- Buyer's Guide
Best Active Messenger Finalists – Second Annual Carry Awards
The days of the messenger being used just by the bike community are over. This single shoulder star has broadened it horizons, with new takes popping up in every corner. Right now, British messenger brands are killing it. Rather than being trapped in synthetic fabrics and plastic components, they’re luxing it up with bags that can move between any world. The downside? They’re not cheap.
But don’t fear, there’s also a move from tactical to messenger providing some charismatic and cheaper options.
As you’ll see, our nominees this year show some of the evolution that comes from this wider adoption and it’s shaping up to be real show stopper.
Be sure to nominate your favorite active messenger and get it the recognition you think it deserves.
You have two votes to use as you will…
Allocate your 1st choice with 2 points
And your 2nd choice just with the 1 point.
Note: any votes made over the allotted limit will be wiped from the voting tally.
Here we have a fine example of the ‘more is more’ philosophy jammed into a messenger. This bad boy’s got fistfuls of features in it: from the epic Fidlock buckles to reflective elements and wicked expansion and compression, and hey, throw in a slew of rad pocketing and you’re nearly there. Let’s face it, they’re busier than most. But if you want more, then this is your player.
The updated version of the Saracen, this small messenger is classic Bedouin, which means classic British lux messenger design. There is zero compromise on materials and hardware, with a masculinity that lets you get away with the smaller format. This is the messenger that can move between polo or bike polo without unbuttoning it’s top button.
The messenger format has had trouble transitioning beyond bike brands. When outdoor, surf, or most other lifestyle brands try, they end up too structured, or with fabrics that are all wrong, or just not bringing new thoughts to the table. Thankfully, tactical brands are starting to find a new rhyme, lead by crew like 5.11. Their Lima is modular, has amazing access on the go and sports some real clever tricks.
Glasgow is the perfect city to develop messenger bags in – it rains lots, the road surfaces are hell to ride over, and there’s a no bullshit vibe that keeps brands grounded. The part we love about Trakke is that they then draw on their Scottish heritage, incorporating classic Scottish fabrics and aesthetic influences. Their Wee Lug displays all this in a mid-size format, and is available in Harris Tweeds, or by order in Dundee Waxed Cottons. These bags are beautiful yet burly.
So it turns out that it’s the Brit’s doing the most to reinvent the classic bike messenger; treating it with heritage fabrics, colors and hardware rather than the usual synthetic trappings or the heritage trinkets that most other messenger brands fail to escape. Ally Capellino has been at this for awhile, and it shows. Their new bike focused Tommo is timeless yet modern, beautiful yet totally functional.
Small, kinda cute, not overly complicated and totally affordable, the Shibata is a great way to carry a small camera setup around on your adventures. And with the surge in Micro 4/3rds formats, these small messengers are more relevant than ever.
This is a really easy bag to pass over, but you’ll be doing yourself an injustice if you do. Small, light, and aimed squarely at a female audience, it finds subtle new details that bring a freshness. The hidden padding on the shoulder strap. The sprung stabiliser strap that retracts back. The slightly tweaked proportions and very soft color pallete. We dig.
The Black Rainbow Project has been so underground it’s at risk of suffocating. Scott, the owner, has been chipping away on the evolution of his pro-sized messengers for years. The good thing is that if you get in touch, pay upfront, and get a big dose of luck, you can actually land one of these beasts. It’s still shrouded in mystery, so this is not one for the faint hearted.
– VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED –
What’s not here?
There are some great messengers that will show up in our Work Messenger nominations. Then there is the Mission Workshop Rummy platform, which is still one of the best messenger bags out there, but it’s already won, so it’s excluded. There are also loads of really core, really well made local messenger brands out there, but we don’t feel like they’re evolving fast enough, so we haven’t been able to separate any from the crowd this year.