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Messenger bags

Old 06-14-12, 12:50 AM
  #1  
porq
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Messenger bags

I'm curious if anyone uses a messenger bag to carry their stuff while commuting and is it comfortable?

I've been using panniers for years and I'm considering using a backpack, but my pack isn't waterproof, so I'm looking at options. I ride about 18kms each way (~40-50 minute commute depending on direction) and I don't know how comfortable/uncomfortable one of these would be for 40 minutes.
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Old 06-14-12, 12:58 AM
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when I don't have a lot of stuff that I need to bring ... i ride 60-70min/day with a

Crumpler Cheesy Disco (but I usually leave the laptop sleeve at home and put clothes in there (trousers/dress shirt/socks/underwear))

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Old 06-14-12, 12:58 AM
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I have a Chrome Kremlin messenger bag that has lasted me 10 years so far.
seriously, I've used this bag daily. I'm amazed how its held up.
over the years, I've used if from touring (how crazy is that?), commuting, groceries, and camping.

now days, I tend to fill it up with way too much junk, and I use it on my surly big dummy for the work commute, uniform, laptop, food, shoes, shower supplies, etc..

really it comes down to where you want to carry the weight. if its on your back, ultimately the pressure goes into your perineum.
I don't mind carrying a few things, but when my bag gets to around 10lbs, I choose to toss it onto the bike.
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Old 06-14-12, 05:06 AM
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I used a timbuk2 messenger bag exclusively for about 4 years on my 80 mile RT commute (20 miles riding RT). It works fine and is comfortable. i switched to panniers about 2 years ago and prefer that more now, but I have a nice weather commuter that I ride in occasionally and I will wear the messenger bag for that. it makes your back sweaty but that never bothered me.

cargo includes full change of clothes (minus shoes), packed lunch and a small sack of tubes / co2 / multitool / etc.
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Old 06-14-12, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by benda18 View Post
I used a timbuk2 messenger bag exclusively for about 4 years on my 80 mile RT commute (20 miles riding RT). It works fine and is comfortable. i switched to panniers about 2 years ago and prefer that more now, but I have a nice weather commuter that I ride in occasionally and I will wear the messenger bag for that. it makes your back sweaty but that never bothered me.

cargo includes full change of clothes (minus shoes), packed lunch and a small sack of tubes / co2 / multitool / etc.
This has been discussed a lot, I'd do a search. (not being snarky, just FYI)

I personally think messenger bags are ideal for < 10 lb loads. They don't leave your back "AS" sweaty as a back pack, the lower center of gravity feels more comfortable when tucked into the handlebars... etc. etc. That being said, my commute is only ~7 miles. Try it out. I just don't think panniers are worth the bother with lighter loads.

PS: I've got the Chrome bag. Upgraded from a Timbuk2 and I love it. Waterproof, quick release tab in front, lighter, better strap, etc. etc. etc.
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Old 06-14-12, 07:33 AM
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I use a Seagull bag to hold my laptop, pants, belt, shirt, shoes, lunch, coffee cup, water cup, sunglasses case, and tool kit on a daily basis. Actually my entire family uses Seagull bags, even the kids use theirs for school. They are double waterproof, have a lifetime warranty, have tons of options, and are made locally here in Columbus.
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Old 06-14-12, 07:51 AM
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There are a number of messenger vs. backpack "no U!!!" threads around. There are also companies who make water-proof/resistant backpacks, if that would be more suited to the type of load you are carrying.

It seems that it boils down to personal preference for most people, and is also dependent on how much weight you plan on sticking in your bag.
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Old 06-14-12, 08:10 AM
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I have used a messenger bag for years and my commute is over an hour long. Most days I use a medium size bag but I do have two other sizes if need be, smaller and larger. I tried panniers for a very short time but disliked them because it really changed how the bike handled and to me it is all about the bike. The rare time I have gone without the messenger bag it was actually quite liberating, my back was a lot cooler. The other side of the coin is when it is cold out the messenger bag keeps my back warm. Messenger bags aren't for everyone but for me they work quite nicely for me.

BTW the bags that I own are Push the Envelope and Pac Designs. I also have owned a Timbuk2 bag.
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Old 06-14-12, 08:14 AM
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I started out with backpacks, and a Timbuk2 mess bag. I changed to panniers when I got some for touring and I wouldn't go back unless you paid me to.
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Old 06-14-12, 08:29 AM
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Too hip for me. I'm more a slave to function than I am to fashion. Don't ride a fixie either. Too many hills where I live.
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Old 06-14-12, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
Too hip for me. I'm more a slave to function than I am to fashion. Don't ride a fixie either. Too many hills where I live.
there's nothing hip about a comfortable way to transfer stuff to/from work

?
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Old 06-14-12, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
Too hip for me. I'm more a slave to function than I am to fashion. Don't ride a fixie either. Too many hills where I live.
Messenger bags can be very functional. I used one for years and believe me it had nothing to do with fashion.
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Old 06-14-12, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Messenger bags can be very functional. I used one for years and believe me it had nothing to do with fashion.
I have to agree.

The only thing I find more ridiculous than the whole "hipster" fad, is the "anti-hipster" fad. Both ends of the spectrum are ridiculous.

Messenger bags are functional and have been used since the ancient times for, guess what, delivering messages (potentially in tablet and scroll form.)

Personally, I like stuff that functions quite well and am willing to pay extra for something that have good design/aesthetics. Bad function = deal breaker; bad design/aesthetic = deal breaker.
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Old 06-14-12, 09:31 AM
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I used to, but I switched to a pannier and now a saddlebag. My back doesn't get sweaty and I can carry just as much stuff. I would not switch back unless I really had to.

You might try a compromise: I made a pannier out of a messenger bag, then I could carry it over my shoulder off the bike. I'm sure someone ready-makes things like this if you don't want to make your own.
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Old 06-14-12, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
I used to, but I switched to a pannier and now a saddlebag. My back doesn't get sweaty and I can carry just as much stuff. I would not switch back unless I really had to.

You might try a compromise: I made a pannier out of a messenger bag, then I could carry it over my shoulder off the bike. I'm sure someone ready-makes things like this if you don't want to make your own.
Knog and Timbuk2 comes to mind...
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Old 06-14-12, 09:55 AM
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I use a chrome messenger bag, about 7 months so far of commuting. I've carried some pretty good loads with it, and it doesn't bother me. It's the bulkier loads that bother me, something hard & poking me in the back isn't what I want to feel on my trip to or from work.
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Old 06-14-12, 10:15 AM
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I currently own two backpacks (Dakine [free] and Ogio) that were used for school. Then got the bright idea to lug my laptop to campus, so got a Large Banjo Brothers backpack to keep it and any books dry. Then started using my bike for transportation, so bought a rack from the LBS and some Knog saddlebag panniers and a matching sling bag from a wrench at the LBS who was moving. Encountered heel strike, so traded the panniers off for a Banjo Brothers mess bag (L).

Having said all of that, the mess bag worked the best when I did the bike/bus thing. I could simply undo the cross strap, swivel the bag around, and place it on my lap without removing it while I sat on the bus. It's not my 'go to' bag of choice for heavier loads, though. It's my foul weather bag and the rain gear lives in it.

Dunno about designs from others, but I'm my experience the BB backpack was more waterproof than the BB mess bag.

In summary, the mess bag is okay for lighter, bulky, non-pointy loads, but I prefer a backpack for heavier loads. If you're curious and have the scratch, by all means try one out. It would be best if you could find one locally in a brick and mortar to try before you buy. Take your loaded backpack and tell the sales staff you're thinking about buying a mess bag, but you have to try it first (unless they have a really good return policy).
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Old 06-14-12, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Messenger bags can be very functional. I used one for years and believe me it had nothing to do with fashion.
I prefer to distribute the load symmetrically with a two strap back pack. Been doing it for over twenty years with no back problems. There was some controversy about kids developing back problems from wearing "book bags". Turns out the ones having problems were slinging them over one shoulder. As long as I plan to keep carrying my "man purse", I'll keep the load evenly distributed, thank you.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
I prefer to distribute the load symmetrically with a two strap back pack. Been doing it for over twenty years with no back problems. There was some controversy about kids developing back problems from wearing "book bags". Turns out the ones having problems were slinging them over one shoulder. As long as I plan to keep carrying my "man purse", I'll keep the load evenly distributed, thank you.
This is misleading. There is a big difference between a messenger bag and carrying a backpack by one strap.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:56 AM
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I just switched from a Chrome Metropolis messenger to a Mission Workshop Fitzroy backpack (each are roughly the same capacity) and overall I definitely prefer the backpack.

For one thing, it has a padded back. I had to think more about how I packed the messenger because any hard edge i would feel on my back while riding as things would shift. This was very annoying.

I do sweat more with the backpack, but I'm in Texas...what's a little more back sweat?...non issue. But you actually sweat more on the chest with a messenger.

With a heavier load in the messenger, strapping down too much can make breathing difficult...non issue with backpack.

The only thing that took a little getting used to with the backpack is the bouncing when out of the saddle...messenger is more secure in comparison.

And of course, I like the even weight distribution of the backback most of all.

best thing to do is buy one and give it a go. I sold my chrome, but thinking of getting a bailey works messenger...i like options.

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Old 06-14-12, 06:17 PM
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I use a backpack (Dakine Apex) for my long commute to work. I carry a lot of stuff (laptop, iPad, change of clothes, breakfast and lunch, portable hard drives, lots of keys, etc) so the weight really requires a backpack.

I bought a Chrome Civilian messenger bag last year, and have tried many times to like it. Lighter loads present no weight issue, but heavier loads are quite uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the straps always feel like they're squeezing and choking me to death. The stabilizer strap in my arm pit makes me crazy. Too bad. I really like the construction quality and waterproof nature of the bag.

I got a custom Timbuk2 classic mess bag this year. Again, the mess bag can't handle my heavy work load, but I really like the bag for light loads. It's not waterproof, but it is comfortable enough to ride with, and very comfortable to walk with. Much nicer looking than the Chrome too. Good construction quality, but not waterproof.


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Old 06-15-12, 09:51 AM
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I agree with the guy above who siad that it comes down to preference. If you are looking at moving to a messenger bag, I'd recommend borrowing one from a friend & taking it for a few rides to see if you like it. I bought one & never could get used to it. I felt it was significnalty less comfortable than a backpack. Lots of people agree wtih me. Lots of other people love them, so to some degree it comes down to preference. If you borrow one from a friend & like it, then there are a lot of good options listed above.
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Old 06-16-12, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by benda18 View Post
I used a timbuk2 messenger bag exclusively for about 4 years on my 80 mile RT commute (20 miles riding RT). It works fine and is comfortable. i switched to panniers about 2 years ago and prefer that more now, but I have a nice weather commuter that I ride in occasionally and I will wear the messenger bag for that. it makes your back sweaty but that never bothered me.

cargo includes full change of clothes (minus shoes), packed lunch and a small sack of tubes / co2 / multitool / etc.


This but I use a Seagull XL with the same contents described with 30 minute ride one way to work ...true sweaty back but I get to work early and cool down with some water and a fruit before I clock in...no complaints on comfort...one thing to note large beer runs strain you strap shoulder and can bruise the back (I did 48 loose cans once) so use your panniers for that
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Old 06-17-12, 02:12 AM
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I have a Chrome Citizen messenger bag (Citizen is medium size.) I usually have it with me when i ride, wherever i am going because i like to switch from my stable of bikes and this way i keep the pump, tubes, clif bars, tools, sweatshirt etc in the bag. Since i have been using it i have been amazed at how comfortable it is and also that nothing ever falls out. I generally do NOT carry my laptop and power supply with me because that makes the bag with stuff weight about 12 pounds and i dont like that much weght, i feel it on long rides. Without the laptop and power supply i am probably under 6 pounds and that is not signifcant comfort wise to me. So i agree with the other posts, once you get over 10 pounds the messenger bag option no longer is ideal generally. I havent bought racks/panniers yet but since i like to switch which bikes i ride that will limit me to bikes with the rack installed. I intend to buy a good rack and they arent cheap. Also once I put a rack on a bike it will not be as light and fun to ride even unloaded so it will tie up my use of that bike for rides where i need a rack-- if i dont need the rack id probably want to use a bike with no rack installed. So i am plannng to turn ONE of my bikes into a commuter/ bike camping bike with a rack but then continue to just use a messenger bag on my other bikes.
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Old 06-17-12, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by AlmostGreenGuy View Post
I use a backpack (Dakine Apex) for my long commute to work. I carry a lot of stuff (laptop, iPad, change of clothes, breakfast and lunch, portable hard drives, lots of keys, etc) so the weight really requires a backpack.

I bought a Chrome Civilian messenger bag last year, and have tried many times to like it. Lighter loads present no weight issue, but heavier loads are quite uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the straps always feel like they're squeezing and choking me to death. The stabilizer strap in my arm pit makes me crazy. Too bad. I really like the construction quality and waterproof nature of the bag.

I got a custom Timbuk2 classic mess bag this year. Again, the mess bag can't handle my heavy work load, but I really like the bag for light loads. It's not waterproof, but it is comfortable enough to ride with, and very comfortable to walk with. Much nicer looking than the Chrome too. Good construction quality, but not waterproof.

Maybe it isn't all about fashion, but note the jaunty retro-euro cycling cap, cargo knockers, Birkenstocks, and I bet the bike is SS.
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