The best bicycle messenger bag is one that combines convenience and quality. Offering enough room to pack the things you need while holding up to the rigors of the weather, heat, and cold. Choosing the right messenger bag starts with selecting one of the two main styles, how they are used, and which ones are right for you specific needs.
Messenger or Briefcase
The standard messenger bag is similar to a large purse with a cross-body strap. A briefcase version has hard panels much like a standard briefcase only smaller. For the most part, a messenger bag is preferred because you can add more items thanks to its loose design, and it is easier to carry. However, there are some who may prefer a briefcase style (here are examples from Pinterest) because it has more small pockets for carrying items such as sunscreen, pens, and the like.
Messenger-style bags tend to be superior when carrying them on a bike because you can easily transition from riding to walking. Plus, they have quick-release buckles that makes maneuvering and opening them up easy. Even the tech savvy crowd enjoy their form factor and durability.
What to Look for in the Best Bike Messenger Bag
There are four main qualities when searching for the right messenger bag. Each one will need to be addressed if you want the best for the tasks you have planned for it.
Comfort: Keep in mind that you are going to be carrying this type of bag when not riding. So, it will need to have a wide, padded strap if possible. This is especially true if you are carrying books to school. You may want one with a waste strap which provides better balance when you are walking or riding, although it may be a bit more cumbersome.
Another feature if you live in an area that has hot summer weather is a pack or bag that provides some type of ventilation. However, a small messenger bag probably does not need such a feature to be effective.
Size: Put simply, what are you going to carry on a typical day? Answer that question and you’ll know what size of messenger bag to choose. If you are carrying books and items to school, then a larger backpack-style bag may be to your liking. However, if you only need a bag to carry a few things, then choosing one that is smaller will work best.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a bag that is slightly bigger than your needs. Just in case you have to pack that extra item. In addition, if you carry clothes in the bag and want to keep them neat, then a bag with a main compartment that is protected will serve you well.
Versatility: A bag is not just for riding it is for walking while carrying your items. This means that you will need to choose a messenger bag that fits your lifestyle both on and off the bike. If you have a chance to buy the bag in person, put it over your shoulder or carry it around the store briefly to see what it is like. Chances are, you’ll find that most bags may seem similar, but there are enough differences that checking them out is worth it.
If you are buying online, you can try to find a similar bag at a retail store or go with the type of messenger bag similar to the last one you owned.
Waterproof: This may seem like a no-brainer to some but having a waterproof messenger back can really save you if you are caught out in a rainstorm. Be aware that there is a difference between waterproof and water-resistant. A water-resistant bag is designed to hold up against the rain but does not do as well when immersed in water.
A waterproof bag is designed to hold up even when immersed in puddle or a really hard rain. So, to protect the items inside, you are best served by a waterproof messenger bag.
Now that you know the size, comfort, and overall style you want, the next step is choosing from the many features that they offer.
Laptop Sleeve: Although laptops are slowly being replaced by tablets, they are still in widespread use. Getting a messenger bag with a laptop sleeve means better protection and greater accessibility. Plus, for those with larger tablets and keyboard, this type of sleeve works nicely as well.
Push-Button Release: Another popular feature is a push-button or eject-button release that makes taking the bag off quick and easy. This is more of a convenience feature and arguably not necessary, but it does make the transition from carrying the bag on the bike to when you are walking a breeze.
Stabilization Strap: This is a T-shaped strap that provides better stabilization and balance when you ride with the messenger bag. There are some who may not like having a belt around their waist when riding, but it does offer better security to keep the bag in place.
Carrying the Bag
While many messenger bags are designed to be carried on your back when riding, there are other types that may attach to the bike itself.
Handlebar: This offers the convenience of being well-balanced and in front of you, so you can see the bag when riding. The only downside is the time it takes to attach and detach the messenger bag, but this is usually minor. However, for those who cannot secure it to the handlebars properly, it can be problematic.
Saddle: This is a smaller bag that is attached to the vertical bar from the handlebars to the seat. It’s between the legs, so it is out of the way, but needs to be fully secure if you are going out.
Getting the best bicycle messenger bag means choosing the one that best fits your needs when carrying items on your bike. Be sure to choose a high-quality item that offers protection against the elements. Plus, get a messenger bag that is just a little bigger than your expected needs, so you have room for one more item on your next trip.