It seems like my photography closet is chock full of Peak Design (PD) gear. Their products have excellent quality, reasonable prices, and extraordinary design; that’s exactly what I look for in products. I did a backdoor review of the original PD 5L Sling as part of the popular Medium Format Travel Camera post; I absolutely love that sling. I took it around the world and shoved all manner of photography gear into that perfectly designed sling.
When PD announced they were introducing a 6L sling, I had my doubts of whether it could be better than the 5L. The 5L is the perfect size and manages to fit my GFX50R gear perfectly. The only downsides to the 5L are two-fold:
- Zippers don’t like 90 degree bends and it was sometimes difficult to close the sling quickly. I actually managed to tear one sling by trying to close it too aggressively. PD replaced the bag without any hassles (great customer service!) and the replacement bag had a very different zipper that was much easier to open/close (we’ll come back to this later on).
- The 5L was the perfect size for the iPad Mini I had when I bought the sling, but fast forward a few years and I now have an 11” iPad Pro. The iPad Pro does not fit into the 5L sling which was a real drag because it meant I could not bring this great travel device along with my photography gear. I’d have to pack it separately in the PD Everyday Backpack.
With the 5L being a perfect fit for my smaller frame (I’m 165cm), I thought the 6L would be too big, but as with most PD products, they are always worth a try because you can bank on deep thought having been put into each product that reveals itself the more you use them. The new 6L comes in black, ash (grey) and midnight (navy blue); since the store I visited in Hong Kong only had black, that’s what I went with, but I think I’d prefer ash because of the nice leather accents.
Disclaimer: The Peak Design 6L Sling and all equipment used in this review were purchased at full retail price from authorized retailers in Hong Kong. If you’d like to contribute to the upkeep of this website, please consider using the affiliate links to purchase your own 6L sling. Anything you buy from the affiliate links may generate a small commission for this website, so even household goods can be purchased and help with the upkeep of this website.
As with all the PD products I use everyday, build quality is high but not perfect. There continues to be errant (but not structural) threads that need to be cut to achieve perfect build quality. On my 6L sling, it was only two threads that needed trimming this time, which was a big improvement over the first 20L Everyday Backpack that I purchased; that backpack had threads so long, the factory workers had tucked them into the side pocket to get them out of the way.
If you’re coming from an early PD sling, the new zipper will be a revelation; the zippers have gone from being a pain to use to becoming smooth and easy to use. Zippers still don’t like 90 degree bends, and no zipper technology will overcome that; you should still be careful when going around the tight bends and not apply too much force.
Another big improvement on the 6L is the adjusting buckle on the strap. The 5L had this awful mechanism that never seemed to work and required contortions to get the sling to shorten. The new 6L uses the same mechanism as the larger slings with a very slick latch and slide mechanism. It works much, much better than the old system and feels like a high quality and well designed adjustment mechanism.
Size and weight
With the 5L being the perfect fit for my smaller frame, I had reservations about the 6L, but I soon fell in love with the new size. Even if it didn’t provide additional space (which it clearly does), the shape of the 6L actually looks better when worn on the body; it looks more like a sling and less like a pouch. When strapped tight to the body, the 6L still fits within the shoulder blades on my back and becomes a super compact and secure way to carry the sling. I use that position often when I’m hiking and don’t want multiple things hanging from my body (sling + camera as an example).
The difference in weight is negligible and cannot be felt in use. However the difference in packing capacity is certainly welcome and noticed. The extra 1L of capacity has been used mostly in height rather than width so you’re going to become an expert at stacking things rather than packing things. For my use, the extra height is welcome because it allows the GFX 50R to fit better with the larger zoom lenses like the GF32-64 (yes, I finally picked up the original zoom lens and will be reviewing it soon). Furthermore, the extra height is perfect for laying a wallet or card case on top of the camera for quick access when travelling.
Comfort and Convenience
When I bought the 6L, I intended on keeping the 5L as a smaller carry option, but now that I’ve become accustomed to the extra space and better appearance, the 5L will soon be going on the market. There’s also another huge plus for the 6L that I haven’t mentioned yet; it fits my 11” iPad Pro! It’s a tight fit and you have to be careful not to bend the iPad when inserting it, but it does fit. When travelling, there are many times where I want to take my camera gear and the iPad out at the same time and now I can do that with the 6L. This is a big benefit for my use case.
In regards to comfort, the redesigned strap and latch make getting the perfect positioning easy. The slightly wider strap also makes carrying the heavier loads easier on the shoulder and neck. I’ve taken the sling onto 13km challenging hikes without any issue. The only small negative I’ve found thus far is the front zipper pocket; they redesigned the zipper to open in a strange way with a zipper strap that is perpendicular rather than inline. This makes opening the front pocket feel a bit rough and not as smooth as before. I presume they did this to keep the sling as thin as possible, but I wonder if the tradeoff was worth it, considering how frequently the front pocket is accessed.
Value for Money
Like most PD products, the value is in the design and it’s hard to compare this sling to anything else on the market. I can’t think of another sling that offers everything that the 6L does in a sleek and clean design like this, and with this level of build quality and consistency. The sling is on the expensive side, but I feel confident in saying that the value for money is high because there really isn’t any competition in this space that can match up. Furthermore, my experience with PD in regards to warranty has been exemplary and demonstrates that their lifetime guarantee is for real.
This is yet again another fantastic product from the Peak Design folks. I feel very comfortable in recommending this sling for your travel and day to day needs. It has replaced my 5L sling and has become my daily driver. I can’t imagine how PD will top top this in the future, but the clever folks there always seem to find a way. Perhaps they can consider adding premium finishes like leather (or synthetic leather for animal lovers) for future iterations of the product. I also hope they change the alignment of the zipper on the front pocket in future revisions. In summary, you won’t regret buying this sling and retiring your 5L sling.