Bagaboo 23L Medium Messenger Bag £99.00
There are two categories of equipment that cyclists surround themselves with. On the one hand, there is the ‘Sunday Bling’ kit and, on the other, kit that gets used day in day out, relied upon, abused and often sorely neglected. Messenger bags fall squarely into the latter category. Doubling up as everyday chuck-about holdalls and subject to an all weather trashing, they are an essential part of the urban rider’s existence.
In my role as a Eurosport commentator I routinely destroy one regular holdall a season. The weight of laptop, books, papers and assorted junk combined with constant travelling make short work of most bags [and backs – ed.]. For 2008 I’ve decided to give one of the latest crop of cycle messenger bags the Harmon treatment, not just on the bike but as my everyday work bag, as a real test of durability. I’ve chosen the medium size (23 litre), standard messenger bag from Hungarian company Bagaboo, which is currently on duty with me at the Giro.
Bagaboo products are built to order and available directly from the factory or through U.K distributor Urban Hunter. Customisation is their big selling point; standard pattern bags like mine are available off the shelf or you can order virtually any combination of pockets or compartments including padded laptop cases and left or right shoulder options. You can choose from a massive, mind boggling collection of colours and patterns and even provide them with your design.
It’s a good looking bag, slightly wider at the base than the opening that sits comfortably when high on the back. Adjustment of the shoulder strap comes via a hefty cam lock buckle which is secure and easy to adjust whilst riding and there is the obligatory chest strap, although this is not quite so easy to adjust on the fly. This one came with the optional shoulder pad, which is excellent and well worth the little bit extra on the bill if your loads are going to be heavy.
Construction is first class, with a heavy weight Cordura outer shell double stitched to a full liner of truck tarpaulin vinyl. It looks good, seems to be super tough and is, as I can confirm having been caught twice now in long commutes in heavy rain, totally waterproof.
The off the peg bag on test here has, within the main bag, 4 large pockets held together by Velcro and an extra 2 zippered front pockets that sit neatly under the large top; this being tarp lined keeps them dry if not instantly accessible. There are also handy loops for attaching a light and a Scotchlite reflective strip across the bottom.
Everything about the bag,s construction yells quality, which is just as well as messenger bags get a hard time and this one will be no exception. So far it has performed faultlessly on and off the bike although there is still room to improve on a couple of areas.
I would add more reflective strips or piping on a custom bag. If your load is bulky the bottom flattens out and the integral strip is no longer visible. It’s a small point but worth addressing.
Also the clip buckles are standard plastic rucksack style items. As a man who regularly thrashes bags to within an inch of their lives, I know that these tend to get snapped easily. If you are using the bag for anything off the bike, a heavy duty option would be nice.
All in all, a super-tough, cool looking bag with plenty of options for customisation and improvement available. Look out for an update at the end of the season.