Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L review: Sleek sling bag keeps things pleasingly minimal
posted Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM EDT
You'd have to have been living under a rock these past couple of years not to have heard of Peak Design's camera accessories, especially their massively-successful Everyday Backpack -- which racked-up around $6.5 million in Kickstarter funding. Starting a few years ago with small camera carrying devices, such as the Capture Clip and a variety of straps, Peak Design soon added camera bags to their repertoire, from messengers and backpacks as well as tote-style bags and smaller "sling bags."
Peak Design recently debuted the smallest version yet of their Everyday Sling series, a new 5-liter size. I've had the compact Everyday Sling 5L for a little while now and wanted to share some of my thoughts on it and comparisons to other bags I've used, including Peak Design's larger 10-liter Everyday Sling bag. I received the bag ahead of PhotoPlus Expo in New York, and I brought the bag with me to NYC to try it out for the first time. However, job duties required me to carry a laptop around most days, which meant I needed to carry a larger bag. For short outings around the city, however, the small bag was indeed quite handy. Back home, the bag, again, worked great for short day hikes where I only wanted to carry a camera, lens, and small accessories.
From the outside, the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L looks really nice. Its sleek, modern shape and, in my case, all-black color, keeps things understated, and the bag doesn't scream "camera bag," which I appreciate. The curviness to the overall shape of the bag, too, helps with this stealthiness rather than the more rectangular, boxy shapes used on a lot of traditional camera bags and satchels.
However, the desire for sleekness can come at the cost of carrying capacity and usability to some extent. The 5L Everyday Sling, by design, is a simple bag and meant for carrying just the essentials. The bag is perfect for a small mirrorless system, such as the Olympus E-M1 II and a couple of lenses, though if you adjust the internal dividers, you can carry larger cameras, such as a DSLR and single lens on its side. I also managed to pack a "disassembled" Fuji GFX kit -- body, 63mm GF lens, EVF attachment -- in the bag, which I thought was rather impressive. A testament to both how small the GFX really is and just how much stuff you *can* pack inside the 5L Sling. With the GFX stuff, there was even some room left for a Peak Design lease strap, my memory card wallet, and, if I *really* wanted to pack it to the max, a soft, ultralight rain shell jacket could be stuffed in there around nooks and crannies. If drones are your thing, Peak Design also notably worked with DJI to ensure the 5L Sling can easily fit their ultra-compact Mavic and Spark drones.
Overall, the main interior compartment feels quite roomy all things considered. I love Peak Design's origami-esque dividers. The padding is light, so they stay thin, and the folding design lets you pop them into different configurations easily, such as a neat horizontal "shelf" that pops down to split a compartment in half or provide support for storing a camera + lens attached in a face-down position -- all without having to detach the dividers themselves. If you do need to adjust the divider positions, the velcro on the dividers isn't super strong, allowing for easy repositioning yet still snug enough to stay in place. The small fabric zipper pocket on the underside of the "lid" is rather small, so you can't store a lot of items in there, but since it's fabric and unpadded, the pocket kind of conforms around whatever is inside.
My one primary frustration with storage is the single front exterior zipper pocket; it feels really cramped. This streamlined pocket is not designed to expand or stretch out at all to accommodate more items -- unlike the similar front pocket on the larger 10L Everyday Sling bag. Therefore this pocket felt underutilized as I didn't have a lot of stuff that would fit. If you were inclined to stuff a wallet or your smartphone in there, that will fit, though, but not much else or anything bulkier.
Lastly, the 5L Sling offers a small, snug tablet sleeve section that they say will fit an 11-inch tablet, but good luck trying to fit a full-size tablet in there. When stuffed with camera gear, I had a hard time squeezing my iPad Air 2 in there. Further, the curved, over-hanging zippered lid obstructs part of tablet sleeve, making it even more difficult to slide in a full-size iPad. A smaller tablet, such as an iPad Mini for example, would likely fit without issue.
Comfort-wise, I was pretty pleased with the 5L sling bag. The strap is lightly padded, but not overly bulky, which I liked. There's a quick-adjust tab that lets you easily release or cinch the strap up depending now snug you want to carry the bag across your back. It fits nicely across my shoulder, and as a lefty, I appreciate the ability to flip the strap around for either left or right shoulder carry. The 5L Sling can also be worn as a hip-pack (aka fanny pack), with the shoulder strap including a quick-release buckle for easy on-off.
I've always had a love-hate relationship with shoulder- and messenger-style bags, especially when it comes to camera and other electronic gear. These types of bags are really great for ease of access, especially for camera gear, but they can quickly get extremely uncomfortable to wear when loaded up with lots of equipment. The small size of the 5L sling forces you to only carry a small about of stuff, and thus a fairly lightweight load. In contrast, I tried using the 10L Everyday Sling, and while it can certainly hold more stuff -- including a small tripod, which was nice -- I ran into the same weight issue I experience with other shoulder bags. Loaded up, the 10L Sling is simply too heavy and cumbersome for me to enjoy wearing it around for an extended period of time.
Overall, to me, the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L is the ideal size for a shoulder bag-style camera bag. The small capacity keeps things focused, forcing you to carry just the essentials while maintaining comfort as well as the ease-of-access to gear that shoulder bags are known for. The all-black color, in particular, is sleek and understated, and the quality of the craftsmanship and materials feels top-notch and really well made -- which should be expected given its rather expensive $99.95 price tag. The next time I'm heading out for a quick day hike or a short walk through the city, the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L will be my go-to choice.
The Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L is available now for $99.95 and comes in both all-black or ash-gray colors.