So after two months of research, getting a chrome bag fetish and mistakenly buying a timbuk2 I decided I needed and wanted something high quality, not stupidly large but big enough to be functional. I also figured out I mind as well go custom since I had a little money to invest in this.
After my Timberland messenger bag began destroying my shoulder from use a my school book bag, being useless when on bike and looking like it belonged to the homeless man on the corner (no offense to him) I decided to upgrade. I'd been seeing chromes for ages and noted their quality, but not wanting to jump in blindly I began my research. I called treefortbikes and asked about their discounted ranchero backpack. I didn't want to go with another messenger that would destroy my shoulder. They said the only had Limited Edition (Ugly) colors available, but the guy I was talking to suggested I check out the Timbuk2 2.0 Commute. I looked into it, dug it and decided to order.
I received the commute and it destroyed my shoulder the first day. The second was no better and it had no cross strap for biking so it defeated the purpose of being a bag I could ride with.
I returned it and weighed my options. I could go with a chrome, I found out about the Pawn from a guy at school and I really liked it. Tried on the Ivan and that freaked me out by just being far more massive then I'd ever need (backpacking trip anyone?) So I went back to the boards and did more research and I kept going back to Chicago Wig. I liked his backpacks. After texting him at 8pm Cali time he called me back immediately and we talked. I asked questions, he gave me more information then I asked for, which I liked. So I ordered a set of Street Straps and a backpack, sent the check off and waited, after 2 or 3 weeks of waiting and reading about bags and backpacks, and commuting I realized its going to be summer soon and it gets hot, I sweat, i cant do a backpack. I switched my order on the fly to a messenger back, upgraded my streetstraps and got to really customize a bag with the left overs. (Backpacks are more expensive then his messengers.)
So this is what I ended up with. Large enough to travel with (I don't have an over night bag)
A day tripper, 14x20x8 I believe. Orange and Green with Coyote lining, a 1200 Denier military grade Cordura. Just before my order was up he also received a new super high buoyancy foam for the padding.
The front has two heavy duty velcro-close pockets which are not quite as deep as my had, but each one is half the width of the flap. Quick spot to throw Wallet, Keys, U-lock, Chain, Sun Glasses, pretty much anything you'd want to store or access on the fly.
The inside is pretty massive. Its no Pac Ultimate OS but its more then enough for a change of clothings, some groceries, school books and supplies and all of them at once. The front features 2 expanding pockets which I wasn't able to capture a good picture of. Inside each of the pockets is an additional set of none-3d pockets for sorting out smaller things like Cellphones, Pencils, Tools and so fourth. Then on the inside wall of the bag are 4 additional pockets, 2 that nearly run the entire length of the bag, and 2 about half the size of the bag. Once thing Wig adds on his backpacks are 2 pockets to separate shoes. On this messenger he added 2 against the front wall that are big enough to fit none-high top shoes. Or just about anything else. Then in front of those 2 pockets are 2 half sized ones. There is also a Velcro-close envelope for laptops or separating anything you would like.
The inside is very spacious.
More then spacious, it can fit 3 shoe boxes, fairly easily, this picture was taken while one of the compression straps was still buckled.
One major concern of mine was the bulk of the bag. I saw many people buying messenger bags to fit enormous amounts of cargo, however I didn't quite want a bag big enough to fit two ex girlfriends in (I've dated small flexible women.) so the compression straps were awesome. For day to day use I've not found a reason to unbuckle the straps. However knowing I have the option of unleashing hundreds of cubic inches of space at a moments notice is comforting to some sick part of me.
As I said earlier one of my hesitations about getting another messenger bag was the shoulder pain. I had a poorly padded bag on both occasions (no offense to those who love Timbuk2's) but with these fat, 3 inch wide shoulder straps made with the new foam i'm finding this bag to be more comfortable by the day. I never find the straps digging into me, and the foam is starting to soften more so it's actually molding into shape. The back also features the same foam which is of high "buoyancy" which according to Wig, helps prevent sharp objects from poking through.
I also had a strip of light-reflecting high visibility 3M tape added across the bottom for safety and a little pazazz. I think it looks nice, plus it is very functional when riding at night.
Now to the real meat of it.
I waited to write this until I had a chance to do some real biking with it. I've been driving because of tests and work schedules being absurd. So now that I have a bit of a break til finals next week I decided to try out commuting on my fixie. This morning I had a gym class so I rode to school with it nearly empty, just some fresh clothing to change into after I got to work. After school I stopped off at Trader Joes to pick up some groceries and filled my bag up to really test it out. I threw in a few bottles of water, a couple salads, some tortillas and salsa for egg burritos in the morning and took off.
I'm no longer in the biking shape I once was, but I still managed the hills okay on a fixie. The bag, even with all the additional weight felt great. I used the cross strap and it distributed weight nicely across my bag. With the Y strap connected (albeit it's a bit tight, Im a big guy) there was absolutely no bag wiggle or waggle on the rough roads or through turns.
and it's comfortable even through an afternoon walking around school.
I personally have no complaints about the bag. I can give nothing but props to Isaac who gave me excellent advice regarding the customization of the bag as well as what in his experience worked, as well as what didn't. I highly suggest him if you are looking for a bag no matter what the size. Everything is made by his own hand in his studio and to small, independent business is something worthy support. Especially if the quality and service exceed all of my expectations.
(sorry about the picture quality, they were taken on longer exposure times with a low Aperture to brighten the pictures up)