the "perfect" messenger bag

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by FrankieTDouglas, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2005
    What's up?

    I've read reviews everywhere, I've searched dozens of sites. Still, I cannot find that "exact" bag I'm looking for. I figure, maybe if I just post what I'm looking for, maybe someone will know what will fit those exact needs (perhaps even point me to an obscure but cool company). I'm using the Elefunk from Jansport right now, but the lack of padding on the bottom and etc has me a little scared with the 15" Powerbook in it.

    I'm looking for a messenger bag. There are certain things I need/want in it.

    -At least 6" of interior space.
    -A padded laptop compartment (I'll use that plus a sleeve).
    -An external water bottle holder.
    -A handle.
    -The flap should double as a large pocket for quick access to keys, pens, paper, etc.
    -On the inside, I'd prefer all pockets to be zipped. Not a big fan of open pockets holding all of my stuff. Also, these pockets/pocket must be able to hold a battery, various cords and cables, a small spindle of cd-rs, a digital camera, a graphing calculator, and headphones.
    -The backside and bottom should also be well padded.

    My Jansport has the capacity to hold everything like this, but it lacks the padding and also the strap. I've looked at the Timbuk2 commute bags, but I can't figure out if the flap is also a large pocket. Also, I'm not sold yet on the extra velcro, since I open my bag in class from time to time. I checked the Crumpler bags, but they don't have a strap or a water bottle holder.

    I'm also switching from a Shinza sleeve to a Booq sleeve. The Boog doesn't seem to be as tall as the Shinza, which is my main gripe about it. Plus, the Booq seems to be better padded.

    Any suggestions?
  2. Bern macrumors 68000


    Nov 10, 2004

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  3. munkle macrumors 68030


    Aug 7, 2004
    On a jet plane
    You're going to be hard pressed to find a messenger bag with an external water bottle holder, if it's that important a backpack style bag might be a better idea.

    Perhaps something like the Brain Bag from Tom Bihn.

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  4. Electric Monk macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Being a bike messenger at various times in my life I can say that all these mass produced bags suck.

    Here is a list of messenger bags still actually made by bike messengers or ex-messengers personally.

    Additionally several of these will do custom work for you. Off hand I'd say most would be willing to at least a little custom, while Dank and Zo would be willing to do the most custom work.

    Bagaboo (

    BaileyWorks (

    Cocotte (

    Dank Bags (

    PAC Designs (

    Push The Envelope (

    ReLoad Bags (

    Under The Weather (

    Zo Bags (

    In San Francisco Zo bags are the best (best elsewhere too, but impossible to get) however the problem is finding Erik Zo and getting him to make a bag for you - you basically have to be a bike messenger, and it really helps if he's your friend too.

    In Toronto Push Bags are pretty good.

    If you live in New York you have a decent chance of finding a Globe Canvas bag, which are no longer made and are really nice although pretty heavy.

    Dank messenger bags are pretty nice, produced by Cory Bennion in Seattle.

    If you can get a Zo bag, get a Zo bag. Otherwise just pick whichever of these that catches your fantasy.
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Timbuk2 Commute. But spend the extra $10 and get the strap pad. It is 100% worth it.
    After three bags, this is the one I like best. I saw a crumpler, but they wouldn't let me toss my laptop into it so I told them to piss off and got a Timbuk2 as a b-day gift.
  6. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Dec 18, 2003
    I get by with my Brenthaven Mobility1 bag for most everything -- if I go PowerBook 12" next time, there will be even more room than there is with my iBook.

    Can't hold an insane amount of stuff, though, or a 15" PowerBook.

    Brenthaven bags are of good quality though, as are Timbuk2.
  7. FrankieTDouglas thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2005
    Electric Monk...

    AWESOME list of companies. I checked every site looking at what they offered.

    To the two after who mentioned Timbuk2, does the flap have an external zipper on it for storing small items without having to open the bag?
  8. superbovine macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2003
    yeah the strap pad is worth it.

    To answer frankie question about the communte.

    opening the velcro flap during class isn't too bad, esp if you go slow. people will hear it, but most ppl don't pay attention. however, if you are in a class with six people and walk in late and open the bag, yeah everyone is going to stare at you.
  9. Electric Monk macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Yeah it's the best list :)

    I really wouldn't get a Timbuk2. Since the founders left the quality has really gone down. They're still pretty good for a mass produced bag, but any of the sites I listed have better bags.

    Sure they still seem nice, but go dig up one from the early 90s - less features and gizmos but a way nicer bag.
  10. bostonwhaler1 macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2004
    Toronto, Canada
    To be perfectly honest, despite what Electric Monk said, I LOVE my Timbuk2 Messenger bag. It's been very durable and I feel extremely confident using it to carry my 15" PB. 2 things that it doesn't have that your list requires: 1. Large pocket on the flap. The flap is just a flap. 2. Very large storage capacity. It doesn't carry alllll that much gear, and with your list, it would get full pretty quickly.

    I would suggest finding one in person and taking a look and giving it a test. I've loved mine, and the quality seems good enough seeing as i've been using it daily for a year and it still looks brand new.

    Hope this helps!
  11. Electric Monk macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Not saying it's not a pretty decent bag (I have one from a few years back) just saying that there are better ones out there.

    And some of those better ones out there would be willing to the fairly extensive customization he wants, given that most messenger bags don't come with those features.
  12. bostonwhaler1 macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2004
    Toronto, Canada
    No doubt. Just thowin' down my experience with the bag.

    Great bag for the buck. ha ha ha I'm too funny for my own good.

  13. Phatpat macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2003
    Washington DC
    I'd go with the Timbuk2 Commute. I was also concerned about the velcro issue, but I just bought $1 worth of 2" wide velcro and covered the strips on the bag. Non-permanent, and it solves the problem.
  14. parrothead macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2003
    Edmonds, WA
    The best bag out there in my opinion is hands down the Patagonia Critical Mass, or if you want a smaller version, the Half Mass.

    They are super functional, guaranteed for life, produced in an evironmentally friendly way, and look good. I have one and have been using it for bike commuting for over two years. I ride in all weather and even in downpours the contents in the main compartment do not get wet. I love this bag so much that I usually use it instead of an overnight bag when I make short trips.
  15. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

    Nov 17, 2004
    The Msp
    I'm going to have to push for the Timbuk2 Commute as well. I have one, and my 15" PB feels great in it. Great padding and protection, very roomy for other books and whatnot, and they even make a great little iPod case that conveniently fits on the strap. It's a bit pricey, but I got mine new off of eBay for $20 less, so look around.

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