KIT CHECK: EVERYDAY MESSENGER BAG (EDM) by PEAK DESIGN
Peak Design are almost half way through their current Kickstarter Campaign. It's set to be another blazing success. They are launching more new bags, we shot them in Chamonix back in June, they're amazing. I figured now would be as good a time as any to tell you about the bag that started this whole thing off.
**dry ice, dimmed lights, curtains open, spotlight centre stage**
It's time to talk about ... the EVERYDAY MESSENGER
Aptly named, beautifully crafted, perfectly executed. Designed with efficiency and convenience in mind, it's the bag to choose for every day use.
That's the short review. If you're in a rush, we are done here. Congrats. Thank you. See you next time.
If you're in less of a rush: here comes the full monty, the balls out, no holds barred, all you can eat Chinese buffet version:
**WARNING: Do not attempt to hold your breath whilst reading this review from start to finish, there are videos and all sorts of fancy things and you will pass out before you finish. In fact, make yourself comfy. This is a good one. Just saying.**
Whilst working with Peak Design at The UK Photography Show recently, I spoke with hundreds of people, possibly thousands … most of them had a problem when it came to carrying equipment. Some knew it, others didn't, but we got there in the end. In general they were dissatisfied with their current setup. I am talking about everyone from wedding snappers, to travel bloggers and everything in between. After much discussion, the EDM was a bona fide option to optimise their work flow. A way of making carrying their gear more comfortable and most importantly, more convenient. Interestingly enough, the problem extends way beyond the world of photography (hence the name EVERYDAY!), it would seem the majority of messenger bags in existence just don't cut the mustard.
I’ve been living and working with this bag since December 2015 when the Kickstarter campaign delivered to its backers. It felt like an age between me backing the bag and it arriving, but it was totally worth it.
Since then I’ve been on 20 flights, 39 (long) train rides, countless car/van journeys including trans-european missions, multiple tube commutes, a bucket load of shoots and a TONNE of adventures. I’ve climbed hills, crossed rivers, abseiled into holes and hopped around boulders. The EDM has been by my side, or rather over my shoulder for the duration.
Since my days as a sales rep, I have never been a fan of messenger bags, but as soon as I saw the EDM video I knew I had to have it. I’m a convert … kinda. I mean, would I pick up another messenger and roll with it on the strength of what PD have done here? Hell no. The reason being, I do not believe that a messenger bag could do a better job for me than the EDM & if there is one out there, you're going to need to do a helluvalot of convincing.
LET ME TELL YOU WHY ...
First up. Those things (see pic).
Bespoke hardware, designed specifically for this bag. The seemingly inconspicuous discs [tech term, ' axial rivets'] make the EDM the nicest messenger bag to carry. I've used camera bags from various brands; I used to have a Patagonia messenger, a Marmot messenger & an Ortlieb one too. In the end, I opted for a backpack. All of the messengers I had struggled with the strap carry ... spinning buckles, twisty flimsy plastic clips, pivoting metal wear ... it was all just clunky, or uncomfortable, or both.
PD immediately solve this problem with the robust axial rivets, the stiff hypalon reinforcements and a slim metal buckle that keeps the strap straight and the carry secure. Great start.
The strap itself features the same adjustability as the famous ‘SLIDE’ strap which I talked about here. It is made from a tubular seatbelt webbing, which overcomes the other big challenge that I have always found with messenger bags. Padding. The tubular design allows for the inclusion of an internal foam padding. A cushy carry that doesn’t slip down off your shoulder, that doesn’t get caught on any adjusters or buckles and that doesn’t look like utter crap.
And while we are talking about the strap ... it is SUPER easy to adjust between short & long for a high-in-the-back or slung-down-low carry.
Another big reason I wasn’t a fan of messenger bags before was the fact that they swung around. Imagine hauling a laptop, camera, hard drives, jacket, chargers & adaptors around in a bag that swings around ... not ideal. First its uncomfortable. Second, it's just plain dangerous, you're going to break something. Two of my previous messenger bags did come with a stabilising strap. Much like the main strap, they were crappy quality, afterthoughts. They both used a snappy plastic buckle and likely went round your waist. The strap would make the load stable-ish, but it would mean that the bag sat square on my back/hips and would therefore stick out either side of my profile. Another problem solved by the EDM yet again.
There are multiple stabilising options depending on user preference. My favourite, by far, is the one that flips the bag almost on it’s end. It keeps the profile within that of my shoulders/back and allows me to perform some nifty manoeuvres through crowds (and airport transfer crushes … sorry folks, yes, I was that guy. I can’t be missing my connections though, can I?). Again using bespoke metal hardware, the hook/loop system is EXTREMELY secure, yet super easy to remove when needed, allowing the strap to slide around your shoulder for easy access to the contents of the bag.
Take a look at how stable the carry is & how easy it is to manoeuvre around the body in this video I grabbed in South Korea:
As the PD video you watched right at the beginning of this review said **in the words of Trey Ratcliff** the world of camera protection is full of "bulky foam cubes, messy dividers & tonnes of dead space". He's right. The FlexFold™ dividers leave all previous versions in their dust. They rock. From use as simple, straight up dividers, to double-folded for extra protection, half-folded to create a shelf ... they just work. The inside of the bag goes from a large empty compartment to a well organised, protective kit locker in a matter of seconds.
When things work, it makes me happy.
Ever heard of MAGLATCH™? Nope? That's because it's another piece of custom hardware designed specifically for the the EDM. Let me tell you something ... it's ingenious. If you thought the FLEXFOLD™ dividers looked good, this will blow your mind.
One hand, no-look, secure opening and closing.
IT IS SO GOOD. Add in the ladder-esque closure system to allow for effective compression and expansion of the space, and voila, you can slim it down, or bulk it out depending on your needs. It is simple, safe and efficient.
I'm going to put something out there ... you can take it or leave it ... MAGLATCH™ is the single best open/close solution I have ever seen on ... erm, anything?!
Another big feature that makes a massive difference to my workflow the front pocket of the bag opens outwards. This creates a shelf, so when I am using the bag over my shoulder, stuff doesn't spill out and I have no reason to put the bag on the floor to access my gear. I love that. Sticking with the shelf pocket ... I really love the simple colour coding of the internal stitching. Red for dead, green for good. Empty batteries and full cards are easily distinguishable from fresh ones and that makes things more efficient. Time is money. I love that too. One note, I have seen some criticism of the front pocket, people claiming it doesn't have enough volume ... I really haven't found that, the pocket doesn't actually need to be zipped to be secure because of the shape & MagLatch™, on top of that, if there is something that is too big, then I just put it in the main compartment. Simple solution.
Another feature I love is the quick access zipper that runs along the top of the bag. The water-resistant zip give instant access to the main compartment in the bag, which if you were shooting with a small mirrorless camera would be excellent. As my hardware is a bit bulkier this isn't what I use it for, I find that it is super useful for grabbing my passport! There is a slide-pocket directly below the zip where I stash my passport and documents and this zip means I don't have to rifle through my whole bag to get to it. Anything that makes my life on the road simpler is a winner in my eyes.
Tripod carrying ability. Another neat feature that proves how much thought went into this bag. A sleeve runs along the inside of the lid of the bag, allowing a tripod leg to be fed through it. It's a brilliantly simple solution (there's a theme developing, isn't there) and coupled with the thick rubber band provided, a tripod is conveniently attached to the bag. Hover over the pictures in the gallery here for the text. Don't act like you aren't impressed.
Still with me? Wow. Fair play. I owe you a pint. I've be jabbering on for a while now ...
How about a glance inside my bag?
Finally, stick with me here, I want to say a little bit ...
ABOUT THE BRAND
Full disclosure: I am now a PD ambassador. I no longer pay for their products and they pay me when I work for them (which is how it should be). However, KNOW THIS: I paid full price for the EDM, I am a true backer of their Kickstarter projects and the ambassador-ship happened after I had fallen in love with the brand. It was 'right place, right time' kinda stuff. I feel very lucky. They did not ask me to write this review, nor have I been paid to write it.
Let me tell you though, the brand itself, or rather the team behind it ... they're incredible. I really mean that. You couldn’t wish to meet a nicer bunch of folks. They are positive and friendly and wildly funny.
In my opinion, ‘authentic’ is an over used word right now ... I am trying hard to find better words to describe them, honestly, I am, but with the PD crew, it’s hard, because authentic is exactly what they are. They are a bunch of uber-passionate photography lovers, with incredible strings to their bows; wordsmiths, product engineers, designers, accountants, illustrators, baby makers and all sorts of other things. They take pictures like this and this& make cool stuff like this. PD Founder Peter Dering is onto a winner, because he is the proud employer of a real life dream team.
One thing that really struck me when I worked with them over the past six months is their love for getting out there into the great wide open. They are passionate about their work, but also about taking pictures and having a flipping great time while they’re at it. Their MO is simple: make the best functioning [and best looking] gear possible to streamline the workflow ... well, at least that’s my interpretation of it.
They are incredibly smart, endlessly energetic, can-do people … and quite frankly, I love that.
Those are the reasons why I choose to support and promote their brand. And that is why I will continue to wax lyrical about them given the chance. It is also the reason why I decided to get the Peak Design logo tattooed on my left pectoral muscle*.
To summarise ...
So there you have it. A fairly comprehensive and hopefully very conclusive review of my thoughts & feelings on the Everyday Messenger bag.
Want one for yourself? Click here. Want to pay less for it? Of course you do, leave a comment below and I will give you a code for the checkout to receive a 10% discount. Don't say I never give you nuthin'. Consider it a reward for getting this far.
FINALLY, remember to check out the latest Kickstarter project from Peak Design featuring the new marvellous new collection: Everyday Backpack, Sling and Tote. Like I said up top, I was lucky enough to try prototypes and shoot with them in Chamonix back in Jun; without giving too much away (I can feel another review coming on) THEY ARE INCREDIBLE.
Got a question about the bag? Want to know more about how I use it? Did you find this review helpful? I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below // LL
Featured accounts linked are: Annie Nyborg, David Anhalt & East Austin Sawdust (aka Adam 'Zeus Beard' Saraceno) ... why not check out: some of the other team members too (c'est Dulon, Elish Patel, Luke Roberts, Peter Lockett & Peter Dering)
MUSIC ON MY SOUTH KOREA VIDEO GENEROUSLY PROVIDED BY: Smudgeeyy