- Buyer's Guide
Best Active Messenger 2019
The Best Active Messenger should deliver fast, convenient access to your gear. But it should also carry comfortably, keeping the load secure when you’re on the move. All the while, slipping through different environments with ease…
At first glance the Arc’teryx Granville 16 Courier might appear uncomplicated – and that’s the beauty in it. When you dig down, you discover a synergy of form and function, rare in this space. There’s elements of Veilance here, and the LEAF Courier 16 too, but stripped back to a daily driver at a great price. And that combination is impressive.
Aesthetically, its lines are smooth and swooping, minimal, almost chameleon-like when placed against any outfit. Designed with a silhouette and fabric combination that can pair with clean urban fashion and then bounce to the mountains on the same day.
Then, of course, there’s the signature Arc’teryx smarts built in. A molded back panel ingeniously patterned with three panels, allowing articulation so the panels wrap around the body and hug, keeping the bag not only comfortable, but in place when getting active.
The entire bag is seam-sealed, tough, highly weatherproof and lightweight, utilizing Arc’teryx’s industry-leading AC² construction. The Courier can go anywhere and keep your gear safe and dry. It can be your commuter, adventure day-tripper, or day bag for travel, as it packs down wafer-thin and has a zippered top flap for increased security.
When in use, dual custom one-handed release buckles ease access to the main compartment, and ergonomic custom zipper pulls are shaped just right, with nubbed ends, making opening and closing the WaterTight zippers a joy. The thin, curved shoulder strap can carry left or right and utilizes a three-point system for a secure, comfortable carry, whilst maintaining a low profile across the shoulder.
The pocketing delivers exactly what you need and no more, with an exterior stash pocket for a wallet, keys and writing tools, as well as a laptop compartment, two small mesh pockets positioned high for small valuables, and the main compartment to swallow a day’s worth of gear.
Ultimately, the Arc’teryx Granville 16 Courier excels in its class because every aspect has been meticulously considered. Every design element honed and brought together for active adaptability. It’s a bag that really can go wherever the day leads, tough enough to keep up and understated enough to embrace a multitude of environments. Congratulations, Arc’teryx!
These are the pieces that just missed out, and in most cases, by the smallest of margins. To them, we award a High Commendation. The below were of outstanding quality, displaying fine craftsmanship and design flair. With honor, we bow our heads in the utmost respect and kudos. If this were a dais, they’d be biting their teeth into silver medals, while their flags were hoisted into the horizon – a feat not to be overlooked. And we’re sure they’ll be back, to take it one notch higher, next year.
TAD are no strangers to the active carry scene, creating versatile and rugged pieces designed with adaptability in mind. But they also stand out for their dedication to building on and improving those designs. And that’s what they’ve done with the Parallax Messenger 15L. The updated design takes user feedback on board with a smaller size, dishing up a more EDC-friendly 15L compared to the original 25L design. The pocket layout has been improved too, while the magnetic Fidlock buckles make opening and securing the flap a breeze. And in trusty TAD style, there’s no slouching on the construction front. The durable, weatherproof USA-made build combines a VX-21 ripstop shell with a VX-42 base. Tough enough for demanding use, yet sleek enough to glide into more laid-back environments. Rounding things off, the messenger’s portability lets you easily switch things up to adapt on the fly. Cross-body, over the shoulder, or briefcase style to suit your changing needs. Awesome work, Triple Aught Design!
Jakarta-based ORBITGear have been steadily honing their craft over the years, fusing the aesthetics of the streetwear scene with practical utility and quality construction. And the R231 VB-WXBK “ADV Black Bustard VB” is a culmination of their dedication to continuously striving forward. The bag has an underlying sense of tactical efficiency about it, but thoughtfully toned down. Cycling functionality gets a nod with its stabilizing harness, while Fidlock magnetic V-buckles deliver that oh-so-satisfying quick access and closure. And of course it wouldn’t be a worthy active messenger without its durable, weatherproof build. ORBITGear is on point here, dishing up premium X-Pac materials, water-resistant zippers and meticulous in-house construction, with handy organization options to stash your essentials. Excellent job, ORBITGear!