Cian Byrne tests out the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L to see if it lives up to the hype.
I’m a self-confessed backpack nerd. I love the idea of taking something so straightforward as a backpack and seeing brands try to refine it into something better and more useful. If you search online for the best travel backpack, the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is always in the conversation. As my trusty travel backpack was starting to show signs of old age, I thought it was finally time to pick one up and I’ve been using it for the past few months to see if it lives up to the hype.
Peak Design is an American company whose roots are in the camera world where they’re known for their tripods and straps – all very functional and practical gear, and this ethos carries over to their backpacks. Right off the bat, you can tell that it’s an impressive bit of kit that’s well made and feels like a quality product, but the more I’ve used it, the more I’ve found myself saying “Oh, that’s clever”. The details are so well thought out and practical – I’m amazed that it manages to cram so much useability and multifunctionality into one backpack.
There’s a large compartment in the rear with a clamshell opening to carry all your clothes and a smaller compartment at the front with four pockets for electronics, books, and whatever else you need on your trip. Want to carry something larger than the main compartment? The divider between the two unzips and can be stored away to create a bigger space, while the entire backpack expands its storage when hidden external zips are unzipped and buttons unbuttoned.
All these adjustments boosts the backpack’s storage to 45L. For shorter trips, simply zip the pack up and clip the buttons back in place for a more compact backpack to carry. I’ve flown a number with Ryanair a number of times recently and have never been asked to see if it fits in the dreaded bag-size-checker-thing.
The two side pockets are deep, with more than enough room to hold a large water bottle and they also come with small hidden compartments that are handy for holding cash or cards. You can also take your security up a notch with the clever zipping system that allows you to invert the zips of the main compartment so that they’re completely hidden and then secured inside the backpack with a lock.
The laptop sleeve has more than enough room to store my 16” MacBook and even some small magazines and travel documents. Rounding off the storage is a passport-sized pocket on the front which can easily hold a passport, phone, and earbuds.
It feels like a very complete backpack with very few wasted or missed opportunities. If I’m nitpicking, a high-contrast interior could make those hard-to-spot items easier to see while on the go. I went for the black colourway (it’s also available in sage) and found that it does show dirt quite easily when compared to other packs I’ve used in the past, especially when taking it out of a dusty overhead bin on a flight.
That said though, the style of the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is one that very few people will fault. It’s not the most stunningly beautiful backpack out there, but it’s very versatile and wouldn’t look out of place on the back of a corporate executive in an airport lounge or checking in for a first-class flight for a honeymoon.
I’ve been very impressed with the Travel Backpack, but the Packing Cubes have blown me away. Yes, I know this sounds ridiculous, but they’re so impressive. I went for a small and a medium which neatly fill the main compartment of the backpack. They work quite brilliantly. Unzip the zip to the packing cube and the wrap-around zip and pack your clothes.
Zip the compartment shut and then by zipping up the wrap-around zip, the packing cube compresses all your clothes to fit neatly inside the pack. They’re made from ripstop material, so I expect them to last a long time and I’ve been told that the material is self-healing and can close over small punctures and abrasions.
The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is an extremely solid travel backpack, it’s been comfortable on every trip, adaptable to give me what I need from it, and has made travelling easier. Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. I fully expect this to be my go-to travel backpack for the foreseeable future.
Tell me more about the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L comes in two colours, black and sage
Price – £241.63