The Bag Man Reviews the Peak Design Everyday Messenger Photo Bag 13

If you like the Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag but think it’s a bit too large for daily use, here’s good news: a new Peak Design messenger bag that’s one size smaller.  

Last October, in my review of their larger (15-inch) Messenger Bag, I wrote that I was eager to see more bags from Peak Design. I didn’t have to wait long. Their newest, the Everyday Messenger Bag 13, is here and for many of us it’s a better Every Day Carry solution than the original.

From far away you have to look twice to tell whether you’re looking at a model 13 or a model 15. That’s a good thing. Compared to its larger sibling, the 13 is an inch shorter and two inches thinner, and they’ve shaved two inches off the width. Even so, the capacity hasn’t shrunk that much: 14 liters vs. 18 L maximum in the larger model. The big difference, as suggested by the name, is the size of the notebook computer that can be handled. My 13-inch MacBook Air fits comfortably and securely inside the new bag with little wasted space.

Looking down from the top, the EDMB 13 features a padded fabric grab handle flanked by two full length zippers. The back zipper opens to reveal two slots, either of which can stow a notebook PC or large tablet. I’d be reluctant to pack both at the same time, but it would probably work if you’re careful. The front zipper allows easy access to the cameras and lenses inside so they can be retrieved quickly without opening the flap.

The flap is secured by the same ladder-like, magnet latch system used on the 15 (it’s called Maglatch). Behind the latch is a large zippered compartment that conceals four large pockets and four small ones. The pouches are made of a stretchy fabric and feature color-coded stitching so you can shove the dead batteries in the red side and keep the live ones on the green side, for example. It’s great to see this space devoted to something photographers can actually—instead of the commonly-seen pencil loop organizer that’s beyond worthless.

On the inside of the flap you find a zippered pouch that runs the full length and has a depth of about three inches—not quite tall enough to hide airline tickets but useful for other small items. Below the fold of the flap is an open pouch ideal for lens caps, filters or even a fair-sized multi-tool.

But inside is where this baby really shines. The EDMB 13 comes with two incredibly innovative partitions that are the best I’ve ever seen, hands down, same ones that come with the EDMB 15. Here’s how I described the Flex-Fold dividers in the EDMB 15 review, because even at the risk of plagiarizing  myself, I can’t think of an better description: “Made of compression-molded EVA foam, they are soft and protective and are prefolded so that they can stand upright to protect a tall lens, or fold neatly along scored lines to create a cradle that supports camera with lens. Alternatively, they can be folded inward thereby creating a “roof” that protects a shorter lens nestled inside.” Pretty cool, no?The body of the bag is comprised of weatherproof waxed 500 denier Kodra shell with internal padding and a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) undercoat. On the outside of the bag, on either end, you find a deep, diagonally cut pouch. One of the pouches contains a tether that’s equipped with an integrated Anchor Link connector. Cleverly hidden behind the pouches are the two halves of a stabilizing strap that can be used to lash the bag close to your torso—or keep it from flapping when you’re popping wheelies on your Harley-Davidson FX Super Glide. It can also be used to bind the bag on top of rolling luggage.

The shoulder strap is as sturdy as all get out, and reminiscent of an airline seatbelt, hardware and all. The padded area is integral (as opposed to being a loose sliding pad) and unfortunately the side that rests on your shoulder is slick whereas the top of the strap has long, sticky friction strips. I asked the folks at Peak Design about this and their feeling is that most people will wear the bag bandoleer style, with the strap running diagonal on the body like a State Trooper’s Sam Browne holster rig. They told me that the strap could be twisted upside down when the bag is carried on one shoulder. Maybe. I still prefer having a strap that’s engineered not to slip from my shoulder, especially on a bag so skillfully and thoughtfully designed as this one.

The Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag 13 is available in charcoal gray or tan and has an MSRP of $219. It can be ordered from Peak Design and most photo stores. The 15-inch model is $249.

As this review was being written, Peak Design announced that they are joining 1% For The Planet, a non-profit organization that assists and connects business with initiatives to support a healthy planet. In a press release, they explained their decision as follows.

“Peak Design occupies a unique space, smack-dab in between the creative and adventure communities. We decided that our mission shouldn't just be to serve these communities, but to help these communities serve each other in pursuit of preserving the one thing that unanimously drives us: the beautiful world we live in,” commented Peak Design Marketing Director Adam Saraceno. “Joining 1% For The Planet holds us accountable to this goal, and brings us into a family of likeminded businesses and entrepreneurs.”

—Jon Sienkiewicz