I’ll make this quick: this is the best middleweight backpack I’ve found for photography so far. It’s not the fastest or most rugged, but it’s the most versatile and comfortable. Let me explain.
I previously used the LowePro Freeline until I switched to the GFX and found it too small. I needed something to accommodate the larger body and lenses and wanted something that was expandable, based on my satisfaction with the Shimoda Action X70. Despite some reservations regarding design and durability, I decided to give the WANDRD PRVKE 31L a try, so I ordered it along with the Pro Photographer’s Package. I also ordered a couple of Essential+ size cubes to give me options.
This bag is great. Aside from a couple of design quirks, which I’ll detail toward the end, it’s just large enough to carry everything I need and then expands to carry even more when needed. To give you an idea, my typical carry includes the Fujifilm GFX 50S, 32-64mm lens, 100-200mm lens and 23mm lens, a set of 77mm ND filters, another set of 82mm filters, strap, remote, battery, tool kit, cleaning kit, water bottle and jacket while the tripod is strapped to the outside.
There are just enough pockets, in all the right places, to organize your stuff but without forgetting where you put it. The roll top easily unfurls for fast access and secures neatly and easily. A side door gives you access to your camera without having to put the bag on the ground (although of limited utility with larger bodies) and a zipped, expandable pocket on the opposite side for a water bottle or secure tripod carry. There’s also 2 padded slots for both a 17″ laptop and a 13″ tablet.
Shoulder straps are both just rigid and padded enough for comfortable carry. The waist belt is removable with simple, gated clips and sized to not just stabilize, but to properly divide the load between your shoulders and your hips, as it should. Unfortunately, there are no pockets on the shoulder straps and only a tiny pocket on the right of the waist belt, but there is webbing to attach any number of items as you may need.
Internally, it uses camera cubes to create a semi-rigid, padded and protected space to organize your camera gear and keep it safe. For larger setups, the Pro cube is available, turning the whole unexpanded interior into padded, camera space. The space as 2 separate, zipped entries to keep you stuff organized and a folding divider keeps items on top from migrating to the bottom.
The one real downer was discovering my camera had worn a hole into the tablet sleeve after one long, 8 mile hike.
- All exterior zips are the self-healing, weather resistant type.
- Limited pockets keep you organized but not guessing, located where they’re easily accessible.
- Compartments keep items from roaming around the bag.
- Camera cubes let you tailor how much space is dedicated to camera gear and easily switch to accommodate different setups without reorganizing the dividers.
- Loops for accessory straps to increase exterior carry.
- Waist belt removable when not needed.
- Padded sleeves for both laptop and tablet.
- Only one exterior bottle pouch, so you have to choose between tripod or water bottle, although you can strap a tripod more loosely elsewhere.
- No internal frame, making it uncomfortable as the weight increases.
- No easily accessible cellphone pocket.
- Side door access is too small for most professional DSLR or mirrorless cameras.
- No internal, removable frame.
- Not enough padding between camera area and laptop/tablet sleeves, resulting in premature wear.
- A few weak points in the design will limit durability over time, like around the side door and attaching the shoulder straps to the back door instead of the backpack body.
- Back door zipper can be fiddly to zip up. Having it open to the side, rather than to the bottom, would prevent this.
While ugly, these aren’t dealbreakers for most. The lifetime warranty should cover these issues when they inevitably fail over time. How much you use it will determine how long before it fails, if at all. These are design issues I would’ve addressed differently for both strength and convenience, but when taken in total, it’s a design that is still greater than the sum of its parts. There’s no such thing as a perfect backpack for everybody, but this is the closest I’ve found for me.