WANDRD PRVKE 21L & 31L Review: The Best Backpack For Photographers?

The WANDRD PRVKE is touted as one of the best backpacks for travel photographers. But does it really deserve the hype?

WANDRD PRVKE Review

The folks at WANDRD have caused quite a stir among the travel photography community. With the initial launch of the now acclaimed PRVKE series, they claimed this to be the absolute best backpack for photographers—but I wasn’t sold.

After all, that’s quite a bold claim.

Getting a camera bag right is a difficult task. Every photography works differently and has different requirements when they’re on the job or out exploring in the wilderness. Few manufacturers have successfully combined great looks, functionality for photographers, and durability into a single product.

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WANDRD PRVKE camera backpack in olive

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WANDRD PRVKE

The WANDRD PRVKE is one of the best camera gear bags out there. It has tons of organization, several access points, and lots of security to keep your equipment safe!

With so many 5-star reviews, I decided it was time to do my own deep dive into the WANRD PRVKE. And while there are a lot of things to love about this bag, there were some things that I didn’t love so much, too.

Ultimately, you just have to decide what’s a dealbreaker. And that’s a very personal decision.

Originally designed not only with photographers in mind, but actually for photographers, WANDRD claims this bag can be adapted to fit any traveler’s needs. But does it do the job?

Hopefully this WANDRD PRVKE review will help you decide for yourself.

WANDRD PRVKE Review 2020: Quick Answers

  • The WANDRD PRVKE is designed by photographers for photographers.
  • The primary foundation of this bag is organization.
  • It comes with a unique and striking design.
  • It’s theft-proof and weather-resistant—two things photographers need!
  • Well-padded, even without a camera cube.
  • That said, this bag is just like any other bag if you don’t buy the additional camera cube.

While the WANDRD PRVKE comes in two different sizes (21L and 31L), every other feature is the same.

Pros

  • A+ organization
  • Lots of access points
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Weather-resistant
  • Lifetime warranty
  • International shipping

Cons

  • Camera cube integration is extremely awkward
  • Heavy
  • No built-in waist strap
  • Not good as a standalone hiking pack
  • Weather-resistant but not waterproof

Who Is the WANDRD PRVKE For?

  • Photographers:  This pack is specifically designed with photographers in mind. The dimensions are large enough to accommodate a substantial amount of gear but small enough to be easily portable. The accessory bundle is 100% photographer themed, with extra weather and impact protection in the form of a protective camera shell and a rain fly. The Essential Camera Cube fits easily into this pack and you can purchase other add-ons, like accessory straps. Overall, it’s one of the best camera bags for photographers!
  • Commuters: Are you a walker looking for your next functional weekday pack? Are you a cyclist in need of something weatherproof, stylish, and light? Do you regularly take the train and are looking for a discreet, secure bag to guard your work gear? My friends, the WANDRD PRVKE is all of the above, and more.
  • World travelers: Your carry-on companion is an important part of your adventure, so you need to have the right bag for the job. The WANDRD PRVKE will have your back (pun intended) the whole way with its amazing range of security features. It’s durable and comfortable to wear, and it’s the perfect size to shove under a seat or in an overhead bin on the plane.
  • People who live or travel in wet areas: Extreme durability and weatherproofing come standard with the WANDRD PRVKE. It would be a fantastic pack to have if you live in a soggy part of the world. Use it for everything from shopping to day treks!

Who Isn’t the WANDRD PRVKE For?

  • Backcountry Hikers: While this review will show you that the WANDRD PRVKE has many useful features for a hiker, it’s probably not going to be your first choice for going deep into the bush⁠—especially if you’re planning to go alone. While it has impressive durability and will absolutely go the distance wherever you take it, the PRVKE is a little too small to be useful as a true hiking bag. Our list of best camera backpacks for hiking has better options for trekkers.
  • One-Bag Travelers: This bag is too small to be useful to a true one-bag traveler. While it has some features that you would absolutely find helpful, there are better options available from WANDRD which offer a little more space, like the 45L HEXAD Access Duffel.
  • Runners, Fast Hikers, and Peak-Baggers: The WANDRD PRVKE is many things, but ultralight is not one of them. This bag is designed to be a padded tank to carry your expensive photography gear.

Who is WANDRD?

WANDRD has a fantastic origin story. Back in 2015, three young photographers realized they were tired of putting up with shoddy camera bags. At the time, photographers had to choose between a bag that protected their cameras but looked like garbage, or a bag that looked nice but totally failed as a gear bag. WANDRD was created to change that.

Since the company launched their first-ever product with a Kickstarter campaign from their parents’ basement, the founders have tried to unite a functional pack with style for the photographer who wants more from their equipment. Two more Kickstarters, four years, and several product lines later, the PRVKE (‘provoke’) has emerged as the pinnacle of their desire to provide one of the ultimate camera bags for travelers. 

WANDRD PRVKE Features 

The PRVKE is a wonderful blend of useful and functional features. From an easy to use roll-top lid to a plethora of secure and smartly placed pockets, this bag exists to make life easier. Let’s take a few minutes to discuss each of these unique features.

If you’re short on time, check out this video from WANDRD: 

Dimensions and Specifications

The dimensions of a daypack sized pack are pretty important when it comes to making your choice. A daypack that’s too deep will pull on your shoulders, but too wide and it will be difficult to balance. Too tall and it will be difficult to adjust!

The WANDRD PRVKE is a fairly shallow, tall bag that is designed to carry the load of the bag close to your body. This is great for photographers who will be lugging dense, heavy camera equipment. Or for people who will be carrying laptops and books (college students or digital nomads).

The WANDRD PRVKE makes a great city bag

The trade-off is that it’s relatively tall, even when rolled up. While it’s ergonomically fitted and well-padded for all users, the height of the bag means it will fit a taller person better.

As far as capacity goes, the standard PRVKE can hold a decent amount, with the main compartment holding 21L of space. There’s also a larger size that can hold 31L if you’re in need of some extra space for your gear. The roll-top feature helps here too, as well as the accessory straps—they give you a way to compress the pack.

These bags are heavy. At 2.8lbs and 3.4lbs respectively for the 21L and 31L, these are not ultralight bags. With all the padding, organization, waterproofing, and durability, there’s a necessary trade-off in the weight department. Just remember that throwing in a camera cube or a photography bundle will add even more to your load.

21 Liter31 Liter
Dimensions17″H X 11″W X 6.5″D19″H X 12.5″W X 7.5″D
Weight2.8lbs3.4lbs
Capacity21L + 5L31L +5L

The Essential Camera Cube (4/5)

While it might technically be considered an optional add-on accessory, I dare say this bag isn’t worth purchasing unless you get the camera cube to go with it.

After all, this is a bag for photographers. And photographers need camera cubes.

There are a couple different sizes, all of which make excellent additions to your pack. Each one contains several moveable dividers to keep your lenses and camera nice and snug through whatever travel adventure you take them on.

The Essential Camera Cube is large enough to hold a long-distance lens and a DSLR, or two to three smaller lenses. With the adjustable partitions, you can rearrange it to your satisfaction, so your electronic babies stay safe on their journey. 

The Essential Camera Cube is designed to sit at the bottom of the backpack, where the weight will be distributed most effectively through the straps. It also lines up very conveniently with the side access point, which makes it easy to grab without completely unpacking all your stuff. Since it’s designed for the specs of the backpack, it stays securely in the bottom of the bag without jumping around. 

The Pro Camera Cube works the same way but is more hardcore⁠—it fits 2 cameras, 4-6 lenses (including larger zoom lenses), and even a drone.

You could also pick up the newly released Mini Camera Cube which was designed to fit in the top portion of either the 21L or 31L version of the PRVKE.

Roll-Top Lid (3/5)

I love a roll-top lid, and I’m more than a little happy that WANDRD included a roll-top feature here. 

The roll-top is expandable/collapsible, and can add another five liters to your toting capacity! It also looks pretty darn cool.

It’s also incredibly secure, so any sticky-fingered thief will have a hard time fiddling with it without you noticing. The rest of the zippers are also discreetly placed to discourage pickpockets.

But…

I have one major qualm with this feature. When the bag is overfilled and the roll-top is extended fully, the added height of the bag gets in the way of the handles. So instead of clasping together, they just fall to the side and become a completely useless and rather ugly feature.

Some more thought definitely could have gone into the functionality of this. But if you’re not planning on filling your bag to the brim every single time, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Side Access (4/5)

The problem with a roll-top lid is that it impedes spontaneous photo opportunities. WANDRD thought of this, and included a very handy side access for that exact reason! 

This means you can shift the bag to one shoulder and easily have instant access to your camera for the quick-draw. No more fiddling as you take the bag completely off to open the main compartment to get your camera.

I do wish they had made this access point a little bigger⁠—perhaps to reach multiple lenses and a camera at the same time. I also wish they had come up with a different way to attach the camera cube to the bag itself (since it’s removable).

Basically, you have to insert the side access flap of the cube inside the side access flap of the bag. That means the side access flap is actually twice as thick as it needs to be.

Basically, the way the modules integrate is really awkward.

Rainfly Pocket (3/5)

When the rain starts pouring, a little extra protection for your gear may well be in order. A rainfly is the perfect protection and will make your pack impervious to any downpour.

WANDRD doesn’t include that rainfly as part of the bag package, unfortunately. But it does include a convenient exterior pocket on the bottom of the bag to stash a rainfly until you need it.

While not necessarily a show stopper, the rainfly pocket is still a nice thought and will keep you from trying to store a rainfly amongst your sensitive equipment.

But you still have to buy the rainfly separately, and I really don’t think you should have to.

Water Bottle Pocket (4/5)

Here’s a common problem with optional pockets (like a water bottle pocket): they just dangle on the side of your bag when not in use, and go out of their way to snag on anything and everything. Not so on the PRVKE. 

Here, the water bottle pocket is expandable, which means that it can be securely zipped up when not in use. This helps keep your pack profile nice and slim when needed, but magically provides enough room for a 1L water bottle when the time comes. Alternatively, this pocket can also be the ideal spot to stash a tripod.

(Also, if you’re in the market, read up on our selection of best water bottles for travel.)

Clamshell Zipper (5/5)

In addition to the primary roll-top, they’ve also have a clamshell zipper located directly behind the shoulder straps. This provides easy access to the bottom of the bag without having to dig through the top. 

This also makes packing a much more methodical and organized experience instead of force-feeding your bag from the top. Finally, this zipper provides direct access to the laptop sleeve.

Laptop Sleeve (4/5)

WANDRD has included a very well thought out laptop compartment to make traveling with your trusted laptop a breeze. The 15” sleeve is located in the main compartment of the pack and is well padded for those travel bumps. 

The clamshell zipper access to the main compartment folds open for easy access. I also like how the sleeve keeps the laptop squarely against your back to assist with weight distribution.

Passport Pocket (5/5)

Resting directly behind the small of your back is a small, zippered compartment. This is your most secure pocket and the perfect place to store your passport or any other small items that you wish to keep hidden. 

It’s quite impossible for anyone to access this pocket while the PRVKE is on your back. The zipper is furthermore very discrete when you take the bag off, so it will not immediately draw any attention. 

Magnetic Handles (2/5)

The top two handles that come together above the roll top lid have magnetic clips. This keeps them together while you’re on the move and prevents them from sneaking down to your neck and back.

While it’s a nice design touch, I wish the magnets were a little bit stronger, as the handles come apart very easily.

And, as mentioned above, when the roll-top is full, the handles don’t even clasp together at all.

Materials (5/5)

It seems that every year new fabrics are being produced that are more lightweight, more durable, and more waterproof. The best backpacks I’ve seen are those that are embracing new technology rather than sticking with the same old, and that is precisely what WANDRD have done. 

The bag is made from two main materials: ‘Robic’ 1680 Ballistic Nylon and waterproof tarpaulin. Robic Nylon is one of the strongest nylon materials in existence. It is tough, highly abrasion-resistant, and incredibly durable; a bag made of this stuff will be with you for a long time.

According to some wholesalers, you can even use it to make bombproof equipment! 

The WANDRD PRVKE is made of some of the most durable fabric out there

Coupled with the space-age fabric is a material that makes this one of the best backpacks to take out on wet days: tarpaulin. Simple and effective, the addition of tarpaulin makes this bag weatherproof without adding too much extra weight. 

Of course, any claims to weatherproofing are only good if the zippers are up to scratch. WANDRD have ensured that the few zips they have kept in their design are weatherproof and covered so that they aren’t exposed to any inclement weather you may experience on your trip.

All in all, this is an extremely impressive build, designed for people who need to know their gear will be protected from anything while they are wearing the bag. 

Style & Aesthetics (5/5)

People that make pretty backpacks aren’t usually very concerned with security, capacity, or functionality. Sometimes even comfort is an afterthought.

Well, WANDRD wouldn’t be who they are if they didn’t have an eye for aesthetics. After all, the company was founded on the belief that you don’t have to make a choice⁠—you can have functionality and good looks in a single pack. 

This is definitely a sleek and stylish bag!

And I’m impressed with what they gave us. The shallow dimensions of the bag give it a sleek, upright look that doesn’t sag off your body or look too bulky when worn. Thanks to the small number of zips and the lack of built-in chest and waist straps, there is very little dangling off this pack.

While the range of colors is small (three options only), each color scheme has a sexy matte finish, which is subtle and tasteful. The design is not too flashy to avoid the attention of pickpockets but still undoubtedly cool.

It’s a bag that could take a beating in the bush but still scrub up for a stroll around the city. 

Finally, there’s the roll-top. A pretty unique feature on a pack to be sure, and one I keep coming back to in this WANDRD PRVKE review. Instead of hiding it or disguising it, WANDRD has designed the roll top to be on full display, which I really admire.

After all, why hide what we really are?

Comfort (3/5)

If you are at all likely to carry photography equipment around with you, comfort and fit are going to be very important design factors. We all know how heavy even a single camera can feel after an hour of walking, let alone a full set of lenses.

From an ergonomic standpoint, this is a great pack. As I’ve mentioned, the shallow construction holds the load of the bag close to your body. This means the load is held closer to your center of gravity, making it feel less cumbersome. It will also reduce the amount of movement from your camera, lenses, and laptop.

WANDRD PRVKE fits comfortably on your back

The straps are well designed, with stitching that runs through the back panel to ensure a more even distribution of weight through the shoulders. The straps and the back are padded, with no exposed corners to rub against your hips or shoulders. The only downside is that the padding isn’t very breathable.

One small downside of the straps is that they have no top adjustment. This might sound like a nit-pick, but with the height of this pack, shorter people may find it difficult to get comfortable without a top strap to pull the weight further over your center of gravity.

Then there are two other confusing aspects to this bag: the chest and waist straps. I would have thought that a backpack designed for carrying heavy equipment would include these, but in WANDRD’s case, they’re sold separately.

I can’t think of a logical reason for this. Clip-on straps will never be as reliable as a built-in variant, and they make a world of difference to your ability to carry a heavy load for an extended period. The only explanation I can think of is that they didn’t fit the aesthetic of the bag.

Organization (5/5)

For a photographer who likes to travel with lots of gear, a well-organized bag makes life easier in so many ways. A design that allows you access to all its compartments without having to throw your gear all over the place is the dream, ensuring that you can keep track of important bits with ease.

This is a category where WANDRD has really proven its innovation, taking a number of great ideas and rolling them into a surprisingly organized piece of equipment.

Entry Points (5/5)

First and foremost: entry points. There are three of them! The main access point is the roll-top, which allows you to compress your gear for a more comfortable carry. It also helps with the weatherproofing, and it’s held together nicely by a beautiful machined metal synch. In a pinch, you can also unroll it to include any souvenirs you pick up or jackets you take off.

Easy access points? This bag has them!

Then there’s the clamshell. The entire back of the bag can open up to provide access to the main compartment, camera bag, and laptop sleeve. 

Finally, there’s the side access, which opens directly into the bottom of the bag from a position you can reach without taking off the backpack. The camera bag sold with the pack has a matching opening, making this a great option for taking out your camera while you’re on the go.

Pockets (5/5)

What about pockets? Well, they’ve got you covered. On the outside, there’s the water bottle pocket which zips flat when not in use. There’s a flat pocket for maps and books on the front, as well as the rain fly pocket on the bottom.

On the back, you’ll find the handy security pocket. It’s probably not ideal for anything bulky like a wallet, but perfect for passports and documents. There’s also a pocket at the top for your phone, and a side pocket for your keys, all in places that are difficult for pickpockets to reach.

On the inside, there are pockets for batteries and SD cards on the inside of the side pocket flap, which is a fun little feature, as well as a divider within the main compartment. This is primarily for holding the camera bag accessories, but it can also be a handy organizer when accessed from the clamshell side. 

Other Features (5/5)

A couple of extras round out this organizational beast. There’s a piece of elastic on the main straps which is designed to hold your lens cap while you snap your pics, and there are loops around the back of the bag for lashing extra equipment such as a tripod to the PRVKE.

Durability (5/5)

There’s no point in having all these lovely features in a backpack if you have to throw it in a dumpster after three months of use.

Fortunately, I’ve had no problems at all with the durability of this backpack. The tough materials that have been used to make this bag (as well as the superior design itself) have resulted in a bag that could challenge an Abrams tank for durability.

I, myself, and many of my photographer friends have taken the WANDRD PRVKE on many different travel adventures, and not a single one has had any kind of problem with the bag falling apart unexpectedly. 

Price (4/5)

Of course, all these features and quality have to come at a cost. The PRVKE is a premium product and commands a price to match. 

It’s a steep price for a pack, but I think it’s a fair price to pay. This is for the standalone bag, but I definitely recommend looking at their accessory bundles (I love a good camera cube), which really enhances the functionality of the PRVKE.

Adding the bundles increases the price, but again, I feel that this is a price worth paying, especially if you are primarily using the bag for your photography gear.

Warranty (5/5)

Good news! Your WANDRD PRVKE is covered by a lifetime warranty in case of any defects. Obviously, this doesn’t mean they will give you a new bag if you drop it in the fire pit while you’re out camping…but if it happens to split or unravel in any way, the company has your back.

Shipping (5/5)

No matter where you are in the big wide world, WANDRD ships to you. With three warehouses in the USA, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong, they’ll easily ship to any location in the world within two business days of an order being placed.

They do note that they are not responsible for any mistakes or delays by the shipping agent. However, since they are using signed post with reliable agents, it’s hard to see this being a problem.

WANDRD PRVKE Accessories

The PRVKE is an amazing bag on its own, but WANDRD decided that even that wasn’t enough for them. True to their camera-toting roots, they have released a set of accessories that are custom designed to go with this bag to make it even more attractive to photographers.

Rainfly 

While the bag is pretty weather-resistant, it’s still good to have as much protection as possible from the rain. The rainfly is a simple piece of nylon that matches the color scheme of your chosen bag.

It tucks neatly into a small pocket at the bottom of the bag, where it’s not only out of the way, but provides extra padding for the camera bag.

Clip Straps

Clip straps are perfect for hauling around a tripod, some extra gear, or even a sleeping roll if you’re planning to sleep beneath the stars.

Best of all, they’re buckled, so you can simply unclip and go whenever you’re ready. The side-release buckle snaps in one quick motion, which is useful when you’re in a rush. They’re also super easy to attach to your bag!

Waist Straps

I’ve already mentioned in this review that I think it’s a bit odd WANDRD chose to sell these as an add-on rather than make them integral to the design, but there’s not much I can do about that!

They do have some good features – the waist straps come with two extra pockets in case you need even more organization, and they are nicely padded, so they’re an easy ride on the hips.

These accessories can be bought with the backpack from the WANDRD website in a photography bundle (there are two different kinds). The Photographer Bundle includes all the above accessories, and the Traveler Bundle includes everything but the camera bag.

You can also buy the bag without any accessories, but if you think you might use them, it’s better to purchase the accessories with the bag, as it’s much cheaper as a bundle. 

WANDRD PRVKE Review: Final Thoughts

Overall, my feelings on the WANDRD PRVKE are pretty neutral. On one hand, it has managed to do what so many other backpacks have failed to do in the past: combine functionality, innovation, and organization with killer looks.

On the other hand, I think they really dropped the ball with some of the features, namely the roll-top and the camera cube integration.

That said, if you’re a photographer, it’s definitely one of the best travel daypacks out there.

It’s durable enough to withstand any abuse you throw at it. It’s made with high-quality materials that are both weather-resistant and tear-resistant. It’s perfectly organized, with access points and pockets galore.

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