It’s no secret that I have a gear hoarding issue. And the longer I’m in the industry, the more bags I find myself trying out in an attempt to find the perfect combination of space, functionality and style to carry all that gear!
Having great accessibility, versatility and style might be things you’d think are no-brainers in a camera bag, but many times bags only win in one or two departments.
Finding a bag that hits all my needs is like finding a winning lottery ticket… (which is something else I’m still waiting on!)
Thankfully, the Shotkit and WAYKS teams have been gracious enough to join forces and allow me to test out the WAYKS Travel Backpack.
As a sustainable, modular backpack, there are plenty of reasons to love this bag, and I can’t wait to break them down in this review.
WAYKS Travel Backpack Specs
- Super versatile
- Extremely comfortable
- Compression Packing Cubes are rocking my world
- Ability to add space if needed
- Adventurous look
- Clean lines and hidden compartments that keep everything minimal
- Not much space dedicated to actually carrying camera equipment
- You have to buy all the pieces to truly use it as a camera bag (bundle pieces)
- Tough to reach deep into smaller pockets
- A bit pricey if pitched as a camera backpack
- Volume: Up to 45 L
- Dimensions of pack: Width 34cm (13.4″) x Depth 21cm (8.3″)
- Pack height (depending on configuration): 48cm (18.9″) up to 78cm (30.7″)
- Weight: 1 kg (2.2 lbs) for cube up to 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs) for travel pack
- 100% Polyester (91% recycled) outer
- 100% Polyester (100% recycled) lining
- 100% Nylon cube
- YKK zippers, sturdy plastic buckles, aluminum hook for roll-top closing
- Quick access laptop compartment (15″) + iPad slot
- 2 x hidden bottle pockets
- Smaller hidden side pocket for passport/wallet/keys
Build & Appearance
With so many camera backpacks on the market for photographers to choose from, it’s easy to confuse all the options. Most have a similar look or aesthetic and, quite frankly, most have many of the same options.
So what sets the WAYKS apart for the rest of the pack, you might ask? Its versatility and ability to add more room, if necessary!
Personally, I always prefer the more nondescript, utilitarian packs for myself. I value a bag that is somewhat understated; one that people might not take as a camera bag right off the bat.
In my travels, I find myself going places I may not want to be pegged for carrying expensive items, and an understated bag can be a lifesaver.
This is a backpack that achieves this while still maintaining a beautiful exterior.
The waterproof, recycled fabric of the WAYKS Travel Backpack checks two important boxes: it can take on the elements, and leaves less of a footprint on the earth.
Its rugged appearance actually had people I didn’t know asking me where I’d found my hiking pack, which I enjoyed. Its appearance certainly gives off the air of an adventure about to unfold, and I enjoy the adventurous spirit built into the bag.
Build-wise, I at first questioned the material for its durability. It felt a little thinner than many bags I’ve used in the past, but it held up to the beating I put it through even as I traveled on airplanes, in the woods, and through the city.
In every environment, the WAYKS Travel Backpack held true. (And trust me, I go hard on my bags!)
The extremely sturdy TKK VISLON® zippers are second to none, and the waterproofed PU coating on the zippered pockets for your valuable items provides peace of mind.
The optional chest strap helps distribute the weight across both shoulders when carrying heavier loads, and is a welcome additional point of security.
There are additional optional back support straps if you attach the camera cube, which provide loads of padded support for your lower back and hips. When you add those in, you have a sturdy, supportive bag that evens out weight distribution across your back extremely well.
Across the board, the appearance and overall construction of this bag is fantastic. It certainly turned heads every time I wore it out and held up to anything I tossed its way.
And, while I prefer the look of an all-black backpack, should you feel a little brighter, WAYKS also offers a sand-colored option.
The WAYKS Travel Backpack left no stone unturned in regards to exterior features, choosing to really focus on the adventure aspect and how to make this a comfortable pack to wear for long periods of time.
Boasting both sternum and waist straps (if you attach the Cube), this is one of the most comfortable backpacks I’ve worn in regards to weight distribution and the ability to wear it for long periods of time. Many times I find myself having back fatigue as I navigate airports with other bags.
With the WAYKS, however, I never felt fatigued. Win!
Additionally, I enjoyed the quick access pockets for the passport, and I liked the fact that even the water bottle pockets were covered to give the backpack a truly seamless look.
The quick access zipper to the laptop was a nice touch, as well. It was nice to be able to have access to my work quickly, without having to dive into the main compartment for access.
If you find yourself utilizing the backpack in inclement weather, there’s an optional rain cover that comes with the bundle, as well as a mat strap to allow you to strap unwieldy items to the front of the pack.
With plenty of options to add utility to the pack, it’s impossible to not find a way to utilize the WAYKS Travel Backpack to your liking.
The WAYKS Travel Backpack offers a clamshell opening, which means you have the ability for suitcase-like packing.
Along the inside of the clamshell, you’ll find multiple zippered pockets (for easy stowing of small incidentals) and two sleeves – one with quick access that can accommodate a 15″ MacBook Pro, and another more interior one that can hold a tablet.
The padding is substantial and kept my laptop safe, even when I forgot to take it out of the bag when I was asked to plane side check the backpack. Talk about a relief when I retrieved my bag and found everything safe and sound!
There are no compartments within the main bag; instead, it’s all one big space, with the ability to expand by extending the roll-top.
Two small, discreet, PU-coated zippered pockets are in the clamshell back of the backpack as well. These provide smaller, quick access pockets for items like your wallet, passport, or portable charging block.
The pockets are lined with an extremely soft material, which I really appreciated for times I had to slip my iPhone in there.
Additionally, two zippered side pockets conceal places to put water bottles.
The WAYKS keeps everything wrapped and hidden, which means you’re less likely to catch the bag on a seat while getting on or off a plane, or in and out of a car. It’s these small details that make all the difference.
One of the things I loved the most about this bag set was the optional compression packing cubes (sold separately, or included if you purchase the bundle).
Coming in both large and small sizes, these allowed me to pack my clothing in a way that I could pull out the clothing without making a huge mess, and turn the backpack into a day pack to head to the coffee shop to work with little time lost.
The other really fantastic benefit of the packing cubes is that they offer a secondary zipper area to put your dirty clothes – something that always plagues me while traveling – so that you never have to mix your funky, sweaty gym shorts with your nice, still-clean dress shirt. SUPER win!
Adding on the Cube to the Day Pack results in the Travel Backpack. Additionally, you can use the Cube alone as a tote option.
The Cube provides a solid option for a mirrorless day pack for a small kit, should you prefer to travel light. By itself, it is a single compartment that can also double as a cooler to keep your drinks or sandwich cool on a long hike.
If you purchase the Cube inlay, however, you’ll have the compartment options to build out the perfect day storage for a small camera kit. In it, you could certainly pack a mirrorless camera, one or two lenses, and a few knick-knacks. Perfect for a day of street shooting or light adventuring.
The storage capacity of the WAYKS Travel Backpack differs, depending on the layout options you choose to invest in.
Being that it’s a modular design, you can keep things simple with just the Day Pack, or you can go all in and get the Travel Bundle – which is the route I would suggest taking, should you want to do any multi-day trips with it.
For me, I forced myself to pack for my two-day Chicago trip in just the Travel Backpack, then used an additional roller bag for my gear. I found it a little difficult, honestly, which was somewhat surprising.
I used the compression packing cubes (seriously my favorite aspect of this bag, hands down), and holding my clothing was no trouble at all.
However, I found that adding in my laptop, the Peak Design Tech Pouch and Wash Pouch for my necessary items, and my long plug for my MacBook Pro 15″ proved extremely difficult.
I wound up adding on the Cube to put the plug in, and for kicks, since I had the additional space, I added in my Nintendo Switch (hey, you need a little entertainment on those plane rides).
I would have loved to not have had to add on the Cube, as it really adds quite a lot of cumbersome space to the bag when attempting to fly with it, but it became clear I had to add it on to accommodate everything.
I think, for using it every day as a camera bag, however, it could have potential… if they offered a modular system to separate the interior.
As it currently stands, the only inlay is for the Cube, which doesn’t hold enough gear to actually make the backpack viable for an engagement session or additional bag for wedding days for me.
Instead, I could see myself using this as an overnight bag (if everything could fit), or for a day out at the coffee shop, where all I need is my laptop and some random items.
It has plenty of space, but I’d like to see it become more useable space with options to itemize gear in the main compartment.
Ease of Use/Comfort
There are loads of things to love about the WAYKS Travel Backpack, and the versatility and comfort are certainly top-notch. The padded backpack straps are super comfortable without being extremely bulky, and the customizable strap tightness at the shoulders is a very nice touch.
Additionally, should you want to pare down the bulk, you have the option of taking the straps down to a much thinner configuration for simple day use.
All these options allow you to truly make your experience with the WAYKS backpack your own.
Access to the laptop sleeve without having to open the main compartment was a super nice touch I appreciated.
However, I did find it difficult to get my 15″ MacBook Pro out of the opening, and I had to sit and angle it just right a few times before it would come out. I think the speed of access would be quicker for a 13″ MacBook Pro, though it certainly does allow access to the 15″ option.
If you happen to get one of the newer 16″ iterations, don’t even think about it. You will need to open the main compartment for that one.
Additionally, while I loved the small external pockets, I think they’re a little hard to get into. My wallet would slide way back into the pocket, but the opening is tough for my hand to get way into the back.
For reference, I am a female who wears medium sized gloves. I’m not sure how a male with larger hands would fare.
Value for Money
This is a tough thing to decide, as every person will have a different opinion on value.
Coming in at around €349/$385 for the Travel Backpack Bundle (which I think you need to invest in, if you hope to use this as a camera bag – go here for the latest price), it’s a premium-priced backpack, and I’m not sure it carries enough camera equipment to merit that price tag.
For nearly $100 USD less, you can invest in a WANDRD PRVKE 31L that offers multiple interior modules to carry more gear.
However, while I lament the usability of the space the WAYKS Travel Backpack offers, I do think they have an opportunity to create more modular options for the interior, which would immediately add value and usability to their bag, in my opinion.
If they offered a cube inlay for the primary compartment, I would feel this price tag was validated. The fact that this is an easy fix gives me hope that it’s something they’ll remedy sometime soon.
So, while I think the value isn’t necessarily completely there yet, I do believe it could be in the future.
WAYKS Travel Backpack Review | Conclusion
This backpack holds a lot of promise, and I enjoyed using it.
However, for me, it loses a bit of its usability by simply not providing a way to carry more gear in a sensible way. Without a divider system in the main compartment, it limits my ability to actually utilize the pack as a camera backpack.
The Cube is a great addition for extra gear, but being that it’s the only piece of the package that has modular compartments to keep gear safe, it nullifies the entire main backpack.
And, when put together, there was no way the smaller airplanes were letting me get the backpack in the main cabin. Regardless of if it fit in the overhead, they wouldn’t let it on, simply because it was too long for their required dimensions.
Relegated to being plane side checked, it leaves me unable to truly utilize it as a camera bag. There’s no way I would planeside my camera gear if at all humanly possible… especially in a soft backpack.
If I review this as an everyday backpack, or perhaps an overnight bag for just my clothing needs and my laptop, it shines.
However, if WAYKS wants to truly sell this as a camera backpack, I think they need to provide more inlays for the main compartment.
They’re onto something special, and I can’t wait to see how they build out the possibilities of this already extremely versatile backpack system!