One Finite Planet

One Finite Planet

Peak Design: design flaws?

Date Published:

Considering a new bag for you tech gear and whatever else you carry?  Peak design have some of the best bags for the technology lover… but nothing is ever perfect and flaws still remain. This page does some pondering over what is really needed in an ‘everyday’ bag, and looks how current offerings do in delivering those need.  The flaws, and some solutions, and just what really is needed to make an ideal ‘everyday’ bag.

I have look long and hard for the closest to a perfect ‘everyday’ bag.  Peak design may come closest, but are still not there. The messenger was their first ever bag and an update could move closer to perfect.  Buy now? Wait for an update? Or another choice? Here are my thoughts:

  1. What is an ‘Everyday’ bag?
    • Every day? Picturing the days?
    • Pocket / Handbag replacement
    • What Size for every day?
  2. Analysing the Peak design bags
    • Messenger vs Backpack?
    • Sling vs Messenger
    • The Tote?
    • Conclusions
  3. Messenger or backpack? The everyday flaw
    • messenger as a backpack
    • backpack as a messenger
  4. Can the everyday flaw be addressed?
    • the dream
    • what is on the market?
    • the solution
  5. The shopping list: flaws identified in reviews
    • Single Strap
    • Water bottles
    • External Pockets
    • Pens
    • Falling over
  6. Buy now or wait for an update?
  7. Conclusion

What is an Everyday bag?

Everyday? Picturing the days.

Think about the ‘Everyday Messenger’ name.  While for some people everyday may be the same, for most of us, there are a wide range of different days.  This means for most of us, a bag which can be used everyday needs to be adaptable.

In fact, following reviews reveals that some people choose one of the ‘everyday’ packs, to use only for a very specific day type.  For example, as pack for a photo shoot, when they always take 2 camera bodies and around 4 lenses.  Rarely do you find a review covers both camera gear days, and days where they go on a picnic.  The picnic may still require a camera, but hopefully not the same range of gear, but it may require drinks and food and a blanket etc.  How do they use the bag on that day?  Or, if they do not actually take photographs for a living, how does the bag go on a commute to work day, or a head to a meeting day?

I am making a separate page my list of days, and list of days others have identified.

Typical days include:

  • work commute
  • meetings, both business and social
  • restaurants, cafes, visits to the cinema
  • attending talks and group meetings
  • being a tourist including photography
  • pure photography outings

To pick an ‘everyday’ bag, it may be best to consider just what your days look like.  What days will need no bag, this bag alone, or perhaps this bag and other bags?  For me, and ‘every day’ bag, means that whenever i need one or more bags, the everyday bag will be included.

Pocket / Handbag Replacement.

It may reflect a sexist society, but males tend to use pockets to carry all their needs when they can and only carry some form of pack on days when pockets cannot cope.  For females, the custom is to have very little in the way of pockets, resulting in the need for some form of pack or ‘handbag’ almost every day.

So pockets are the alternative to a pack for most males. For most females,  a more fashion based handbag is the alternative, and in some cases the handbag has already transitioned into an everyday bag.

What needs carrying?

The minimum to go somewhere is phone, keys, wallet.  What about glasses or sunglasses?  A water bottle?  Tablet and/or tablet?  Camera and lenses? The ability to hold clothes as the temperature changes? Snacks?  Tools they are small but may be useful. Memory cards/ USB memory? Headphones? Umbrella? Bottle of wine brought to dinner?  (Yes, this will fit well with either peak design backpack or 15″messenger).

Somewhere beyond that very minimum, the bag becomes useful. There does come a point where the ‘everyday’ bag alone is insufficient.  But if that means switching to another bag and leaving the ‘everyday’ behind, then essentials must be transferred, and that is a nuisance.

Everyday means for the range of days you will need any bag.

What Size for every day?

To be an everyday bag, the bag has to be small enough that there is no temptation to bring a smaller bag instead, but able to expand to carry everything less than when taking two bags becomes the best option.  This means flexibility, but will change with the size of the bag owner and what they their days look like.


Analysing the Peak Design Bags

Everyday Messenger vs Everyday Backpack

ash-42_3_2-e1519644394792.jpgIf neither fully performs both roles, then how to choose between them?

Here are the specifications, comparing the larger messenger with the 20L backpack (measured on its side):

  • Volume: 8L to 18L  vs. 12L to 20L (66% to 90%)
  • Width: 43cm vs. 46cm (93%)
  • Height: 30cm vs. 30cm (100%)
  • Thickness: 18cm vs. 17cm (105%)
  • Weight: 1200gm vs. 1350gm  (89%)

In all, the messenger is 90% of size backpack with the exception of the minimum volume, where the messenger shows a better ability to shrink in volume when relatively empty. The messenger reducing to 44% while the backpack reduces to 60% of the full volume.

The smaller messenger is around 10% smaller in every dimension and has around 75% of the volume of the 15″ model.

The larger backpack adds around 10% in width and height, 18% in thickness. The smaller backpack has 66% of the volume of the larger one.

Between the 4 bags, there are effectively three sizes. Small, medium and large, with the large (backpack) considered by most as too large to be any everyday pack.  In terms of capacity, it can be important that the backpacks both have built in straps to allow for external carry.

Sling vs Messenger

The 10L sling could be an alternative to the smaller (15″) messenger (% is sling dimension as a percentage of messenger):

  • Volume: 8L to 10L  vs. 6L to 14L (133% to 70%)
  • Width: 40cm vs. 38cm (105%)
  • Height: 23cm vs 27cm (85%)
  • Thickness: 14cm vs. 12cm (117%)
  • Weight: 680gm vs. 1100gm  (62%)

The sling is lighter and only 85% of the height, but is otherwise larger. It is wider, thinker and has a larger minimum volume, despite having a significantly smaller maximum volume. The aesthetics of each will appeal to different people, but from a pure logistics perspective the messenger can be smaller when the volume is not needed, but can carry more when the need arises.

The everyday tote.

The everyday tote certainly has a look that can work for ‘everyday’, together with very versatile ways of being worn. However, as a backpack, the thin straps mean it is only suitable to lighter loads or very short trips.  This to me, makes the tote a bag best suited to very, very light loads or only if your ‘everydays’ do not involve walking any real distance. Generally, our sexist society tends to see the tote as a bag for women, an issue I would consider further if the bag seem better suited to days where i have to walk longer distances.


It took a lot of considering between backpack and messenger, but for me the larger messenger was the winner.  If I felt the larger backpack made sense, that would have meant the only solution was the backpack, but the way the laptop/tablet cannot be accessed on the move and the contents of the bag must be rotated to different directions for access convinced me the messenger was best for me. I do miss the dual straps and the external carry.

Messenger or Backpack? The Everyday flaw?

Are there messenger bag days and backpack days? If you want one bag from peak design for ‘every day’, then the goal is to choose between a messenger bag and a backpack and be able to use the same choice every day without needing to switch and transfer contents. But which? Messenger or Backpack?

Peak design first invented a messenger bag as a bag for every day, then found that a lot of people did not find it suitable for many of their days. So next, they designed a backpack for every day. But the backpack does not make the messenger obsolete, as many still find it a better compromise than the backpack. Some days better suit the messenger, and some days better suit the backpack.

In fact, the messenger has some of the attributes of a backpack, and the backpack has some of the attributes of a messenger. So peak design has made an effort at cross functionality, but it is simply not fully thought through. This leaves the critical flaw: Neither bag is good enough for every day, as neither crosses over well enough.

Messenger as a backpack?

The messenger provides a second strap: either a waist strap or a stabiliser strap. This really helps have the bag securely against your body like a backpack. This leaves the main missing features as a second shoulder strap. Here is one youtube review highlighting how a full messenger bag can be just too heavy to be carried on one shoulder. But there are more videos like that and I was even told this same story by a store assistant: “people report that having just one strap becomes too heavy so they choose the backpack”.

Backpack as a Messenger?

So why not just start with a backpack for every day use?

The two limitations of a backpack compared to a messenger are:

  • ‘one strapping’: for short carries, with small loads, can fall off
  • you need to remove the pack to access contents


backpacks can need a steadying hand when used with one strap

One Strapping: There was tv series they made a big thing of the coolness of ‘one-strapping’ vs ‘two-strapping’. ‘One strapping’ is also in the real world and you don’t have to observe for long find commuters on transport, or students between lectures, who have their backpacks slung over only one shoulder. The problem is that backpacks require a steading hand on that one strap or the bags slips off. Using one strap is often convenient, and Messenger can then far better, as they are designed to be stable with one strap.


Access: The everyday backpack does take innovative steps to provide messenger like access, as seen in this video and again here. However, the result is strange with some things accessed from one side, some from the other, and some (like tablet or pc) accessed only from the top and not available without removing the pack. The whole load gets rotated during use, instead of remaining in one position.

Can the everyday flaw be addressed?

The Dream: everyday flexibility.

The dream is a single bag with the attributes of both easy casual carry and the access properties of a messenger, and the dual strap weight and longer haul abilities of a backpack.

What is on the market?

There are several bags on the market that claim to be messenger/backpack hybrids, but generally they seem to focus on being a one strap backpack, which is attempting to satisfy a different dream: a one strap backpack.  There is at least one pack on the market that converts from one strap to two very well: the think tank change up. The ‘change-up’ works perfectly either messenger mode or two strap mode (I own of these) but is too small for everyday use, and was never designed with ‘everyday’ in mind.

A Solution

To me, the best solution is to enhance the everyday messenger, allowing strap connection adjustment and for a second strap.

bagAlternate strap connection point:  In the image shown here, one side of the strap goes up over the shoulder, and the other side goes around to the front of the body.  The bag tends to become uneven with the ‘up strap’ side rising up.  If the strap connection on the ‘around’ side could be attached further down the bag, then the bag would be more even, and more comfortable.

Second Strap: With the main strap on the lower connection point on the ‘around’ side, a second strap could now be attached to this side with this second strap running up over this side, which otherwise has no over shoulder strap.  The other end of this strap could connect on the front with the stabiliser strap.

Making the solution work.

Peak design are experts at quick connect.  Consider the capture system, and the straps and anchor points.  Thicker cord would feel better if anchors were to be used to attach straps to the bag, but in general, why not use the anchor system?

Two anchor points each sider of the messenger, and one new, detachable ‘2nd shoulder’ strap, and the messenger could find a new additional audience – largely untapped by messengers.

The shopping list: flaws identified in reviews

The point listed here are targeted as the flaws people have with the messenger. I have my observations, but these pages are unlikely to be read by peak design, so the feedback will be that which is already out there in multiple reviews. This section is to list the points I have seen raised sufficiently the peak design might listen. read others say.

Single Strap

I am not the first to observe that the lack of second strap is an issue. However, most simply feel a second strap only comes with a backpack, so the feedback is more ‘choose the backpack’ than how a second strap could be used with the messenger.

Water bottles

The side pockets on the peak design messenger bags do not work very well as water bottle holders.  A capture clip enabled water bottle pouch could address this without any change to the bag itself.

External Pockets

The pockets in clothes are very useful for items that need to be accessed quickly. Change, glasses, transport tickets etc.  But every time you change clothes, the contents of pockets needs to be moved, so equivalent pockets on a bag are very appealing.  Several reviews have mentioned the everyday messenger (and everyday backpack) lack such pockets on the exterior of the bag.


The everyday messenger can easily hold around 2 pens in the pocket beside the laptop area, but this is very limited.  In reviews, it seems reviewers fail to notice the ability to hold any pens- or regard what capacity there is as insignificant.

Falling over

It is often mentioned that the messenger falls over.  Even an empty pack does this. As the bag mostly falls ‘face forward’ the contents of the bag tend to fall out.  Even if the bag feel on its back, it would be preferable.  So how do you stop a bag falling on its face? A kickstand to enable leaning back?  A removable attachment?  In any event, it would be desirable to find something.

Buy now or wait for an update?

The original everyday messenger was released around September 2015, and I suggest it transformed the Peak Design company. By June 2016 the 13″ version joined the original 15″, and by June 2017 the everyday backpacks were released. Will there be update to the everyday messenger this June or September? It is about time, as the messenger was their first bag and hopefully they have learnt from experience. The question becomes, what would you like to see improved, is it the any of the points I have raised or other issues?


Overall I favour the messenger as the best base for an everyday bag for me. I have started using the current messenger, and may add notes over time on what I learn if it seems there is interest.  If you are on the edge, with another bag that is also a compromise for everyday, you could hold out in the hope of an upgrade.


Table of Contents


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