Wandrd Prvke Backpack Review (21L & 31L)
This is a review of the WANDRD Prvke 31 by wedding photographer Geraint Roberts, who took the Prvke on a backpacking adventure to Japan earlier this year.
Let me start off by saying this: I didn’t know how to pronounce this bag’s name either. Privkey perhaps?!
According to the guys at WANDRD, it’s ‘Provoke’. However, what I do know is that this bag is a hidden gem, and provides exceptional comfort and utility.
The specific version I’m using is the WANDRD PRVKE 31L Photography Bundle variant (find the slightly smaller 21L version here), in the Aegean blue colour. It also comes in black and green.
I tested this bag extensively over a two week period in Japan, being both a tourist and working on a conservation photography project in Hokkaido.
It’s fair to say this small camera backpack was put through a lot and had to be reliable. So, from first-hand testing, here’s my Wandrd Prvke review.
Table of Contents
What is the WANDRD PRVKE?
- Original, eye-catching design
- Comfortable shoulder straps
- Smart internal organisation
- 3 handy access points
- Convenient passport pocket
- TSA approved
- Lacks small external pocket
- Tight waterbottle pocket
Since its Kickstarter debut back in August 2016, the WANDRD PRVKE has been something of a sensation among EDC (Everyday Carry) afficianados and the great-outdoor-loving photographer.
You’ve probably already seen pictures of the bag hanging nonchalantly off the flannel-shirted back of some windswept, bearded traveller, or sitting next to a long-haired girl with jean shorts and a wide-brimmed hat – make no mistake, the WANDRD PRVKE is pure Instagram-fodder.
However, don’t dismiss it as a mere accessory for hipsters with more money than sense! It’s much more than that, and has received several awards for its innovation and design.
We’re a bit late to the party with our WANDRD PRVKE review, but it’s given us a chance to test a whole host of other camera backpacks, to put the PRVKE’s features and design in perspective.
The PRVKE sits somewhere between an everyday bag, a travel bag and a camera bag. Essentially, it’s a roll-top backpack that can be customised to suit photographers – nothing revolutionary, that’s for sure, but still, it does achieve originality in the overall design.
Available in two sizes (21L and 31L), three colours (black, green or blue), and one its own, or part of a Travel Bundle or a Photography Bundle, the WANDRD is trying to cover all the bases with this good-looking backpack.
Included with the PRVKE Photography Bundle is a Rainfly (waterproof cover), accessory straps, waist straps and that all important camera cube.
Materials: Waterproof Tarpaulin and Robic 1680D Ballistic Nylon. Weather Resistant Zippers.
Dimensions: 17″H X 11″W X 6.5″D
Volume: 21 L to 25 L (roll top fully extended)
Weight: 1.3 kg (2.8 lbs) – if you’re looking for something far lighter, check the WANDRD Veer review.
Dimensions: 19″H X 12.5″W X 7.5″D
Volume: 31 L to 36 L (roll top fully extended)
Weight: 1.5 kg (3.4 lbs)
Storage & Functionality
My first impressions of the WANDRD PRVKE were “This looks great – but is it practical?”. Prior to using this bag, my main workhorses were the LowePro 450 AW II (a popular camera backpack, robust if a little heavy), and the Peak Design Messenger 15.
I know I can rely on both of these bags, as they have a large amount of internal space, plenty of pockets and slots, and have been tested in inclement weather conditions.
Initially, I felt hesitant at the overall usable storage of the WANDRD PRVKE 31, as the camera cube looked dubiously small. However, in total, this bag was packed with the following kit for my trip:
- Sony A9
- Sony A7R III
- Sony Zeiss 50mm f/1.4
- Sony GM 16-35mm f/2.8
- Sony GM 100-400mm f/4.5-f/5.6
In addition to this camera equipment, I also had a 15” MacBook Pro (with charger), INEO SSD case, and a few books.
Surprisingly, there was still room on the inside to spare for my travel adapters and iPhone / Apple Watch chargers.
On the outside of the bag, I clipped on my MPB Harrier Carbon Fibre Tripod with 3 Legged Thing AirHed 2 and a 1L water bottle.
This bag is truly a Tardis (for those who didn’t watch Doctor Who growing up: something that fits a lot in a small space). See also the WANDRD Access Duffel review for another tardis-like bag from this brand.
The PRVKE allowed me to carry more equipment than I usually could with my LowePro 450 AW II, in part thanks to thin and carefully considered dividers.
With a 31L capacity, the WANDRD PRVKE backpack makes very good use of its internal space. The roll-top is expandable to 36L, too, meaning the bag can accommodate any extras you pick up along the way. Super handy to bring lunch with you!
My only niggle when packing was that this bag was not designed primarily for photographers, but rather, the camera cube transforms it into one.
This is a similar story with the WANDRD Hexad Access Duffel, which allows customisation with cubes too.
There is, however, a handy integrated camera sling that keeps your camera hanging right next to your hip, although it’s mostly for smaller cameras.
To access your equipment, the main entrance is via the back, keeping your cameras safe. For added convenience, there’s a side entrance to your camera kit via the right-hand pocket.
This allows you to easily pull out a camera and lens. These two access options provide the best of both worlds between convenience and security.
The bag ticked the most important checkbox when it fitted snugly into my hand luggage allowance on a British Airways 777.
The expandable roll top allowed for some flexibility in slotting into a fairly narrow luggage bin.
Build & Ruggedness
Made of a watertight tarpaulin skin and an inner nylon layer, the WANDRD PRVKE 31 is built to last. All the zippers feel solid and high-quality, similar to those of Thule products.
After 2 weeks of intensive usage, the only issue I’ve had is a slight tear to the inside of the left shoulder strap where it connects with the bag.
This is only minor and is likely from the strain of packing the bag tightly. Luckily, WANDRD provides a lifetime warranty for this bag, a testament to the build quality.
In the long term, I’m confident that this bag will hold up. It really feels like it’s designed to last.
During the heavy rain whilst ascending Mt. Inari, the WANDRD PRVKE was an absolute trooper. All my contents remained dry, and that was without pulling out the dedicated rainfly.
If I was in a monsoon, I’d use the rainfly, but I was impressed by how well the bag kept out rainwater on its own.
In Osaka, temperatures were around 16ºC (60º Fahrenheit), and very humid. Thanks to the cleverly designed padding on the WANDRD PRVKE, my back didn’t get too hot, sweaty or uncomfortable.
For hours on end, it didn’t actually feel like I had anything uncomfortable on my back.
A few days later I was in the freezing cold of Northern Hokkaido, reaching -10ºC (XºF) in Abashiri. The PRVKE had no problems in the cold, and the outer tarpaulin remained free from ice. The rubberised zips also had no issues here.
Appearance & Fit
The WANDRD PRVKE feels like it was designed for humans first. It has a back-friendly design with plenty of padding.
Even with an estimated 14kg load, plus the 1.5kg of the bag itself, the weight felt very evenly distributed.
The padded shoulder support and foam back panels remained very comfortable throughout. This is a great design.
Did I feel fashionable wearing this? Yup! This bag looks the part, and is very sleek, with a modern design.
The WANDRD PRVKE is clearly a hipster-style bag, with the fashion-conscious photographer in mind. It draws little attention to itself as a camera bag, but lots of compliments for how unique it looks.
I was told I looked ‘Kawaii’ (cute) whilst wearing it in Japan. Can you design my wardrobe next, WANDRD?!
I didn’t use the included waist straps or accessory straps, so I can’t comment on them. I left them at home. Unless you’re hiking a considerable amount, I don’t see why you’d need them.
Though there’s not a one-size-fits-all camera bag, I think the PRVKE would fit a wide array of body sizes.
I’m a 5’8” (178 cm) male with a fairly wide chest and shoulders, and this bag never felt tight or uncomfortable, even on long hikes such as my 13-mile route around the Kyoto mountainsides.
Value for Money
Value for money is always a tough one to gauge since it’s highly subjective. How much do you value how something looks, vs how it functions, for example.
For me, I like all my clothing and accessories to be stylish, and that includes my photography gear (where possible!) Since I travel a lot and don’t always take the best care of everything, I also like it to be rugged and hard-wearing.
Finally, I need everything to be highly functional – for a bag, it needs to be efficient in use, able to carry all my gear and have space for some other knick-knacks, be comfortable, and be enjoyable to use for long periods.
Fortunately, the WANDRD PRVKE hits all those goals for me, so I consider it be great value for money. Is it expensive? Yes, I believe it is. You can get many cheaper camera backpacks, but that’s the case with anything. I’d much rather pay for something that ticks all the right boxes for me.
At around 200 bucks for the 31L PRVKE with Photography Bundle, it’s definitely not small change, but if you consider the no questions, lifetime guarantee, it’s an investment worth making.
WANDRD PRVKE Review | Conclusion
To sum up the WANDRD PRVKE, two words come to mind: stylish & functional.
Designed for the outdoors, this bag feels really well-engineered in terms of comfort, something which other manufacturers overlook for the sake of fitting in every piece of camera kit possible.
I’d love to see future revisions of this bag have a dedicated pouch or section to store smaller items like batteries and SD cards. This would really help solidify the PRVKE as a bag for photographers. I think this is definitely achievable by re-thinking the layout of the ‘camera cube’ insert.
When it comes to getting the shoulder strap fixed, I’m confident that WANDRD’s excellent customer service will handle the repair with minimum fuss. From an environmental point of view, it’s much better to get a repair than a replacement, too.
I’d be keen to try the smaller 21L PRVKE variant in the future. I think it could be the perfect out-and-about bag, and ideal for short breaks. This would also be really well suited to those with smaller frames, or teenagers who don’t want a bag the size of their torso.
At $289 at the time of writing, the WANDRD PRVKE 31L Photography Bundle can justify its price tag due to its fantastic build quality, ease of access, and fashionable style.
(You can also purchase the bag without the Photography Bundle accessories for around $204, although you do save a bit of cash by buying the accessories all at the same time in the bundle.)
I’m confident this backpack will now be my go-to bag for storing my kit, purely due to its comfort.
Thank you to WANDRD for providing me with this bag to review! You’ve hit a home run with this product, and I look forward to seeing what you come out with next.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.