Don’t let the size fool you — the Wandrd PRVKE Lite is actually capable of carrying quite a bit of mirrorless gear.
The original Wandrd PRVKE generated a buzz in the photography community — and over $400,000 on Kickstarter. Now, the PRVKE is back — and it’s launching in a smaller size. Announced on April 20, along with a revamp of the original PRVKE sizes, the Wandrd PRVKE Lite is a roll-top backpack designed for mirrorless and photographers on a more limited budget.
Wandrd cut a few features to get to the Lite size and price, including the key garage and removable camera cube. The Lite also has just a laptop sleeve instead of both a laptop and tablet sleeves. But, Wandrd did surprisingly little to change the quality and functionality of its cheapest PRVKE bag yet — and it shows. I spent the weekend with the Wandrd Lite to see how the compact camera backpack holds up.
Too Long, Didn’t Read
The Wandrd PRVKE Lite is a small bag that can carry a surprisingly large amount of gear. The durable material is weather-resistant (though not 100%) and easy to clean. It’s a comfortable, great-looking bag, but stashing a laptop in the back makes the back panel stiff and less comfortable.
Wandrd PRVKE Lite Pros and Cons
- Comfortable straps and back panel
- Compact, yet still fits a surprising amount of gear
- Expanding roll-top
- Weather-resistant materials and zippers
- Lots of pockets
- The laptop sleeve is in an uncomfortable spot
- Where zippers meet on the back panel can let in water
- You have to spend more to carry a tripod by buying extra straps
I packed the Wandrd PRVKE Lite with the Fujifilm X-E4 and a 27mm pancake. I also used the Canon EOS R6 and an 85mm macro. And let’s not forget the old hand-me-down camera my 6-year-old uses, the Nikon D5000. All this came with us on a 2.5-mile hike. Though, of course, at least one camera was out of the bag the whole time. I also configured the PRVKE for the R6 with four lenses and a flash to see how much gear would fit. I had the RF 70-200mm f4 mounted on the camera and the 24-240mm, 50mm f1.8, and 85mm Macro also in the bag, with a hot shoe flash. I also fit an iPad Pro in the laptop sleeve, and my iPhone 11 in the tech pocket, along with some smaller accessories.
The Wandrd PRVKE Lite is essentially the little brother of the original and newly re-launched PRVKE. The line’s most unique feature is a roll-top design for expandable, non-camera storage. Though, of course, that same feature was in the earlier PRKE bags as well.
Wandrd PRVKE Lite Tech Specs
- 11L, 15L with roll-top expanded
- Laptop sleeve
- Luggage pass-through
- Removable sternum strap
- Exterior dimensions: 21”H X 12“W X 5.5”D
- Interior dimensions: 20“H X 11”W X 4.5“D
- Weighs 2.5 pounds
The PRVKE Lite is a smaller bag than the original PRVKE. The bag is only about five inches deep. While it will still snugly fit a full-frame mirrorless like the Canon EOS R6, my Nikon D850 was a bit too large. It’s roughly 16 inches long and 13 inches wide at its smallest. The PRVKE Lite is made for mirrorless, but, despite the smaller profile, I was still able to fit a camera body, four small to mid-sized lenses, and a hot-shoe flash, as well as smaller accessories and an iPad Pro.
The padded camera gear sits at the bottom of the bag. The top uses a roll-top design for anything else that doesn’t need padding. I was able to fit in a lightweight utility jacket, granola bars, and even a few diapers and wipes for my toddler. The roll-top closes with velcro and a hook that slides in one of several loops, depending on how much you stuff in the top portion. The roll-top really adds great versatility, with enough space to bring along your lunch, a jacket, or other large items that typically wouldn’t fit inside a smaller backpack. Above the roll top, two carry handles use magnets to keep from flapping around while you wear it as a backpack.
Full access to gear is through the rear panel that rests against your back rather than the front. Unlike the PRKVE’s without the Lite in the name, camera gear is sectioned off with adjustable dividers rather than a removable camera cube. That makes it harder to transition this bag from a camera bag to a regular backpack and back again, compared to the pricier PRVKEs. The upside is that Wandrd made the interior dividers match the exterior color of the bag, and the opening to the camera cube doesn’t get in the way. The dividers are sturdy with a soft fabric lining. Three stretchy velcro straps can also be used to limit movement within the bag. Loaded with the R6 and 4 lenses, the final slot in the camera section was a bit too narrow for a lens but fit a hot shoe flash perfectly. I couldn’t fit a 70-200mm f2.8 or my D850 without creating an uncomfortable bump in the back panel.
The back panel houses three accessory pockets and a laptop sleeve. The accessory pockets were just big enough to fit a 72mm circular filter but not big enough for that filter within a protective case. The bag lacks dedicated SD card pockets, though memory cards can certainly slide in one of those smaller pockets.
The laptop sleeve is also located right in the back panel. While I’ve seen this in several well-loved bags, it’s a trend I don’t care for. With a laptop or tablet in the panel that sits right against your back, the bag can’t conform to the curves in your own back. It’s like putting plywood against your back with a bit of foam in between. While there are more comfortable bags for carrying a laptop, it’s not a deal-breaker if you rarely carry your laptop and camera gear at the same time. (I don’t, unless traveling.)
Above the camera cube on the inside of the bag is a set of two zippers that open for access to whatever’s stashed in the roll-top. Above this, accessible from the outside of the bag is a tech pocket lined with soft fabric and ideally sized for a smartphone.
Let’s zip up that back panel and continue our tour of the bag on the exterior. The back has three separate ergonomic panels, three near the shoulder blades and a third near the small of the back. Wandrd says that these panels are made for working with the pressure points in your back for carrying heavy gear and allowing for air to flow. I didn’t find anything to suggest otherwise. A pass-through luggage strap is hidden between the top two and the bottom panels for sliding the back over the handle of rolling luggage.
Wandrd also redesigned the straps from the original PRVKEs. Just under three inches wide, they’re a good balance between being too thin for support and so wide that they dig into your skin. The curved shape seems to fit my shoulders well. The bottom of the straps has a plastic slider that you can clip a sternum strap to. This means you can adjust exactly where the sternum strap sits on your chest. Above that, Wandrd included several accessory loops for adding on to the bag.
If you leave one strap on and swing the bag around, the left side of the bag has a quick access point that unzips to that main camera compartment. It’s just large enough to slide out a full-frame mirrorless body.
On the opposite side of the bag, a pocket lays flat against the bag when not in use, then unzips to accommodate a water bottle.
Finally, at the front of the bag, a narrow pocket covers nearly the entire front of the bag, which is large enough to tuck a notebook or planner into. Six loops at the front will also accommodate accessory straps to attach items. If you spend another $15 on accessory straps, you could add a tripod to the bottom of the bag this way.
The exterior of the bag is made from a nice, thick water-resistant tarpaulin and ballistic nylon. While I could tell just by feeling the bag that it’s meant to be weather-resistant, the material feels remarkably similar to the original bag. It doesn’t feel like a plastic tarp or cheap nylon.
The zippers are lined with similar material. When the zippers are shut, they almost disappear from the bag, with no metal teeth showing. If you can’t see the actual zipper, it’s difficult to tell from a distance that the bag unzips at the rear instead of the front.
With the feel of the materials and zippers and Wandrd’s weather-resistant claims, I just had to toss this bag in the shower. I held the bag under the spray for a full minute, turning the bag, so water hit in every conceivable direction. The inside remained dry except for a small spot in the camera section where the two zippers on the back panel meet. This spot is less likely to get hit with water if you are wearing the bag since this spot would be against your back. I’d take the bag out in light rain, but I’d buy the rainfly (not included) for heavier rain.
While the Lite is the most affordable in the PRVKE series, the materials do not feel cheaply made, thanks to the durability that comes with a weather-resistant bag. The bag feels sturdy. I also loved that it’s pretty easy to wipe dirt off the bag as well.
Fashion will always take a back seat to function for me, but I appreciated the PRVKE Lite look. The bag comes in several colors, and while it’s durable enough to be a hiking bag, it has a smoother, more minimal look to it.
I’m a small-framed female that prioritizes comfort. I typically carry around heavy DSLR gear in a bag complete with a heavily padded waist belt. (No bags-that-look-like-designer-purses-complete-with-thin-straps for this girl). But, I was surprised both by how much gear I could fit in a smaller bag and how comfortable the bag was to wear.
While the Lite is narrow and the smallest in the series, I was impressed that the bag could still accommodate a full-frame mirrorless, four lenses, a flash — and then have plenty of room leftover in the roll top. I wasn’t sure I could fit much gear in something so narrow when I pulled it out of the box. Just steer clear if you shoot with a DSLR or use big telephotos.
The PRVKE Lite continued to impress when I wore the bag on a hike through a botanical garden with a toddler and a Kindergartener. I loved that the roll-top meant I could leave my diaper bag behind and still bring both camera gear and mom gear. I don’t think you need to be a parent to appreciate the extra room in the roll-top that could also stash your lunch, jacket, purse, or any number of things.
Walking around with the bag for a few hours, I didn’t get sore. Part of that is because the smaller bag has less gear than I typically gear in my DSLR bag. But, the straps and pressure points on the bag seem to do their job. The straps were easy to adjust and surprisingly flexible for a bag that hasn’t been broken in yet. I loved that I could adjust the sternum strap to adjust where the shoulder straps sat, as well as where the sternum strap itself sat. Overall though, it’s still pretty comfortable. The shorter bag also fits well on my smaller torso, while larger bags will sit on my hips and back.
Access to the camera is quick with the side zipper. You’ll have to remove the bag to get at the lenses, however. I didn’t miss the waist belt for comfort since the bag is small enough not to put too much weight on my shoulders. I did miss the waist belt’s ability to swing the bag around to my front to dig out a lens without putting the bag down, a feature on the Lowepro AW series bags with rear access. Thankfully, Wandrd does have a waist belt accessory that you can add to the Lite if you miss that strap.
The bag was overall pretty comfortable — except when carrying a tablet or laptop. With the laptop sleeve right in that back panel, the backpack no longer flexes to accommodate your curves once you add a laptop or tablet. I’m seeing a rear panel laptop sleeve on more and more models lately, but I really think putting the laptop towards the front of the bag is more comfortable. That said, the bag I use for my DSLR has the same laptop sleeve, and it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me since I rarely carry my laptop to shoots.
- The bag is comfortable to wear.
- For being so compact, the bag actually fits a surprising amount of gear.
- The material is weather-resistant yet looks and feels great.
- Placing the laptop sleeve at the back means that, with a laptop loaded, the back doesn’t conform to your back as well.
- The accessory straps to add a tripod cost extra, albeit just $15.
- While it’s largely weather-resistant, the spot where the two zippers meet on the back panel is a potential source of a leak.
The Wandrd PRVKE Lite is a small bag that has surprisingly large features. Despite the smaller profile, I still managed to fit a full-frame mirrorless with four lenses and a flash — and that’s not even including what I stashed in the roll top. The more compact design fit more comfortably on my smaller torso, and the back panel and shoulders were largely pretty comfortable. Side access made grabbing the camera out simple, though you still need to put the bag down to retrieve lenses.
My biggest qualm with the PRVK Lite is that the laptop sleeve is located in the back panel. I find bags with the laptop towards the front to be more comfortable because then the back panel can still flex and bend to your back. You’ll also need to spend more to carry a tripod and take care that water doesn’t reach the spot in the back panel where the two zippers meet.
The Wandrd PRKE Lite is a good option for mirrorless photographers with just a few lenses that want a rugged, comfortable bag. It’s available in black, blue, green, or tan for $219. That is more than the PRVKE 21 and the same as the 31, but you’d have to add the cost of a camera cube onto those two larger bags. I’m giving the Wandrd PRKE Lite five out of five stars.