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Rolling Review of the 30L Everyday Backpack by Peak Design.

Posted on Feb 18, 2017 | 0 comments

I am a big fan of Peak Design products. I have many of them, including the Everyday Messenger Bag that began their “bag” product line. The Everyday Messenger is now my go to bag for most daily requirements and I get tons of compliments on the bag. But now I am trying the 30L Everyday Backpack from Peak Design.

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Just about every photographer I know is in the hunt for the “perfect” bag. The vast array of offerings out there is testimony to this quest. It seems no bag has achieved this illusive title. Many of us have stories of all the bags we have purchased over the years, most of which have been relegated to storage. I have recently begun offloading my “collection”. F-Stop bags have come the closest so far. My Guru has been the workhouse for the last couple of years for most of my international travel.

Because I travel a lot for work, I need a bag that can carry my photography gear plus the normal things needed for travel. I try to never check bags. That is a cardinal rule for me. So I pack light and try to squeeze everything for 12 days travel into my Timbukt2 Co-Pilot and whatever backpack I am using.

So enter the Everyday Backpack. I didn’t jump onto the Kickstarter but waited for people to test it and review it. I was headed for Europe for about 9 days and thought I would do a rolling review while on this trip. I will try posting as I go along.

I chose the 30L version because of my “no checking luggage” rule. I want the extra space to accommodate what I need. On this trip, I could have got away easily with the 20L version. I am just carrying my D750 with 2 lenses. (Perhaps another time I will talk about why I’m creeping back to DSLR’s as opposed to mirrorless. Actually I do both, but the initial rationale for mirrorless has not been borne out in reality. The Sony kit, when paired with good lenses, is right back up there in weight with some of the DSLRs).

As I began this review, I’m was in Atlanta, so it’s really early in the journey. Initial reactions to the bag:

– Easy to fit my kit. Lot’s of nice little storage compartments and I could have configured my camera gear in a multitude of ways. I really like the iPad/Laptop compartment. That was the biggest weakness with the Guru.

I love the ability to put the bag on my roller bag. This was a big oversight in the Everyday Messenger.

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The 30L doesn’t feel too big and fits easily into the small overhead compartment of those commuter jets.

IMG_0223The shoulder straps feel like they want to slip off the shoulder. Not badly but I was aware of it. I was wearing a down jacket which has a slippery nylon exterior. There is a chest strap that you can use to prevent this but I have seldom needed one on other bags. Again, not a big problem, the straps did not fall off, but I am recording all my initial observations to help others in their decision making. (Note: The more I used this bag on the journey, the more this is an issue. Somehow they haven’t got the ergonomics quite right because I have never had this with another bag. You can overcome it with the chest strap, but I am not crazy about chest straps. The straps never fell off the shoulder but they didn’t sit in the right place either. I am 6 ft btw.)

After being in Germany for a few days. Further observations:

  • Definitely need to use the chest strap.
  • No pen/pencil holders.
  • The magnetic latch process for the front of the bag is fantastic. This is a really, really useful feature of the bag. In fact, access to all parts of the bag is really easy and convenient.
  • I would prefer the key holder to have been inside the bag. On a long trip away, would feel safer with the keys being tucked away inside.
  • The two side zips are really nice and you have very quick access to gear. However, I am also concerned that one will forget to close the zips from time to time and when you pick up the bag, your gear, particularly lenses will fall out. I had that with another bag, that I loved, but I was eventually forced to dump because I damaged a lens.
  • I am glad I got the 30L because it has expansion room and didn’t feel too big.

I will keep adding to this review as I use the bag more. Next trip in about 3 weeks time.

Dining in Frankfurt

Posted on Feb 8, 2017 | 0 comments

One of the things I like to do while traveling is check out the local restaurants of the place. It’s not only because I like good food, but it is also because I love cultures. Food is a vital part of any culture. And food is more than just the the stuff they put on your plate. Its the whole experience. Food, and the way it is experienced, tells you a lot about the culture. Take the United States for example. Eating out in America is reasonably inexpensive. Restaurants are designed to have multiple seatings in a night. Turn the tables over, is usually the driving principle. In America, you almost never have to ask for a bill. It is normally brought to you, even before you finish you meal. Always, with the words; “No rush” or “When you are ready.” But the underlying message is “Hurry up, we want your table for the next group.” In most of Europe, it is the opposite. You have to ask for your bill. I have been with many Americans in Europe who misunderstand this cultural cue. When the bill doesn’t arrive, the service is blamed. However, for most Europeans, to get a bill from the restaurant before you have asked is seen as rude. The one exception perhaps is Switzerland. I have often been presented with a bill in Switzerland without asking. Hence, culture plays a huge role in the dining experience. Both the US and Switzerland are efficiency driven cultures. For most of the rest of Europe, eating is part of socializing; being with friends and experiencing life together. There is no rush.

For the past few times I have visited Frankfurt, I have suggested to my colleague places to eat. This last time, I suggested the 12 Apostles. Located near to the Konstablerwache (see second photo below) in Frankfurt, it is housed in a fascinating old building that has been decorated in a charming, rustic style. Not only known for its food, some local but also international, it is also a brewery.  As one review put it: “Those who descend the stairs in the restaurant, finds themselves in a rustic cellar again. Wooden tables and benches sprinkle a rustic charm. Standing around the place are hay bales and wooden barrels. On the walls hang garlands, braided baskets and wooden wheels.” (http://www.fr-online.de/frankfurt/innenstadt-selbstgebrautes-in-uriger-atmosphaere,1472798,34665544.html).

If you are in Frankfurt, this is a great place to visit.

12 Apostles Restaurant, Frankfurt

 

Frankfurt, Hauptwache District

Street Markets in Frankfurt

Posted on Jan 30, 2017 | 0 comments

Market in Frankfurt StationI arrived this morning in Frankfurt on a work trip, but determined to try shooting things with a wide angle lens. I have not done a lot wider than 24mm in the past. So, for this trip, I have a fixed 20mm lens on my camera that will force me to get more proficient at this focal length. But enough of the technical aspects.  (Photo quickly edited on iPad. Will do more with it back home).

Europe is so cool when it comes to street vendors. Compare this to the post below on Vietnam! Both cool in different ways, one just a little more sophisticated (and a lot more expensive). This is in the main station in Frankfurt (Hauptbahnhof).  This particular market appears to be seasonal because it wasn’t here in the summer and Fall. (Yes, I have made too many trips to Frankfurt recently). The array of meat and bread was something to behold.

Incidentally, the area around Frankfurt Station is like the little United Nations. You can hear almost every language under the sun. I overhead one man asking where he could find the Bangladesh community. There was a handwritten sign in the entrance to an alley advertising a place to buy goat meat! There are at least 4 mosques in close proximity. And, of course, with such a melting pot comes all the dark side as well. The Red Light district is right here and there is one section known for the drug sellers. But a few block away is the Opera House and financial district.

 

Street vendor in Vietnam

Posted on Jan 28, 2017 | 0 comments

As I posted earlier, I really enjoyed my recent visit to Vietnam. The people were incredibly friendly and I wished I had more time to explore. That will give me a great excuse to go back one day. As is common in Asia (and many majority world countries) street vendors are a big part of the culture.  The ones in Vietnam were some of easiest I have ever met to engage with, even though I didn’t know their language.  (By the way, it is frustrating what WordPress does to the colors in photos).

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Foothills Parkway in the Smokies

Posted on Jan 23, 2017 | 1 comment

The Smokies in the Fall are magnificent. Its no wonder that so many people visit this area at that time. The roads in certain spots can be crazy will long lines of cars. There are places that are less know, like this stretch of the Foothills Parkway which is pretty close to the I40. I loved this particular corner and managed to catch the sun at the right angle and time. Just a little further down the road, I met up with a number of bears, but fortunately they were more concerned about me than I was about them. I did keep my eyes out for them while taking photos!

For those not from this area, the Foothills Parkway is currently split into 2 sections (ultimately to be joined). You can learn more about this here. Personally, I think this portion near the I40 is the more beautiful.  I spend a lot of time on the section that starts near Townsend, but on my bicycle. Its a fairly grueling 9.5 mile incline to the top.

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A cool place to eat and hang out in Rotterdam

Posted on Jan 16, 2017 | 0 comments

 

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Every now and then, in my travels, I run into amazing places to hang out. This place was a converted warehouse in Rotterdam harbor called Fenix Food Factory . Inside were a variety of places to buy artisanal type food and drink.  The picture above was taken inside Kaapse Brouwers brewery, offering at least 50 craft beers (and live music). You can partake in cheese or salami platters, drink gourmet coffee, eat food from Morocco ……  The atmosphere was relaxed and casual. Really, really cool.

Beyond Amsterdam

When visiting the Netherlands, Rotterdam doesn’t always come to mind. However, this is a mistake. It is a modern, clean and really interesting city that you should visit. Significantly impacted by World War II, the city is very different to Amsterdam.  This “food factory” is located near to the point that the ships departed when they transported so many immigrants to the USA earlier in the 20th Century. I am a regular visitor to the Netherlands and I never tire of it. For more information on what to see and go in Rotterdam click here.

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