Things you didn’t know your backpack could do — Our 2018 Owner's Guide to the Everyday Backpack

Editor's note: We recently traversed the tallest mountain in Maine using the everyday backpack as a day-bag. (That's where we took the sweet photo featured above.) We'll have a full breakdown of how it handles extra-tough trekking in a future article.

If you’re in the market for a new backpack, maybe you caught wind of this little hunk of dorsal portability. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you...the bag that keeps on bagging...the Peak Designs everyday backpack.

If you’re looking for some in-depth reviews of the bag, I’ve compiled a list of reviews that helped me out, located here, here, and here, but that’s not what this article is about.

Lord knows there are enough reviewers on the internet who’ve put together overwhelmingly positive pieces on this thing already. No sir-ee, this would-be reviewer right here has been busy gathering all the little quirks, features, and hidden nuggets that you learn about a bag after wearing it everyday for eight months!

Let’s get into it.

Most useful features

Let’s get the fluffy stuff out of the way. This bag comes jam packed with features. (Don’t believe me though, check out this slick marketing video about it.) But let’s try to cut through the cruft — which of these features really deliver? As the backpack guinea pig in the room, I’ve found that there are three features (for me) that scratch all the right spots.

1.) Strap management

Streamlined — Only two straps out of the box: the ones for your shoulders

My last backpack was a long-lived North Face debacle that suffered from one particular problem: inanimate objects just couldn’t seem to let it go! Tree branch? Snag. Back of a chair? Snag. Emergency Brake? Snag. Unusually dense pocket of air? SNAG. I’m exaggerating a bit, but I think you get the picture. The thing was like carrying around a tumbleweed on your back it had so many loose straps.

So you can imagine my elation upon pulling the Everyday Backpack out of its packaging only to find two loose straps: the one’s for your shoulders. Heck, even the side handles are low-profile (more on those later).

Now for a moment, I was slightly concerned that the lack of straps might limit my possibilities when going longer distances or lashing things to the outside. So imagine moment of surprise number two, when I found more straps than I could ever want tucked away into little secret pockets.

Shhhhhh. These tie-downs hibernate while nestled inside the outer lining.

Secret straps, mark that one down as a win.

2.) Flexi-fold dividers

Flexi-fold dividers flip, flop, and flap into whichever way you see fit.

Alright, so this one is easily one of the most marketed features of the bag, and a character trait it shares with a lot of other Peak Design products. My honest opinion of these is that you don’t really know how useful they are until you get your hands on them. Suddenly the small-yet-cavernous interior becomes a realm of infinite possibility. As a guy who loves to optimize, these foldable wizards give me the confidence to feel like I could securely and efficiently store damn near anything I wanted to carry on a given day. And if you’re going to carry it every day, (as the name suggests) some days what you carry will change. So will this bag. Pretty freaking cool if you ask me.

3.) Water resistance


This last feature doesn’t seem to get as much hype as the rest of them, but to be totally honest, it’s probably the one I get the most use out of. Given that the pedestrian part of my commute is often devoid of awnings or shelter, it’s a huge reassurance to know that all of my electronics are safe and sound inside their cozy little pockets. It’s saved my bum on more than a few occasions.

Plus, there’s nothing quite like getting poured on, then opening your backpack, contents unscathed. Take that mother nature! It almost makes that puddle under the desk seem like it’s not really an issue.

Hidden Gems

One thing is for certain: this backpack is the kind of bag that will keep surprising you for years of ownership. If you don’t have time to wait though, I’ve compiled a list of some of the secrets I’ve found.

1.) Pockets for your pockets.

Sneaky-Pocket — Took me several months and a lucky google search to find this particular pocket

This bag has more pockets and compartments than you’ll likely know what to do with. In fact, while doing some research for this article, I stumbled across a pouch that I had no idea even existed! Inside was tucked a nifty little promo sticker that I’ve been unknowingly toting around.

If you'd like a comprehensive overview of all the pockets this thing has, Chase Reeves' review (also linked at the start of this article) does a really great job.

No I am not a Janitor.  Yes I have a lot of keys.

Now this one really was a surprise. It turns out, that for every backpack, Peak Designs tosses in a little anchor point that you can use for your keyring (or whatever else you want to anchor). Now if you’re familiar with Peak Designs anchor links at all, you’ll know they’re a pretty neat system for quickly and very securely attaching things to other things. So do I use this for my keys? Not at all. In fact, I’d put money down that Peak Design’s CEO might be the only person that does, but who knows? I’m more of a carabiner or pocket guy myself. That said, I still think it’s pretty neat little freebie and certainly a smart marketing move for Peak Design if you’ve ever been curious about their other products.

3.) Waist strap

Hidden Waist Strap — This guy came in particularly handy when hiking

Remember those secret straps? Oh yeah. I didn’t even know this thing had a waist strap until I went hiking one day and decided to dig around a little bit. Turns out they’re tucked away, safe and sound until you need them. That’s just how this bag rolls though. It looks all sleek and approachable, then BAM it hits you with the technical savvy when you need it.

Techniques in practice

This might be a rather odd topic to cover, but one of the most important factors about a bag (in my mind) is how it’s actually used. Below I’ve outlined a few of the motions I find myself doing throughout a typical day of use, and how the bag lends itself to them.

1.) The swing

Feels cool, looks cool, and gets mega-bonus points for actually being practical

You’ve probably already seen this move in one of Peak Design’s videos, but it’s hands down one of the most common moves I find myself doing. And gosh darnit, if I don’t feel pretty slick doing it.

Part of the reason I got the Everyday Backpack is because I wanted to be able to tote my camera around with me more in a way that was secure, but still accessible. This method of carry certainly checks both those boxes for me. As the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

2.) Ah, squish it

Compresses a big fluffy sweater like it's nothing.

Another feature you’ve probably seen is the unique magnetic closure on the top. The idea being, you are able to expand the top section of the bag to accommodate extra items. Now considering I hate looking like a dork with an overflowing backpack, I’ve taken to the act of squishing said extra items (usually a jacket or sweater) to keep as low a profile as possible. Usually I try to get it within the first 2-3 rungs. The good news? This custom hardware holds up. So far I’ve had no embarassing instances where the top of my backpack explodes into a volcano of pressurized dirty laundry. Nor do I expect to!

3.) The grab’n’go


Now I mentioned the low-profile side-handles once before, and boy, do I use those guys on pretty much a daily basis. Basically, the shorter travel of the side handles (as compared to grabbing the shoulder straps) means I can confidently grab my bag from any orientation, and without the main body of the bag flopping all over the place like a softly padded medieval flail.

Floppy shoulder strap grab vs side handle

Gripes and workarounds

Of course, it’s not all hunky-dory in Everyday Backpack Land. There are still some gripes I’ve got about the design, but for most I’ve found some applicable workarounds.

1.) Remembering which side is which

Now this one’s going to be a doozy with any side-access backpack design, and the Everyday Backpack suffers from it as well. In a sense, because both sides of the backpack look pretty much the same it can be easy to forget which side you placed something in, especially if you’re rearranging your organization-scheme with any frequency. While the backpack’s on my back, I’ve found it pretty intuitive which side is which. Because I grab my camera with my right hand, I know instinctively which side I need to access to get to it. There’s really only one option. Where it gets tricky is when I take the bag off. Depending on which way I’m looking at it, the orientation may be reversed, and without my own body as a reference...well let’s just say it’s like trying to plug in a USB drive right on the first try.

So what’s my workaround? Well the only thing I’ve come up with so far is to color-code the zippers for each side. It’s not a perfect solution, as I still have to remember which items are associated with which colors, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

2.) Water bottle giving me the slip

Miir water bottle in case you're wondering
I have a powder coated metal water bottle and truth be told, it’s not the grippiest thing in the world. Neither is the crazy-tough fabric of the Everyday Backpack. Eventually what ends up happening as I haphazardly toss the bag into wherever, is that my water bottle slides out and goes clanging across the room. So if you’re a smooth-surface water bottle user like myself, you’ll have to keep an eye on the angle of your bag. Too close to inverted and you’re liable to leave your hydration companion behind. The best fix I’ve found so far is to use one of the included lashing straps to secure the top end of the bottle. Although, admittedly, this does make taking a swig a much slower process than I’d like.

3.) The dreaded “fwump”

When I was a kid I had a small children’s book called “Tippy Truck.” I’ve been tempted to give this backpack a similar cutesy nickname because of its tendency to fall off of things when stood upright. Now, I think this is probably true of a lot of backpacks, but for some reason it’s been more noticeable to me with this one. The only real solution I’ve found so far is to be vigilant. If you’re setting the Everyday Backpack upright, you’d best find it a sturdy friend. I guess at the end of the day, we all need somebody to lean on.

Highly advanced computer simulation of what happens to the everyday backpack on occasion

Some Final Thoughts

So there you go. If cameras are your thing and everyday carry is your game, it’s hard to go wrong with the Everyday Backpack by Peak Design. For a hunk of fabric and fasteners it almost seems to carry a personality of its own. Every quirk, every secret compartment, and every adaptable element speaks to a bag that’s not just there to hold your shit for you. It’s a bag that’s going to keep up with you on your journeys, and keep surprising you every step of the way.

Got questions, comments, or rebuttals? I’m around on instagram @mitchellwadeharris or @mountainsandmaritime if you wanna geek out on gear together.

Mitchell Harris

Mitchell Harris

Mitch reps the "mountains" part of Mountains and Maritime from his home in the Appalachians. A designer by trade, he's all about putting way too many spaces in the word "aesthetic."

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