While the days of ‘messenger bag cool’ are waning in some places, there are still a host of companies putting out quality and in some cases ‘craft’ cycling bags. Three recently landed in our office: Chrome’s classic Boris backpack, Sci'Con’s cool Solar Genome and upstart Vaya’s recycled Medi Messenger.
Chrome and Vaya take the traditional approach in terms of design and materials. Both use classic, messenger-approved, heavy-duty vinyl coated fabric linings mated with robust structural fabrics like marine canvas and high thread count nylon.
Sci'Con’s Solar bag isn’t the bombproof, waterproof, workhorse that the other two are, being made from an uncoated heavy duty nylon weave. But it offers a convenient solar recharging station for your mobile device – pretty cool, if you ask us.
Chrome’s Boris backpack
The US$120/£114.99 Chrome Boris fulfills the needs of those of us who prefer a backpack, versus a traditional messenger bag. It comes down to this: if you spend any time lugging your pack on foot, you’re likely to prefer how a backpack transfers the load. If you're a messenger or find you're continually filling your bag over capacity with odd shaped items, you're likely to prefer a sling type bag. We found the Boris to be fine on a bike.
Boris has an EVA padded back panel
It's constructed from materials traditionally associated with messengers – 1000 denier Cordura with a waterproof 400 denier ‘truck tarp’ lining. Inside, two main pockets and five organizational pockets offer plenty of storage, which is measured at 36 liters.
Sci'Con’s Solar Genome
The Genome is a messenger bag in style, but not a robust workhorse piece. Rather, it's slick 10 liter bag for short-haul commuters in sunny climates, where you can take full advantage of the solar charging unit. This consists of a flap mounted solar panel, battery and quiver of adaptors.
Of course you pay for it: the bag costs a whopping US$259. However, Sci'Con include all of the accouterments you'll need to charge your camera, phone or USB device; they even include a USB car charger with the bag.
The Solar Genome comes with a battery, to collect from the solar panel, and USB charging adaptors
The Solar Genome lacks the other bags' waterproof finishes and liners but Sci'Con do include a cover, should you be caught in a storm. Inside you’ll find four zippered pockets, a lightly padded laptop sleeve and a host of organizational pockets.
Vaya's Medi Messenger
While the Medi Messenger from Vaya is the most basic of the bunch – no zippers here – it surely has the most soul, and in the world of messengering, robust and simple almost always trumps feature packed and fragile.
For US$165/£106 you get a bag crafted in Long Island, New York by the designer, Tianna Meilinger, or one of her close family members or friends. Like we said, soul – and that’s even before we mention that the bag incorporates recycled bicycle tubes and canvas to bolster that warm and fuzzy enviro feeling.
Hard not to appreciate Vaya's 'made by the designer' construction
The Medi has a main pocket plus three organizational pockets of various sizes, which make up the bag’s 23-liter capacity. The coolest feature is the oversize quick-release buckle, which is mated to two metal D-rings. To cinch the pack down to your back for riding, pull the end ring, and to quickly loosen it, simply pull in the opposite direction. The system is super-fast and super-secure.