There’s something very dystopian seeing every photographer, filmmaker, or YouTuber wearing the same backpack.
Maybe you don’t know the specific backpack by name, but you know it by aesthetic. Almost overnight, a few years ago, Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack became the go-to backpack for hauling gear around. It’s a handsome bag with lots of organization for camera bodies, lenses, accessories, and a laptop. I don’t fault anyone for buying it when so many YouTubers recommend it. But I can’t stand the uniformity. I reject this staleness and lack of identity.
I’m super picky when it comes to backpacks. For many years I used an Aether Welded Backpack. While hardly a bag made for carrying gear, its clean design, sizable laptop sleeve, and waterproof zippers really stood out. Unfortunately, it met its demise when a hole on the side enlarged beyond a patchable state. I retired it with a Timbuk2 backpack (can’t remember the exact make) and while I’ve been happy with it, it has one major flaw: the side zipper for quickly accessing the laptop compartment is really hard to remember to close. (Okay, that’s more of a me problem, but a car almost literally ran over my laptop when it slipped out in the middle of traffic. It also fell out on the stairs a couple of times. Oops.)
After a long search, I think I might have found my new favorite backpack: Moment’s MTW Backpack. Moment basically mashed up the Aether’s minimalist design with the just-enough cushioning and padding of the Timbuk2. For gear minimalists like myself who love to travel light, the MTW Backpack is a solid bag.
First of all, who’s Moment and what business do they have making bags? If the name sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’ve heard of their excellent smartphone lenses, cases, and filters. (If you care even an ounce about leveling up your phone photography or video, Moment lenses are a must-have.)
Moment’s new to backpacks so it remains to be seen how durable they are longterm, but their experience making smaller shoulder bags for cameras and accessories is a good indicator for the quality of the MTW Backpack. So far the MTW Backpack has held up really well in all weather conditions. I got drenched under a torrential downpour the other day and when I got home I was relieved to find my MacBook Pro, drone, and mirrorless camera and lenses were dry as a bone.
Minimalist backpacks like my Aether (RIP) are not usually known for their versatility. Padding is often pared down and pockets kept at a bare minimum. The MTW Backpack is minimalist and functional in myriad ways.
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Available in two sizes (17L or 21L), the MTW Backpack is made of “600D Recycled Nylon CPH” and has a large dedicated laptop compartment for computers up to 16 inches and a sleeve for stashing a tablet or notebooks. The same compartment also has two small pockets (I use them for storing batteries, lens wipes, filters, memory cards and other small items) and two slots for pens/pencils. Unlike my Timbuk2, the zipper for this compartment doesn’t open up on one side — it zips from midway up the bag so it’s impossible for your laptop to fall out even if you forget to close it. It’s basically idiot-proof and, yes, the zippers seal up to stop water from getting in.
The main pocket is wide enough to store any camera body and zoom lens with leftover room for other gear. My Sony A6300 with Sigma 24-70mm zoom lens fit snuggly inside. The zipper for this pocket is also thoughtfully designed, opening up wider on one side for quick access, which I appreciate when I need to grab something quickly and don’t have time to stop and post up somewhere to unzip. Furthermore, there’s another mesh-lined pocket inside that you can use to stash more stuff.
The front pocket zips down to — you guessed it — reveal more pockets and dividers. Moment also sells a bunch of accessory bags and inserts to further protect cameras or organize your gear, and there’s a pocket for a water bottle on the side. I may not be much of a water bottle guy, but I can confirm the stretchy pocket is good for storing a small umbrella or a tripod. I mostly used it to stow my Joby Gorillapod.
The straps are fairly well-made. They're slim and just padded enough to not be too soft or too stiff; they provide better balance on my shoulders than what I got with my Aether and Timbuk2. I rarely use sternum straps, but there's one on the shoulder straps if you do. Back cushioning is usually where new, less-experienced backpack makers cut on costs, but not on the MTW Backpack. There’s this really nice ribbing underneath the perforated cushion that’s sewn to the backside. The back cushioning also has a passthrough as well for attaching the backpack sideways to a suitcase.
You can get the MTW Backpack in Clay (orange), Olive (green), but black is my favorite since it really matches a lot of the tech wear I’ve been stockpiling. It's stealthy and there’s very little branding on the outside. Just a small M-TW stitching in the lower bottom corner and a “Moment Travelwear” logo stitched on the back cushion.
Backpacks are personal. How many pockets it has; how comfortable it is; the size — it all comes down to personal preference. I’m just glad there’s finally another great gear backpack that isn’t a Peak Design Everyday Backpack.