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Buying Tips :: Messenger bags

Buying Tips :: Messenger bags

by , December 10, 2013

We started with some tips on buying a Backpack last week, now it’s time to move on to the world of Messengers…

Messengers and satchels beat backpacks for lighter loads, hotter climates, looking sharp in an office space or when access on the go is needed. But there are common issues. The bike inspired messengers rely on a soft form to wrap around your body and take some of the load, so they’re generally not very good with rigid things like laptops which stop this wrap. Traditional satchels and work style shoulder bags are more structured, so deal better with laptops and work papers, but pretty much have to hang by your side as they can’t wrap around you.

3 things to look for:

Soft for active or structured for organising:

There are not many bags that do the semi-structured thing well. So if you do want to ride or get active, the softer and more wrapping the bag the better. If you’re after a more structured bag to look stylish at the office, don’t try and go soft and unstructured. Find a satchel that is squarer like the items you’ll put in it. Generally, flap openings work best for soft messengers, roll-top openenings for semi-structured messengers, and zip openings for structured satchels.

A great strap (preferably reversible):

You only get one, so it needs to be good. If you’re going to ride or get active, make sure the messenger can be pulled in close and ride high on your back. This style of messenger needs good padding which continues into the body of the bag, and quick release buckles to lengthen it again. If you’re just going for a structured work satchel, don’t expect to get active, so don’t stress about the strap.

Fabrics that suit your environment:

If you’re riding, you’ll want water-resistant polyesters that can take mud, rain and road grime (nylons are normally too shiny and tech for this look). If you’re just going from bus or car to office, you can start to get canvas, leather and naturals in the mix. If you need stylish and weather-proof, coated or waxed canvas is probably for you.


3 things to avoid:

Gorby gaps:

Gorby Gaps or ‘Prince Charles Ears’ are the turned out sides of a bag that let you see past the flap and into the bag. These are a result of lazy pattern making, and should not exist. Tube openings, clever gusseting or smart panel work can avoid them, and so should you.

Crowded organising:

Most messengers put all the organising under the front flap. When you stack layers of organising here, any single apple, spectacles case or computer charger will jam all of them and make them unusable. Look for organising to the sides, the top inside, or anywhere that you won’t have a log jam going on.

Bright, shiny, or conference messenger bags:

Unless you’re sure it’s cool, just don’t go there. Any outfit can be totally undermined by a really bad bag, so you’re safer going subdued colors, minimal branding, and a clean bag that has a really resolved shape. Or at least that’s how we see it…


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