- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Messenger Bag
Lightweight. Check. Durable. Check. Your prototypical (bike) messenger bag. Check. Meet the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Messenger Bag. Designed for the person on the go, it’s a capable and competent solution. Part of the bag’s charm is to watch the Cuben Fiber develop a unique patina akin to that of leather. But as much as I wanted to like it, for me it was a bag trying to do a little too much.
Who It Suits
If weight is vital and you’re a minimalist, then this bag is for you.
Who It Doesn’t
A desk jockey who needs to keep it professional in the office.
To start with, the bag is optimally designed for the urban rider. That means you have reflective straps and piping to be easily seen at night. The single shoulder strap has a quick release to loosen the tension and easily pivots across your chest for easy access. As a cyclist who often commutes to work, these are simple yet effective features that make it easy to use.
“If weight is vital and you’re a minimalist, then this bag is for you.“
You can’t talk about this bag and not praise the components, construction and arguably most important, the materials. The Dyneema lining is strong, sturdy and reinforces the capable nature of the bag. The Cuben is Hyperlite’s proprietary fabric that creates a full service messenger that’s so lightweight you forget it’s even there. For those counting, it weighs 18 oz which is insane in its own right.
“The single shoulder strap has a quick release to loosen the tension and easily pivots across your chest for easy access.“
Not to be outdone, the components themselves are top notch coming from ITW.
“The Cuben is Hyperlite’s proprietary fabric that creates a full service messenger that’s so lightweight you forget it’s even there.“
The Not So Good
The flawless bag is like a purple squirrel, it just doesn’t exist. And while I liked the bag, it had some serious quirks (for me) that made it hard to love.
First and foremost was the interior organization. With a main compartment that’s been pre-organized for you, the bag is less about using it as you like and more about using it how the designer intended. I used it for weeks as my go-to and struggled to get properly organized between my gym gear and work laptop/files. The pockets were inaccessible and thus rendered useless.
Which leads me to my second point, volume. At 950 cu in (16L), this bag isn’t entirely lacking in this category. And yet I found myself constantly having to make compromises in order to “make it work”. This wasn’t a deal breaker but it didn’t leave the best impression for me.
“I used it for weeks as my go-to and struggled to get properly organized between my gym gear and work laptop/files.“
There were also a couple of design choices that I couldn’t quite get behind. The daisy chain on the shoulder strap is great if you have a pouch but not for much else. The reason behind that is it’s sewn with the “links” horizontal. Every time I got inside my building I wanted to use the chain as a sunglasses holder but I would reach not across but from the top. It never felt quite right.
“I found myself constantly having to make compromises in order to “make it work”.“
Granted this is a bit nitpicky but it goes to a larger issue I had with the bag: it felt like the designers were trying too hard to make a cool bike messenger bag and didn’t look to solve a problem (other than weight). The designs were very run-of-the-mill and the bag just never worked as I hoped it would.
Others to Consider
Timbuk2’s Classic Messenger started it all and is as good today as it’s always been. Better yet, you can customize one just to your liking. You can’t talk bike messenger bags and not mention Chrome. Their styling, details and approach really grasp what the urban messenger can be. For a less aggressive aesthetic, local SF brand Rickshaw Bags and their Zero Messenger is another good way to go. Last but not least, Manhattan Portage’s Trotter Jr. is only slightly bigger and packed with extra features and pockets.
“The designs were very run-of-the-mill and the bag just never worked as I hoped it would.”
This is a solid bag. There’s no denying that. For me, the issue was that the small details of everyday use wore on me. The build, materials and hardware are impeccable, from the Dyneema and Cuben Fiber fabric to the ITW components. The shoulder strap with its quick release was easy to use and always did the trick. But it was the little things like volume for a medium-sized messenger bag, and the way I had to play Tetris/compromise on my gear that ultimately left me wanting more.