- Buyer's Guide
Trakke Bairn Mk2 Mini Messenger Review: Drive By
In Scotland “bairn” means “child”. But the Trakke Bairn Mk2 aims to deliver an adult approach to compact carry. The bag is a mini messenger designed to accommodate everyday or travel essentials by merging functionality and understated looks. Can it hold its own against the challenges of EDC and travel carry? I was keen to find out and Trakke graciously offered one up to put to the test…
Who It Suits
With a volume of 6L, the Bairn Mk2 suits someone looking for a smaller carry option that cuts down unnecessary bulk or weight. The messenger will also appeal to users who want a tough and versatile bag that adapts to work, play and travel environments.
Who It Doesn’t
Obviously if you need to carry a lot of stuff or particularly bulky items, there are better options out there. And if you’ll be on the go for a long time with a decent amount of carry weight, you may want to consider a backpack instead for more comfortable weight distribution. Want dedicated protective storage for your tech or a bag that fits a 15″ laptop? You’ll need to look elsewhere. And if budget-friendly is a priority, you may want to scout out cheaper alternatives instead.
Trakke are a brand dedicated to building quality gear that plays well in urban settings but can roam further afield if the opportunity presents itself. And the Bairn Mk2 lives up to that reputation. The build quality truly is excellent, combining meticulous handmade Glaswegian craftsmanship with top-notch British-made hardware and materials including a waxed canvas exterior and dry-finish waxed canvas lining. The bright lining makes it easy to quickly distinguish different items within the bag and I really like the pop of color it provides, a pleasing contrast to the black exterior (note, the bag comes in a variety of external colorways).
Speaking of waxed canvas, this material tag team does a great job of protecting the bag’s contents from the elements. Add in the weather-resistant YKK zippers on the pockets and you can breathe a sigh of relief that at least your gear will stay dry in downpours even if you don’t. Fun fact? That waxed canvas serves as an impromptu water bowl for photo-bombing pets. Certainly not a manufacture’s intended use, but hey, could come in handy in a pinch.
Coming back to the versatility, the messenger succeeds in fusing work-ready looks with durable adaptability. The stainless steel hardware complements the waxed canvas and clean exterior, and the design offers a suitable degree of sleekness to glide from smart-casual work environments to a weekend of urban exploring or a day out on the trail with some essentials in tow. The bag offers a slim profile for smaller loads but provides a good amount of usable space when you need to carry a bit extra. On my travels I was able to alternate between smaller setups including a phone, wallet and map, to bigger loads encompassing these items in addition to an outer layer, DSLR camera and 500ml water bottle. Plus there’s no problem fitting the bag under airplane seats. It served as my personal item for budget airline Ryanair with no quibbles.
“This material tag team does a great job of protecting the bag’s contents from the elements. Add in the weather-resistant YKK zippers on the pockets and you can breathe a sigh of relief that at least your gear will stay dry in downpours even if you don’t.
The uncluttered design enhances the bag’s usability. The main compartment allows you to store a variety of items inside it, with one zippered back pocket that fits an e-reader measuring 7.5″ x 4.5″, with room to spare. The main compartment also fits up to a 13″ laptop.
For organizing other small items the bag also includes two front pockets under the flap, with a pleated middle seam that allows the pockets to expand so you can store diverse items inside. All the pockets feature water-resistant zips for added peace of mind, as well as orange zipper pulls for easy access. A D-ring situated high on the front interior of the bag rounds out the organization.
Enhancing the adaptability is the bag’s portability options. You can wear it up high across your back, lower to rest on your hip, over the shoulder, or across the front if you want to keep an eye on your gear in crowded spaces. It’s also straightforward and smooth to rotate the bag from your back to your front without having to remove it in order to access gear.
“The messenger succeeds in fusing work-ready looks with durable adaptability.”
It’s not what I would call a particularly quick-adjust strap, but the length is easy enough to adjust with a pulling motion using the stainless steel slider. You can also pair the bag with an optional stabilizer strap for active use such as cycling. A row of webbing on the base of the bag lets you secure the optional strap in a variety of positions, or alternatively you could use the webbing for securing external items.
The Not So Good
There’s not a lot to really dislike about this bag, but there were a few niggles. Two stand out primarily. First up, the buckles. If you’ve checked out my review of the Bannoch Backpack, you’ll see I experienced the same buckle issues across both bags. The buckles are strong and stylish, but tricky to shut when the bag is full or at an awkward angle. Opening them is fairly straightforward with a lifting action, but you need to align and connect the respective parts to close the buckles and this can be time-consuming and finicky. Maybe it’s just me and other users haven’t had this problem. But either way you’re not going to get the speed of magnetic buckles or the glove-friendly grasp of side-release buckles.
“The buckles are strong and stylish, but tricky to shut when the bag is full or at an awkward angle.”
I also felt the lack of an exterior quick-access pocket. If Trakke ever do an update of the Bairn Mk2 it would be great to see a zippered pocket on the back panel or perhaps within the lid. Nothing huge, but just big enough to easily store a phone or wallet on the go. Theoretically you can half-open the bag to reach items inside the front pockets, but this requires navigating the potential buckle problems above.
Lastly, some minor things worth noting. There’s no padded tech protection here so you’ll need to provide your own sleeve if you feel the need for it. Not a problem for me personally, but useful to be aware of. Also be aware if you own pets that the waxed canvas picks up pet hair so you may find yourself doing the occasional hand brush in an attempt to counter this.
And then a more universal problem with messengers, the weight distribution. There aren’t any comfort issues as long as the load is lightweight, but you’ll start to notice when the bag is heavy and you’re carrying it for long periods of time. Think hoofing up and down countless streets for several hours in the quest to squeeze as much as possible into limited sightseeing time and screw the fatigue. There’s no padding on the strap, and frankly you don’t need it if you’re just roaming with the essentials. After all, this isn’t a bag that was specifically designed to haul a lot of weight. But in the event that you do need to pack a lot, you may want to consider adding your own strap padding or opt for a backpack instead.
“I felt the lack of an exterior quick-access pocket.”
Finally, there’s no top grab handle so you need to lift the bag by its strap if you’ve set it down somewhere. Not a major issue but that top handle would be nice to have.
Others to Consider
If you like the look and functionality of the Bairn Mk2 but want more space, Trakke’s 17L Wee Lug Mk2 is a natural choice. For premium materials and excellent handmade British craftsmanship, check out Bedouin Foundry with pieces such as the Barbarossa. The 8L Mission Workshop Spar is a tough and urban-friendly alternative in the smaller carry space, while Peak Design’s Everyday Sling (available in 5L and 10L options) may suit your needs too.
The Trakke Bairn Mk2 is a solid player in the small carry category. The build quality and material choices are great. You get a real sense of dependable durability with this bag, the kind of piece that will dutifully haul your gear for years to come through all weathers. The versatile portability and adaptable design also make it an appealing choice if you’re after an all-rounder for the cycle commute, day-to-day excursions around town or exploring on your travels with a compact companion to keep your essentials close. In terms of pricing, the bag comes in at £135 (around US$170). So it’s by no means a cheap bag. But is it worth it? For the durability, versatility and quality, I’d say yes. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a trooper and the kind of bag you can expect to share years of adventures with.
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