Conditioner helps the leather stay smooth and soft through wet weather. We tested these products extensively, in a range of situations, to explore the concept of comfort and muse over the reasons to use a bag instead of a backpack or pannier. Either can swallow a bit more stuff, like gym clothes, a bulky makeup bag, and a small water bottle.
Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz Messenger
Made from water-resistant nylon available in navy or army green , it has a full padded interior and orange leather straps for extra flair. Another offering from Herschel Supply Co. Colorado-based Topo Designs knows a thing or two about creating quality outdoor gear, and the Mini Mountain Bag is exactly that—quality. Made with rugged Cordura fabric, it was made with a painstaking attention to detail, with awesome design features like red leather zipper pulls and lower cinch straps for securing a rolled up jacket or umbrella outside of the bag.
Seattle-based Filson is a true American heritage brand, making outdoor gear since the late s. Founded in Colorado but now based in California, Chrome is known for creating indestructible products that are guaranteed to last for life.
The Citizen Messenger sports a rough-and-tumble Cordura exterior and a truck tarp-lined interior, and the signature seat belt-style chest strap allows for easy adjustment while on-the-go. Founded in Sweden in , Fjallraven has been making durable, functional bags like the Foldsack No.
Embodying minimalist modern Danish design, the bag boasts two deep exterior pockets and a roomy interior pocket with zippered felt pockets perfect for storing your wallet or phone. This rugged bag is completely weatherproof, with two exterior quick-access pockets, four internal zipped pockets, and aluminum hardware that you can customize the color of. Established in , San Francisco-based Dsptch knows a thing or two about building sturdy bags that will stand up to whatever your daily commute throws at it.
A few reviewers found that the buckles and clasps gave out over time. Kenneth Cole Risky Business. There are lots of pockets and compartments. The nylon strap is wider than many others. This helps distribute weight and relieve shoulder stress. Many reviewers complimented its comfort and function. The front flap uses a magnet closure. These clips keep opening and closing quick and simple. Some reviewers found that the black leather bled. That meant that some of their clothes got darker smudges.
Conditioner helps the leather stay smooth and soft through wet weather. Some reviewers said that laptops are a bit of a squeeze with their own cases still on. However, Kenneth Cole says that it should accommodate laptops up to A few reviewers said that the briefcase handle was too weak. One said it gave out after a few months. The outer leather is cut thicker than most, for extra durability. The interior lining is made from tough pigskin.
Both are high-grade, fully-conditioned materials. The workmanship is impeccable, and designed to last. Saddleback uses marine-grade, UV-resistant thread in the stitching, and have riveted all stress points.
There are also hidden reinforcements to prevent any long-term stretching. Reviewers were extremely impressed by the overall quality. It just gets more awesome looking at it starts to get that slightly weathered look—but there are no zippers to break, no Velcro to deteriorate, no lining to tear out, no cheap hardware to snap, no plastic to degrade from the UV.
And customers said they had wonderful experiences with the customer service team at Saddleback. However, reviewers said it was well worth the money. If you can, then do it. After getting my Saddleback I still continue looking at other ones, whether in shops or those that belong to my friends, and they all look inferior in comparison!
Anything marginally better will probably cost hundreds more- Excellent build quality. Worth every single penny. This one is made from a combination of canvas and leather. Top Bag has used full-grain leather, which is thick and ages well. Many reviewers complimented the build quality.
Surprisingly lightweight for how sturdy it is. Also, I very much like the magnets on the flap, they make it a lot faster and easier to open and close. The zippers for the main and inner compartments are stronger than you usually see, very nice. Good workmanship throughout, I saw no flaws. The strap is detachable and adjustable.
And the closures have hidden magnets, which makes buckling and unbuckling unnecessary. The outer fabric is made of tough, durable nylon. The liner also makes it easier to clean it out.
Flap corners fold into place to keep the weather out, and keep your things in. Reviewers said the straps change length depending on its size. Plus, all the straps adjust for optimal fit. The included cross-strap is great for biking. It clips on to the normal strap, and keeps everything secure as you ride. And most importantly, how does it handle a variety of load types and weights? Then we considered the design features such as a cross-body stabilizing strap, or, in some modern twists, the addition of backpack straps.
The strap designs factor in heavily to the Comfort metric, and there are more and more creative takes on how to make the shoulder strap more comfortable.
But comfortable straps aren't necessarily the whole story—the way the bag rests on your back and how closely it sits factor in also. The top score in this metric goes to the Designs Mountain Briefcase. Topo Designs took a different approach to comfort: Runners-up in the comfort category were the Timbuk2 Classic and the Chrome Mini Metro , which are functionally similar products. These two rest more angled or vertical on your back like a traditional model after all, these two companies define the messenger for purists.
They are easy to adjust with supple fabrics that hug close to the body and move with you, whether on foot, bike, subway, skateboard, etc. Some bags were surprisingly comfortable for their niche design, such as the Timbuk2 Proof which is a dressed up, business-oriented bag. The Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase also scores well because it is small and light, which functionally made it comfortable to carry around on a daily basis.
Additionally, two of our award winners, the Patagonia Black Hole and the Osprey FlapJack did not score as highly in this category mainly due to the lack of cross strap Patagonia or a weird and quasi-functional stabilizer strap Osprey. This is important to mention because if you are not someone who does a lot of long-distance bike commuting, this cross-body stabilizer strap shouldn't factor heavily into your purchase decision.
If that's the case, these two contenders are still above average in the comfort metric. Two factors stand out in the packing and organization category: A bag needs to improve our daily commute with a relatively broad array of attributes: To be an effective model means that it addresses our needs, as diverse and changeable as they may be from one day to the next.
Second, it needs to be efficient. We don't want to be slowed down, weighed down, or in any way hindered by our accessories; we want a bag that makes us feel more free and nimble. An intelligently designed organization scheme will allow us to be organized, but not require us to overthink it. These two broad attributes, effectiveness and efficiency, aligned in the Patagonia Black Hole. It did not have the most pockets: Instead, it had just enough organizational options, not too many that we got lost in a labyrinth of pockets, sleeves, and zippers.
Topo Designs takes a similar approach with the Mountain Briefcase , offering streamlined but handy features. The runners-up will please those who have a preference for lots of pockets: Both of the Timbuk2 products also score well. The Timbuk2 Proof is the best for business and office use, with features well tuned to its user type. The Timbuk2 Classic also has just enough pockets to be fun and functional, but not too many.
This would have been a stronger competitor, but it lacked a few easy-access features that made it, overall, slightly less versatile and required a bit more thought to pack efficiently. We also really liked the extremely simple yet thoughtful pockets and additional add-ons from Tom Bihn's Daylight Briefcase.
Back in the 80s, when bags started to take off among bicycle messengers, not many users were toting around computers the size of a notebook, small space-age touchscreen gadgets, and they certainly didn't have cell phones.
All that technology could barely fit in a small room at that time, let alone in a bag that slings over your shoulder. Today, however, things have changed—and most manufacturers have evolved with the times.
Most of the models in this review have kept true to the spirit of the messenger, even in modern times: Most of the top scoring bags include padded laptop sleeves and pockets useful for cords and tablets. The Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase has a streamlined and straightforward electronics-friendly design, while the Timbuk2 Proof offers a refined take for your casual business needs. We had several runners-up, all award winners of some sort, but all for slightly different reasons.
The Osprey FlapJack features myriad organizational options, and the Mobile Edge ECO also had a distinct and thoughtful approach to toting around laptops, tablets, and phones. The Patagonia Black Hole kept a straightforward and streamlined approach which was enough, not too much, and as a result, an easy bag to adapt to our changeable needs. Tom Bihn takes another approach to toting around electronics.
The Daylight Briefcase is too small for a standard laptop, and since many people have a case for their tablet already, you might not need a padded sleeve. Additionally, if you stuff a jacket in the back pocket, you can add padding without adding unnecessary weight or bulk to your bag. But if you do want a tablet sleeve, you can purchase their "cache" which attaches to rails for easy access and storage in the bag. The Timbuk2 Classic was less remarkable for our electronics storage, but still well above average.
To earn an average score in this metric a bag had to have a secure and padded laptop sleeve, at a minimum. A bag needs to keep up on a rigorous commute, whether on bike, foot, subway, skateboard, rollerblades, Lyft, Vespa, etc. The messenger is a bag for many traveler types, from the urban athlete to the reluctant business person. We put these products to the test on our humdrum daily errands, as well as our epic urban adventures, airport travel, and even pushed the boundaries a bit on hikes.
In our OGL Load Test, we assessed how logical, intuitive, and easy the bag was to pack and how quickly we could access the contents.
There was no perfect 10 in this category, but several of our award winners came darn close. The Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase is very easy to use due to the simple, lightweight design.
It has a few organizational features, but not a lot—you can order separate sleeves and pockets if you want them, but the simple design ensures you have what you need and not what you don't. The Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase was so well built, easy to access, and thoughtful in its pocket design that it was one of the most natural packs to use on a daily basis—and the backpack straps ensured it was even more versatile.
And the Timbuk2 Proof is a well-focused business casual messenger bag that is well suited to office use, and while it is less versatile, it is very clearly optimized for trips to the office or meetings, easily accommodating everyday items for those trips. The Patagonia Black Hole and the Osprey Flapjack got knocked down slightly by small details or relatively inconsequential design flaws. The FlapJack has an odd cross strap that is difficult to turn useful, and while the Patagonia model didn't have any significant pitfalls here, other bags impressed us more.
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