Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Messenger Bags

  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    69

    Messenger Bags

    Whats the deal w/ messenger bags?? I just use a backpack, but everyone else I see on the road seems uses a messenger bag. Are there some benefits to it that I am missing?? To those who use them, why?? Have you used a backpack, and why did you switch if you did??

  2. #2
    Brackish
    Reputation: carbuncle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    1,694
    Because they are cool. The only functional advantage of a messenger bag is that for messengers you can swing it around to gain quick access for the hundreds of times a day you need to get into it. I wore one for eight years of messengering, and by the end of it my back was royally f-d up and took two years of working out to normalize. Stick with the backpack, your spine will thank you. I'm currently using the Timbuk2 extra-large messenger pack for commuting and it works great.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mtnkiwi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    445
    Messenger bags - talk about putting the weight on one side of your body and drilling the strap into one unlucky shoulder. Definitely fashion over function for commuters. Backpack or bag on a rack is the way to go here.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    182
    I bought my first messenger-style bag for commuting - a Chrome Kremlin - about 6 months ago. I had purchased the bag after reading a lot of threads re: messenger-style bags vs. backpacks, and decided to try the messenger-style out of curiosity and a desire to reduce the dreaded "sweaty back."

    What I found is that it really doesn't seem to have any bearing on reducing sweat. If you sweat a lot, you're still going to have a sweaty back regardless of the type of bag you carry. Contrary to what mtnkiwi said, I've found (in my limited experience) that when "properly positioned," the weight of the contents of the bag stay relatively centered and stable over the lower part of my back/hips, without much stress to my shoulder. I've also found that the weight of the contents don't seem to shift as much laterally as they do when riding with a backpack (i.e. the weight seems more stable over the hips with the messenger-style bag). Off the bike and walking around is a different story - in a standing position, all the weight gets transfered vertically to that "one unlucky shoulder" and carrying the bag like this can be uncomfortable.

    For me another big advantage that my bag has over my old backpacks (which were pretty big too) is that it accommodates large, bulky items easily and without fuss. This is especially great for grocery shopping. A serious disadvantage is that the portion of the bag that rests against my back is unpadded and pliable, meaning that pointy corners of boxes can really dig into my back.

    I think there are going to be advantages and disadvantages to everything. I'm sure the rack and pannier guys are going to say ditch the bags all together. If you're happy with your current setup, great. If you're not, I don't think it'd hurt to try out a different solution. Do what works for you.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jabberwocky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    216
    I've commuted extensively with all 3 (backpack, messenger and panniers) and found that messengers are my favorite solution. Backpacks pull straight back on my shoulder blades and sit too far off my back with any significant load in them. Messengers rest more flat on my back and don't pull on my shoulders the same way. Panniers are nice, but I never cared for how they affected bike handling.

    Theres a lot of fashion in messenger bags, but its not accurate to say that they are all fashion. I personally think they work a lot better on the bike.

    Just my experience, take it for what its worth.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: EvilScience's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    220
    I tried a messenger bag for a year, but no matter how I played with the straps/position/padding, I ended up with real left side problems. Basically, with any load heavier than a change of clothes I had significant neck / shoulder pain and ongoing problems with restricted joint movement later in the day.

    So, I switched to a 28L Deuter Air backpack - has a nice system to suspend the bag off the back, so a bit less sweaty, and nothing pokes through into your back. This made a world of difference, at least for me. A properly designed backpack shouldn't pull the shoulders (Otherwise those big backcountry expedition packs wouldn't work, and I have first hand experience that those can be super comfy!), and will distribute the weight properly. I can ride all over town with this bag full of books/beer/whatever. Just grabbing an el cheapo backpack probably won't give the same experience as a high-quality, properly fitting one.

    OTOH, with REALLY big load, nothing beats a rack/pannier system for comfort and keeping the center of gravity low (or a trailer in crazy extreme cases.....). But I digress from commuter issues there

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: bikeCOLORADO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1,404
    I was bungee tying my gym bag to a rack I mounted on the bike...but it was a bit cumbersome.

    I bought some Performance Panniers yesterday!

    No sweaty back, no huge load on my lower back, they're water proof, easily removable and hold a TON of stuff (2,860 cubic inches).



    They're not super light, they're not trendy and cool like messenger bags...but I don't have to lug anything on my back either...and you get two for $79.
    Phillipians 2:3-8 "...but (Christ) made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant..."

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    182
    I usually commute using my road bike, but today, I took my mountain bike to the library (about one mile away) using my messenger bag to haul my books, laptop, and Kyptonite NY chain lock. I have to say that the bag was terribly uncomfortable, with the majority of the weight on my shoulder on the mountain bike compared to my road bike. I wonder bearing riding position has on the comfort/discomfort of a messenger bag or backpack...

  9. #9
    Graphic Designer
    Reputation: wiretapstudios's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    224
    Ironically, I use messenger bags to haul stuff in real life, and a backpack on a bike. My north face backpack has a hydration system in it, all the pockets I need, comfy straps, a really nice and cool pad on the back... it's much easier to center the load.

    I use messenger bags normally because I keep my cameras, etc in them and you can just slide it around and pop it open. Also not many people in my town really use them, so it's kind of unique here to have one. I'm more of a utility-type person, function over fashion, but I still try and find decent looking bags.
    'Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.'
    -Mark Twain

  10. #10
    Hoosier
    Reputation: Keatan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    443
    I use a backpack. I've considered a messenger bag but haven't found the true need for one. They aren't all fashion, the idea behind their design was that bike messengers can easily swing them to the front to remove documents and save time. Other than that it seems to just be a matter of preference.
    SS is like beer...its an acquired taste.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    43
    I have to admit that I purchased my Timbuk2 as a fashion statement, but soon realized how versatile it is.
    -I use it for school when I don't need more than a few books and a laptop; more convenient to get in and out of than a backpack.
    -It's great for day trips to the beach or whatnot; throw stuff in and easy to see / get stuff out. -It's also great for grocery shopping; I can fit 2 gallon jugs of milk in my medium Timbuk2. In fact, I've been doing a lot more grocery shopping / commuting on my bike since I can now carry odd-sized objects with ease.

    My Timbuk2 has become my "man bag" since I carry it around everywhere. It allows me to have a Leatherman/first aid kit/water/Cliff bars and snacks on hand at all times without looking like a little school boy.

    In a nutshell, I use a messenger bag for convenience (easy to get in and out of as well as fit odd-sized objects) and fashion (carry a bag without looking metrosexual or a school boy )

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    4,673
    I've used a Chrome Metropolis for years and it's great. It handles bulk and heavy things without any strain. It's a lot more stable than a backpack. The weight stays centered and rests on my back whereas with a backpack it pulls on my shoulders. Maybe a backpack with a chest strap would work.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    2,017
    Panniers are by far the best way of commuting, IMO. I keep extra goodies in them.....bungees, extra gloves, a small poncho, tube, and lock. Also easily carry my lunch, shoes, and extra clothes for work. They're waterproof and cheap from performance. Less sweat issues also.


    I did however ride today with a backpack because I took off the panniers the other day for a group ride, and was plagued with sweat. Bummer. But at least I rode my bike to work

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    12
    I'm assuming people like messenger bags because of the quick and easy access. I tried using one on my bike that held my laptop and it sucked. Instead I got a North Face Borealis backpack and its been great ever since. Weight is evenly distributed and the bag has a bunch of reflective tags for nighttime visibility.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    18
    I was just recently in the market for a new backpack to commute to work, to school, and use for other shenanigans. I was looking at the messenger bags (mainly the Chrome products). Although it would've raised my sick commuter points by 10 fold, it would've been a pain to carry my books around and to clinicals (I'm a nursing major). I did some research and came across Banjo Brothers' Commuter Pack. http://www.banjobrothers.com/products/01150.php I bought the 2000 cu in one, and I'll probably write a review once I get a hold of it.

    Does anyone know what type of reflector (the red one) is on the backpack?


  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jddjirikian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    423
    Quote Originally Posted by DD_Drummer44
    I was just recently in the market for a new backpack to commute to work, to school, and use for other shenanigans. I was looking at the messenger bags (mainly the Chrome products). Although it would've raised my sick commuter points by 10 fold, it would've been a pain to carry my books around and to clinicals (I'm a nursing major). I did some research and came across Banjo Brothers' Commuter Pack. http://www.banjobrothers.com/products/01150.php I bought the 2000 cu in one, and I'll probably write a review once I get a hold of it.

    Does anyone know what type of reflector (the red one) is on the backpack?

    I have one of those Banjo bros. packs.

    It's a good pack, although I gotta say I was disappointed with the stitching at the top of the shoulder strap where it connects with the pack. After a month it started to stretch and separate. However, Banjo warrantied it right away.

    The light looks like a Planet Bike light.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •