This is the Everyday Messenger. It isn't just another camera bag. It's an all-in-one gear bag. A lot of thought went into making the Peak Design Everyday Messenger that it almost seems like everyone’s needs are answered by this one bag. Billed as a premium everyday gear bag for professionals and commuters alike, Peak Design’s The Everyday Messenger is everything you want it to be. It’s a shoulder bag, a messenger bag, a camera bag and a bag for everything else that is essential to your daily or once-in-a-year trip. Whatever it is that you’re looking for in a great gear bag, this bag apparently has it, does it all and is warranted for life. But will it be good enough to replace less expensive options such as Think Tank's Retrospective series of shoulder bags? Our full review awaits you down below!
Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger is chock full of thought-out features and it was clearly designed to have that wow factor you would come to expect out of high-end bags that costs twice as much. It has more storage capacity and internal pockets for better organization than Think Tank’s highly respected Retrospective bags, and for that I must commend it. Apart from two side pockets large enough for you to stash an energy drink or a small water bottle in – which I would have liked to have seen with either a Velcro or magnetic closure – this bag's pockets are all interior. I wouldn’t trust putting anything valuable in these external slip pockets that I wouldn’t want falling out potentially.
But before you even need to flip open the messenger style flap, you can actually access the main compartment and rapidly reach important gear like your camera, lenses and even a specially made side pocket (highlighted with a blue microfiber-esque interior lining) where you can stash your phone or wallet in. This is great for when you're out walking and need to pull out something without having to fiddle around the flap getting in your way. The only reason why you would ever need to actually flip open the flap would be when you want to access some additional accessory compartments. It's also worth mentioning that all the external zippers are weather sealed.
The Everyday Messenger's secondary top opening zipper opens up to reveal a single large storage compartment suitable for a laptop up to 15-inches in size. You'll also be able to fit virtually any tablet with or without it such as an iPad Pro. You can choose to slide it into the separated Velcroed slip-in sleeve for added protection of you are planning on storing more than one thing at a time.
Right when you open up the flap you're greeted with a gorgeous interior complete with quilted cotton twill lining and a large spacious compartment, that by default is divided into three sections, which holds its form much like a hard briefcase without material collapsing.
One of the more unique features of the Everyday Messenger are these these origami-inspired corrugated inserts, which are the best we’ve seen yet. The shape-shifting concept makes these adaptable to any situation and gear configuration. These so-called Flex-Fold dividers are stiffer than normal foam dividers which helps them provide greater support including the ability to easily fold and expand into different shapes without having to Velcro to the sides of the internal compartment.
If you've got a long telephoto lense with you, simply extend one side of the divider to better provide support and protection with optimized isolation. In case you'd like to make the most out of the space you're given, you could collapse one of the dividers to create a single two-story compartment where you'll be able to stack two lenses (preferably prime lenses) on top of each other while keeping both secure and isolated from the rest of your gear.
The Peak Design Messenger Bag was designed in a way so that it can expand from its standard capacity of 13.5L up to a maximum of 20.5L in order to accommodate more and larger things stored inside the main compartment. And it does this using a cleverly design "MagLatch" magnetic latter latching closure system, which works surprisingly well for one-handed operation. And I must say that I prefer it to traditional Velcro tabs to secure flaps in multiple length configurations. You can either close the flap and the tab will magnetically stick anywhere between the metal ladder locking strip that runs down the front of the bag, or secure it by latching the pull tab onto one of the four latter points to lock it when you're on the move.
Although this bag can expand and fit a healthy amount of gear, the more you stuff it with things, the less comfortable it will be to carry around. That’s because the 2-inch wide seatbelt-inspired shoulder strap isn’t padded enough to reduce the pressure put on your shoulder from the weight of the gear and the bag itself. This is perhaps my biggest gripe about the Everyday Messenger and I wish it was more padded like the shoulder strap of the Retrospective. It's a good looking strap with its internally padded design, genuine black leather trim and sandblasted aluminum length-adjustment buckle hardware, but that's about it.
Also, the fact that the bag doesn’t hug your body as it wants to stay rigid means that it tends to move around when your walk. Of course that’s why you have the option of putting the built-in wait or chest strap system to good use. Although I do appreciate the internal structural stiffness of the Everyday Messenger, it's way too rigid for my taste. I prefer the flexibility and the softness of the Retrospective. The simplicity of it is something that I think works better when it comes to carrying around your gear. But then again I know there are those that would prefer the Peak Design bag more as it does offer that rigid, almost briefcase-like quality you seldom see in other camera bags. It's a really nice looking bag, but I don't find it anymore practical than the Think Tank I've been using all this time.
One of the largest accessory compartments features a handy dual-sided zippered enclosure that opens wide allowing effortless access to the 8 stretchable pockets where you can store and organize small items like batteries, memory cards, filters, cables and the like. Clever color-coded stitching above every one of these accessory pockets let you organize your already-full memory cards and dead batteries from the fresh and ready-to-be-used. What an ingenious feature and one that must be put to good use in everyone’s workflow.
Need to carry your tripod around? Use the sleeve underneath the front flap of the bag to hold your tripod legs while the included rubber band will keep those legs held tightly together. What can't the Everyday Messenger bag carry?
You can fit a lot into this bag using only the main and secondary laptop compartment before it gets too bulky to comfortably carry mostly due to the lack of shoulder strap padding – like your camera (any sized camera) with a lens attached, full sized headphones (ones that fold flat or collapse), a secondary lens, and an iPad. Or, a camera (full sized DSLR) with a lens attached, a portable speaker similar in size to the UE Boom 2, an external flash and a lightweight MacBook or PC equivalent. Start adding on a tripod and a 15-inch laptop and you'll quickly feel the burden. There are really endless configuration possibilities and you're only limited by how much weight you're willing to carry on your shoulder. After all, this isn't a Chrome Niko backpack.
As an avid user of the Think Tank Retrospective bag series, the Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag is the only bag I’d consider using instead. In fact, I’ve already considered it and it has indeed replaced my beloved Retrospective as my go-to bag for carrying my camera gear including my laptop or iPad when I need them with me. I’m not a huge fan of this tan, brownish orange color to be honest and I would have much preferred a black or dark gray color instead. And it's so happens that the Everyday Messenger also comes in a charcoal colorway too.
That said, this color is definitely starting to grow on me the more I use this bag. I think the fact that the material is nylon and not leather or waxed canvas irks me a little as this color is somewhat trying to imitate that classic look you would typically get with these type of bags made from natural materials. I immediately think about WaterField bags when I see this tan color and I think that Peak Design was trying to offer a rustic color as an option for those seeking that warm, natural look. But it doesn’t work that well on a nylon fabric. Nitpicking aside, I do think that Peak Design did a fantastic job with the colors and accents picked for the Everyday Messenger bag. The blue and brown accents really do compliment this golden tan in a very unique way.
As much as I love using my Retrospective 7, I do feel that Peak Design's bag will do a better job protecting my gear from impacts and shock due to its sturdy build quality and construction. This bag is made using weatherproof waxed 500D Kodra and reinforced high-density padded interior formed to make rigid chassis that won’t crumple as easily so what’s stored inside the bag stays protected even when you drop and toss it around or happen to get caught in rain. Its 22 panel construction and reinforced stress points keeps that sleek, solid form no matter what you put inside or how long you’ve used it for.
While this Retrospective 7 shown next to the Everyday Messenger is one of the smaller in the series and cannot store anything beyond a 10-inch tablet or laptop like the Everyday Messenger quite very easily can, Think Tank's Retrospective 50 is more than capable of evenly matching the Everyday Messenger's carry capacity and for a lot less money. That being said, it's also considerably larger and bulkier. So there's definitely merit to Peak Design's uniquely advanced and sleek shoulder bag design.
You might have noticed that weird looking metal thing attached to the side of the bag. That’s Peak Design’s all-metal CapturePro camera clip accessory. You can attach it to your bag, shoulder strap or even on your belt if you want quick access to your camera and within reach at all times. It consists of an aluminum base mount that securely attaches to virtually any belt or strap while the quick release plate mounts your camera onto the base mount like a traditional tripod head plate. The CapturePro quick release plate will work with most Manfrotto Type-A RC2 tripod heads so it essentially replaces your original tripod head plate. Unfortunately it won’t work with the popular Manfrotto 496RC2 ball head I’m using personally.
I was initially reluctant to use the CapturePro with my D750 and 35mm Sigma lens but I was surprised at just how secure it was when mounted onto it. The weight was no problem at all. And there’s a safety lock mechanism that must be pushed in to unlock the camera from the mount. This red quick release button also features a safety lock that can be turned to permanently lock the camera on the mount. You can even adjust the quick release friction between how easy it would be to slide your camera in and out of the Capture Pro mount. The quick release works by sliding in from the top until it clicks and locks into place, which is another thing that prevents your camera from accidentally unlatching itself. I also like the fact that there’s no right or wrong way of attaching your camera to the CapturePro mount since the quick release plate can slide in from any direction thanks to its even, square-sided shape. This means that you can mount your camera in a way that maximize your grab-n-shoot preference.
Another fantastic use for this camera carrying clip is for when you need help changing your lenses. The CapturePro acts as a third hand when you need to safely switch out a lens on the move. You can also use it to attach an action camera like a GoPro to your chest for a POV-style shooting prospective. Overall the quality of this camera mount is really up there with some of the best. I only wish the quick release plate had some type of retractable tab to help you secure it to the bottom of your camera as it requires a coin or tool to screw it on. This accessory alone is one of the more useful pieces of gear from Peak Design that you can get for your camera.
Peak Design’s The Everyday Messenger bag is a real winner. It’s overwhelming how much things this bag can do. From the smart Flex-Fold interior dividers to the unique one-handed magnetic closure system and ease-of-use access, the Everyday Messenger offers the right amount of funtionality and carry capacity suitable for photographers looking for a great multi-purpose gear bag that is unlike any other. You can easily tell this bag was created by people that truly care about making the best gear bag imaginable.
While we really do appreciate the incredible detail and colorful materials used in the design of Peak Design's Everyday Messenger, at the end of the day, it's arguably a bit too flashy for a camera bag. Perhaps the darker colored variant would be a better fit compared to the almost dark orange colorway of the one we received. We wish there was more padding around the shoulder strap, but that's about all the caveats we've found. As long as you aren't carrying a bunch of gear and pushing to that impressive 20.5L maximum capacity, the Everyday Messenger is a super trendy looking bag that’s worth every penny and is built to last.