Camera Bag Review: WANDRD DUO Daypack (It’s Almost Perfect)

The WANDRD DUO Daypack features a number of innovative features that make it an ideal everyday carry option for photographers on the go.

The WANDRD DUO won’t help you haul all your photo gear with you. It’s instead designed to carry just the right amount of photo gear you’ll need to get through the day without weighing you down. It’s a hybrid between an everyday carry bag and a traditional camera bag. The WANDRD DUO comes packed with a number of new features like the “Infinite Zip” access system. which Shimoda also has. There’s also an integrated pop camera cube. So, if you want a bag that will carry everything and your apocalypse gear, this isn’t it. But it still performed very well.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Great Everyday Carry (EDC) backpack that also happens to work well as a camera backpack
  • The “Infinite Zip” access system effectively makes the WANDRD DUO the company’s first backpack with ambidextrous side access
  • Holds more than enough stuff for a day around town
  • Plenty of pockets inside the bag to keep things organized
  • Integrated luggage passthrough

Cons

  • The Pop Camera Cube doesn’t play nice with larger camera bodies
  • The velcro divider for the Pop Camera Cube is tricky to install (not as much of an issue if you shoot with the same camera and lenses all the time, but a pain if you change out your kit often like most of us)
  • Doesn’t stand up to the rain the way other WANDRD bags do

Gear Used

We tested the WANDRD DUO backpack with a variety of camera setups including, but not limited to, the Canon EOS R, Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, Sony A7R III, and Sony A7R IV, along with assorted lenses for each camera. We also used it to carry the Flashpoint Zoom Li-on X R2 Round Head Speedlight, Haida M10 Filter System with various filters, Apple MacBook Pro, Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition laptop, noise-canceling headphones, a portable battery bank, and a ton of other photography, travel, and EDC accessories.

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the WANDRD DUO taken from WANDRD’S official product page:

  • Quick side camera access
  • Padded laptop and tablet sleeve
  • Infinite Zip™ access system
  • Pop Camera Cube
  • 2 padded expansion pockets
  • Seatbelt webbing handle
  • Weather-resistant YKK zippers
  • Expandable water bottle/tripod pocket
  • Hidden passport/cash pocket
  • Cord organizers
  • Mesh and zipper organization pockets

Materials:

  • 840D Jr. Ballistic Nylon with 5pm coating and 1680D Ballistic Nylon.
  • Weather Resistant YKK Zippers.

DUO Daypack:

  • Dimensions: 19.5″H X 11.5″W X 6.5″D
  • Volume: 20 L
  • Weight: 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs)

Laptop Sleeve:

  • Dimensions: 15.5″H X 10.5″W X 1″D

Tablet Sleeve:

  • Dimensions: 11″H X 9.5″W X .5″D

Ergonomics

The WANDRD DUO Daypack features the same minimalist design we’ve seen from the company’s other bags. It’s not at all flashy nor does it stand out like other camera bags. This is a good thing when you’ve got expensive camera equipment inside.

The front of the WANDRD DUO features a single vertical zipper. There’s a small pocket along the top that allows you to tuck the slider out of place when the zipper is shut. Unzipping gives you access to a thin pocket that runs the DUO’s front panel. I tend to keep a small notebook and my lens cloth inside this pocket for easy access.

A small pocket can also be found on top of the WANDRD DUO. It features the same zipper design as the front pocket. This pocket features a key hook and is good for storing smaller items like your phone or portable battery banks.

The foam padding on the back of the WANDRD DUO features an air channel in the middle. This channel allows a small amount of air to circulate between the bag and your back. The shoulder straps are padded as well. The bag is very comfortable to wear, even during extended periods of time. If you’re storing a ton of gear inside the DUO, the included sternum straps will help balance the load across your back. You can adjust the location of the straps to best suit your body.

For frequent flyers out there, you’ll be glad to know that the WANDRD DUO features an integrated luggage passthrough. While the DUO is a very comfortable bag, we’ll all get tired eventually after long journeys. You can lighten the load on your shoulders and back by slipping the DUO’s passthrough over your carry on luggage’s pull handle instead. The inside of the luggage passthrough also features a hidden pocket that’s handy for storing your passport and other small valuables.

One of the defining features of the WANDRD DUO is its “Infinite Zip” access system. That’s what WANDRD calls the zipper that runs continuously from one side of the DUO to the other. This zipper features four separate sliders, giving access to the DUO’s main compartment from either the sides or the top. You can even open it up all the way like we have done here. It’s one of the easier bags to configure. The DUO’s main compartment features a zippered pen pocket, a pair of padded expansion pockets, and a padded pop camera cube. The inside of the front flap features a large mesh pocket, and dedicated sleeves for your laptop and tablet can be found along the back. Additional zip pockets and mesh pouches can be found on both side openings as well. As a note, we should mention that the first version of the WANDRD DUO we got didn’t have the best zipper. But the second version was pretty perfect.

Here’s an example of what we were able to stuff inside the WANDRD DUO. We’ve got a lens and a speedlight inside the padded expansion pockets. The left mesh pocket is holding an external hard drive while the right one is holding a memory cardholder. The pop camera cube is in its “popped” position. We were able to fit a camera with a lens attached along with an additional lens within the cube.

Here’s a closer look at the two padded expansion pockets. While we were able to fit smaller prime lenses within these pockets, lenses with larger front elements will be better off stored within the pop camera cube.

A pair of bungee cord organizers are built into the interior of the right flap. They’re great for keeping your cables from turning into a tangled mess.

Here’s a look at the padded pop camera cube. You can fold it down and use the WANDRD DUO like a regular backpack, or pop it open as shown here to store your camera bodies and lenses. A velcro divider is included, allowing you to separate the cube into two compartments. For this particular configuration, we divided up the cube up unevenly. Two-thirds of the space was dedicated to storing a Sony A7R III with the 85mm f1.4 G Master attached, while the remainder was used to store a Tamron 35mm f2.8. You can reposition the divider to suit your camera setup, or remove it altogether if you’re carrying a long telephoto. It’s a bit of a pain to install, but unless you’re reconfiguring your bags to accommodate different camera systems all the time, you’ll really only be doing this once in a blue moon. Padded velcro flaps can be found on both sides of the cube, allowing you to close off the compartments to prevent the contents from accidentally sliding out.

The right side of the bag features an expansion pocket on the outside. This pocket is ideal for storing smaller items like collapsible umbrellas or water bottles. You’re not going to be able to stuff a tripod in here though.

A carrying handle can be found on the opposite side of the WANDRD DUO. The handle is foam padded and covered in seatbelt webbing material. It’s very comfortable to hold.

You can unzip the right flap to access the WANDRD DUO’s interior…

or unzip the opposite flap if that’s more convenient. Hooray for ambidextrous access!

Build Quality

“If you plan on using the DUO in inclement weather for extended periods of time though, spend an extra US $20 and pick up WANDRD’s Rainfly rain cover.”

The WANDRD DUO is a well-built backpack that can handle a lot of abuse while keeping its contents protected. We’ve been using it for the better part of the last two months, and it’s held up remarkably well. We wore it around the busy streets of New York and Chicago, crammed it into crowded subway cars, tossed it into trunks of cars, witness it being molested by clueless TSA agents, and stuffed it into overhead compartments on flights. Aside from a few scuff marks, the WANDRD DUO handled it all like a champ.

While the WANDRD DUO is made from weatherproof materials and features weather-resistant zippers, it’s still possible for water to make its way into the bag’s main compartment. This is precisely what happened with our review unit during one of our field tests.

We were out and about New York City for almost 12 hours during when we got hit by what felt like a monsoon in the middle of January. At the end of the night, we noticed the insides of the WANDRD DUO’s padded laptop/tablet compartment felt moist to the touch: a clear indication that rainwater made its way inside the bag. Luckily, we didn’t have a laptop or tablet stored within the bag at the time. If you plan on using the DUO in inclement weather like this for extended periods of time, spend the extra US $20 and pick up WANDRD’s Rainfly rain cover. It’s a small price to pay to ensure that no water finds its way within the DUO via the gaps between the zippers.

Ease of Use

“What sets the WANDRD DUO apart are the various organizational features builtin.”

While the WANDRD DUO may look like an ordinary backpack on the outside, it’s proven to be a very versatile bag for everyday use as well as to carry photography gear. Obviously, it works perfectly as a standard backpack. If all you needed was a standard backpack, however, there are much cheaper options that’ll do as fine of a job. Using the WANDRD DUO as a mere backpack is overkill and a waste of money.

What sets the WANDRD DUO apart are the various organizational features built in. The Infinite Zipper gives you unrestricted access to the contents stored within the DUO. You can easily get to everything regardless of whether you choose to open the bag from the top or from the sides. The various pockets and organizational features do a great job of keeping everything in place.

One area we did find room for improvement in with the WANDRD DUO is the pop camera cube. Although the idea behind the cube is quite innovative, the execution could use some fine-tuning. We liked that the cube is integrated into the bottom of the DUO’s main compartment, and tucks away nicely when the cube is closed. However, the same could not be said for the cube’s velcro divider. In order to close the pop camera cube, the velcro divider must first be removed. We now have to find someplace to store the divider. I suppose we can shove it into the laptop sleeve or the front pocket, but it would’ve been much easier if it could be stored within the cube itself.

We also encountered another issue with the camera cube when it’s popped open. Small or thin objects like lens covers or ND filters had a tendency of wedging themselves in between the front of the cube and the DUO’s front flap. A strip of velcro that attaches the corner of the cube to the front flap would easily remedy this issue. We could see WANDRD coming out with a different version of the DUO that did away with the pop camera cube and expansion pockets, replacing them with their own Pro Camera Cube instead. Doing so would obviously make the DUO a full-on camera bag, but we’re OK with that.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Minimalist, low-profile design
  • A wealth of organization options
  • Holds a surprising amount of stuff

Dislikes

  • The pop camera cube’s execution could be improved

Despite my gripes with the pop camera cube, I quite enjoyed using the WANDRD DUO. I found myself reaching for it naturally over other camera bags in my possession. I’ll need a larger bag when I’m shooting with long telephoto lenses, but it’s got more than enough room to hold everything I’d need in a day under most situations. WANDRD calls the DUO a Daypack and it’s easy to see why. I can fit my camera, a few lenses, a speedlight, a laptop, an external hard drive, and a portable battery inside the WANDRD DUO with enough room to spare for other accessories. As a fan of minimalist design, I quite liked the understated looks of the WANDRD DUO. Your mileage may vary, however, if you prefer a bit of flair to your camera bag. It’s just shy of perfect, but if you value function over form, the WANDRD DUO will win you over in spades.

The WANDRD DUO Daypack gets four out of five stars. You can pick one up for yourself from Amazon.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.