It’s frankly quite bizarre just how much stuff can accumulate in your bag. This is especially true if you ride across the city on a daily basis, going to-and-fro with laptop, camera, coins, cards & the ephemera of everyday life strapped to your back.
As city cyclists and hobbyist photographers, a few of us at The Pedaler recently decided that instead of dropping our gear into one big sack, we should up the organisation and seek out backpacks designed for urban cycling and shooting from the saddle. Our requirements: enough space for a 13 or 15” lappie, a paper notebook, pens, cables & coins, a balled-up jacket or two, and of course, offer dedicated space for a DSLR, two or three lenses and an externally-mounted tripod. Room for a half-time banana would be a welcome bonus.
A gargantuan Google later, and we’d heave ho-ed the internet’s offerings of camera backpacks that moonlight as proficient cycling backpacks into a selection of five clear candidates. If, from the selections below we’ve missed off a favourite of yours, please drop a note and a link in the comments section below.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack - $259.95
A mole does not remember every twist and turn of its moley-lair, as it was with our Googling - how we landed on the Peak Design site we can't rightly recall. But handily, the Everyday Backpack does meet every single one of our requirements. Available in 20 or 30L sizes and a plethora of won’t-upset-your-mother colours, the Everyday Backpack is this Kickstarter-born brand’s hero product. It’s also remarkably feature-rich. We’d certainly recommend checking out their product video, comparison guides, and enjoying their irreverent humour.
The Everyday does not come with a rain cover, which is a negative, although the material is purported to be weatherproof.
Incase DSLR Pro Pack - $149.95
There are more feature-laden camera backpacks, but the Incase stands out for its simplicity, intuitive design and the fact that when the laptop is loaded in, it is not sat against your back, but stowed at the front in an easy zip-access compartment. Your camera goes in the top, and a quick unzip at the rear reveals the full, compartmentalised camera area; configurable, spacious and always within easy reach.
Like the Peak, it would benefit from a rain cover. The side pockets are also a touch tight for water bottle carry. However, it’s a durable and understated performer priced to move.
Thule Aspect DSLR Backpack - $129.95
Think sartorial, with sandwiches. But relax, thankfully that trailhead hip belt can be removed. However, despite teetering on the edge of stylish city carry, the Aspect is a fine product. Not only does it swallow a goodly amount of camera bodies and lenses, but a laptop, spare clothes and storage safeguards, all backed up with a durable nylon exterior.
Like the Peak and Incase above, it also caters for an externally-mounted tripod. A stand-out feature is the Aspect’s unfettered side access that makes removing the camera a cinch, without dismounting the pack.
Mindshift FirstLight® 20L - $229.99
Like the Thule, this one is outer-edge urban, but it’s consummate feature list (it has a rain cover and a whistle!), storage orientation, capacity and ergonomic design warrant inclusion. Unlike most of the other packs, the Firstlight® caters for different user heights with straps that are adjustable across the shoulders. Additionally, the sternum strap is also height-adjustable.
With enough space for even large camera bodies and telephoto lenses, the FirstLight® is as adaptable as it is tough. External grab handles, a protective ballistic nylon bottom, dual bottle holders, 15” laptop space and numerous well-specced pockets complete the bag.
WANDRD PRVKE 21 Backpack - from $184
We had to have one rolltop is this buyer’s guide. The PRVKE (pronounced ‘provoke’) 21 is another Kickstarter-born product that aims to meet the needs of urban adventurers and photographers rocking mirrorless and DSLR cameras.
Available in 21 and 31L sizes, the pack is semi-modular in that extras, like a rain cover, accessory straps and a photography cube, are added to the base configuration depending on its intended use. When the day ahead involves photography, the cube drops into the main bag area (which opens flat for easy packing - nice) to hold and divide camera gear. Once on the go, taking shots without removing the bag is made easier by a side access port to the camera. Travelling without a camera? Just pull out the cube, flatten the compartment divider and the entire main area lays ready for whatever you need to haul.
There’s a definite travel edge to the PRVKE - from the well-placed passport pocket to the security friendly laptop sleeve which handily avoids having to remove the laptop from the bag.
Build quality is up there, with zips, body material and hardware seemingly well made and durable. A removable hip belt sits to the front, complemented by height-adjustable sternum straps and well-padded shoulder areas.