If WANDRD thinks photographers are going to love the WANDRD VEER18L, I’m very suspect.
I’ve been a very big fan of WANDRD for a number of years, with my only complaint being their divider system. I never thought they’d come out with a product like the WANDRD VEER18L. When meeting with them briefly at Photokina 2018, I was told that an inflatable divider system will be coming. That’s one of the most innovative things about the WANDRD VEER18L. But I believe the rest of the bag and how it interacts with this new system is one of the biggest mistakes the company has made. As a company that I considered to be a more ethical option over Peak Design, I have to express my utter heartbreak and loss of faith in this product.
Editor’s Note: WANDRD sent us a prototype of the WANDRD VEER18L before it launched on Kickstarter and they told us that it was very close to the final product.
- N100D Robic Dynatec (MAIN)
- N210D Robic HD Oxford (BOTTOM)
- COOL HONEYCOMB AIRMESH (SHOULDER & BACK PANEL)
- 150D Polyester with TPU coating (INFLATABLES)
- Bag 18h, 11w, 9d
- Back panel 16h, 10w, 1d
- Cube 7h, 10w, 6d
- Packed up 6h, 9w, 3d
If you look at the WANDRD VEER18L, it will seem like a pretty standard backpack. And this is one of the best parts of the WANDRD VEER18L; the fact that it doesn’t look like a camera bag at all. Instead, it reminds me of a cheap, weird material sort of backpack that if I could probably pull apart if I used enough strength. But of course, I’m wrong. At the front of the WANDRD VEER18L is this zippered pouch. During my testing, the only thing that I really stuffed in here was beard oil. The pouch and overall shape of the bag is very loose and nowhere as rigid as the company’s PRVKE series–which I adore sans the divider system. I could have surely stuffed more things in here, but I’m not sure why I’d do it.
On one side of the WANDRD VEER18L is a zippered pocket for access to the main compartment. On the other side is a pocket for a water bottle or a thermos.
At the top of the WANDRD VEER18L is a small pocket to put random stuff in on top. This is where I’d put maybe a book or something else that’s really important and needed. The access is pretty quick.
Below the top zippered pocket is yet another zipper that opens up into the main compartment. This is how you can get to your stuff quickly. Also making a guest appearance in this image is the inflatable back support.
At the side of the WANDRD VEER18L you get access to the main compartment which is pretty empty. There isn’t a whole lot in terms of creating a shape to the bag which I feel is an awful decision for photographers.
Inside the bag is this inflatable camera case you can put your gear in. It doesn’t stay in one place and quite honestly was the biggest nuisance of this review.
Next to the case is the back support system I spoke of earlier. These are both inflatable and don’t become super big. They’re just padded enough yet give no structure due to how malleable they are.
The straps are thin and have these other adjustable straps that go across the body. However, these straps really just cover the chest and two parts. One of the straps is magnetic, and the other is a buckle. For some odd reason, WANDRD didn’t think a waist strap was necessary. Perhaps it’s because this bag is really shapeless.
I took the WANDRD VEER18L out into the rain during my test. The gear inside survived very well. One concern of mine is that the zippers can be easy to miss at times due to how they’re tucked in. To that end, a zipper could be partially open and difficult to see in a dark bar.
Then you have to consider that this bag doesn’t keep a shape at all. So if you have two cameras in this bag then one is going to get protected by the pouch and the other won’t. That’s alright I guess if you have a beast like a Leica or a Pentax 67 medium format monster, but otherwise you’ll probably be a bit concerned. I personally like my cameras to have a bit of room to move around, but I prefer full sections and compartmentalization.
Ease of Use
The first thing about this bag that I hate is the lack of a shape. When you put a thermos into the side slot, it falls down. The lack of any shape means it won’t be able to stand up on its own. When the camera pouch is placed within, it doesn’t take up a whole lot of space or provide the bag with any sort of major grounding. That’s just the first bad thing. The lack of a shape goes into everything about this bag though. For the front pocket, the bag could be able to hold things in place with ease if it just had further compartmentalization and rigidity.
The second thing about this bag that I hate is the design that is meant to be implemented where you don’t need to take the bag off of your back. It will probably only work with super, incredibly skinny folks. I lost 40lbs in the past year and, though I’m still considered to be medically overweight, most folks would consider me average. If I wanted to do anything with this bag, I needed to take it off of my back.
The third thing is my lack of faith in how this bag will hold up in the long term. It could probably work as an everyday bag if you’re not bringing your camera gear with you often and if you just need it to bring random, small things like a change of clothes. But in order to do that, you need to find a way to give the bag shape by stuffing it with clothing, scarves, a jacket, etc. Perhaps it’s designed to appeal more to the digital nomad, but I’m of the belief that’s not a sustainable lifestyle for me. The idea of traveling for fun and work all the time is wonderful until you remember that you’re living out of a suitcase, or in this particular situation out of a malleable semi-camera bag.
Take a hard pass on the WANDRD VEER18L. Perhaps it could be my version, but this is not at all their best idea. The PRVKE packs are some of the most perfect camera bags on the market if they fixed the placement of the laptop sleeve and the divider system. But this has made me lose a lot of faith in them. Instead, I’d reach for the likes of Portage Supply, Tenba, Vanguard, and Billingham (with the rare exception of Manfrotto).