The WANDRD PRVKE 21 is one of the best camera bags I’ve purchased. I’ve been into photography for about eight years now. From the day I purchased my camera I’ve been searching for the perfect bag. I’ve gone through several different brands and types of bags. Ultimately, after the novelty wears off of every other bag I’ve put it on my shelf to collect dust. In this article I provide a full review of the WANDRD PRVKE 21 (wandrd.com) bag to help you decide if it’s the right bag for you.
Before continuing I think it’s worth mentioning that WANDRD neither supplied the bag for this review nor are they compensating me for the review. They were not aware that I was going to do a review when I made my purchase. I did this intentionally. I wanted to give an accurate review of an arms length transaction with them, as well as have the freedom to speak freely about the bag.
The bags I’ve purchased in the past have usually been purchased based on size alone. I wanted the smallest bag that would carry and protect all (or most) of my gear. I went through several…the stock Canon bag that came with the camera as well as Lowepro, Manfrotto, Mountainsmith bags . Once I upgraded to a full-frame body I could no longer fit my gear inside most of my bags. At that point, I was forced back to the drawing board to find a bag that would fit my new needs.
A family trip to Hawaii created an immediate need for a bag that would fit and protect my new camera, three lenses and a tripod, as well as carry some additional gear (sweatshirt, drink, snacks, etc). Furthermore, I needed easy access to the camera. With a 2-year old boy, I wanted to be able to pull out the camera at a moment’s notice and get a shot.
Luckily, during my search for a bag I went to shoot with a buddy of mine who recommended I check out a new company called WANDRD. Said he’d heard great things about their bags. So, I did. And I’m glad I did.
As I shopped for a new bag, here were the criteria I considered. The bag needed:
- Size. Room for a full-frame body, a 5omm prime, 24-105mm zoom, and a 16-35mm wide angle, a tripod, possible flash, and a bag of filters.
- The ability to carry a handful of additional items (sweatshirt, snacks, additional gear, sandals). My prior bag was barely large enough to carry the body, 50mm, and 24-105 lens. I struggled to get it zipped, and forget about a tripod.
- Good Layout. Quick access to the camera and tripod, as well as room for everything else I needed to carry.
- Aesthetics. Nobody likes an ugly camera bag.
- Cost. Needed to be less than $300 total.
After shopping around and narrowing my search down to either the Peak Design or the WANDRD PRVKE 21, I decided on the PRVKE (for some of the reasons discussed below).
WANDRD sells a few different setups, depending on what you’re going to use the bag for. First of all, they have a full-size version called the WANDRD PRVKE (provoke), which was actually their first product they released on Kickstarter. That bag did so well that they recently released a new, smaller version, called the PRVKE 21. Update: As of late February 2017 they have released the PRVKE 31, which is 10 liters larger than the 21 (I’m pretty sure the 31 has taken the place of the original PRVKE, but not positive).
When you buy a WANDRD bag you are paying for the bag itself, but as I mentioned they have a few different bundles you can choose from. For instance, if you’re just looking for an all-around good bag, you can simply buy the bag. WANDRD also offers a photographer’s package, which includes the bag and accessories you’d need if you were putting camera gear in it, such as tripod straps, a camera strap, and camera cube. I decided to purchase my bag/accessories a-la-carte, although in hindsight I probably should have just purchased the photographer’s package. I bought the bag and the camera cube. I ended up going back for a couple straps to secure my tripod to the bottom of the bag. Below I break out the various characteristics and features of the bag that I believe separate it from the rest.
I made a video of the unboxing and initial thoughts of the product. I detail my thoughts on the bag in detail below, but between aesthetics, build quality, and functionality I was impressed. I took the bag on the full eight days in Hawaii and it won’t be collecting dust on my shelf anytime soon.
One of the first things I noticed was the construction quality of the bag. A few highlights that caught my attention:
Water-resistant YKK zippers. Seemed a little tough to zip at first, but worth it for the protection from the elements. Sort of reminded me of the zippers on the YETI coolers. Once I zipped them a few times they broke in just great.
Rip-stop-looking fabric. The actual bag looks as if someone dipped rip-stop fabric in a plastic-rubber solution and let it dry. It’s not firm, however. It’s malleable and flexible. It’s not dull, but it’s not shiny…sort of in between. It gives it a really fresh look.
Carrying handle. One of the complaints from the first version was that the magnets inside the carrying handles weren’t strong enough. They must have listened to the reviews because these are pretty strong. The way they are designed, when you go to grab the bag by the handles they nest into each other and the magnets stick. It’s a small detail but one I noticed.
Durability. I’ve only owned the bag for a month, so take this with a grain of salt. In my research I never came across any negative feedback around build quality (and came across several positive reviews). When you lift it up you can tell it’s going to be a durable bag. The straps are thick. The zippers are strong. It feels like a solid bag.
From the water-resistant YKK zippers to the rip-stop-looking fabric, from the straps to the buckle that seals the fold-over top, the build quality is fantastic. To be honest, that was my biggest concern. Since they’re still in their infancy as a company, I wondered how well-built the bag would be. They earn 5 stars in that department. It’s hard to show quality of construction in a photo, but here are a few photos that hopefully give you an idea.
Layout. Overall the layout is great, although I have one change I’d like to see in the 2.0 version of this bag. Let’s talk the good first. The bag zips over top of the shoulder straps, which is brilliant. I’ve never seen anything like it. This lets you make lens changes when you’re out in the field without having to find a place to put the bag down on the ground. I didn’t think I’d like the roll top, but I love it. I left for Hawaii with a LOT of stuff in my carry-on bag (gimme a break…I’m a dad), as well as all of my camera gear. I was able to fit everything in the bag by only giving it one roll. It still slid below the seat in front of me on the 757. Once I got to the hotel I took out all of my “travel” gear and left my photography gear in the bag, which allowed me to roll it down all the way. So, the bag expands when you need it to expand, but contracts when you don’t need a huge bag. This is a HUGE plus for me.
One side of the bag has a water bottle pocket and the other provides quick access to the camera. The water bottle pocket extends to fit larger bottles using a zipper and stretch fabric, which I hadn’t seen before. Wouldn’t have thought of it, but it’s a nice touch.
The front of the bag (farthest from your back) has a zipper pocket I used to store my iPad when I was traveling. I didn’t really find it useful once I got to my destination, as it’s so thin. I suppose you could continue to carry an iPad, or a notebook, or a trail map.
My only complaint on the layout is the way the camera cube fits into the greater bag. It’s too big for the zipper compartment. Here’s what I mean… I found that when I was out shooting, I would often lay my bag down on the ground, unzip the top zipper (exposing the laptop compartment as well as the back of the front storage of the bag). That way I not only had access to the camera/lenses, but also the filters/remote in the top of the bag. I found, however, that the camera cube was slightly larger than the zipper compartment, making it difficult to undo both zippers and get to my equipment. My workaround was that I ended up only zipping up the sides of the camera cube (while zipping the entire top-layer zipper) in between locations. That way it wouldn’t take me 5 minutes to unpack the camera when I got to my next location. Small complaint, but something I’d like to see fixed.
The bag is very aesthetically pleasing. As previously mentioned, the exterior “fabric” of the bag has a matte rip-stop look to it. The logo has a nice look to it. The straps are well-designed and good-looking. The only wild card would be if you don’t like the roll top. For me, the roll top was new, but I actually like it.
The bag came packed inside a branded storage bag, as did the camera cube. Those were placed inside a large white bag for shipping, which didn’t affect the quality the PRVKE 21 arrived in. Everything arrived in perfect condition.
The shipping was about 24 hours from the time I placed the actual order. Both the larger bag as well as the camera cube both came wrapped in their individual storage bags. No damage, well packed and protected.
WANDRD is a growing company so I wondered how their customer service would be. I feel like young companies either have great service in hopes of building their brand or they’re swimming in issues and unable to respond in a timely manner. I had to contact them a couple of times to ensure shipping would get to me in time (on my bag and a subsequent order), and they were kind enough to accommodate.
I ordered the bag and camera cube initially. Since I didn’t plan on taking it on a lot of long distance hikes I didn’t think it made sense to buy the waist straps. I thought the tripod straps on the bottom of the bag came attached, but after receiving the bag I realized I needed to place an additional order for a few of those straps. If you don’t have them you can still put your tripod in the water bottle pocket on the side of the bag, but then you won’t have room for a water bottle. If ordering again, I would get the bag, camera cube, and four of the straps (two come in each order). For those who plan on taking it on longer hikes, I’d probably suggest the waist straps also.
I attached the second set of straps to the back (farthest from my back) of the bag and used them to attach my jacket as I traveled, as well as my sandals as we walked along the beach. I found that to be useful and will leave those on my bag.
When I make a large purchase (and for me, a $250 camera bag is a large purchase), I do a lot of research. Then I buy. Then I typically return. Then I buy something else. Then I might return that item. Finally, I settle on the product that fits the bill. This bag is the product that fits the bill. I’ve gone through several bags over the last 8 years, but I’m going to be sticking with this one (will be offloading my others on Craigslist).
About 6 hours into wearing the bag I already had people asking me what type of bag it was…which speaks to its looks. It’s sleek looking, functionally nearly perfect, and durable. If you have one, let us know what you think in the comments section below!
If you’re interested in getting one yourself, or checking out the rest of their product offering, check out their website.