOUR, & WEIGHT
The Travel Backpack bag is available in the following sizes, colours, and weights –
- 30L (30-litre capacity) which is actually 27L that is expandable to 33L
- 45L (45-litre capacity) which is actually 30L that is expandable to 45L
- 30L version is available in Black, Sage, & Midnight colours.
- 45L version is available in Black & Sage colours
- 30L version is 1.44kgs/3.17lbs unpacked
- 45L version is 2.05kgs/4.05lbs
Above: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L – Black
Above: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L – Sage
Above: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L – Midnight
53cm x 33cm x 18cm (20.9″ x 13″ x 7″)
53cm x 33cm x 20cm (20.9″ x 13″ x 7.9″)
49cm x 36cm x 14cm (19.3″ x 14.2″ x 5.5”)
49cm x 36cm x 16cm (19.3″ x 14.2″ x 6.3”)
56cm x 33cm x 24cm (22″ x 13″ x 9.5″)
56cm x 33cm x 29cm (22″ x 13″ x 11″)
53.3cm x 33cm x 16.5cm (21″ x 13″ x 6.5”)
53.3cm x 33cm x 19cm (21″ x 13″ x 7.5”)
PROS & CONS
- Great looking bag
- Well designed
- Very functional
- Great for that short getaway
- Carry-on luggage size
- Not ONLY for photographers
- A waist belt is not included. Personally, we would prefer this to the included sternum strap
- Packing and Camera Cubes are an optional extra which, if purchased, adds a considerable cost to the bag
- If using the camera cube and/or packing cubes access to the interior mesh pockets is limited unless the cube is removed
- No side access to the Camera Cube when used with this bag
PRICING & SHIPPING
Like most of Peak Design’s products, they are not cheap, however, you are paying for premium quality and the fact that their products have a Lifetime Warranty is worth the extra money, in our opinion.
At the time of writing the prices are as follows –
Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L – USD$229.95*
Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L – USD$299.95*
* US Customers – Free Standard Delivery in the US for orders over USD$99.00, however, taxes may apply.
Australian Customers – AUD prices exclude taxes and shipping. As there is a global warehouse in Sydney the shipping price will be calculated at domestic rates.
Worldwide Customers – For shipping costs worldwide check out the rates here
Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L
Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
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THE FINAL WORD
Peak Design has once again designed a great bag that is ideal for both photographers and general use. Its design allows you to use it with or without the packing cubes so it really becomes an all-purpose bag.
The bag has been designed primarily for the short-term traveller that wants to grab their gear and minimal clothing and head off for a few days either by air or even for a road trip. For more gear and longer trips, the 45L version may be more appropriate.
Would we use this bag? It’s a great bag, and we will certainly be looking for excuses to use it in our travel photography. Although we try to avoid carrying backpack-type bags at all costs and solely rely on using our Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L bags, this bag really has us intrigued. We’re sure that there will be instances where this bag will be utilised for what it was designed, but only time will tell.
If you have any comments or questions about this product then we’d love to hear from you.
RATING: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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