Like many, I enjoy the security of knowing I have necessary gear with me (think laptop, battery, cables, camera) everywhere I go, and I understand that that means I also have to deal with that gear — typically in a bag. Size, comfort, flexibility (physically and conceptually) and style are all factors when choosing one. I've tried a lot of different bags for this sort of "daily essentials" set of stuff I carry on most days, and my current favorite is the Peak Design Everyday Sling.
You may recall that I previously used a different messenger-style bag from Timbuk2, and I actually still do! That's a great general-purpose messenger bag that can hold a whole lot of stuff and do a whole bunch of different things. But what I love about the Everyday Sling is that it isn't as multi-purpose oriented — it's small, structured and doesn't have a ton of expandability. It's just the right size for the things I need to carry every day, and that's it.
Peak Design, as a company, is primarily focused on photographers — but the features and quality of the products in produces are often applicable to more than just that small set of people in that specific use case.
The compact size and structure of the Everyday Sling has many benefits. First and foremost is comfort. With a bag this small, I'm never tempted to load it up with more than I should carry. That's because the bag just simply won't hold that much stuff, and that keeps the weight down and my shoulder happy. The frame of it is relatively structured with little stretch or play, meaning you can't even force more into it if you wanted to. At the same time, that structure makes sure your things are safe inside if you get bumped when standing on the train or walking down the street.
The tight size and structure of this bag is exactly what I need to keep from killing my shoulder.
Peak Design markets the Everyday Sling as being 10 liters in size — but thinking about a bag in terms of liters doesn't always equate. Here's what I typically carry in my Everyday Sling: a 13-inch MacBook Pro (just barely), a micro four-thirds camera with an extra lens, a bundle of a couple cables and a small backup battery, and a few knick-knacks like keys, business cards, a pen and a pair of earbuds. That's basically all this thing can hold, and that's exactly why I love it.
The main compartment has a slot for a laptop or tablet, and then two of Peak Design's amazing padded separators. If you haven't seen them in action, basically they're stiff foam dividers (positionable with velcro) that are split down the middle that can be folded down in various configurations to properly secure and separate items in the bag so they don't slide around. They keep things accessible and also properly managed, which is key to a bag this small.
It's amazingly easy to swing the bag around, get what you want and be on your way.
The focus on accessibility carries over to the way the bag compartment opens: it zips around the back and hinges on the front, so the inside is wide-open accessible when you're still wearing it and simply sling it around to your side. Most messenger-style bags open toward you, and the flap of the bag gets in the way of seeing or reaching into the compartment. With the Everyday Sling, it's super simple to swing the bag around to your side, open it up, grab what you want, zip it closed and be on your way.
On the outside of the bag you get a small compartment with dividers where you can toss all of the aforementioned smaller items. From the outside, there's another shallow pocket that's perfect for an extra phone or couple of cables that you want to separate from the larger items inside and have easily accessible without opening the full bag compartment.
A great daily carry bag at any price.
Many people will scoff at the Everyday Sling's $149 price tag, but for a bag that I'm going to carry just about every day and just exudes quality craftsmanship it's worth it. Every seam is perfect, zippers are tight and lock into place (and are water resistant), the materials are hearty, and most importantly it's clear just how much engineering and thought went into every aspect of the bag. Like the way there are dedicated spots on both sides for Peak Design's own Capture Camera Clip, how the dividers work, or how the excess bag strap stows away in the back of the bag so it doesn't flap around at the ends.
I wouldn't take a weekend trip with the Everyday Sling, nor would I expect to carry around my full rig of trade show gear. But those situations aren't what the bag is designed for — and it shows restraint in having a specific vision and usefulness. Right now it's the perfect bag for me to keep all of the necessities handy on a daily basis without being overbearing or goading me into carrying more than I should realistically be putting on my shoulder. To fulfill this need, it's a damn good bag at any price.