Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Never Ending Hunt for a Messenger Bag

After purchasing the Surly Pacer, I quickly discovered that I either needed to add racks to this bike (which I didn't want to do because it's supposed to be my "light" bike), or I would need to obtain a messenger bag of some sort to be able to carry goods when needed. I never dreamed that this hunt would turn into a dizzying mess of endless searches both in stores and online. The choices seem limitless and I'm absolutely torn in regard to a direction to go. Do I want an industrial looking bag? Do I want a dressier bag? Do I want a girly bag? Courduroy? Canvas? Leather? Patterned? Plain? Upcycled? Recycled? Handmade? I'm feeling nauseous just typing all the questions that have entered my mind during this search. Because I cannot seem to come to any sort of clear conclusion for myself these days, I thought I'd share some of the finds (in case anyone else is in need).
Image from peace4u on Etsy
I'm kind of in love with the bag above, which is unfortunate because it doesn't fall even remotely into an affordable price range for me right now. Maybe it's my German heritage, or the rugged urban looks, but I can't help but find this one attractive in a tougher sort of manner.
Bambas handmade bag available on e-Bay from tailored-transitions
This Bambas bag is quite interesting, but it also falls into the not-affordable-to-me category. There's something kind of interesting about it, and unique (I suppose that is the one-of-a-kind piece of it). It would actually be a local pick up for me... now, if the price was cut in 1/4 I could almost take it.
Available from masharmynavy on e-Bay
I found this military-inspired bag to be interesting as well. It's certainly more casual than the above leather bag, but when I factor in that I am also rarely dressed to the nines when riding the Pacer, a more casual bag seems to make sense. This one is also much more affordable, and comes in at a price point I consider reasonable.
Rickshaw bags in Butterfly Jubilee Licorice caught my eye!
I had the opportunity to see Rickshaw messenger bags at The Mindful Bike a couple of months ago, and I couldn't make a decision at the time. While doing more research, I came across some different patterned designs in this organic cotton bag, and thought it could make an interesting choice for the more casual ride of the Pacer.

I think the most difficult decisions for me are size and the durability of the bag. Some seem to be more structurally sound (which is important, especially depending on the weightiness of whatever I might be carrying), while others seem as though they would fall apart with very little use. I have owned Timbuk2 bags in the past and wasn't particularly fond of their shape or material, but I appreciate their durability. I believe that they now come in different fabrics, but I'm still not sure I'm in love with the bags' shape. Any thoughts from anyone who might own a useful, at least somewhat attractive bag, and/or if you don't have racks on your bike, what do you use to transport items that are larger than what a relatively small saddlebag can accommodate?


  1. I really like Manhattan Portage bags. I use their large DJ bag for my law school books. It's simple, has clean lines, and very durable.

  2. Interesting, Liz. I'll have to check them out. Sounds like you carry some heavy items, so they certainly must be durable.

  3. I love Queenbee bags. They're a very small local company here in Portland. They're waterproof and very durable. The straps are made from seatbelt material. They used to do panniers as well, but I haven't seen them in a while. I have both the trucker (as my work bag - holds my laptop and lots of files) and the truckette (holds most of my daily stuff plus extra clothes or shoes or whatever.) My only complaint, actually, is that they don't wear out - when they come out with new designs I wish I had an excuse to buy a new one. I think they're a very good value for the money.

    Here's the link:

  4. Ohh, I LOVE that brown leather one. :o) My current messenger bag of choice is made by Haiku. It's also made with seat belt material and is super durable. Here's a link, Locally I've purchased them at Jax (well, they have the best price or REI). I like that they have a feminine touch without going over the top and are durable.

  5. Joey - Isn't that brown one great? When I have a lot of disposable income to solely dedicate to bags, I suppose. :O)

    CJ- I have heard of the Queenbee bags, actually. I should take a look at those, too.

    Thanks for all the great suggestions - feel free to keep 'em coming. There's nothing an indecisive person needs more than more choices, right? {giggling} I do love to have a broad selection though, certainly.

  6. I have a Sherpani ( messenger bag that has worked great for years -- I don't think they make the model anymore, but the new bags they have are even more attractive and look just as functional -- one warning, I had to do some "surgery" to get the strap to tighten enough for my liking -- I don't know if its something they've fixed since then -- but I like to wear the bag high on my back and have a very short torso.

  7. When I need to carry a few things and don't want to lug my panniers, I use a small backpack by Steve's Packs Jerusalem (just under a foot tall). I avoid messenger bags because they're so bad for your shoulders.

  8. Anon. 11/27 - Sherpani is an excellent suggestion, and I actually have a saddlebag from Sherpani that I use on occasion. I will have to look into their other bags as well.

    Anon. 11/28 - I agree, a backpack might be better suited because it keeps the body balanced. For some reason, I have extreme heat problems with backpacks though, so I try to avoid them. They might be worth a look though, as it could be more functional. Thanks for the suggestion!


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