This is not an ad for Peak Design, though it might read like it. It’s not a paid endorsement, though I can understand how my enthusiasm for the company’s first backpack could be misconstrued as such. See, I like the Peak Design Everyday Backpack — I like it a lot. It’s one of those rare products that makes you smile unexpectedly as you discover yet another great feature over time. I’d go so far as to say that it’s the most intelligently designed carryall I’ve ever used.

I have a bit of a bag obsession. It started about 25 years ago when I got hooked on backpacking and the weird sport of ounce-counting that comes along with it. My friends and I would compete to see who could pack the lightest bag and still survive the High Sierras in relative comfort; whereby comfort could be defined as pasta with sauce and water without parasites. I’ve owned dozens of bags for every kind of purpose, ranging in size from diminutive camera bags to giant rolling suitcases. My defect is that I’m never satisfied, especially with the bags I use the most: laptop bags. There’s always something that could be improved, something that’s not quite right. But that was before Peak Design sent me the Everyday Backpack to test. I have, at last, found perfection.

I first became aware of San Francisco-based Peak Design in January when a handful of Verge reporters and senior editors arrived in Las Vegas toting the same messenger-style bags purchased through the company’s Kickstarter campaign. While I really liked the look and the magnetic closure, the Everyday Messenger bag was a bit too bulky and too camera-specific for me. Besides, for a price of over $200 I wasn’t going to forgo what I really wanted: a backpack. Six months later and Peak Design was back on Kickstarter with its Everyday Backpack. The company ultimately raised $6,565,782 from 26,359 backers to produce it, and almost $7 million more on Indiegogo in the form of preorders.

The Everyday Backpack is available in 20-liter (preorder for $219) and 30-liter ($249) sizes. I’m testing the 20L model, which I think is the ideal size for a primary-use gear bag. At this size, I’m able to comfortably carry the following: a 13-inch MacBook (it fits laptops up to 15 inches), a 9.7-inch iPad, a midrange DSLR with an 18-200 lens and macro lens, a USB battery pack, wireless and wired earbuds, a variety of adapters, numerous cables, a portable umbrella, water bottle, portable bike pump, front and rear LED bike lights, nylon raincoat, sunglasses, an extra pair of contact lenses, prescription glasses and drugs which may or may not be legal, lip balm, a notebook and pens, a knit hat, scarf, and a plastic shopping bag. And thanks to a bevy of compression straps and attachment points integrated right into the pack, I can unfold the plastic bag to create another 25 liters or so of external storage to carry groceries on my bike ride home. You can imagine then, the hauling power you’d have with the bigger 30-liter Everyday Backpack.

I’ve been testing the 20L backpack for about 10 days now in a variety of situations and weather. Peak Design claims its bags are "both the best camera bags and the best everyday carry on the planet." So I’ve tried using it in three different modes: as a dedicated camera bag, as a gym bag, and more often than not as a daily-use commuter laptop bag. As you can imagine, it serves some purposes better than others.

I "work from home" which is corporate speak for saying I work from pretty much anywhere I gawdamn please. I’m writing this up at my daughter’s gymnastic’s club, for example. It’s a 30-minute bike ride from my home; a ride I’ve done eight separate times in a variety of weather with the Everyday Backpack.

I reconfigured the Everyday Backpack to photograph the most demanding of all events: an eight-year-old girl’s birthday party with 12 of her closest friends.

Accelerated Aging Oven

I twice tested the Everyday Backpack at the gym after removing the larger items like the electronics and notebook, but leaving the smaller bits like adapters, cables, and pens because they were all stored so nice and tidy in their little side pockets, and I knew I’d be too lazy to replace them in the morning.

In my experience, bags that are heavily marketed around design often end up being over-engineered to the point of uselessness. North Face’s $235 Access Pack with "ejector tabs" is a great example of this sad phenomenon. Its design is arrogant in its conceit that there’s only one right way to store your gear. That’s not the case with Peak Design’s $219 Everyday Backpack (20L). It’s perfect; perfect in thoughtful touches, perfect in material selection, and perfect in its adaptability. True, it’s not cheap, but you could spend much, much more (as I have) for an overpriced Tumi. The design of Peak’s Everyday Backpack is so delightful and so anticipatory of my changing day-to-day needs that it’s become my everyday backpack. You’d be wise to consider it for yours.

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