Reminder: these are not professional reviews. If you want those, with video and all the other bells and whistles, the web is full of them. The following are my biased opinions—some from trying a bag for two days, some from using one for months. This is not purchasing advice, and if you make an investment decision based on what I wrote, you are on your own 🙂
Intro and Links
What can these two backpacks have in common when one is a former Kickstarter project and the second is made by a 75-year-old company best known for car accessories?
The answers are a rolltop, a photo insert, and a lateral opening to grab the camera without opening the whole bag.
What I liked
Both bags felt really nice. They use metal in many places, whereas other brands use plastic, like the rolltop latches. The PRVKE has a slight edge because of the material, which is extra smooth.
I love the rolltop. It's the easiest way to provide extra space without getting in the way when the bag is not full.
Although they do not offer a rigid structure, they stand up on their own when they are not empty, the weight is adequately distributed, and the center of gravity sits in the bottom half.
Very comfortable to carry even when heavy.
The PRVKE comes in three sizes (21, 31, and 41 liters). I had the medium one. The Covert comes in one size, 32 liters. It was the right size for me when I had them, as I had more gear to carry. Today with a single camera and lens, they'd be too big.
Why I don't use them anymore
It all boiled down to the quality and fit of the inserts.
I love the idea of a modular backpack, but with two conditions:
- The insert must fit perfectly snugly, without double flaps, misalignments, or having to deal with zippers everywhere.
- The insert must be of excellent quality, like the bag.
These two failed at both.
The Thule insert felt a bit better quality (I am very picky about Velcro...).
In both cases, once the camera "cube" was inserted in the bag and set up to use the quick access door on the side, I had to deal with the following:
- Double flaps: the door of the insert can't be removed and has to be paired with the bag door for a clunky result. Closing both defeats the "quick access" aspect of the bag.
- Rough adjustment between the shape of the bag and the insert. That, along with the absence of a reliable way to keep the insert in place, made it feel like the pieces weren't meant to go together, and I had just adapted a standard camera cube from a different brand.
I really wanted the PRVKE to be perfect because the material is so lovely, and the bag looks good.
In the end, though, we are talking about $300+ bags, and the approximation in the camera cubes wasn't acceptable to me.
Your mileage may vary. I know we do not all attach the same importance to the same details, and everything else in those two bags is very high quality, so I'll leave it to you to figure out whether you want to try them anyway.