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WANDRD Prvke Bag Review | More Than a Camera Bag, It’ll Provoke Your Inner Adventurer

March 22nd 2016 8:01 AM

I have a closet full of camera bags. Before I began working here at SLR Lounge, I already had more than enough bags to last me through my photography career, but since then, my collection has grown exponentially. Each bag, like children, has its own personality. They all do some things exceptionally well and are beautiful, but none are perfect. And after a while, they all start looking the same (tell me your mother didn’t call you by your sibling’s name more than once in your lifetime).

Last fall, at PhotoPlus, I was contacted by a new company, WANDRD, who asked me to come check out their Kickstarter project – the Prvke bag (pronounced “provoke”). As soon as I saw it, I was intrigued. It didn’t look like most of the camera bags/backpacks out there. It looked stylish, but rugged. It looked unique. It looked versatile. So, I stopped by their booth and had a chat with one of the founders of the company. WANDRD is owned by two brothers – Ryan and Spencer Cope – who look like adventurers ready to freestyle climb the side of a mountain in some country whose name I cannot pronounce (so basically the opposite of myself). They showed me their bag that had launched on Kickstarter and were ecstatic because it had just fully funded that morning. I jotted down some initial impressions and decided to include them in my PhotoPlus roundup of must-have products (see that article here).

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With the promise of receiving a review copy to test out, I left their booth and honestly, kind of forgot about the bag. After all, it looked like a bag that you could take on adventures, and I didn’t have any adventures planned anytime soon. A few weeks ago, the Prvke showed up in the mail and I was able to take it for a test run.

When I pulled out the Prvke bag from the box, I was a little surprised at how heavy it was. And it looked like something you should take on a backpacking trip to Patagonia. Since I didn’t have any Patagonia trips planned before I had to return the bag, I did the next best thing (and what a typical OC gal could pull off); I put on my Lululemons and went on a hike, then I took it to the office for a visit in my cubicle and finally on a brief day trip to Disneyland. The bag got the full Orange County treatment.

 

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09-features-5-stars

This bag has a lot of customizable pockets; from the roll top access to the various loops and pockets and straps. I’d find myself wishing that the bag would have {fill in the blank} and come to find out that it did; I just needed to discover it (or watch the detailed video here, but who has the time to do that?)

The bag comes with three different ways to access the various compartments – the rolltop, the side quick camera access (which I used most often) and the clamshell (lay it all out there) option. Once inside the bag, there is a removable compartment that’s extra padded for your precious camera and lenses. It fits a lot of lens (up to 8) and a DSLR. This cube is large though and takes up most of the inside of the bag. Since I was only bringing my Fuji X-T1, 56mm 1.2 and a 16-55mm 2.8, I took the cube out, making a very roomy bag to fit all the other necessities that are needed on a hike or a few hours at Disneyland (i.e. lots of snacks).

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In addition to the backpack straps (which are nicely padded and very comfy), there are waist straps, a midsection strap, two detachable cinch straps to attach additional gear on the top or bottom of the bag for a tripod or whatever else you need to carry.

The bag also has an expandable side pouch for a water bottle, a secret passport pocket in the back panel and an adjustable laptop sleeve. There are a ton of other features and little details, like the handy magnetic handles for an easy carrying option, a little rain jacket for extra protection and little pockets on the straps for SD cards and lens caps. Personally, I didn’t feel those little pockets were very secure, so I didn’t use them; but there are plenty of pockets throughout the bag, on the outside, inside and on the side of the camera cube. It seems they thought of everything.

04-performance-4.5-stars

Pulling the bag out of the box, I was a bit unsure. As I mentioned, the pack looked huge. I began getting visions of me toppling over like a caricature in a cartoon. Would I look weird with such a big bag on? But more importantly, loaded up, how much would it weigh?

I loaded the bag up with two bottles of water, my camera gear, a small jacket, a bunch of snacks, a workout towel, sunblock, my phone, more snacks, a blanket, extra batteries and SD cards. It’s not much, but I was only going on a few hour hike, not a grand adventure. The bag was surprisingly lightweight for its size and even trying it out with my added laptop, it wasn’t heavy. I could see myself speeding through the airport with it loaded down and still be okay.

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The pack did fine on steep hike in 80 degree weather. It was a bit hot but I didn’t struggle with the weight of the pack. I tossed the bag around on the dirt and grass when I pulled out my camera to shoot or change lenses, and dusted it off easily. It looks like it could take a beating in Machu Picchu in one week and then be used to haul your stuff to your desk job the following week.

It did just fine in the crowds at Disneyland and I had plenty of room for everything I needed that day. The only thing I would’ve liked to have was an easily accessible pouch for my iPhone (and who knows, there might be one that I missed). I was a bit of a pain to try and find my phone every time I went looking for it, sometimes having to take the entire pack off my back to dig through my stuff.

13-design-4-stars

The design is pretty cool looking; maybe a little cool looking for me. Everyone I’ve ever seen carry a rolltop bag were hipsters like my baby brother or just super cool. I’m a mom with a camera and a writer. I live in yoga pants and wear flip flops. The Prvke bag looks like someone who travels all over the world on bucket list adventures. Someone that would take the subway in a strange city without a map or guidebook.

But, I like it. I like that it looks different than every other bag in my closet. I like that I can put it on and look like I’m going somewhere and feel like an adventurer. The bag is versatile and intuitive. It does what I need it to do in all sorts of situations and then some. I was able to carry all my office gear – laptop, iPad, planner, notepad, lunch, etc. and take it to the SLR Lounge studios. It was ready for anything.

The Prvke itself is a bit large, and I would love for them to come up with a smaller version for those that don’t quite need the size. (I actually spoke to Ryan and Spencer at WPPI and yes, they are designing one right now!).

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19-quality-5-stars

The quality is a solid five stars. It is aesthetically pleasing and feels nice to the touch. It definitely could be dragged around the world and back and hold up. It’s made with Waterproof Tarpaulin and Nylon Dobby, for those who know their materials, and offers padded protection for all your tech necessities.

23-value-4-stars

With all the features of this bag, the price tag is what you’d expect from a camera backpack of this caliber. Coming in at $270, it’s a bit of an investment. But it may be the only bag you’ll ever need. The Prvke is priced right in the range of other camera backpacks like the ThinkTank StreetWalker or the MindShift Gear backpacks, but among its peers, the Prvke stands out in style and functionality. It doesn’t look like a camera bag and it doesn’t feel like a camera bag; but it can act like one if you want it to.

For me, $270 is a price I’d gladly pay for the combination of quality, functionality and style in my bags, and the Prvke bag has an abundance of all three.

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overall-score-4.5-stars

WANDRD’s philosophy is that “life wasn’t meant to be planned; it was meant to be lived. There are those that find solace in the comfortable, the road oft traveled…we exist to encourage the unexpected, the deliberate leap into the unknown…only to provoke the Wandrd.

For those that need a life with fewer lists and more adventure, the Prvke bag by WANDRD is for you. They just got the bags in stock and are ready to ship. Get your adventure on and get your Prvke bag here.

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Comments [16]

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  1. Allison Hatch

    I’ve been toying around with getting either this or the Thule.  My friend has one and says she likes the roll top.  I do mostly lifestyle and family shoots, and the idea of being able to swap lenses around and have my gear in the top really appeals to me.  

    Great review above.  Not many out there as they’re a new company. Another decent review of their new bag I found: http://www.polaryze.com/wandrd-prvke-21-camera-bag-unboxing-and-review/

    I’ll let you all know what I end up doing…

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  2. Christopher Bernal

    These comments have been almost as useful as the article. I already put in my order before I came across this article but it reaffirmed some assumptions about its use. Thanks Hanssie!

    Since college I’ve relied on a bulky Swiss computer backpack, migrated to a Chrome Messenger Bag with inserts and now plan to blend the two with the PRVKE.

    How I roll varies depending on the project. I tend to have a 15″-17″ laptop, hard drives, noise reduction headphones, various port adapters; camera gear that includes a variety of action cameras, 1-2 DSLRs with battery grip, time lapse gear, tripod, slider rails etc.
    All that to say until this bag I was never confident I could fit what I’d need in one bag let alone have these kinds of options to customize.

    Avoiding back sweat will be a bother but that’s just what seems to happen with a fully packed bag and exertion.

    Hope you have a chance to review their new PRVKE 21 bag when that lands. I might get that for my wife or as a commuter/everyday workbag.

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  3. Clipping Path

    the MindShift Gear backpacks, but among its peers, the Prvke stands out in style and functionality. thanks for share..

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  4. Stephen Jennings

    Why do camera bag designers always put a film cameras or just as often a little Leica .. or now little Sony cameras in their promos.. not the big beasties we most often carry around.

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    • adam sanford

      Upper end bag makers are courting a [modernist / moneyed hipster / tastemaker / design aficionado / international traveler] sort of demographic. Consider: few others would buy camera bags north of $200, and those that would are probably pros who would use other brands.

      But the pitch is common one. Note all the pictures you see of these bags being loaded — you will probably see:

      * Vintage photo gear or Leica gear
      * A passport (that’s a hammerlock certainty in a bag ‘lifestyle’ shot)
      * A nice fountain pen and moleskine notebook
      * Designer sunglasses
      * Apple gear and international charging plugs

      The Venn Diagram of those possessions above = moneyed folks who travel that would like a nice bag to put them in.

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    • Hanssie

      Guilty, haha. All that stuff was mine, taken quickly with my iPhone. Next time I’ll have to get more creative.

      My little Fuji and all the accessories that I would travel with. And don’t forget the Quest Bar for a healthy, wanderlust lifestyle.

      Now, to just add the “moneyed” part :)

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    • adam sanford

      I”m not picking on you, Hanssie — you perfectly fit their target demo: traveling photographer. Nothing to be ashamed of.

      (Corollary: there’s a reason why bag lifestyle shots don’t feature vape pens, blood test results, parking tickets, McDonald’s receipts and an alimony summons…. :-P)

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    • Christopher Bernal

      I hear you. Marketing/Lifestyle images aside, the most useful images of these products comes from bloggers or a site like Amazon. Part of the reason I didn’t buy it until real people had a chance to try it out.

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  5. adam sanford

    Yay, SLRL *didn’t* put up another bougie $500 fashion bag review! Full marks. This is a weird bag. (I dig weird.)

    Pro: I love love love removable camera modules. Load a module in ergonomic ease on a countertop and then load it into a bag like ammunition. Or have 2-3 of these inserts pre-loaded with your gear — a portrait setup, landscape setup, etc. A+ on this idea. The GuraGear Uinta system is similar.

    Con: Rolltops aren’t for me, nor are the the 87 little pockets and zippers and flaps. And everytime a bag tries to be a Transformer that can be held/used in different orientations, it usually sucks at basic quick access. So this bag just looks complicated to use at first glance.

    Unanswered questions: Hanssie, I’m in SoCal as well, so breathability is vital for a backpack that covers so much of a potentially very warm surface area. I know you said it “did fine on steep hike in 80 degree weather”, but would you wear this bag all day shooting an outdoor event? Do the shoulder straps or back padding use a breathable material?

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    • Hanssie

      Personally I’m a fan of the rolltop – just because it’s different than all my other bags and I LOVE lots of pockets. It soothes the organizational soul…(admittedly, I did send the bag back with my camera batteries safely ensconced in one of the pockets. But I got them back).

      I would NOT wear this to shoot a wedding or outdoor event. First, it’s not that accessible – I don’t like to put my bag down and have to unzip, etc. That’s why I use the UNDFIND bag so it’s all within quick reach.

      Secondly, it was hot. Wearing the bag made my back sweaty. The shoulder straps were solid and felt fine, but no, I would not say it was breathable.

      This bag is perfect for traveling. It will fit my laptop, camera gear, snacks, water, a jacket, and all the odds and ends I would need for a long flight. Then it would be suitable for a day trip wandering the streets of Paris or on a hike to Half Dome.

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    • adam sanford

      Hanssie, I looked at the website and agree: it strikes me as a travel bag more than a dedicated shooting bag. It’d be decent for mixed use travel bag purposes, in which you’d have a 50-50 split between camera gear and personal stuff.

      Good review, btw, thanks.

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  6. adam sanford

    Nothing is more hipster than dropping vowels from common words — it’s an epidemic out here in CLFRNA.

    (In fairness, it’s also ‘business clever’ for entrepreneurs: websites, trademarking, etc.)

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  7. R. John Anderson

    The bag looks very “top heavy” if it’s loaded? Maybe it just looks that way in the photos? Any comments on that?

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    • Hanssie

      Well, with it being a roll top, I wouldn’t put more than maybe a light jacket on top. When the cube is in there, you can’t really put too much else. A book and a sweater, maybe? And your laptop, magazine and water bottle – which makes it really great for a travel bag. As such, the bottom base is pretty solid.

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    • Adam Rubinstein

      On the strength of Hanssie’s review, I bought one a month ago. I agree with Adam Sanford’s assessment, that it’s ideal for 50/50 gear/travel. I lived out of it for 9 days, traveling by train from NM to CA and back, and then shot a music festival with what I’d packed.

      I loaded a 6D (w/battery grip), Sigma 50 ART, Tamron 70-200, and Tamron 24-70 in the cube, and several days’ clothes in the top. There’s a large fleece-lined pocket zipper-accessible from the top, where you can put phones, etc.. Right now, I’m using it for lens caps, ibuprofen, a few USB cables, a very small copy of the Tao Te Ching, and my wifi hotspot. If you travel with a suitcase, or you’re a wedding shooter, this isn’t your bag. If you’ve walked from enough train stations to your friend’s aunt’s best friend’s couch, and you’ve come to respect the art of traveling with only a Jansport on your back… this bag’s for you.

      So: camera gear safe, enough clothes to adventure, and that it doesn’t look like a camera bag—making you less of a mark, though it looks expensive, which negates that—outweighs the breathability issue for me.

      I’m about to take it out for 7 weeks, same situation. :)

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