The messenger has always been the answer to the shoulder bag when getting active. It’s a format that began on the backs of couriers, worn snug to the back and perfect for carving the streets, then moved to the general populace and never left. But the category is changing with the times, with more offerings loading in rich feature sets, ultralight fabrics, and variable carrying options. Our Best Active Messenger bag finalists this year represent the full spectrum of what the modern ‘messenger’ can be. But which one pulls ahead of the pack as a worthy victor? Choose below.
Peak Design lit a fire in the messenger scene with their Everyday Messenger, an adaptable day-to-day and photography hybrid with serious smarts. But showing there’s always room for improvement, they’re back with V2. Refined through extensive customer feedback, the revamped Everyday Messenger dishes up a variety of updates including a cleaner silhouette and a build that sheds almost a quarter of the original weight. The bag also features a redesigned shoulder strap for improved comfort and adjustability, revised organization with new interior and exterior pockets and external carry straps, and durable new UltraZip external zippers. While they’ve removed the exterior access zips and front access panel, Peak Design’s MagLatch hardware provides secure and straightforward access to the bag and the ability to expand it for larger loads. The weatherproof, 100% recycled 400D nylon canvas shell also provides dependable protection from the elements, whether you’re on the go with camera gear or commuting to work.
Sometimes the best way to tackle changing carry needs is by embracing a modular carry approach. And Jakarta-based ORBITGear offer a modular system that will rise to the challenge of ever-changing needs like a pro. The M100 Config System 2 features their M100 messenger as a base, partnered with their quick-release AXIS Sling and a range of modular components that enable increased capacity and customized organization as required. The system comes with a set of pouches and a water bottle holder, allowing you to adapt the bag to a variety of loads. Crafted in their in-house studio, this is a tough and flexible system that caters to a host of active carry needs.
Remote Equipment designed the BRAVO 18 with a clear goal in mind: create a multifunctional gear hauler that adapts easily on the fly to different needs and loads, while delivering bomber durability and weather protection. The BRAVO 18 was part of their Prototype Program, set up to foster design experimentation and agile development, and it runs with the brief: offering up five different carry options including tote/briefcase-style carry, cross-body, messenger, shoulder and backpack modes. The bag is made in California with composite X-Pac fabric and exterior YKK AquaGuard zippers, creating a tough hauler that keeps the elements at bay whether you’re heading to the gym, on an overnight trip, or venturing on outdoor trails. The BRAVO 18 has an expandable cinch top that can be tucked inside to work out of the bag, plus a front zipper for convenient access to gear lower in the bag.
Mission Workshop inspired an entire industry with their technical approach to urban cycling gear. Over a decade after their founding, they’re stronger than ever, producing honed pieces like the Khyte. Designed to handle active commutes, downpours, and changing loads, the weatherproof laptop messenger is handmade in the USA in a choice of HT500 high-tenacity nylon or MultiCam® Black Camo Cordura. Magnetic Fidlock V-Buckles provide easy, quick access to the main compartment, while the externally accessible padded 15″ laptop pocket keeps your tech at the ready. In addition to a choice of interior and exterior pockets, the bag also has three Arkiv® rails on the front that can accommodate optional Mission Workshop Arkiv® accessories for a customized organization setup. The bag’s adjustable shoulder strap has a removable ventilated shoulder pad, with the option to upgrade to Mission Workshop’s quick-adjust messenger shoulder strap if desired.
Exploring the great outdoors doesn’t always require a big bag with a lot of gear. But you do want to know the gear you have with you is secure yet easily accessible when needed. UNJOE is a small Japanese brand inspired by the outdoors and a desire to create lightweight gear for exploring it. Gear like the Snap Sacoche, a lightweight and compact bag for carrying outdoor essentials. The bag features a range of pockets to organize different items for easy access while keeping them secure on the move. So you can quickly retrieve and stow items without worrying about accidentally losing others as you do so. The Snap Sacoche is handmade with a variety of durable materials, creating an eye-catching contrast that adds playfulness and personality to your setup.
Malaysian carry brand Greenroom136 have spent close to a decade fine-tuning tough, functional bags for active urban use. The Metromonger is an accomplished offering designed for weekend adventures and street photography, and its adaptable design easily lends itself to active weekday use too. The bag is crafted with a tough, weatherproof 1000D Cordura nylon shell and a comfy, ambidextrous harness with an included stabilizer strap. Three compartments, a variety of pockets, and external webbing provide options for organizing your gear, including a padded rear compartment for up to 11″ tech devices. The middle compartment fits their optional +KitPouch to hold camera gear but can also accommodate your own camera storage gear. Additionally, bottom compression straps make it easy to secure a tripod or alternatively to cinch the bag for smaller loads.
Timbuk2 have been helping people carry better on bikes since 1989. Three decades later and they’re still dedicated to the mission of helping people move agilely and freely through urban settings, with burly bags that handle demanding daily use. The Especial Stash is a rugged weatherproof messenger designed to protect your commuting essentials from the elements, while keeping gear secure and well organized whether you’re on two wheels or two feet. The bag features a weather-resistant exterior with a waterproof interior 15″ laptop compartment. Magnetic buckles make it easy and quick to access or secure the messenger, while the ambidextrous shoulder strap features a quick-release buckle, daisy chain for securing items externally, and even an integrated bottle opener. Reflective detailing rounds out the functional design that’s ready for the daily grind but also works well for weekend downtime pursuits.
Chrome Industries delivers a technical twist on their iconic messenger with the BLKCHRM 22X Citizen. The bag is crafted with Chrome’s 22X Nylon shell with Cordura TPX Durable Laminate Technology and a weatherproof tarp lining. Tough yet lightweight, it’s a durable shield against the elements. Inside the messenger you’ll find a selection of organization pockets for smaller items, while reflective compression straps boost low-light visibility and can secure extra gear. The messenger features a comfortable shoulder strap with a stabilizer strap for secure carry and a quick-release buckle with a bottle opener for popping a cold brew after a hard day’s hauling.
The Vormann MFSHB4.4 Shoulder Hip Bag will attract covetous glances for its urban-technical styling, no doubt. But it’ll cement itself as a staple in your collection thanks to its versatility and quality build. Handcrafted in Germany with premium components including a lightweight and tough Dyneema Composite fabric, YKK AquaGuard zippers, and magnetic Fidlock fasteners, it’s a covetable grab-and-go bag for smaller loads. The weatherproof, flexible design has an expandable rolltop main compartment and quick-access front pocket, with detachable cinch cord on the base to secure additional items externally. A savvy and adaptable pick for staying nimble with small loads, it’s a flexible piece for carrying everyday and travel essentials.