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Let's have another messenger bag discussion

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Let's have another messenger bag discussion

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Old 04-13-08, 09:15 AM
  #1  
MrCjolsen
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Let's have another messenger bag discussion

OK, it's been well debated as to whether or not messenger bags serve a utilitarian purpose when used in conjunction with a bicycle. Those who say not will argue that the choice to use a messenger bag is one of style rather than function.

I use a messenger bag. I'm also 46 years old and live in the suburbs and drive a green Honda Accord. With that said, I've formed a few opinions about messenger bags I'd like to share, as well as see if anyone else feels the same.

I have a history of upper and lower back pain and a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease. The day before I blew the disc between my C6 and C7 vertebrae, I had ridden to work with a commuter Camelbak carrying both water and my laptop computer. Later, I would notice some degree of back pain whenever I used a backpack.

For about a year now, I've used a Timbuk2 bag and it has not seemed to cause me any pain. Yet, whenever I return to a backpack, my shoulders hurt.

Then there's convenience. I can put my wallet, keys, cellphone, Amtrak ticket etc, in a messenger bag and get to it easily without having to remove the bag. Not so with a backpack.

Now, what about those who use a messenger bag as opposed to panniers, trunk bags, or other cargo devices that attach to the bicycle rather than the rider? That would seem the most comfortable way to go. In fact, I have racks on my bikes and often choose to use a messenger bag instead.

However, there's a lot to be said for having less weight on the bike as opposed to the on the rider when it comes to maneuverability and out-of-the-seat climbing and sprinting. Moreover, if a person uses multi modes of transportation it's priceless to not need to remove anything from your bike prior to boarding the bus or train. The same hold true, of course, whenever a person needs to lock their bike.

Does anyone else feel the same way, that messenger bags are more comfortable and more convenient than backpacks?
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Old 04-13-08, 10:04 AM
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I would argue that many write off backpacks because they buy ill-fitting, ill-designed cheapies. My Chrome Citizen is fairly uncomfortable to use over distance on urban roads when loaded with clothes, laptop, books, shoes, and a repair kit. When I load the bag up with that much junk and ride for 30 or 40km, I start to get aches in my shoulder and arm, not to mention the constant reach around to shift the bag into place.

I think the ideal bag for commuting / carrying loads would be a properly designed backpack. Chrome makes some nice ones, as does Targus. Either a good backpack or some panniers.
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Old 04-13-08, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by kergin View Post
not to mention the constant reach around to shift the bag into place
it's all about getting the horizontal strap adjusted ight.
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Old 04-13-08, 10:28 AM
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I'm at the point where my Chrome bag is only for grocery runs. I already kind of have that look where everyone these days thinks I'm some wana-be courier, so I try and downplay that style.

+ I never really need to carry that much day to day

+ Back sweat


I saw a guy a few days ago with a briefcase that was held to his back by innertubes. Awesome.
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Old 04-13-08, 10:30 AM
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I haven't really worn a 2 strap backpack in years but I enjoy messenger bags. I started with a chrome citizen, then XL Reload, now I have a M(i think) bailey works. I haven't really had any shoulder pain unless I'm walking around upright with one for a long period of time. When I'm riding its all on my back, and that hasn't been a problem.

Plus they looook sooooo coooooooool

all summer I'm going to be running a fannypack with a u lock holster though unless I need to carry something
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Old 04-13-08, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by NewYorkMantle View Post
it's all about getting the horizontal strap adjusted ight.
Oh, that's what its there for, but it really doesn't do much when you consider how the bag sits on your back. In most cases, that strap ends up being the cause for un-balancing the bag. I also feel the buckle is over the top - I've never actually used the damned thing, and the only real time its been used is when someone thought it'd be funny to push the button to see if it was a real buckle.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:28 AM
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After having used my chrome for a year now I have some thoughts on messenger bags.
They have 3 major positives:

1. Things are easy to find in them because they are one big pocket. Objects don't get lost under other things which can happen with a traditional knapsack. This makes them great as gym bags I believe.

2. You can get stuff out of them without taking them off. However, I do not see this a major advantage. If I am stopping to look through a bag then I really have enough time to take a bag off. Spinning the bag around and going through it can be annoying at times and I simply just take the bag off. I also find that closing the flap of the bag when it is in front of me never closes the bag as well as when I have it off my back.

3. It can carry large loads and odd shaped objects that some knapsacks cannot.

That being said I believe that if I get another bag in the future it will be a two shoulder bag. Walking around the city with a messenger bag with heavy loads such as a weekend trip into the city is painful after a while. Distributing the weight with two straps has so many advantages for comfort. The newer nicer double strap bags from people like chrome look great and maintain the weather proofing of their original messenger style bags. When people ask me if I would recommend a messenger bag I typically explain the first two points above to them and then recommend they get a good two shoulder bag.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by zelah View Post
all summer I'm going to be running a fannypack with a u lock holster though unless I need to carry something
Srsly? They make those? I must have one. When on the motorcycle i use a quite large (expandable!) fanny pack from Marsee. Black, uber-nylon. tire guage, rain gear, Clif bar, spare $20, disc lock/alarm, and sundry. Hell, over the winter I went overnight once in what I couldl fit in my pockets and that big black butt-tumor.

Having one for the pedal-cycle would be teh awesome. Link please.
Thanks.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by RDRomano View Post
Srsly? They make those? I must have one. When on the motorcycle i use a quite large (expandable!) fanny pack from Marsee. Black, uber-nylon. tire guage, rain gear, Clif bar, spare $20, disc lock/alarm, and sundry. Hell, over the winter I went overnight once in what I couldl fit in my pockets and that big black butt-tumor.

Having one for the pedal-cycle would be teh awesome. Link please.
Thanks.
http://www.fabrichorse.com/index.php?page=utilitybelts
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Old 04-13-08, 11:35 AM
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well reload has a "hip pouch" with one built in. I'm going to be using a plain black N.O.S. small fannypack i got for $3 with an $8 fabric horse holster on the strap, much cheaper than the reload version

hip pouch on this page
http://reloadbags.com/bags/list.php?t=accessories

holster here
http://www.fabrichorse.com/index.php...ybelts&item=73
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Old 04-13-08, 11:43 AM
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I have scoliosis so I prefer 2 straps but that said I've never tried a high quality messenger bag before. I think they would work fine providing I don't fill it up too much.

Right now I use my Targus laptop backpack for everything.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:46 AM
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Fabric Horse is one of those companies that I feel has to just be some kind of art project. There can't be anyone in the world who would pay $120 for a batman belt, or would wear spats (even if they were free and not $45).
I don't know why people would choose a fannypack over a seat bag or frame wedge - it's even less sweat-inducing, and can't possibly be any dorkier. And why aren't any cycling boutiques making cool looking frame / seat / handlebar bags / panniers, eh?
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Old 04-13-08, 11:50 AM
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I've been thinking about changing to a backpack,but it's hard to find one that's just right.They seem to be either too small or really huge(hiking type)and have way too much crap on them.Also not that many are all that waterproof.The only one i really like is the ortlieb messenger pro but being a messenger pack i'll probably still get tagged as a fakenger and $170 isn't cheap either.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:59 AM
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Personally, I find that larger backpacks with wide straps pinch the nerves in my shoulder if I'm riding in any position that isn't upright. This makes my little and ring fingers go numb, which is an interesting but inconvenient experience. I also find it much easier to fit outsized items into a messenger bag, especially long things. I do agree that the bag is pretty ****e for walking around, however, but I've yet to find one that isn't, so my keemerbag is still my main jam.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by dmg View Post
Fabric Horse is one of those companies that I feel has to just be some kind of art project. There can't be anyone in the world who would pay $120 for a batman belt, or would wear spats (even if they were free and not $45).
I don't know why people would choose a fannypack over a seat bag or frame wedge - it's even less sweat-inducing, and can't possibly be any dorkier. And why aren't any cycling boutiques making cool looking frame / seat / handlebar bags / panniers, eh?
well there's still no sweat with a fannypack since it's footprint is barely more than just a belt. plus when you get off your bike its still there instead of either risking getting it stolen off your bike or awkwardly holding it around in your hand
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Old 04-13-08, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Build your own View Post
I've been thinking about changing to a backpack,but it's hard to find one that's just right.They seem to be either too small or really huge(hiking type)and have way too much crap on them.Also not that many are all that waterproof.The only one i really like is the ortlieb messenger pro but being a messenger pack i'll probably still get tagged as a fakenger and $170 isn't cheap either.
I used a chrome bag (the size up from the citizen, metropolis maybe?) all winter for school as well as for getting groceries and generally carrying the things I needed with me. I found it pretty handy, the thing hardly left my back and I found it really convenient. I switched over to an old trusty north face backpack I've had for...11 years, something like that. I've used that backpack forever and was way bummed when the zipper broke about a year ago, but I replaced the zipper and switched back just for school purposes, it's a little quieter in class (the velcro is pretty disruptive mid-lecture) and with lots of heavy school books I find i can distribute the weight across two shoulders and achieve about the same comfort as I did with the chrome and I dont sweat as much on the back, as it isnt completely waterproof. That said, I have tried to replace that backpack on at least 6 occasions and havent been able to find something that compares to its simple functionality. I still use the chrome for groceries and the like, but for the most part, I find a nice well fitting simple two strap pack just as useful/convenient/comfortable.
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Old 04-13-08, 01:40 PM
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Messenger bags for long distances are called panniers... woop woop
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Old 04-13-08, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by raster View Post
Personally, I find that larger backpacks with wide straps pinch the nerves in my shoulder if I'm riding in any position that isn't upright. This makes my little and ring fingers go numb, which is an interesting but inconvenient experience. I also find it much easier to fit outsized items into a messenger bag, especially long things. I do agree that the bag is pretty ****e for walking around, however, but I've yet to find one that isn't, so my keemerbag is still my main jam.
I notice the pinky and ring finger numbness too with my 2 strapper. The main reason I'm considering getting a single strap bag. The only "messenger bag" I've owned was a $6 bag from old navy which I never used on a bike, and always hurt my shoulder when loaded with books. Do u guys get shoulder pain from mess bags actually designded for riding?
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Old 04-13-08, 02:26 PM
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**** style. **** messenger bags. **** being hip.



THAT is all,

you need.
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Old 04-13-08, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by muzzymuz View Post
I notice the pinky and ring finger numbness too with my 2 strapper. The main reason I'm considering getting a single strap bag. The only "messenger bag" I've owned was a $6 bag from old navy which I never used on a bike, and always hurt my shoulder when loaded with books. Do u guys get shoulder pain from mess bags actually designded for riding?
sometimes I get a little sore when I have mine literally loaded to capacity. Like, tools, laptop, books, a bottle of water, clothes etc. Otherwise, it's pretty comfy.
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Old 04-13-08, 02:51 PM
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I use both for diferint reasons. when I am just going to be walking I use a traditional back pack. However, I prefer riding with a messenger bag. I have two chrome bags, one for day to day grocery runs and my office job, and the extra large one for my gardening gig. I can fit a collapsible rack sheers, pruners loppers ect in it and still ride through traffic with ease. I really dont care what people say about me. I did my time on the street and can ride with the best messengers around ..... on like most hipsters, who have show bikes
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Old 04-13-08, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by balonya View Post
I really dont care what people say about me. I did my time on the street and can ride with the best messengers around ..... on like most hipsters, who have show bikes
Sounds like you're the self conscious one here, not others.
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Old 04-13-08, 02:59 PM
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Backpacks for me. Messenger bags feel asymmetrical and it bothers me. Also, I am afraid of looking hip, not willing to pay the $ for a decent messenger bag, and my backpack fits me great. Unless you have a hiking background you probably have no idea how to fit a backpack. If you go to a high end backpacking shop you will see that those guys take backpack fit as seriously as we take bike fit.
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Old 04-13-08, 03:08 PM
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I've fractured a vertabre and had several bad wrecks in addition to having degenerative disc disease and find a messenger bag hurts my back the least, but still causes some discomfort on the shoulder I carry on. That being said that shoulder always hurts regardless if I ride or not, guess I shouldn't have broken the collar bones a few times each =/

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Old 04-13-08, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by shasta View Post
Backpacks for me. Messenger bags feel asymmetrical and it bothers me. Also, I am afraid of looking hip, not willing to pay the $ for a decent messenger bag, and my backpack fits me great. Unless you have a hiking background you probably have no idea how to fit a backpack. If you go to a high end backpacking shop you will see that those guys take backpack fit as seriously as we take bike fit.
Most people dont wear the waist straps or chest straps and then wear the pack too low. Thats why messenger bags are more comfortable for most people, you dont have to spend a few minutes fitting your messenger bag when you get it, just throw it on and pull it tight. This advice about going to a backpacking shop is some of the best one can give, those guys will fit you and help you find a backpack that fits.
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