Camera Travel Bag Review: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L

Camera Travel Bag Review: Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L

James Huang James Huang
4 minute read

Peak Design has been one of the most innovative brands in the camera accessory world since its debut in 2011, deftly blending brilliantly intuitive functionality with gorgeous design and incredible durability. One of the latest additions to its newer camera travel bag collection is the compact-but-mighty Travel Backpack 30L

Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L camera travel bag has tons of features, but could be a little easier to live with. Photo Credit James Huang.

The smaller camera travel bag Peak Design offers, the sleekly minimalist 30L is sufficiently spacious for long weekends but still easily slides underneath the seat in front of you (even on smaller commuter-type planes). The single large main compartment is supplemented by an external-access zippered pocket up top for smaller items, and two stretch water bottle pockets on the sides. Inside, you’ll find four zippered mesh pockets and separate sleeves for a laptop (up to 16” screens) and a tablet. An ID sleeve is neatly integrated into the back, too.

The main compartment expands from 27L to 33L, and the clamshell design is a cinch to pack. I had plenty of room for an overnight work trip that included the usual change of clothes and toiletries, as well as a pile of camera and podcast gear. Optional travel cubes help organize everything so it’s not lost in a big black hole, and there are eight anchor points for attaching bulkier items to the outside with the included tie-down straps.

The main straps are unusually well padded and smartly shaped, and combine with the padded back panel and sternum strap for true all-day comfort, even when the bag is heavily loaded (almost 30 lb in my case). Those backpack straps also stash instantly into hidden sleeves, and there are five (five!) grab handles – one of which is sized to slide over a roller bag handle – so there’s always a good way to carry the thing.

Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L

As I’ve come to expect from Peak Design, attention to detail is superb. The light-colored interior lining makes it easier to find things, the stitching is heavily reinforced in key areas, the water-resistant exterior features waterproof zippers and a more durable TPU-infused bottom, zipper pulls are both stitched and bonded so they’ll never come undone, and the main zipper pulls even clip together to prevent casual theft. All of the hardware is metal instead of plastic, too, custom-made for quick operation and stylish appearance. And speaking of style, one nice bonus: if black isn’t your thing, Peak Design also offers this camera travel bag in brighter Sage and Midnight hues.

Things start to unravel when you need to get to any of your gear in-flight, though.

The top pocket includes plenty of organization for smaller items, but I kept wishing it was bigger, and certainly not as thin. Things like pens, portable chargers, and eyeglass cases fit just fine, but anything else has to go into the large main compartment.

That’d be fine if it were easier to get inside of it. The clamshell layout is nice when you have room to lay it out, but the bags somewhat rigid shell otherwise offers only a small opening in tight quarters (think: middle seat) – even just pulling your laptop out can be tricky. And while the light-colored interior is nice in theory, using the black travel cubes cancels out the advantage, and it’s still too easy for things to fall all the way to the bottom. I’d like to see the upper third of the main compartment sectioned off entirely, or at least some kind of add-on divider.

Overall, the Peak Design Travel Backpack 30L feels to me like a right-sized refrigerator where someone has put everything inside those organizing bins you see on Instagram. It works well most of the time and maximizes usable volume, but it’s also occasionally maddening when all you want to do is grab the ketchup. Remember when those little mini-doors became a thing? Yep, that’s exactly what this needs.

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