- Buyer's Guide
Triple Aught Design Parallax Messenger Review :: Drive By
Fresh off a ‘Highly Commended’ recognition in our 2017 Carry Awards, I was excited to put the Triple Aught Design (TAD) Parallax Messenger through its paces. It’s a solid marriage between TAD’s tactically inspired style and some classic bike messenger undertones. Over the past few months I’ve had the Parallax Messenger on my back/at my side/over my shoulder (it’s versatile) throughout the city. This is how it carries.
Who It Suits
The Parallax Messenger is for someone needing a messenger bag that is tough as nails, yet subdued in its durability. As an example, I’ve been biking on dirt roads in the morning and can still roll into the office a few hours later with this bag and my appearance no worse for it.
Who It Doesn’t
The Parallax Messenger is a large messenger whose size can be frustrating to someone not hauling lots of gear.
After a few months with the Parallax Messenger there’s a lot to like about this bag along with some key details that really make it stand out.
“The Parallax Messenger is for someone needing a messenger bag that is tough as nails, yet subdued in its durability.”
The Parallax Messenger is a versatile bag in how it can be worn. I primarily wore the bag as a messenger, slung over one shoulder. There’s an ambidextrous shoulder strap and strap locks that allow it to quickly be adjusted to either shoulder. Ever worn a messenger bag the wrong way? It sucks.
The model I received was a prototype but the finished bags have a stabilizer strap to use when worn as a messenger bag. And like any good messenger bag, the Parallax can be easily swung from back to front without needing to take off the bag.
For those not wanting the messenger bag look, the beefy shoulder strap (non-detachable) makes carrying the Parallax at your side a pleasant endeavor. I appreciated how well the bag carried at my side because it feels much more formal when showing up to work.
As with all TAD bags, the material and craftsmanship of the Parallax messenger is topnotch. The majority of the bag is sewn from ripstop nylon sailcloth. This translates to an extremely durable, weather-resistant and sleek bag. And after a few rainy days around town I’ve come to rely on the ‘reinforced bathtub bottom’ that TAD has sewn on the underside of the bag.
On the pocketing front, the Parallax messenger is loaded. The main 25L compartment is held shut by two magnetic buckles. As I’m often wearing gloves while biking I can not only open this bag, but also do it with one hand. The front flap of the bag boasts an array of pockets – slip and zippered, on the top and bottom – it’s extensive. All my EDC easily fits somewhere in this array. I dislike biking with carry in my pockets so these pockets are great for holding keys, phones, wallets, pens and knives.
On the back of the bag there’s a padded laptop sleeve that can hold 15” laptops. As is the theme for this bag, this pocket can be accessed by zippers on either side. On the bottom of the bag there’s a pair of straps to quickly sling a yoga bag or tripod. And internally there are two expandable open-topped pockets that catch water bottles.
Beyond these pockets there’s just the cavernous 25L main compartment. It’s lined with points for TAD’s Helix Attachment System – think a more refined/urban-friendly version of MOLLE webbing. With this amount of space you’ll feel like a real messenger. I do appreciate how the bag has some creases on the bottom which help it lay flat across your back when not fully loaded.
The Not So Good
Despite how functional the Parallax Messenger is, there are two points about this bag that I struggled with.
The first gets back to the volume of this bag. The 25L main compartment is large enough that unless you have your carry secured or are using packing cubes of some kind, it’s constantly shifting. This is particularly noticeable when biking. The Helix attachment points are a great solution to keep your gear secure, but this requires you to purchase all these additional pieces of gear.
The second point has to do with carrying a laptop. Carrying a laptop in the dedicated laptop sleeve keeps your computer outside of the jostling occurring next door in the main compartment. However, it comes at the expense of the comfortable curve of the Parallax’s back panel. When biking it’s not the most comfortable way to carry an expensive laptop. Your best bet is to add a padded laptop sleeve to give you a bit of cushion.
“The 25L main compartment is large enough that unless you have your carry secured or are using packing cubes of some kind, it’s constantly shifting.”
At $300 and made in the USA, TAD’s Parallax Messenger is an exceptionally durable and tactically beautiful bag. It’s a great bag for carrying lots of gear with enough pocketing to easily hold even your smallest EDC. Add to this an understated style that looks sharp in any setting. There are a few gripes I had with how this bag carried, but to be fair they are mostly biking specific or when the bag is worn as a messenger. All in all, the Parallax Messenger is an exciting and versatile bag with enough tactical flair for the most hardcore TAD fans. Recommended.