- Buyer's Guide
WANDRD PRVKE Review
Camera bags have been around for ages, but so many of them are just plain ugly, with no style and are only meant for that one function; being a camera bag. Enter the WANDRD PRVKE: a stylish, pragmatic, do-everything pack. It will seamlessly accompany you on a photo shoot, on multi-day travel, as well as for everyday carry. Doing so with a graceful mix of cleverly designed access points, expandability, weather-resistance, and utility.
The PRVKE is something to behold. When taking it out of its protective bag, you can’t help but be impressed by its aesthetics, its materials, its sheer potential for packing loads of gear. With two flavors, 21L and 31L, there are plenty of opportunities to attempt one-bag travel either during a short getaway or trips abroad. WANDRD has done an excellent job of retaining a minimalist/urban aesthetic while packing in a healthy array of features.
21L or 31L storage space
Robic 1680D Ballistic Nylon
Water-resistant YKK zippers
The Cool Stuff
Expandable water bottle pocket
Magnetic tote handles
Thoughtful storage pockets (including rainfly pocket)
Various accessory anchor points
The Wow Stuff
Componentized camera cube
Expandable rolltop access
TSA approved laptop/tablet compartment
Multi-access to the main compartment
Internal divider for organizational options
Quick side access
Hidden security pocket
I wandered with the PRVKE to work, on vacation, during volunteer service and traveling abroad. Here are my takeaways.
Who Is It For?
Photographers. Period. For everyone else though, the PRVKE is for those who are style-forward. For those who don’t mind calling attention to themselves, because this pack is not only big but attention-getting.
That being said, it’s for those who desire a versatile bag that can suit several gear configurations, including “one bag travel”, and camera and/or drone needs, especially in its 31L iteration. The number of pockets, both hidden and not, provide a wealth of options. All coupled with a huge main compartment that includes some organization with an optional camera cube, and a built-in partition that can be used or tucked away. It’s for the worker, the traveler and the explorer who needs to carry lots of gear; it’s indeed a comfortable and functional pack.
Who Should Pass?
If you want to keep a low profile and not call attention to yourself, pass on the PRVKE. I personally wouldn’t want to walk down some sketchy streets or go city exploring in a potentially dangerous place with this bag. Additionally, its aesthetics, although beautiful and modernistic, may not blend well in the more traditional workplace.
Also, if you’re a minimalist who only wants to carry the bare minimum, the PRVKE’s size can be a hindrance, and there is no detachable sling for those times when all you need are the basics. A separate sling or pack would be required.
There’s a lot to like about the PRVKE, it effortlessly blends stylish design with functionality; often described as utilitarian, minimalist, modernistic, urban, fashionable, rugged, sleek, and other adjectives that either agree with or contradict each other. However you want to label it, the PRVKE is a good-looking bag.
When doing volunteer work, I sometimes need to change clothes. For this use case, adding in some shoes, a towel, and clothes to my usual EDC was effortless. And since the PRVKE gives you multiple access points to the main compartment, the variable nature of my activities was not a problem: Need to get to my tech gear? Pull it directly from the side access. Need the Surface? Open the back panel only slightly and pull it out. Need a different pair of shoes? Open the back panel entirely and unzip the bottom section. Need a towel? Open the roll-top and grab it. Even when on an island-hopping trip, where each day required a new loadout, the PRVKE adapted to the varying needs of each circumstance. It’s adaptable, which I am all for, in how you access the enormous amount of stuff you can pack in it.
As a travel bag, the PRVKE is quite possibly the most comfortable bag I’ve ever used, even packed to the gills. It wasn’t “one bag travel”, but on a recent nine-day trip, I packed my entire Peak Design Tech Pouch (RavPower 20100 battery, Surface Adapter, Anker QuickCharge 3.0, two lightning cables, one USB cable, two sets of earbuds, Fitbit charger, flashlight, and Moment Lens case), Surface Pro 4, one large and one medium Knack compression cube filled with clothes, flip-flops, some documents, Kindle, Skittles, insulin, sunglasses, passports, Hydro Flask water bottle, and some pens. Sure it was heavy, but it was never burdensome, even when swinging it around to side-access the main compartment. This is in large part due to the robust, beefy, and comfortable shoulder straps. They have the right mix of padding, rigidity, and density that distributes weight effectively across the body. When you add the sternum strap and hip straps, it takes the PRVKE to another level. All this in tandem with a wonderfully designed back panel of molded foam with horizontal air channels, that even when walking the hot and humid streets of old San Juan, didn’t produce a sweaty back.
When used primarily for photography, the PRVKE is a champ. The camera cube, which can be secured inside the bag, or left loose for easy grab-and-go access, is a delight to use. The cube’s internals can be customized to your needs. One thing to note is that the 21L version will only fit a DSLR and a couple of lenses and batteries, while the 31L is much more versatile. If a DSLR, drones, or multiple lenses and chassis are in play, I’d suggest going for the 31L variant. Additionally, inside the side access flap is a zippered pocket for memory cards; this is incredibly useful and convenient, as I didn’t need to rummage through my gear. Lastly, it’s adaptable in that you can leave the bag behind and strap the camera cube to your side for times when all you need is a camera.
There are plenty of pockets apart from the main compartment to store varying items. One of my favorites is the “hidden” pocket that rests against my back when wearing the pack. Here is where I placed my passport or other sensitive documents like boarding passes. Additionally, it’s really one of the only pockets that provide any sort of organization to put pens, multi-tools, etc. I found the front pocket useful to store my Kindle or other documents. The top quick-access pocket is cleverly placed, and easy to get to. I literally discovered a pocket after weeks of use; a small side pocket with a key clip hidden behind a cinching strap. One can presumably store something small and valuable here, but I kept a bag of Skittles. Lastly, at the bottom of the pack, there is a pocket where the rainfly is stored; it’s a classy touch, but I found the rainfly to be superfluous since the bag is pretty weather resistant to begin with, and instead stored gear straps and some cables.
The tote style handles are a game changer. After having used the PRVKE for a few months, every other bag’s handles just seemed woefully inadequate. They’re comfortable to hold, even when the bag is fully packed (roll-top not included). On a few occasions, I found myself walking around carrying the pack just by these handles. They’re the perfect length; even when the handles fell to each side of the bag, they were easily scooped up. The addition of a small magnet on each handle is an ingenious touch when they work. I’d love to see stronger magnets used here though, to prevent the two handles from coming apart on their own.
Keeping in mind the PRVKE’s adaptable nature, the folks at WANDRD included a series of anchor points around the sides, and underneath. In tandem with the gear straps, these anchor points proved incredibly useful in strapping gear to the outside of the bag. This in itself is not unique to the PRVKE, but what the PRVKE does that’s quite brilliant is position the anchor points in a way to allow several configurations. They then upped the ante by including anchor points inside the laptop compartment that would enable a makeshift desk; crazy useful when on the go.
On that note, the laptop/tablet compartment is sturdy and well-made, with enough padding both inside and out to ensure that your valuable device is protected. Having it be its own separate compartment, apart from the primary storage area is a welcome design decision. I would be able to access my Surface by merely opening this back panel slightly, leaving the rest of the pack undisturbed. Also, as one of the only places to store documents safely, it was okay for more business-centric activities. Did TSA let me keep my devices inside their sleeves while going through security? Nope. Maybe one day – we can dream.
Now, the hardware is top-notch. After months of use and abuse, the bag still looks new. The buckles are intact, the webbing isn’t frayed, the nylon isn’t wrinkled or showing signs of wear, the large metal G-hook isn’t warped or bent. The PRVKE is a high-quality pack that is meant to last. This extends to the water-resistant YKK zippers – each one glides smoothly, with a satisfying sound. Special mention goes to the zip ties for the back panel; the large hoops make finding and pulling these zippers effortless.
Having a zippable and expandable water bottle pocket is killer, especially if you care about your silhouette and how you look while using the pack. When in use, the pocket is deep enough not to worry about the bottle falling out and large enough to accommodate both a basic Hydro Flask or Contigo. Reaching for and grabbing the bottle was never burdensome. One caveat though, when the PRVKE is packed out, you will have a hard time utilizing this pocket. I stuffed the bottle in but was concerned for the webbing attached to the tarpaulin each time. The pocket can also moonlight as a tripod holder in conjunction with a gear strap. Nice!
Not So Good
However much I like and admire my PRVKE, some niggling details should be noted:
There isn’t a whole lot of organization here in terms of where to put pens, multi-tools, and small items. Sure, you can put these things in the “hidden” pocket, but it’s cumbersome to access and can only hold the smallest of items that are not flat. There’s a felt-lined quick-access pocket, but if you’re putting glasses in there, you wouldn’t want to put anything else inside; also, it’s relatively small.
The side key-clip pocket is tiny. This leaves you with the large front pocket, where the outline of what’s inside is visible – once again, if you care about looks, this is a non-starter. I resorted to putting smaller items in my tech pouch, accessible from the side.
The front pocket is not a great place to put documents as they’ll get bent and wrinkled, leaving you to place documents in the laptop or tablet sleeve. Unfortunately, those slots may be occupied, forcing you to put them in between the sleeves and the main compartment. This is probably not an issue during travel but could be a hassle for EDC use.
Honestly, on several occasions, I appreciated the ability to expand my carrying capacity by utilizing the roll top. But, when expanded out to its limit or near its limit, I looked ridiculous. Like some kind of hipster Sherpa.
As mentioned, the PRVKE is a gorgeous bag whose style is going to call attention. A lot of attention. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you want and care about that. As for me, I tend to prefer a more low-key look when traveling, and the bag didn’t mesh well in more traditional workplaces. Even at 21L, the PRVKE looks big and attention-getting. Generally, my EDC is a Surface Pro 4, Surface Mouse, a bundle of IT cables, Skittles, and some insulin in a cooling pouch. The bag was mostly empty and here’s why; the Surface sits against the back of the pack in a separate laptop/tablet sleeve not taking up any room, while the rest of my essentials sit all the way at the bottom of the cavernous main compartment in a Peak Design Tech Pouch. The tarpaulin material is already formed, so the bag looks virtually the same whether it’s empty or packed. The nature of the PRVKE’s looks did produce some comments from clients: “Dude, are you going on a safari?” Whether or not this matters largely depends on your preference for attention.
For however attention-grabbing and beautiful the bag is on the outside, the inside materials leave a bit to be desired. The zippers look and feel cheaper than their outside counterparts, as does the nylon and mesh material that provides a barrier between the main compartment and the back panel. This is probably a cost-cutting measure, which I can appreciate, but it’s a jarring juxtaposition.
Speaking of the inside, unless you’re using the camera cube, there isn’t a whole lot of internal organization in primary storage. You can Velcro up the partition, but that creates one small pocket that is accessible through the roll top and a mesh-panel zipper, and one large compartment accessible via the side access or nylon-panel zipper. I am being super nit-picky here, but it’s worth noting and entirely dependent on your use case.
If you’re into DSLR or drone photography, buy the bag; it’s worth every cent. As a travel and EDC bag though, I have a love-hate relationship with the PRVKE. It’s a gorgeous work of art in bag form that still catches my eye when I walk by it. But it’s because of how beautiful it is that I hesitate to take it with me on every single trip, and to every client’s office: I don’t want the attention. If you don’t care, then seriously, by all means, toss caution to the wind and acquire the PRVKE, it’s incredible.
That being said, some minor inconveniences can cause you to give pause – but no bag is perfect for every single person. Nevertheless, the PRVKE can take you onto the mountains, into the woods, through the deserts, exploring the cities, walking the streets, and going to work; maybe in the same day – a go anywhere bag. WANDRD has created a pack whose multiple access points, materials, construction, and features coalesce into an excellent product that is deserving of all the hype; one you can enjoy for years to come.
This article was written by Jovanni Bello. Renaissance man, adventurer and cell phone photographer.