An iPhone Camera Lens Maker's First Backpack Is Actually a Thoughtful Everyday Companion

Illustration for article titled An iPhone Camera Lens Makers First Backpack Is Actually a Thoughtful Everyday Companion
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

For a company that started out making add-on lenses for smartphones, Moment has quickly grown into a purveyor of a wide range of camera and home office gear. But with Moment’s new line of Travelwear, Moment is taking a big step by going up against some of the biggest names in luggage.

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Consisting of several new bags, packs, and totes, it feels like Moment’s new MTW line has taken inspiration from competitors like North Face, Timbuk 2, and most notably Peak Design, and created something simple, but still unique. Every piece in the line sports an understated, minimalist construction that looks modern without going too far into being techy, or unnecessarily sleek, with the new MTW Backpack splitting the difference between Jansport’s classic SuperBreak bags and the Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip. And after having tested out a few of the Moment’s MTW bags briefly, there’s a lot to like for some like me—who overhauled my own everyday carry bag situation recently.

Using smaller pouches and inserts make it easy for the MTW Backpack to accommodate various loads, while also being able to quickly adjust any oddly shaped items you might need to carry.
Using smaller pouches and inserts make it easy for the MTW Backpack to accommodate various loads, while also being able to quickly adjust any oddly shaped items you might need to carry.
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo
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While Moment’s new bags aren’t specifically designed for lugging cameras around, like Peak Design, Moment has a few add-ons packs meant to help protect delicate camera gear in transit. For smaller stuff, you have the new MTW Tech Organizer and Battery Organizer for storing things like wires, cleaning cloths, and card readers, while the 5 liter Camera Insert is intended to accommodate a camera body and a two or three lenses, depending on your loadout.

But to me, the real star of the show is the backpack, which is something I could have used months ago when I trying to find a replacement for my original Peak Design Everyday Messenger. While I like the size and portability of messenger bags, after carrying one around daily for more than five years, I finally admitted that the single cross-chest strap has been ruining my back, particularly on days when it was fully loaded with a camera and a laptop and bunch of other stuff. So I decided to order one of Peak Design’s Everyday Backpacks, which I promptly returned after little more than a week and ended up replacing with Peak’s larger Travel Backpack (which at 45L, is a bit too big to carry around on the reg).

When it comes to travel organization, I really like have a smaller removable bag or pouch for holding important items like passports, memory cards, and extra money.
When it comes to travel organization, I really like have a smaller removable bag or pouch for holding important items like passports, memory cards, and extra money.
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

My main issue with the Everyday Backpack is that I found it to be too stiff, which made it feel like wearing a turtle shell, while its rigid sides and somewhat awkward side pockets meant that while it was good at carrying cameras, it wasn’t great at adapting to other stuff like groceries or random gadgets. Also, while I really like the Peak Design’s signature MagLatch when used on a messenger bag, I find it’s not as useful on a backpack, where it’s hard to reach that main pocket without taking it off.

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Alternatively, made from stormproof Kodra fabric (which is a slightly different take on Dupont’s patented Cordura material) and available in 17 and 21 liter sizes, the MTW Backpack offers a lighter, more flexible body, with a thin side-zip pocket in front with a few dividers and mesh zips for things like pens and coins, a more roomy laptop sleeve in back with a simple divider (with plenty of space for 15 or 16-inch notebooks), and a big zippered volume in the middle.

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For something that’s meant to be an everyday carry bag, this setup makes a lot more sense, giving you fast access to smaller items like keys that you might want to stash upfront, while protecting more expensive stuff like a laptop or tablet in back. There’s even a ventilated padded mesh the protects both your gear and your back. Meanwhile, you have all that room in the middle to play Tetris with whatever you need to carry, and if you want to convert the backpack into a camera bag, it’s easy to toss in something like Moment’s Camera Insert. I prefer that infinitely to trying to convert a dedicated camera bag into something more multipurpose.

Elsewhere, Moment has borrowed some other small features seen on Peak Design’s bags, such as the addition of four anchor loops that you can use to help tie down various items, and a built-in pass-through panel in back so you can slip the backpack over the handle of larger rolling luggage. You also get a built-in water bottle pocket than can hold canteens up to 750 or 1000 ml. It’s a straightforward but also thoughtful setup.

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Here is a size comparison of the 21 liter version of the MTW Backpack next to my much larger 45 liter Peak Design Travel Backpack, which I really like, but is a bit too big to use on a daily basis.
Here is a size comparison of the 21 liter version of the MTW Backpack next to my much larger 45 liter Peak Design Travel Backpack, which I really like, but is a bit too big to use on a daily basis.
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

In a lot of ways, and I do mean this as a compliment, Moment’s new MTW line looks and feels like a more streamlined and lightweight take on Peak Design’s bags, which is something that thankfully also carries over to its price. That’s because starting at $180 (or $150 as part of Moment’s launch discount), the MTW Backpack is also cheaper than a similarly sized Everyday Backpack Zip or standard Everyday Backpack, which cost $220 and $260 respectively.

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The only thing that I’m not sure of just yet is Moment’s Kodra fabric. While its quite light, at least right now, it’s hard to say if it will wear quite as well as the thicker 400D nylon canvas Peak Design uses in its bags—which for me has held up rather nicely even after five years. My wife did remark that the Korda doesn’t look or feel very premium—though I’m not particularly bothered. That said, Moment offers a lifetime warranty on all of its Moment-made products (aside from simple cosmetic blemishes), so if that Kodra fabric wears out, you should be able to get a free replacement.

From left to right: the MTW Tech Organizer Mini, the MTC Tech Organizer, and the MTW Battery Organizer.
From left to right: the MTW Tech Organizer Mini, the MTC Tech Organizer, and the MTW Battery Organizer.
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo
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But if you’re looking for something that straddles the line between an updated take on the classic canvas backpack but with a lot of the neat little features and additions found on more modern bags, the MTW Backpack has managed to deliver a very interesting middle ground.

Currently, Moment’s MTW bag line is available as a part of a pre-order campaign on Kickstarter —which at this point in the company’s lifecycle is used more to gauge sales interest than to secure actual funding—with earlybird discounts ranging from $15 to $30 depending on the product, and an estimated shipping date slated for sometime in November or December (depending on the item).

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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DISCUSSION

Ken-Moromisato
Ken.Moromisato

I like Kickstarter, but just wish we could see simpler projects that could be affordable