The Everyday Messenger bag isn't just for camera freaks

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The Everyday Messenger camera bag has grabbed the imagination of Kickstarter users, raising an unprecedented $4 million and counting. You may wonder how the folks behind it, Peak Design, managed to convince more than 14,000 people to roll the dice on a $200-plus concept sack instead of snagging one from an established company like Ona. I was certainly curious, so when the company offered me a chance to try it, I took it -- even though we don't review bags very often. And while the style is not to everyone's taste, the attention to detail and unique features like a magnetic latch and folding dividers make it the best small camera (and regular bag) I've tried.

Gallery: Everyday Messenger bag | 16 Photos


Peak Design describes the Everyday Messenger as a "bag designed around the workflows of photographers, creatives, travelers and commuters." As I depend on my laptop and heavy-ish Canon 7D DSLR, it's been a struggle to find just the right bag for events and trade shows. I've gone through backpacks, rolling sacks and messenger bags, but none have been satisfactory for the pounds of gear I carry. If it can also double as an "everyday" bag for myself, as promised by the name, even better.

The company created several handmade samples for reviewers, a wise move given all the positive articles so far that have surely helped the massive sales. The bag I received was in "Charcoal" gray, with the other color option being "Heritage Tan." The first order of business was loading it with stuff, including my camera, lenses, cables and laptop. I was able to cram in my DSLR body and a pair of lenses, including a 50mm prime and a 15-85mm zoom.

All told, with some careful organization, I was able to squeeze in all my batteries, laptop, lenses and power bricks. You may have trouble fitting a longer telephoto lens, obviously, given that it's still a shoulder bag. One issue was that my 15-inch Dell XPS 15 (last year's model) didn't fit in the laptop pouch at the back; I had to put it in the main compartment instead. However, it's big enough to hold a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and easily handled my 13-inch MacBook Air.

Peak Design collaborated with Stuck in Customs HDR Photographer Trey Ratcliff to design the bag, and they clearly put some thought into camera use. The bag expands to handle your extra stuff thanks to the origami-style folding compartments and patent-pending adjustable, spring-loaded mag-lock cover. Other touches for camera nuts include the ability to carry a tripod while keeping access to the bag, an ultra-comfortable padded strap and a stabilizer/waist strap. Optionally, you can get a field pouch, Peak Design camera clip and a slide camera sling. The clip could be handy for quick-draw photography, but it would be easy to damage your camera if you're not careful.

For an organization-challenged person like me, it made a delightful day bag, offering a surfeit of easy-to-access pockets for cellphones, tablets, my metro pass and more. In my regular bag, all my crap normally sits in a messy jumble at the bottom. The Everyday Messenger also has a waterproof waxed shell, which stood up to a formidable Paris downpour. The one niggle is the style -- my American and Canadian friends liked it, but my French friends found it a bit ordinaire. My verdict? It keeps me so much better organized that I don't care if it's the height of Paris fashion -- it's now my go-to bag.

If you're looking to get one, the Everyday Camera bag starts at $195 on Kickstarter, and up to $375 if you want Peak Design's mini-me pouch, camera clip, protective camera cover and sling. You'll need to act quickly, though -- the campaign ends on September 20th.

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