- Buyer's Guide
Peak Design, where do we begin? We’ve admired Peak Design since their Kickstarter inception, and we’ve enjoyed watching them reshape and remodel staples of the carry, photography, and travel industries, from camera slings, to everyday backpacks, all the way through to tripods. They even won our Brand of the Year award in 2020.
While it may be a little while since you’ve heard from them (the pandemic has slowed everyone’s roll!) – they’ve been working away like crazy. You may have seen their new mobile line launch – yet another example of thoughtful and functional innovation from the San Francisco based team. However, there is another exciting line of products we’re dying to tell you about: their new and improved travel line. This isn’t just a “tweak” of existing products – but a whole range of products built from user feedback to help you #findyourpeak. Let’s dive in.
This is the crown jewel of the new collection in my opinion. Not only that, I think it is quite simply the most elegant and stylish bag that Peak Design have made. Before we even get into the details – the silhouette is timeless and clean with only a few small touches on the outside – attachment loops, elasitcated water bottle or tripod pockets and an embossed leather logo. It is a very sleek profile, and one that caught my attention the moment we saw it on a rooftop in Denver.
While the previous 45L travel backpack is undoubtedly a great bag, personally I didn’t find it to be as versatile as I had hoped – even when cinched down. Well – concerns begone! The new 30L version is everything I want in a travel backpack. Firstly, it can expand from 27L to 33L with a simple unzip – allowing you to adjust on the go. Understated and functional – this is the perfect bag for a weekend away, an overnight flight, or an EDC companion when paired with another piece of luggage (more on that later!). When used in tandem with PD’s camera cubes, this also functions very well as a camera bag. As with all PD bags, the 30L travel backpack also works well with PD’s modular system – you can Tetris this bag with any mix of their camera cubes, packing cubes, and wash or tech pouches. It feels like a thoughtful evolution of their philosophy and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using this over the last 4 months.
Made from weatherproof 100% recycled 400D Nylon canvas, and with hearty #10 Ultra zips, this backpack feels like it’s ready to take on your adventures – whether you get there via plane, tuk-tuk, or barge! The subtle grab handles on all sides of the bag make it easy to pull from any storage spot and maneuver through crowds and aisles with ease. One of the biggest improvements from a travel perspective, when compared to the 45L travel backpack, is the quick access admin pocket. Now on the front of the bag, this pocket has enough room for all of your EDC – pens, sunglasses, multitools and the like. It also has a zippered pocket on the front side which I’ve found to be the perfect spot for my travel wallet or passport. Easy to access, but hidden out of sight when not needed. This zippered compartment also includes the wonderful stretch mesh pockets we’ve come to know and love from PD. While designed for camera cards and batteries, they also prove useful for change, chewing gum, hand sanitizer, etc – depending on your needs! The 16” laptop sleeve (can also fit a tablet too!) is easy to access at TSA and it is well padded so you needn’t worry about damaging your computer. I also like how form fitting the sleeve is. If you don’t travel with a laptop, it is very svelte against the back wall, meaning it doesn’t eat up valuable space when not in use.
The backpack straps are easy to fold and hide under the central back panel, much like on the previous 45L model. I really like this feature, and while I don’t use it much, I do love how clean and tidy it makes the backpack look for briefcase or duffel carry. This back panel is also home to an easy to reach grab handle that doubles as a luggage passthrough. I often used this more than the side handles, but your mileage may vary. If you want to, you can purchase a padded hip-belt, but even under a decent load (30lbs) I’ve found this bag to be very comfortable to wear. While the straps aren’t overly padded like we see on a lot of travel bags, the articulation from the riveted connection makes the straps move with you. I love this feature and wish more bag makers would use it. For travel/EDC, when you’re ducking and diving a lot, this makes the bag feel less like a hindrance. You’ll also find a small velcro slip pocket on the back of the bag, designated for an ID tag and the custom aluminium hardware that we know and love from Peak Design–on both the sternum strap and the shoulder straps. There are two attachment straps included, that live under a small flap on the front of the bag. These are stored elegantly, and if you never used them, no-one would ever know–their storage doesn’t affect the silhouette of the bag at all. These are useful for either storing a jacket, tripod, or even an impulse purchase while travelling.
Internally, aside from the laptop compartment, this is a simple bag. Webbing loops allow you to attach PD camera cubes via c-clips, and there are four mesh zippered pockets. One on either side wall, and two in the main body. These are easily filled with travel accessories and easy to access quickly. I often keep a spare mask and tissues in one side pocket, and I’ve used the other for wedding necessities like a tie, pocket square and cufflinks – it’s the perfect size. The other two mesh pockets are a good size, and easily house socks and underwear for a weekend or perhaps your tech necessities if you aren’t using a dedicated pouch. In fact this is one of the things that surprised me most about the 30L travel backpack – there wasn’t a learning curve. I’ve talked about this before in my reviews – and I think it is a sign of exceptional thoughtful design when you can just use a bag straight out of the packaging without having to go through a learning process. PD have made that the case with this bag, I received this on a Friday morning and it was on wedding duty with me that same evening.
The 30L travel backpack is a bag that I think will appeal to many of you. It doesn’t leave you wanting more, rather it lets you do what you need to. Simplicity is often overlooked or scoffed at – but I don’t find that to be the case here – I find the 30L travel bag to be an excellent balance of design and functionality. Besides – EDC, travel, and camera carry for $229.95? Count me in.
PD already have two travel duffels – the 35L Travel Duffel, and the Duffelpack 65L. Now we have the hybrid model – the Travel Duffel 65L. A large cavity, flanked by useful organisation make this a travel duffel that is hard to ignore in a crowded marketplace. A 600D recycled nylon outer shell paired with the same tough #10 Ultra zipper found on the backpack provide a tough fortress for your travel. My favourite feature on this bag without doubt is the wide opening. Reminiscent of a 1940’s doctors bag, this opening allows you to see every inch of the interior so you can find the contents in a flash. While I do love the 35L version, the limitations of the size have restricted it to weekend/gym use for me.
With the 65L version – I have found myself using this for a vast variety of situations. It managed to absorb all of my snowboarding gear (minus the actual board!) for trips to the mountains – the weatherproof base is very welcome in such situations! It has also been used to house my camera gear and clothing for a weekend trip thanks to PD’s modular system. Internally there are two internal pockets and four external pockets. The internal pockets are simple mesh zippered pockets, while two of the external pockets have great EDC organisation. I also found these a good place to store the removable grab handles or shoulder strap depending on your carry preference. Leather detailing on the handle completes the subtle style. This duffel also packs almost completely flat! Easy to store under the bed at your airbnb or even keep in your car as an emergency duffel!
Wash-pouches and I have a love hate relationship. I love being organised, particularly when it comes to travel. However, I don’t usually carry a large amount of toiletries with me when I travel, particularly for shorter trips so I’m often left with a large amount of empty space which I hate. PD must have been listening to my inner turmoil, because the small wash pouch answers all of my problems.
The shape is magnificent – the wedge allows you to squeeze this into all corners of your bag when packed for the weekend, and makes it easy to grab, too. Goldilocks sized, it has a slot for everything that you need for a trip. Much like their tech pouch and larger wash pouch, these pockets aren’t just placed willy nilly – there is an intention about how each pocket works, both individually and collectively. Intelligent design features include a stowable aluminium hook for hanging your washbag, a small scoop for your fingers that aids carrying and allows you to open with ease, a dedicated toothbrush sleeve with magnetic closure, and silicon coated pockets for easy clean and easy drying interior. Oh, did I mention it stands by itself? A must have for any useful washbag in my eyes. This could also easily double as a dopp kit or tech kit. I’m impressed by this pouch, and it has replaced my half empty wash bags from years past!
Peak Design doesn’t just stop there though. They’ve also updated their modular packing system. There are updated materials and colours for their packing cubes and shoe pouch, alongside an entirely new packable tote. The packing cubes and shoe pouch are made from a featherweight 100% recycled 70d nylon/poly shell. Their weight is negligible and makes a big difference to packing. If you haven’t used packing cubes before – now is the perfect time to start! Featuring a tear away opening you can unpack quickly, and the compression zip allows you to really pack those cubes full! The new sage and raw (undyed!) colourways are attractive and easy to differentiate from the interior of your bags, something I always appreciate when unpacking.
The shoe pouch packs down into its own internal pocket and comfortably holds either a pair of sneakers and sandals, or one pair of hiking boots (with some finagling). An easy way to keep your bag clean and stench free!
The packable tote is just 80 grams. For $19.95 you get a packable shopping bag, laundry bag, beer hauler – and I’m sure there are a plethora of other uses I’ve yet to discover. Complete with a zippered closure and padded strap – this is one luxurious packable tote. It is made from the same robust 100% recycled 70d ripstop nylon/poly shell as the shoe pouch and packing cubes. I’ve used this so much more than I anticipated – so much so that I move it between all the bags that I own – it is incredibly useful, and so lightweight that it doesn’t make sense not to bring it!
Peak Design has really excelled with this updated and improved travel line – creating products that not only look good and feel good in hand, but ones that also elevate your travel experience. Or, as they say over in their San Francisco office – #findyourpeak! Over the past four months I’ve enjoyed using this collection as my primary travel bags, and the accessories have crossed over into my EDC too. I think that speaks volumes about a product – when you just want to use it again, and again, and again. Heck, you might even end up booking more adventures, just so you can use the bags again!