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Buyers Guide

Our favourite versatile messenger bags

by , January 18, 2010

Our favourite versatile messenger bags

For a full size version of the poster click [HERE]

A good messenger bag will let you live at the intersection of worlds

A good messenger bag lets you hop between places, accessing on the go. While not great for extended periods of carrying, they make up for that in convenience. While the original messengers were not much more than simple sacks, the recent trend of adding a few more pockets helps you deal with your abundance of modern gadgets.

“People who live in the intersection of social worlds are at higher risk of having good ideas.”– Ronald S. Burt

We’ve pulled together a number of messengers that we think offer good performance in a variety of environments. These messenger bags should all:

  • Work well both in the office (or university), as well as getting to and from it. If you work amongst pin-stripe suits, you may want to check out some more formal bags (Jack Spade & Mandarina Duck have nice options).
  • Carry all your indispensable bits of technology, including a laptop (some of these need a sleeve, but we’ll let you know which ones).
  • Let you jump on a plane, train or big boat, and explore the world. This requires an ability to expand for clothing, food, and really big headphones.

More discussion on the bags after the jump…

We’ve arranged the bags according to where you are most demanding; work/study or activities. We’ll start with the more work oriented bags:

Hard Graft 2Unfold

Positives: A huge number of configurations, beautiful leather and details with old world craft, still pretty rare and unique.

Negatives: That deluxe Nappa leather doesn’t leave all that much space for your actual contents (better suited to minimal packers), and they’re not great straps if you want to raise a sweat.

Our favourite versatile messenger bags


Incase Nylon messenger

Positives: Covers all the basics at an affordable price (in most countries), various size options (we like the mid), a great silhouette, and minimal dangly bits.

Negatives: Having pockets only on the front of a satchel is inefficient (a power-pack can ‘fill’ the satchel), no compression options, and the componentry is only ‘good enough’. If you up-spec to their more premium bags, they start to get pretty fussy and lose the essence of a messenger.

Our favourite versatile messenger bags

Crumpler Cashmere Blazer

Positives: Really dialed and refined construction, durable, looks after all the basics, good padding.

Negatives: There’s no great innovations, the Crumpler brand is a little NQR these days (especially European Crumpler which is managed by different crew), and you might end up feeling like a cliché uni student.

Our favourite versatile messenger bags

Nike ACG messenger

Positives: There’s some really clever (yet subtle) innovations – the bag can extend to fit oversize items, there’s good yet discreet compression, there’s big pockets with internal splits, and there’s loads of versions available (including an XL).

Negatives: You need a laptop sleeve, the rubbery PU fabric used under the flap does not age well, and the hooks can be a little fiddly.

Our favourite versatile messenger bags

Chrome Citizen

Positives: A super comfy soft form, a cavernous main section, multiple size options, and some tasty shape details.

Negatives: It’s pretty basic on the pocket front, it needs a laptop sleeve (their Buran Messenger has a laptop pocket, but it’s not as sexy), and the seatbelt buckle used on their straps is love or hate.

Our favourite versatile messenger bags


Any feedback? We’d love to hear if you’ve used better, if you’ve found the same, or if you think we’re tripping. Just fire us a comment and join the conversation.

PS: Crew in England, Australia, and many of the colonies might call these satchels. But that sounds a bit naff, so we reckon we should join the rest of the world in calling them messengers.


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