- Buyer's Guide
Imminent Threat Solutions Discreet Messenger: Drive By
The Discreet Messenger is Imminent Threat Solutions’ (ITS) take on a single strap utility bag that can handle anything from office work to range day. ITS spent five years retooling the previous generation of Discreet Messengers to arrive at their latest iteration which boasts even more modularity thanks to a fully lined VELCRO interior and SnapPockets™ designed specifically to work in conjunction with their Zip Bags. As far as messenger bags go, this one is near the top of the food chain.
Who It Suits
The Discreet Messenger is a solid EDC choice for the business casual crowd thanks to the subdued profile and quality of the waxed canvas face fabric. The modularity of the bag also makes it flexible enough to do just about anything a 30L shoulder bag would ever need to do.
Who It Doesn’t
I can see this not working for students carrying a day’s worth of heavy textbooks. It’s tough enough to survive even the most ambitious academic regimen, but I don’t see it as a practical option.
- Weight: 48oz without accessories (~1.36 kg)
- Material: Martexin Waxed Canvas
- Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 4 inches (~38 x 28 x 10 cm)
- Pockets: 4 external, 1 discreet pocket in the flap
These are all handmade in Texas, USA — it’s noticeably well-built. Between the materials and construction, it’ll be a long while before you have a warranty issue with this bag. The first thing I notice is the AustriAlpin buckles that will undoubtedly last forever and exemplify that this bag means business.
I like the exterior pocket design. ITS came up with a simple retention solution with a good balance of accessibility and security — they call them SnapPockets™. Two simple snaps engage to nearly close off the top of the pocket. The snaps disengage with moderate force, so if you’re pulling one of ITS’s Zip Bags out in a hurry, the pocket will pop open no problem. There’s also some elastic webbing sewn into the front two pockets for securing items like flashlights, multi-tools, cords, or pens.
“It’s a really good option for those who just want a solid EDC and don’t want to baby their things.”
ITS completely lined the interior with loop panel so that you can configure the bag exactly how you want it. As an organization advocate, this is a big selling point, and with so many companies producing hook-backed pouches, your options are nearly endless.
The strap “wings” are well thought out. Rather than allowing the points of contact for the shoulder strap to be half way down the side walls, ITS used these wings to extend the contact point above the bag, ensuring an even balance and preventing the bag from rolling.
The Not So Good
For as well built as this is, I feel like ITS skimped on the strap. There’s no padding or quick-adjust buckle to change the length of the sling. According to the product video on their site, they dropped the quick-adjust buckle in response to user feedback. Dropping that feature altogether is a big miss in my opinion, but there’s something to be said for simplicity. To the design team: maybe taking a note from Magpul’s MS1 Slider or from Chrome’s quick-release/quick-adjust buckle could be options for future redesigns.
As you can see, I cannibalized a The North Face pad from an old Base Camp Messenger and found some relief that way.
“For as well built as this is, I feel like ITS skimped on the strap. There’s no padding or quick-adjust buckle to change the length of the sling.”
The grab handle also leaves me wanting. The balance is off, and while I realize that’s a design challenge across the board, these are things that should be considered when crafting a really nice bag — and that’s what this is, a really nice bag with an unexciting sling and grab handle. I’m thinking you could run a handle across the top of the bag connecting the wings.
Lastly, the two side pockets tend to eat internal volume. There’s a slight gusset to the pockets that allows them to expand outward, but only to a point. A standard Nalgene will borrow some interior volume and can be difficult to insert when the main compartment is fully loaded.
Alternatives to Consider
Considering the quality and purpose of the Discreet Messenger, there are few competitors out there, though this is a rapidly growing category in my eyes.
Able Archer Co.’s Satchel, and Triple Aught Design’s Parallax and Dispatch are the first that come to mind. There are dozens of gentlemen’s shoulder bags from brands like Filson and others, while on the opposite end of the spectrum are brands like Mission Workshop, but neither of those address the potential for weapons carry or are designed for the “tactical” customer.
It’s a really good option for those who just want a solid EDC and don’t want to baby their things. I’ve been using this nearly every day since April, and it hasn’t shown any real wear besides a light fading of the face fabric, but I know I can re-treat the waxed canvas to bring back that luster should I choose. To be honest, it’s aging well.
The laptop sleeve (ITS Tech Sleeve) is a must-add for daily use. The protection, additional structure, and the organization options it provides are well worth the $30.