Backpacks evoke certain expectations. Sexy is usually not one of those expectations.
Yet that is the first feeling I had when checking out the PRVKE Pack, a smartly engineered backpack for photographers designed by brothers Ryan and Spencer Cope. Their company is called WANDRD, and wander is exactly what you will want to do with this bag.
The PRVKE pack (“provoke” is the way to say it) quickly intrigued photographers, commuters and outdoorsy types on Kickstarter, where the brothers raised more than $113,000 last year. Now that the early backers have gotten their packs, WANDRD ramped up manufacturing and announced earlier this month the packs are for sale on the company website.
Be prepared for a $270 price tag and a learning curve with the PRVKE pack. But the investment of money and patience is likely to pay off in the long run.
First, there is the handsome exterior. It cuts a shadowy silhouette with two tones of black created by a mix of dobby nylon and a shiny tarpaulin. The dobby is heavily textured for strength, and the tarpaulin renders the pack water-resistant. For added protection, a built-in rain-fly pulls out from the bottom of the backpack.
The pack will meet airline carry-on requirements, but the size can be expanded by unfurling the bags’ rolled top. There’s an easy-to-access pocket on the back panel for a passport or wallet, a water bottle pocket that expands to hold a tripod, and a side pocket that lets me access some of my camera gear.
Inside, the pack provides a customizable compartment great for one-bag travelers or commuters who carry a lot (there’s a rugged inner pocket for a laptop up to 17 inches).
But the Cope brothers are photographers and wanted to design a backpack for shooters in transit. There is a customizable gear cube that slides inside, providing space for a DSLR and up to eight lenses.
At first, I thought the bag was too complicated, and I was banging my head trying to figure out how the gear cube not only fit inside the bag but provided the quick-grab access it promises. It wasn’t until Ryan Cope sent an instructional video that I understood the genius of the design.
WANDRD includes a QR code and link that will bring customers to an instructional PDF and video. For those of you, like me, who like to use new gear without first reading instructions, take a breath and read these. It is well worth the time.
The bag can be swung around the front to provide a platform or give quick side access to lenses. Once I understood how the bag worked, I timed my quick-draw moves on the PRVKE bag and another camera backpack, one I happen to like and use regularly.
The results? Access speed was about the same, but the PRVKE design is more versatile, especially how it carries other job-related essentials, like additional clothing, snacks and peripheries for the mobile office.
I also appreciated that I could shoot without having a camera around my neck. The PRVKE has an integrated camera sling that places the camera under the arm and near the hand. That pocket earlier described for a wallet or passport also has pockets for media cards, lens caps and extra batteries.
Getting it in my hands and working with it a bit helped me make sense of the price. The PRVKE pack is not a bag likely to wear down for a long time.
The PRVKE Pack is available for $270 at WANDRD. The company provided Cult of Mac with a unit for this review.