A good backpack is one of the best investments one can make. I had been searching for a customizable pack that could be used as a regular weekender, or a dedicated camera bag that doesn’t scream ‘tourist.’ This led me to the Peak Design Everyday Zip 20L. There is not a lot of real-world reviews, so as an active member of the Reddit Onebag community, I thought it would only be right to share my experiences so far. Thus, with a month of owning the Everyday Zip, I have brought it to Minnesota as a work bag for ice fishing, as I wrote about here, and to Mexico City as a regular pack, here.
Let’s take a look.
This was a pretty straightforward pack: four days just doing city stuff. I always packed just the necessities with a few extra items, and this bag worked well for an extended weekend trip. I liked that my 8L Atom day pack fit perfectly in the separated laptop compartment. The stretchy side pockets also worked well as I could pack my slippers in a shoe pouch and place them in a side compartment without taking up much space. The external straps came in handy for when it was too hot wearing a jacket — easy attaching and detaching while not taking space or weight.
With that said, I packed this bag to the brim and could’ve gone without a few things. Alas, it worked well and being able to add external space when necessary came in handy.
The itinerary of this trip was three days of ice fishing in sub-zero degrees. While I’m pretty experienced with cold weather, this proved to be on a different level. As a strong believer in the ‘one bag theory,’ needless to say, this was a trip where I’d be checking in an extra bag, so I added my trusty North Face Base Camp Duffel 50L.
In these conditions, layering is everything. Thus I divided everything up into base, mid, and outer layers as what I'd wear throughout the day. Strategic, but nothing complex: a double layer of merino wool socks was essential. I used a merino wool sweater and an REI fleece sweater for the mid layer. Haglofs mid fjord hiking pants for mobility. Thin pair of Goretex running inner gloves with a pair of waterproof Carhartt mittens as an outer glove. I bought a pair of waterproof insulated Carhartt bibs, which were excellent and were the only splurge I made for the trip. I've had a Columbia Titanium waterproof 700 down jacket for years, and it'll take any challenge I throw at it. For the price, it can't be beaten. It's terrific. While this was a lot of stuff, it's what I narrowed down as essentials for the trip.
I packed two pairs of boots, just in case one should get wet. My Timberlands are surprisingly comfortable with a pair of insoles, and the Vans MTEs do a great job at being waterproof. I would’ve been OK with just one pair of boots, one pair of pants, and a mid layer less, but I figured a spare item for each would be handy.
Besides the usual misc., I added two USB-C hand warmers rather than buying the disposable ones. I was gifted a 36oz YETI Rambler which perfectly clipped to the side of the Everyday Zip. I wasn’t bringing food, but I’m always carrying some sort of snacks. Also, I’ve started to add a pack of Nuun hydration tablets for when I travel.
Let’s chat camera gear
For three days in harsh conditions, I brought only the necessities that I knew could handle the terrain.
- Fuji x100v — I added the filter to fully weatherseal the camera and lens.
- Fuji xpro2 + 16mm f/2.8. I prefer this setup over the 16mm f/1.4 version, as it’s weathersealed and packs up small and light. I left my fast primes at home as I would be worried that snow or water could creep in.
- Samyang 135mm f/1.8 + Zhongyi lens turbo. This setup isn’t exceptionally rugged, but since the lens doesn’t contain any electronics, it would be a relatively easy fix should moist get in. I brought the lens with the purpose of wildlife but hardly used it besides for a few headshots. I could’ve easily left this at home and shaved off additional size and weight.
- 6 batteries + 2 power banks. Cold weather drains batteries quickly, so this was my main worry. I carried the batteries in my bib and a smaller power bank so that my body heat kept them warm. My main power bank stayed deep in the backpack.
- This setup allowed me to have a two-weathersealed camera setup while traveling light. I’ve had the X-Pro2 for years and put it through countless abuse, and it has never let me down. But this was the first time taking the X100V to an extreme environment, and needless to say, it performed like a charm, even when it was -10 Fahrenheit. Color me impressed!
My only gripe is that they have different sensors, and I can tell the files look slightly different. This isn’t pleasing when putting a body of work together, albeit most probably wouldn’t notice. Of course, I could shoot RAW, and with a bit of tinkering, make the files look similar. But the beauty of the Fuji X system is the simple workflow that comes with its JPG files.
The Everyday Zip is boxier than any other bag I’ve owned, but it still sat nicely under the airplane seat, while the 50L Base Camp (slightly compressed) fit in the overhead pin. I’m not sure how I managed to bring both on board, but I did (thanks, American Airlines!), and so, despite the large load of stuff, it all packed well together.
So what did I learn?
I learned that I love the internal FlexFold dividers. I’ve gone through many dedicated camera bags during the past ten years, and these dividers are some of my favorite. In my experience of other premium bags, the dividers are extremely padded, which can ultimately take up a lot of real estate in a bag while not offering a lot of customization. These FlexFold’s bring a new way of systematizing things while adding just enough padding. On my Minnesota trip, I had neatly organized the compartments to fit my gear, and in Mexico City, I removed the dividers to create one main compartment. As I try to avoid owning an abundance of things, I want my items to be functional and multi purposeful. And this backpack allowed me to go from a dedicated camera bag to a regular bag. Furthermore, the outer exterior is protected enough that I feel confident that everything stays safe and protected.
Perhaps a simple thing, but I enjoyed the external carry system. I frequently used this on both trips to place a jacket or scarf and appreciated how easily the straps were to attach and detach.
With that said, a common complaint about the Everyday Zip is the discomfort of the straps. I have a large frame with broad shoulders, and I haven’t experienced any pain. But it’s not particularly comfortable either. Could I carry it for an entire day of travel or work? Yes. Would my shoulders be thrilled? Maybe, 3/5. On a Side note, I do find the Base Camp straps to be incredibly uncomfortable and would like some recommendations for straps or pads that I could replace them with.
Also, I found that the vented mesh on the back did not breathe well. If I were on a long hike in a tropical environment, say a rain forest, I would probably prefer a vented backpack with camera cubes. Better airflow would have been nice, but again, comparing the Everyday Zip to an Osprey is apples to oranges.
When I buy gear, I intend it to last and give me confidence that it can withstand heavy usage. And this pack does that. It’s expensive for what it is, but it’s a price worth paying when carrying camera equipment. As for a regular backpack? I find it overpriced. Own less, but own quality that doesn’t need to be replaced every so often. With Peak Design’s lifetime warranty, I have no doubt that this pack will serve me well for decades to come, whether that may be for photo work, travel, or as a diaper bag. Safe travels.