WANDRD Fernweh Review
The WANDRD Fernweh offers plenty of space, and comfort, for backpacking-style adventures. Although, all of the zippers and straps can get confusing.
- Tons of space
- Super adjustable (and comfortable) harness system
- Multiple ways to access the main compartment
- A lot of dangling straps (even with included elastic keepers)
- Zippers can be easy to confuse
- Looks dehydrated when not completely full
5 lb (2.3 kg)
26 in x 13.75 in x 9.5 in (66 x 34.9 x 24.1 cm)
Nylon, YKK Zippers, Nifco Hardware
Laptop Compartment Size
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If you’re familiar with WANDRD, the folks over there are all about making durable bags for photographers that also crave adventure. Enter the WANDRD Fernweh.
“Fernweh” is a German word for “wanderlust” (or exact translation, “farsickness”). “Wanderlust,” if you’re not familiar, is basically having an intense craving for travel. And we think this name fits the concept of the bag as it’s designed for adventures far and wide.
The Fernweh blends backpacking style features (like a beefy, adjustable harness system) with integration to carry all your camera gear as well. Which we’ll cover in the review. At 50L, it’s also quite large. While we’ve heard reports that it’s considered carry-on compliant, it’s a bit larger than we typically recommend bringing on a plane. Of course, your mileage may vary. You may be able to get away with it, depending on where you’re flying to and from.
We’ve been testing a pre-production sample of this pack for two weeks now—loading it up in several different configurations, wearing it around Detroit, and taking it on a short trip to Northern Michigan.
There’s a lot to cover with this bag, so let’s jump right in.
Materials & Aesthetic
At first glance, the WANDRD Fernweh looks somewhat outdoorsy, and rightfully so—it’s built for any and all of your outdoor adventures. But some of its features and components give it a more futuristic, techy twist—it’s an interesting blend and we’re digging it.
At the time of this review, this pack is set to be available in two colorways—Black and Gobi Tan. We’ve been testing with the Black colorway, and we appreciate its almost urbane aesthetic—it’s rugged, but in a smooth, capable sort of way.
The main material you’ll find on the WANDRD Fernweh is a 630D nylon that’s finished with WANDRD’s 5PM Coating. It feels almost rubbery to the touch and helps give the exterior of this bag some weather resistance. We’ve found this material is prone to dust, scuffs, and blemishes, however, it’s less so than other tarpaulin or TPU-coated bags we’ve tested.
This 5PM Coating is the same coating that’s on the WANDRD DUO Daypack. And, like that bag, the Fernweh can look dehydrated or slouchy when not completely packed out. This slouchiness hasn’t affected the carry thanks to the internal frame (which we’ll cover in a minute). It does affect the look—which may be why 72% of our Instagram audience gave this pack’s aesthetic a thumbs down.
You’ll see YKK zippers throughout this bag, which have all been working relatively smoothly in our testing so far. Many of the external zips have finger loop zipper pulls that are easy to grab. Even with these pulls, though, some of the zippers have been stiff when going around corners. Nothing too serious, but something to note. There are also a lot of them which can make things a little confusing at times—we’ve grabbed the wrong zipper multiple times during testing.
The Nifco buckles on this bag have been working well in our testing so far. Their two-prong design allows you to get your fingers behind the receiving end of the buckle without pinching your fingers, making one-handed buckling pain-free.
There’s a lot going on with this bag externally, from the harness system to handles, to attachment points. So grab a coffee or tea and get comfortable, we’ve got plenty to talk about.
The harness system on this thing is pretty comfortable and super adjustable. We’ve strapped this bag on people as tall and 6’2″ and as short as 5’4″—with the right amount of maneuvering you can adjust each component to your needs, whatever they are.
First off, this pack has an internal frame (we know, this is not technically an external component, but stay with us). The frame consists of an aluminum rod that runs along the sides and across the top give this thing a rigid structure that you can feel when you’re wearing it, which has been great. Especially when we’re carrying heavy loads of gear or supplies—it’s snug and sturdy. Also, at the time of this review, you can choose between two different frame sizes (small/medium and medium/large). We like the option to customize this pack to get a solid fit regardless of your body type.
Okay, on to the shoulder straps. They’re generously padded with EVA foam, making them comfortable for long periods of time—which is pretty necessary since this bag is relatively large. And it can get heavy, especially when loaded up with camera and/or backpacking gear.
The shoulder straps are also lined with mesh to make them nice and breathable. At the top of the straps, you’ll find gatekeeper buckles and three different attachment points to adjust their height. These buckles require some fiddling, but once you get the bag catered to your preferences you shouldn’t have to mess with them too often. Also, at the time of this review, you have the option between two sizes of shoulder straps. We appreciate all the adjustability here as, again, it makes the bag work for multiple body types.
There are also load lifters that help adjust the pack by pulling it closer to your body, making your carry even more comfortable.
Next, we’ll talk about the sternum strap. It’s a unique set up—to secure it, clip one end onto the rail on one shoulder strap, then bring the strap across and clip it on the other rail on the other shoulder strap—there’s no buckle in sight. Each clip has a pull that you can use to remove it from the rail if you want to take it off or readjust. It’s taken some getting used too (we’ve found ourselves reaching for a phantom buckle a few times).
Below the rails the sternum strap attaches to, the folks at WADNRD have included stitching that matches up on both sides, so you can ensure the sternum strap lines up straight across your chest and not diagonal. It’s a small but handy feature, which we dig.
We will also say that this strap has proven to be more secure than we originally anticipated. That said, the whole thing has popped off once while we were fidgeting it with during testing. Not a deal-breaker, but this likely wouldn’t have happened with a more traditional buckle.
Moving on to the back panel—it’s got the same EVA foam padding as the shoulder straps, so it’s pretty comfortable as well. The ample mesh and air channels on here work to keep the #SwampBack at bay. Of course, you can’t totally avoid it, especially on a bag of this size. There are also a couple of features hidden inside the back panel, but we’ll touch on those later in the review.
And lastly—for the harness system anyway—there’s the removable hip belt. Like the shoulder straps and back panel, it’s padded with EVA foam and has air channels and mesh that keeps the air flowing, and you comfortable. Also like the shoulder straps (and frame), at the time of this review, you can choose between two different sizes of the hip belt—small/medium and medium/large.
On each side of the hip belt, you’ll find compression straps that allow you to adjust this thing just how you like it (are you sensing a theme) and quick-grab pockets. On the wearer’s left side is a single zippered pocket which is a good size for a phone or some trail snacks. On the right side, you have an open, stretchy mesh pocket as well as two loops you can attach gear to externally.
And, since it’s removable, if you feel you don’t need this hip belt for your purposes, undo the compression straps on each side, detach the velcro in the middle sleeve, and pull it off.
Okay, almost done with the external components. Are you still with us? Good. Let’s go.
There are four grab handles situated on the back of on the WANDRD Fernweh—one at the top, one at the bottom, and one on each side. They’re made of a seatbelt-like material with some foam padding built-in, making them comfortable to grab.
These allow you to grab the pack any which way you choose—one-handed, two-handed, upside down, right side up, whatever works. The side handles in particular are handy because they allow you to pick the bag up even when the back access point (which we’ll discuss shortly) is completely open clamshell-style.
If you unzip the flat stash pocket at the very bottom of this bag, you’ll deploy a stowable pouch-like carry system. It’s basically a piece of fabric attached to two straps with G-hooks on the ends. Attach those G-hooks to dedicated loops on the front of the pack to create a space for you to externally carry your bulkier items with you—things like a sleeping bag, a tent, heavy jacket, maybe even your tripod. That way you have a place for it if it doesn’t fit inside the pack (or you don’t want it taking up a bunch of room). But if you have no use for it, you can easily tuck it away and forget all about it.
There’s also a smaller velcro pocket inside the flat stash pocket designed for you to keep a rainfly without worrying about it falling out, even if you have the sleeping bag carrier deployed.
Finally, there are a ton of loops, straps, and external attachment points around this bag. When it comes to these things, each side of the bag is the same. You’ll find two compression straps to help compress the bag when not full or to store longer items (like a tripod). There are stowable straps and loops designed to carry skis and an ice ax respectively. Of course, you can use them to attach other gear as well. You’ll also find some daisy chain webbing running vertical and horizontal, as well as loops where you can attach WANDRD’s Accessory Straps or your own carabiners.
All these attachment methods make this pack versatile in its external storage capabilities—you can probably find a way to attach just about anything you need for your adventure. They also make the outside of this bag super dangly. Between the adjustment straps on the harness system, load lifters, compression straps, loops, etc, there’s a fair amount of flapping and flailing going on. Even with the inclusion of elastic strap keepers.
Inside the Pack
Whew. We made it inside the pack! If you need to take a break, refill that coffee or tea, we get. Ready? We’re going in.
There are four ways to access the main compartment of this pack. The first one we’ll focus on is located at the top. It has a flap that folds over the zipper to create some weather resistance, but it also makes this pocket slower to access.
There’s a removable compartment or “bucket” as WANDRD describes it inside of the main compartment. It’s attached and detached by a zipper. A quick note, this zipper doesn’t feel quite as strong as the exterior ones. We haven’t had any real issues with it yet, but we can definitely feel a difference in quality.
This bucket offers some organization of the main compartment when attached. When removed, it offers some extra room for longer gear. We’ve been loading it up as if we’re traveling—a couple of pairs of pants, a hoodie, a compressible jacket, a few shirts, and a Dopp kit. It takes up about half of the main compartment when installed, so it’s got plenty of space for whatever you need.
If you have the bucket feature installed then that’s what you’ll see when you access the bag from the top. If not, you’re staring straight down into the main compartment.
On the top access flap, is a zippered mesh pocket that has a little dimension—though we’ve mostly been using to store a small notebook and/or a pair of headphones. Since it’s a pocket inside the main compartment, whatever you throw in here should be secure (yet still relatively easy to access).
The second way you can access the main compartment through the front. Once you open it up, you’ll see the removable bucket (if you have it attached). The bucket compartment has a zipper on the front, so you can access your gear whether you have it installed or not.
On the wearer’s left-hand side is your third entry point—a side entrance similar to the WANDRD PRVKE. This access point works well if you have the WANDRD Essential Camera Cube installed. (The Fernweh is compatible with other sizes of WADNRD’s camera cubes too.) It gives you quick access to your camera without needing to take off the pack completely. If you’re not using a camera cube, you’ll have direct access to items you’ve packed toward the bottom of the main compartment.
On the flap, there’s a zippered compartment that houses three individual mesh pouches for your smaller camera accessories—an extra battery, SD cards, among other things. Behind this pocket is a kind of sleeve for the flap of the Essential Camera Cube to tuck into, keeping it secure along with velcro straps inside the bag. We won’t get too specific on this cube, but we did want to mention that it integrates well into the pack.
And your final place of entry is through the back panel. It’s hard to tell, but there’s a zipper around the perimeter that opens the bag up in a clamshell-like fashion—meaning you can see and grab what you need with ease. Directly against the back of the back panel sits the laptop sleeve that will fit up to a 15” laptop. There’s a false bottom that protects your tech from accidental drops, or for when you set the pack on a hard surface. It is also secured with a velcro strap—and while we always don’t find straps necessary on laptop sleeves, because of the sleeve’s placement, this application keeps your tech from sliding out.
Also tucked behind the back panel you’ll find a hidden pocket. Its location and velcro closure make it secure for storing important things—like your passport or extra cash. It’s a pretty tight pocket, so only small flat items like this will fit.
Remove both the bucket and the camera cube and you’re left with 50L of free space for any and all combinations of gear you can imagine. It gives you the ability to cater the pack to the kind of trip you’re going on. If you’re backpacking through the mountains and don’t plan to take photos, for example, there should be plenty of space to pack a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, cook kit, etc. And if you need more space, there’s plenty of places to attach gear externally.
And now for the remaining pockets. At the top of the bag is a pretty big quick-grab pocket. Inside, there’s a 360° swivel key clip. We like that it swivels, but the clip doesn’t feel the strongest—we haven’t had any issues yet but it’s a similar situation to the bucket attachment zipper in that it doesn’t feel great in the hand. Other than the key clip, there’s not much in the way of organization. But like we said, it’s a pretty big pocket so feel free to toss in some of the essentials you usually keep close by—your laptop charger and tech kit, a bunch of snacks, whatever.
On the wearer’s right-hand side, there’s a long, zippered pocket intended for a water bottle. And a big one at that—it fits the Hydro Flask 32 oz Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series Water Bottle with room to spare. Of course, you can use this pocket for something other than a water bottle as well. We like that it’s big and zippered because we have room for a lot of water and don’t have to worry about it slipping out. However, you have to undo a compression strap to open it all the way—so it’s not a quick access pocket by any means.
Speaking of carrying water, on the front of the bag, there’s a long, slender pocket with zippered access down the middle. Inside, there’s a clip at the top and an elastic sleeve intended for a water bladder if you prefer hands-free hydration. There’s also a passthrough on each side so you can run your water hose on the left or right, whichever you prefer. Another note is that the pocket is separate from the main compartment, so, in theory, your expensive gear won’t get wet if the water bladder leaks.
During testing, we’ve been mostly using it as a large quick grab pocket, stashing a jacket in here that we can easily grab if the weather turns. Also, because of its long shape, it’ll fit tech items like a keyboard or Roost Stand well (just in case those are going with you on your adventures).
Durability & Testing
We’ve had our hands on a pre-production sample of the WANDRD Fernweh and have been testing it for two weeks. We like the blend of backpacking-style features with a more modern, techy aesthetic.
Despite being large and heavy, this bag is pretty comfortable to carry. The internal frame keeps it rigid in a good way. Even when the pack is not fully loaded up and, therefore, slouchy, it doesn’t feel saggy on your back. And the adjustability of the harness system and ample padding keep it comfy for extended use.
Also, as we mentioned earlier in the review, this pack has a lot of zippers and dangling straps on the outside. We’ve grabbed the wrong zipper or unbuckled the wrong strap multiple times during use. Of course, the more you use the bag, the more you should get familiar with finding the right zipper on the first try.
Durability-wise, we’re starting to see some aesthetic scuffs and marks on the main material. Other than that, everything is holding up well so far.
We’ve been testing a pre-production sample of the WANDRD Fernweh.
- Blends backpacking-style features with a more modern, techy aesthetic
- Digging the robust, adjustable, and comfortable harness system
- Some camera-specific features, like the ability to integrate the Essentials Camera Cube, are nice for photo-focused adventures.
- Multiple ways to access and organize the main compartment
- Lots of zippers and straps on the outside of the pack (not very dangle free)
Despite being large and heavy, this bag is pretty comfortable to carry. The internal frame keeps this pack rigid in a good way. And the harness system is adjustable—you can move the shoulder straps up or down, depending on your body type—so you should be able to get it to fit just how you like it. Plus, there’s plenty of padding and mesh to help with airflow.
Digging the multiple access points and versatile organization of the main compartment when packing for a trip to northern Michigan. We’ve kept in the camera cube (to hold camera gear) and used the removable liner bucket to hold clothes (with plenty of room to spare).
As far as durability is concerned, we’re starting to see some aesthetic scuffs and marks on the main material. Other than that, everything is holding up well so far.