For me, working within photographic retail has meant I’ve never been able to find the perfect day-to-day bag. I need to take my camera gear (a medium size mirrorless set-up) along with a laptop and an array of diaries and notebooks. Sure I have bags that can carry my camera set-up like a dream, but carrying all the daily stuff needed for work seems to put these bags out of use. Similarly, no laptop bag I’ve ever owned has been able to carry my camera at the same time, until now. The Think Thank Urban Disguise 40 Classic is the perfect bag for me to use 5 days a week.
The Urban Disguise Classic is an elegant, understated bag, which I find the perfect look for work. It’s not flashy, but it’s clean and classy. The sleek design looks tidy and the leather front adds a professional feel, whilst the nice wide strap makes it easy to carry around a heavy bag for long periods of time. For instance, an average day would mean me stuffing the following into the Urban Disguise:
All of this fits effortlessly into the Urban Disguise 40 and it means I rarely have to switch round and change my bag set-up daily. The main section of the bag (designed for camera equipment) is nice and deep, well padded and easy to organise. Obviously the bag has to be deep to accommodate a laptop, however it would have been nice to have the ability to stack lenses within the main section. Anyone who knows Fuji will know that the 35mm is a tiny lens, and so having this at the bottom means a lot of space is wasted. Opening the main section is easily done with just one zip, which stretches at one side to avoid any nasty scratching being done to your camera.
The laptop compartment on the Urban Disguise 40 is well padded and a perfect fit for my XPS 15 with no room for it to wiggle around whilst I’m walking. This section has two zips, with the ability to secure them with the use of a standard padlock. All the zips on this bag are Think Tank’s standard YKK reinforced zippers, meaning that vigorous daily use will not result in any zips falling off or getting stuck. The front compartment features the ‘Sound Silencers’ we are used to seeing on Think Tank bags, especially useful if you need to grab a pen out of your bag during an important meeting. Alongside the Velcro, Think Tank have added a buckle to the front compartment for added security. The flexibility of the front compartment means the bag can remain elegant and sleek when you need to transport a minimal amount of kit, but can expand considerably to house an extensive amount of gear. Small touches like the two elasticated pouches on either side – perfect for water bottles – make the Think Tank Urban Disguise bags stand out from the rest.
It’s rare that I can say I’ve found a bag to suit a specific need, but I would never go back to using any other bag for daily work. Previously I’d have taken my laptop and paperwork in a conventional laptop bag and lugged around a separate camera bag at the same time, but with the Urban Disguise I don’t need to. It houses everything I need on a daily basis, looks stylish and professional, is extremely comfortable to wear for walks between meetings, as well as being impeccably constructed and well thought out.
I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of Peak Design products, but then that’s not really surprising because they seem to continue producing evolutionary products that work seamlessly in every way that they should, and more!
Let’s get things straight, the term ‘camera bag’ does not exclusively mean a bag for a camera anymore - certainly if you’re anything like me; I like to carry around more stuff than perhaps I really need. Certainly, with the Everyday Messenger I was able to fit my X-Pro2, with my iPad and a whole load of other accessories (I even managed to squeeze my jacket into the top when the sun came out) and the bag still felt like it had more room to give. That’s because this bag is clever. On the lowest branch of Peak Design’s MagLatch ladder the bag looks slim and sleek and can hold around 13 litres of gear - but take the latch to the top and you’ve got yourself a bag that will hold around 20.5 litres. Peak Design’s patent-pending MagLatch that I just mentioned is a thing of excellence and shows that their attention to detail is second-to-none. MagLatch means you can open and close the bag one handed - no more messing around putting your camera down on precarious craggy walls! Of course if you require the use of two hands, the Everyday Messenger has two dedicated mounting points for Peak Design’s Capture camera clip - you really get the sense with this bag that Peak Design were dedicated to functionality.
Now if you’re a serious pro looking to lug numerous full frame bodies around comfortably then this bag probably isn’t for you. As the name suggests, this is an everyday bag that is able to strike a fine balance between a camera bag and a daily commuter bag. Peak Design say that the Everyday Messenger will take a 15” laptop in its rear section, and I managed to get my Dell XPS 15 in there, although I think you'd struggle with any thicker laptop.
The whole bag feels strong and sturdy, and thanks to the DWR-coated Kodra synthetic nylon it can withstand even the worst April shower with no harm done to your gear. One niggle I found with this bag is that it is perhaps a little too rigid, but I’m sure it will soften over time - although it certainly made me a little nervous walking round the jewellery department in Selfridges!
The strap. Yep that’s right, Peak Design have engineered yet another brilliant strap. I tend to find shoulder bags a bit uncomfortable, but with the Everyday Messenger this wasn’t an issue. It rocks a nice, wide strap that has some internal padding - but that’s not even the best bit. There are numerous ways you can configure the strap to carry the bag just as you want it. The strap is reversible, so swapping the bag from shoulder to shoulder is easy. The Everyday Messenger also features Peak Design’s brilliant quick-adjust buckle that we’ve seen before on their Slide camera straps, meaning you no longer have to take your bag off and fiddle around to adjust the length of the strap.
You don’t even get the standard bag dividers like you do with most bags. Oh yes, Peak Design have gone one step further again with their origami-inspired flex-fold system. These dividers enable you to configure your bag exactly as you want it; carry your gear side by side or stack lenses on top of each other to save space, all with the security of knowing your gear won’t be able to roll around.
The front pocket was designed for easy access to all your small accessories. Once again Peak Design have shown enormous attention to detail by splitting the front pocket into two halves with red and green stitching - put your full memory cards and spent batteries into the red pocket and never waste time looking for an empty card again. Peak Design have also given the Everyday Messenger a top (waterproof) zip for quick and easy access to your camera, although I found that you need to organise your bag with your camera bang in the centre for this to be effective and this can jeopardise space. Finally, there are two small pockets on either side of the bag for your smartphone - although I personally wouldn’t use them as my iPhone 6S was visible. One of these pockets also features a neat little strap with an anchor link attachment - attach one of Peak Design’s anchors to your keys and you’ll never lose them again.
I just love this bag, it’s big enough for everything I need daily and it looks sleek and trendy enough for me to take anywhere. Peak Design’s attention to detail makes this bag unique and certainly worth the high price. This bag has done exactly what it says on the tin; it has become my Everyday bag.
23rd January 2017
5 years ago you'd have found me shooting with my big, heavy Canon 7D, until about two years ago I bought into the Compact System market and got my hands on an Olympus OM-D E-M1. The E-M1 is a lovely camera and I thoroughly enjoyed using it, but it was missing something, it just didn't give me the fizz.
So, 3 months ago I took the plunge and switched to a Fuji X-Pro2. I have never been more pleased with such a decision. The X-Pro2 is one phenomenal camera. It feels perfect in my hands, things are where they should be, image quality is exceptional and the viewfinder is an art all by itself.
16th November 2016