Camera Bag Review: Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2

The Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is better than the previous version, but it’s not perfect.

The first version of the Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag was a hit with many people, although personally I wasn’t a huge fan of it. The original Peak Design Everyday Messenger wasn’t very ambidextrous and although the second version has surely made strides forward, there is still something very awkward about the bag that I think appeals more to tech bros more than anyone else. There is a lot of great technology and ideas in the bag, yet for what it’s worth I’m still not its biggest fan. Perhaps it’s because I’ve mostly moved over to backpacks, but the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 still doesn’t feel like a camera bag to me. Instead it feels like an every day bag that happens to be targeted at photographers.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A bit easier to configure and work with than the previous version
  • Getting the shoulder strap to work is fine

  • Getting the belt strap to work is fine

  • Still feels like a very nice bag

  • Opening latch is still fantastic

Cons

  • Still not perfectly ambidextrous

  • Configuration into a sling while the strap is configured for the right shoulder is uncomfortable

  • Gets very heavy on walks with the bag packed with gear

  • The shoulder pad was adjusted for shoulder and chest comfort but with difficulty.

  • Because it can’t really configure into a sling while modified to work on the right side, it caused my side a whole lot of pain.

  • Adjustment of the shoulder strap isn’t easy. I wanted mine to be tighter around my chest and I couldn’t get it to stay in place.

  • Waist strap is still annoying to work with over time.

Gear Used

We tested the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 with Sony cameras, film cameras, Manfrotto Tripods, Godox flashes, an Apple Macbook Pro, and more.

Tech Specs

You may want to check out our original news post on the second version of the bag.

Ergonomics

If you were to put the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 alongside the original you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two. In fact, I’d challenge most of you on that and say you couldn’t. The Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 still has the same angled design, sort of like a massive envelope. There are still pockets on the front and it still sports that amazing lock system.

Turn to the top of the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 and what you’ll spot is this back pocket. You can store stuff in there; documents, your passport, and even a laptop.

What’s extra nice about the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is the top design handle. This is something Tenba has been doing for years and others have really caught up in using. It makes it sort of like a briefcase. The back there is also the slot designed to go around the handles of a roller bag for easier carry.

Also characteristic to the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is the strap. The strap is much improved over the first version and is more comfortable and sturdier. It’s easier to use things like the waist straps to configure the bag into a sling or to help take the weight off of your shoulders and back. But it still isn’t perfect and at times that can be very annoying. The pad for the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 also really only goes where it wants to go and sometimes the placement can be iffy. Granted, it’s a large shoulder pad.

Open the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 and you’ll see that it can expand to accommodate more gear, though arguably at the expense of weather sealing. The interior is pretty much the same as the previous bag.

Build Quality

The Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is still a very well built bag overall, although I’d argue that it isn’t the absolute best designed bag. What it does well, it does in an exemplary manner. What it fails at, it has improved on but still isn’t totally there. The bag still has a whole lot of weather resistance and the build quality of everything from the straps to the buckles to the zippers and all is very high quality. Personally speaking, I’ve never been a fan of Peak Design’s dividers and I’m still not. I like a bit more cushioning and durability when it comes to keeping them in place–as it is I experienced the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2’s divider system not fully staying in place on a number of occasions during my months of use.

Something I can continue to attest to is the way the bag’s main compartment opens up. Peak’s magnetic buckle system is still the best on the market. No one has created a better system.

Somehow or another though, the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 has never totally felt like a camera bag designed to hold a whole lot of gear despite being so incredibly large. It has a shape and it really wants to keep that shape. But if it’s your only bag and you have to bring a lot of lenses, two camera bodies, flashes, and a softbox to a gig then you’re going to be cramming a lot of stuff into the bag.

More than anything though, while the waist strap and therefore the sling configuration is better than it was, it still isn’t perfect. While walking around I can still get the metal buckles cutting into my skin and when the bag is over-packed it can still cause pain on one side of my back. I’ve mentioned the lack of full ambidexterity of this bag and that is because I configure it to be across my right shoulder–not the left as it seems most people wear it.

Ease of Use

Let me explain why I wear my bag on the right shoulder. You see, when I first got out of college I was a working photographer. It made more sense for me to use the messenger bag that I had in college and to keep the camera bag on my left side (with the strap on my right shoulder). That way I could change lenses on the move while still holding my camera. With the bag on my other side, it just never worked out. In fact, I’ve seen almost no one able to really change lenses while on the move and while having the bag positioned on their right side comfortably or anywhere as fast as I can. Is it possible? I’ve only seen it with mirrorless cameras and not DSLRs. I can do it with full frame, medium format cameras.

Before I go on, I should note that the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is a great bag overall. But I can’t see myself using it every day for my work. In fact, the only photographer/journalist who I’ve seen do that is Tony Northrup. Every one else I know who owns it reaches instead for the backpack.

Configuring the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is done in the exact same way it was done before. Peak Design sets up the strap initially to more or less be a single layer system, but if you set the strap up to be a double layer and also to be longer, it becomes more comfortable if you’re one of us with bigger, broader chests. In this way, adjusting the strap system becomes easier, although I have to admit that when over-packing the bag with gear, the strap will start to give way and not remain tightly around your body. With other messenger bags, this isn’t the case. Perhaps this is because the strap is more or less a glorified seat belt system.

A feature that I’ve always found awkward about the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 and its predecessor is how you’re supposed to put the laptop in. It goes into the back of the bag but because of the inherent design, it’s difficult to take your laptop out when you’re wearing the bag; you need to take the bag off. Not always ideal for the tech journalist in a rush to write up coverage of an event.

While I’ve stated that the zippers are very high quality, what I’ll make a small complaint about is the angle at which the front zippered pocket is angled. I’m specifically referring to the one on the body of the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 and not the one built into the flap underneath. At a certain angle it becomes a bit tougher to unzip this area so you need to go a tad slower. In situations where you’re storing things like eyedrops in that slot, it just means you’ll be waiting a few more agonizing seconds for relief from pollen and cat dander. But if you’re using it to store something like a phone charger, then you’ll know that it’s not as imperative.

In all honesty, I think the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is a slightly improved bag, but I still don’t understand why they’re not making it truly ambidextrous. Peak Design has a cult following who often believe that the company doesn’t do any wrong–and my only hope is that they don’t become the next Nikon with a similar cult following who only appeal to their fan base rather than trying to garner new customers.

Lastly, I’d like to understand why Peak believes that storing a tripod with the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is best done by using a glorified rubber band and by putting the main flap through it to hold it in place. I feel like that’s a cop out.

My suggestions: make a smaller version of this bag. I’ve personally been reaching for smaller messenger bags these days if I’m not going for backpacks. I’ve got no good reason to want to bring around large messenger bags any more and if I have to be honest, I’d never bring the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 around because it still doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s designed for hobbyists and doesn’t fully give working photographers and journalists what they need. To justify this statement:

  • The ONA Union Street gives photographers almost everything they need except for tripod placement. You’ve got a lot of room for your gear, weather sealing, nice canvas and leather, etc.
  • Tenba’s Cooper series has to be the best in messenger bags. Quicker access, canvas, weather sealing, side pockets, etc.
  • The CRAVAR RANA 13 is all that the Peak Design Messenger bag is but uses vegetable leather for a sturdy shell and still feels great.
  • The zKin Champ has the ability to be overflowed with gear and still keep its shape.

Conclusions

Do I think that the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 is a good bag? Yes. Am I a fan of it? Not really. I personally go for smaller messenger bags these days and it’s not a bag system that I think is practical for a working photographer due to;

  • The dividers not being as sturdy as they should be
  • The weight shape changes when you overstuff the bag
  • The lack of full ambidextrousness
  • How it doesn’t play well with a tripod (very important for photographers needing to shoot video)

So what does it do well? Honestly, everything that it did before. If you own the previous one, I’m not sure you should upgrade. If you’ve been looking at the bag, it may be the one to get. But again, I don’t think this is a bag for a fully working photographer.

The Peak Design Everyday Messenger 2 receives four out of five stars.