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  1. #1
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Which Messenger Bag to Buy?

    I could use some advice on which Messenger Bag to get ...

    I already have one Messenger Bag, about 12 inches long (too short!), 8 inches high, and about 4 inches thick.

    I need a Messenger Bag much larger ... I've been looking at over 100 different Messenger Bags, and found these two that look interesting:

    http://www.amazon.com/JanSport-Elefu...nger+bag+large

    http://www.amazon.com/Otium-Genuine-...nger+bag+large

    I ride my Surly Long Haul Trucker everywhere ... Work, Shopping/Errands, Church .... I need to carry several books at times, food for the day (I have Hypoglycemia really bad!!!), medicines, ID, Keys, several water bottles, scarf, stocking cap, gloves, and maybe a compact poncho. Also might carry my tablet, either 8-inch or 10-inch, if space and safe pocket.

    I'm looking for something that has two water bottle pockets, one on each end. I would prefer a Flap that fits over the bag, so if the zipper breaks, I can at least still cover the bag with the flap. At least one out pocket would be nice for easy access.

    Since I will be carrying food and books, would be nice to have separate pockets, so if the food spills, the books will not get damaged.

    Is anyone familiar with either of the Messenger Bags I am looking at, or could suggest something else? I'm looking at spending around $100 or less ....

    Thanks for reading. I really need to get something soon .....

    -- Jim (Central California)

  2. #2
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    Have you considered using a pannier instead? It sounds like you are carrying a heavy load and as a recent convert, I must say it does make riding much more enjoyable. It's something I should have done years ago. Some panniers attach and detach fairly easily.

    Something like this maybe: http://www.artscyclery.com/Jandd_Pan...FY49Qgod7UcAvA
    Last edited by jsdavis; 12-10-13 at 12:34 AM.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Those are shoulder bags. Sub $100 Messenger bags, I'd be looking at Banjo Brothers or try to find some old T2 or Chrome on CL.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Those are shoulder bags. Sub $100 Messenger bags, I'd be looking at Banjo Brothers or try to find some old T2 or Chrome on CL.
    Good point - those will swing around to the front since they don't have that chest strap.

    Here's a Jandd one for about $50: http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FANDRW-CO

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Timbuk2 bags have been fine by me , now with oodles of custom options..

    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/customize...ze/2/customize

  6. #6
    Senior Member WickedOne513's Avatar
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    Check out blocks bags she can make you a custom bag, I had some out of the ordinary request for my last one and could not be happier with what was made for me.

  7. #7
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    I recently bought a Timbuk2 Commute in large. The bag is waterproof and it has a very large capacity. In my opinion, if you need more capacity than this bag provides then you should probably just carry a backpack or use panniers. It's a great bag and it sounds like you could use the space. It only has one water bottle holder on the outside (though there are two inside). It also has slots for 2 tablets and a laptop. I'm happy to answer any questions.

    Oh, its a little outside your price range but i'm sure you could find it on discount at one of the outdoor retailers.

  8. #8
    Senior Member puckett129's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Those are shoulder bags. Sub $100 Messenger bags, I'd be looking at Banjo Brothers or try to find some old T2 or Chrome on CL.
    Yes. It always bothers me when people use messenger bags as shoulder bags or call bags messenger bags because they are worn over one shoulder. Wearing a bag loose defeats the purpose of the design. I second Timbuk2... I've had a few, but the one I got in 1998 is still going strong.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JReade's Avatar
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    Timbuk2 classic in medium. It's not waterproof, but it's fairly water resistant. I used to commute with it, Laptop, charger, change of clothes, lunch, some misc stuff. I still ride with it now and again, so I can ride in road shoes and put sandals in the bag, so I can change when I get somewhere. It's great. I use it pretty often when I'm traveling too, I love having it swing around and be accessible.
    Jesse

  10. #10
    Ghost Ryding 24/7 Ghost Ryder's Avatar
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    Sounds like a backpack, or a pannier would be better for you.
    I use lock n lock containers for my lunch so no leakage, but you could get dry pack for your electronics, & books if you really wanted.
    Giant Defy Dura Ace : Rip/Hammer-Specialized Allez Ultegra/105 : Recovery/Spinner-Specialized Allez Red : Trainer-Kona Major(Rad) Jake : Down & Dirty

  11. #11
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I bought my Timbukt2 messenger bag in 1998 and it is still going strong. Being an old one, it had no bells or whistles, just a single big compartment, but the new ones have dividers, pockets, etc. My bag has been effectively waterproof, the material is completely impervious and the flap coverage is good, so water doesn't get in, even in the Portland rain. You might want to wrap your food/liquid containers in gallon ziplock bags to protect your books against spills. Find a zippered pouch that fits on the strap, that gives you the easiest access to phone, wallet, keys, etc. I'd get a custom one with a big reflective center panel, and the custom bags are made in the USA. Sounds like you carry enough stuff that a large size would work well.

    I recently switched to an Ortlieb backpack because I started commuting on a drop bar road bike and as my torso position got lower (when I'm in the drops, my back is at about 15 degrees), the messenger bag tended to fall off to one side or the other of my back when heavily loaded, despite the stabilizer strap. This was never a problem on the previous bikes where my riding position was just slightly more upright.

    I've used Ortlieb panniers before, and they are clearly the best way to carry things for a long ride, but if you are on and off the bike often (commuting, errands), I prefer to be able to simply get off the bike and walk away, instead of unhooking panniers then having to carry them around with my hands full. There is a reason why messengers don't use panniers.

    P.S. I just noticed the custom bags are currently 20% off so a large or medium would be pretty close to your budget. I have no connection w/ Timbukt2, except for buying this bag many years ago.
    Last edited by jyl; 12-10-13 at 09:45 AM.
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  12. #12
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    Have you considered using a pannier instead? It sounds like you are carrying a heavy load and as a recent convert, I must say it does make riding much more enjoyable. It's something I should have done years ago. Some panniers attach and detach fairly easily.

    Something like this maybe: http://www.artscyclery.com/Jandd_Pan...FY49Qgod7UcAvA
    I already have four large (Ortlieb) panniers, plus a large top-tube bag. I also added four Outer-Pockets to the four Ortlieb Panniers.

    I need the Should-Messenger Bag to carry inside work, or into store, church, shopping/errands.

    Also, I do walk sometimes, or take the bus, so I need the Shoulder/Messenger bag just to carry essentials wherever I go.

  13. #13
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Timbuk2 bags have been fine by me , now with oodles of custom options..

    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/customize...ze/2/customize
    Oh yes!!! Thanks so much for your suggestion!!! This Custom Commute Laptop Messenger Bag looks like the bag that I really need .... I wasn't planning on spending that much, but you only get what you pay for. This bag looks like it might last many years .....

    I've chosen the two-shades of blue color style:

    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/customize...ze/4/customize

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    if you get a chance try to check out the difference between the medium and large. The large bag is much bigger than I expected. It's nice to have the room if needed but I find that I rarely need that much space in a messenger bag.

  15. #15
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vja4Him View Post
    Oh yes!!! Thanks so much for your suggestion!!! This Custom Commute Laptop Messenger Bag looks like the bag that I really need .... I wasn't planning on spending that much, but you only get what you pay for. This bag looks like it might last many years .....
    That's also not a messenger bag,it's a shoulder bag. I have one that I use for off the bike. First,the strap doesn't cinch down all the way,and there's no secondary strap,so it moves around(unless you're on a very upright bike like the bikeshare ones). Second,if you get caught in the rain your stuff will get wet. Only the outer flap has a waterproof liner;the rear laptop compartment has no liner,the zipper isn't waterproof,and the fuzzy padding is great at wicking water inside.

    It's really disappointing that a company like T2,who make real mess bags,would call this a messenger.

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  16. #16
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    I have a CHROME brand, Citizen model messenger bag. They cost more than your budgeted price.

    CHROME is one of the best, most experienced makers of messenger bags.

    The way I got this was I was on a long organized ride that stopped in front of a store that is a retailer of CHROME. I had some stuff on my back in a backpack that was killing me. I then bought this messenger bag and put everythign in the messenger bag including the backpack and it was much more comfortable on my back because it distributed the weight and the straps were more comfortable etc.

    I was indecisive for a long time about messenger bags, panniers etc. and only got this one then out of duress. But I have had it close to 2 years and use it daily. Sometimes I use it when not biking, as a carryall ie when travelling or walking.

    My main concern was that things will fall out of it but that doesnt happen because it has velcro plus closing clasps.

    There are many brands and models but if you want to shortcut your search and get a good one then just pick out one of the Chrome models. The Citizen model is maybe bigger than I usually need but the added size isnt too significant if it is lightly loaded. Its very versatile, theres a lot of stuff I can throw in because I have the space.

    About half the time I dont use it on my bike on my back-- I have 2 commuting bikes with beverage crates (half height milk crates) zip tied onto rear racks and put the Citizen bag in the crate. But other bike rides i do on diff bikes where i want lighter weight etc I use the bag on my back. I find if i put a laptop in the bag (which I dont do much since i got a smart phone) then i dont want the bag on my back, too heavy.

    I was indecisive for a long time as to whether to racks + panniers or messenger bag etc but under duress my first step was to get this Chrome bag and i dont regret it. THen from there i went to rack + crate to put the bag into when i commute. but i still use the bag on other bikes etc with no rack.

    I would like to try the panniers that convert to backpacks or shoulder bags ie Arkel Bug (which is expensive) and the Ortlieb models (ie Office) but im doing ok as is. If i had the Arkel bug maybe i could do without the crate on the rack. If I had to do over again i might do that, but having the crate is useful becuase if i want to carry a lot of stuff on the bike i can put the bag on my back and put more stuff in the crate.

    I plan to get panniers for other uses and maybe an Arkel Bug to try on bikes with a rack but no crate. But you have to bite the bullet and start with one approach so that's what i did.

  17. #17
    Senior Member puckett129's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    That's also not a messenger bag,it's a shoulder bag. I have one that I use for off the bike. First,the strap doesn't cinch down all the way,and there's no secondary strap,so it moves around(unless you're on a very upright bike like the bikeshare ones). Second,if you get caught in the rain your stuff will get wet. Only the outer flap has a waterproof liner;the rear laptop compartment has no liner,the zipper isn't waterproof,and the fuzzy padding is great at wicking water inside.

    It's really disappointing that a company like T2,who make real mess bags,would call this a messenger.
    +1. Illustrates what I said before. If you're actually going to wear this on the bike go with their Classic Messenger Bag or Custom Laptop Bag. They have laptop inserts if you feel the need to carry a laptop and have a special pouch.

  18. #18
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    I would get the basic original T2 messenger, with a divider maybe. Bulletproof, waterproof, not much over $100, and it will last you decades and decades.
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  19. #19
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    I ordered the Custom Commute Laptop Messenger Bag from Timbuk2. Only experience will determine if this was a good investment .... I usually only carry around 7-10 pounds of stuff, so weight should not be an issue. I'm concerned with quality and if things inside will stay dry .... Looks like a good possibility, and since we don't have a lot of rain here (only around 12 inches/year average), and I do not go out in the rain much at all, that shouldn't be a huge problem.

  20. #20
    Biking 4 Life vja4Him's Avatar
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    My Timbuk2 Custom Commute Laptop Messenger Bag ....

    This is the color-scheme I chose:

    Timbuk2-MessengerBag01.jpg

    Timbuk2-MessengerBag05.png

  21. #21
    Senior Member puckett129's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vja4Him View Post
    This is the color-scheme I chose:

    Timbuk2-MessengerBag01.jpg

    Timbuk2-MessengerBag05.png
    Looks good. I doubt you'll come across anyone else with the same bag. It will be durable, I am sure. Comfortable while riding a bike? Not so sure. Anyway, T2's are great bags. Enjoy it.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by JReade View Post
    Timbuk2 classic in medium. It's not waterproof, but it's fairly water resistant. I used to commute with it, Laptop, charger, change of clothes, lunch, some misc stuff. I still ride with it now and again, so I can ride in road shoes and put sandals in the bag, so I can change when I get somewhere. It's great. I use it pretty often when I'm traveling too, I love having it swing around and be accessible.
    Messenger bags are not very good. Especially cause they are not waterproof and you always seem to see people adjusting them while riding. The Ortlieb Veloctiy is awesome, but they other models that serve as backpacks/panniers. Amazon has a good deal here.

  23. #23
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bthemonarch View Post
    Messenger bags are not very good. Especially cause they are not waterproof and you always seem to see people adjusting them while riding.
    Yes and no.

    A legit messenger bag from Chrome, Courierware, Bailey Works and others are waterproof and won't need to be constantly adjusted while riding. Sadly, the vast majority of the bags sold online at places like Amazon and eBags are marketed as messenger bags but are just poor imitations.
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  24. #24
    Ghost Ryding 24/7 Ghost Ryder's Avatar
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    My Timbuk2 doesn't shift around if I have the chest/cross strap attached. It stays in place while I walk as long as I have it tight.
    Its not the bag I got to for commuting, my backpack is my choice.
    My messenger is great to use to use when cruising, or if I'm pick up smaller stuff.
    ie: bike components, gear,etc.
    In often use it when I'm off my bike, I got he small so its not bulky @ all.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member JReade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bthemonarch View Post
    Messenger bags are not very good. Especially cause they are not waterproof and you always seem to see people adjusting them while riding. The Ortlieb Veloctiy is awesome, but they other models that serve as backpacks/panniers. Amazon has a good deal here.
    He asked for a messenger bag, I gave him my recommendation. Mine isn't 100% waterproof, but I've weathered a few storms and the stuff inside was dry. Plenty comfy on the bike, I've done 20 mile rides with it, and if it's set up right, you're ok. That said, I prefer my panniers for commuting, but I used my timbuk2 for about 3 months of riding and it's great.
    Jesse

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