I recently caught up with the Peak Design team at the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver back in June and have been testing out the Travel Backpack (45L) and 65L Duffel Pack all summer after getting a couple samples. Prior to this more in depth review I got the chance to test out an earlier prototype of the Travel Backpack, and this is an update on that review along with the 65L Duffel Pack review.
Whether you are an adventure traveler, a professional creative that likes to travel light or just someone that appreciates functionality, this bag system is going to change the way you carry things.
Colors - The bag line is available in a black and sage (green), both of which look great. My only tip is that if you are someone that is on an airplane more than you are home, black might be the better choice as it will show less signs of ware, but sage is our favorite.
Access and Handles - The backpack offers a lot of different access points, you can get in from the back (main compartment) and either side for quick access via zippers. There are also several compartments that can organize your smaller stuff like sunglasses, keys, tablets, etc.
Another nice feature is the different ways to carry the bag, there is a handle on the inside back so you can grab it like a duffle (see pic below), the top, the side, and of course the backpack straps/waist belt that can easily be stowed. See the image below for a full understanding of how straps, cross strap and waist belt all work together.
Also, one of the things you will find helpful is to keep the zippers that access the laptop sleeve/main compartment at the top of the bag. By keeping the zippers at the top you will have an easier time getting to your iPad/laptop when you are on the move. I can't believe it took me so long to figure this out!
I would highly recommend watching this video here to get familiar with all the pockets, straps, etc. Peak Design Travel Pack How To Video.
Wash Pouch ($59.95) - This is more or less a really nice dopp kit developed specifically for the Travel Bag series. For a dopp kit, they have gone above and beyond with ample dividers for your toiletries, a hook to hang it with and a silicone mesh interior. I actually use this dopp kit for all my travels, no matter what bag I'm using, because it's so good. The ability to easily clean it is a huge plus, as these things can get nasty fast and I've tossed several dk's because they were simply too hard to clean.
Tech Pouch ($59.95) - I always seem to run across things that I didn't know that I needed until I use them, like this pouch. I travel with cameras, memory cards, a lot of cords, battery chargers, etc. and this pouch helps me keep it all organized. I'm still working on exactly what goes where, but at least I'm starting to get a system and I haven't lost anything since I started using it.
Packing Cubes (29.95 | 39.95) - I use both the small and medium versions depending on the trip, and these too also came in handy for a couple different reasons. First, they allow you to compress your clothing to get more in the bag which is super helpful for longer trips. Second, they have a divider to help you separate clean/dirty clothing. The packing cubes are also made of a super light waterproof material to help keep your clothing safe and dry. This cubes of course are universal, but work particularly well in the Travel Series bags.
Pro Tip: If you are doing longer trips it's worth investing in merino wool shirts, socks and underwear as they can be worn multiple times without getting smelly. Brands like SmartWool, Unbound, Y Athletics, Topo Designs and Rhone are all great for this.
Camera Cube (49.95 | 69.95 | 89.95) - If you are a photographer or videographer this system is essential for the Travel Backpack. I've been using the medium cube as it's the perfect size for my kit, which consists of a Sony A7 III, two Tamron Lenses (17-28 mm and 28-75 mm), DJI Osmo Pocket, DJI Mavic Air + lens filters, batteries, cords, etc.
The cube is secured by their clip system and can be easily locked into place or removed using the four little clips . I also use the Peak Design Capture Clip camera mounting system on the outside of the bag straps to hold my camera when it's on on the strap (also by Peak Design - yes, I'm all in on this system for photo trips).
Bottom line here, this is a must have item for hobbyists and professionals alike that are traveling with camera gear, just buy it.
The Travel Duffelpack is PD's version of a pack mule and it's a solid pack if you need haul more clothes, jackets, etc. on your travels and pairs well with the Travel Backpack as it can easily be carried as a standard duffel bag.
The Travel Dufflepack 65L features padded backpack straps, a cross strap and waist belt to help balance heavy loads - and this thing can get very heavy. The straps are easily stowed away similar to the Travel Backpack so you can switch over to a duffel carrying style. Like all PD bags, there are an abundance of handles making picking it up in any configuration is a lot easier.
The bag carries a standard 45L when not expanded, and 65L when you deploy the 20L expansion zones. The zipper has an extra long opening making things easier to get to when you are riffling through the bag or need to stuff something in quickly. The Peak Design Packing Tools are key for customizable organization as this bag is rather large and needs some form chaos management, otherwise you won't know what's where.
Summary - The Travel Backpack is a fantastic bag for those that want to travel light but still pack in a decent amount of gear, and the 65L is the perfect pack mule for bigger trips bringing in some of the same functionality sans laptop compartment. The team at Peak Design have considered just about everything here, for every type of traveler or just about every type of porting.
Whether you are headed to a photo shoot, commuting with a lot of gear, or headed out on a longer trip - these bags can handle it all. If you are a smart traveler and know how to pack light (see pro tip above), these bags can easily handle a 7-12 day trip or longer.
Pros: Lean and mean, these bags fit easily into overhead bins and the Travel Backpack can even fit under your airplane seat if your are not too stuffed. So you can travel with both as carryons if you are a skilled packer. The bags have PD's solid construction, are weather proof, have lots access points and compartments, multiple handles, great accessories, multiple functions (day pack, gig pack, travel pack).
Cons: These bags can get heavy and if you are not in great shape, or don't have a great back then they might not be your best option.