Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase. The intuitive organization, great features, and easy access combine for a bag that's "just right. There was no perfect 10 in this category, but several of our award winners came darn close. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime.
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Learn more about Amazon Prime. 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.
We examined the construction quality, robustness of fabrics, and weatherproofing. We also checked for signs of wear and tear at the end of the multi-month testing period.
Our runners-up, however, achieved a level of durability that was more than satisfactory, while still keeping the bags lightweight and supple. Our next favorite models for durability were, again, our award winners, the Patagonia Black Hole and the Osprey FlapJack.
We also were impressed by the durable fabrics and excellent accessories and buckles in the Topo Mountain Briefcase as well as the basic and sturdy, small-but-burly Tom Bihn Daylight. A higher number tells us that we get more functional capacity out of less overall weight—an excellent feature because this means the bag itself is contributing less of the heft resting on your left or right shoulder.
For this metric, we first measured the weight of each bag, then filled the bags and measured the volume that said filler material took up in liters. We divided the capacity by the weight to give us how many ounces of bag you carry per liter of capacity. Since we always want to lighten the loads on our backs or shoulders, a bag that has excessive features might lose points in our overall ranking if those features start to add unnecessary weight.
The top scores went to several of our award winners: The standard sized Patagonia Black Hole and Osprey FlapJack made great use of their space without adding unnecessary weight. Check out our calculations if this category is of the utmost importance to your purchase. Style is not a metric in this category because it's so subjective. However, there is a strong argument to be made for the style and statement you make with your bag.
Over-the-shoulder bags have been around for a long time, at first adapted from military map bags for the broader public. The messenger, as we tend to think of it, has its roots firmly planted in power line worker's bags from the s. In the 80s, this style was updated, adjusted, and reappropriated to bicycle messengers, and the style has exploded and expanded from there. It is urban to the core. And they mirror their hard-working, physically fit, and very badass owner.
While this laundry list of uses for the modern messengers may not mirror the original their original utility, the spirit of the bag holds strong. It is rugged, allows freedom of movement, provides ease of access to your tools, and remains comfortable throughout your busy day, whether perched atop a power line or several stories up in a skyscraper. The Best Messenger Bags of Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated May We added a few new bags to our review this spring, and found some new award winners!
A new Timbuk2 bag snagged an award for being business-savvy, a new Tom Bihn model is our new favorite for tablet and small Chromebook users, and the unique versatility of the Topo Designs messenger also gets a trophy. Check out our update, with a few twists, turns, and fresh looks at the messenger bag. Handles day to day abuse well. See all prices 2 found. We created a standard kit to test each bag's capacity capabilities with everyday items.
The Flapjack didn't blow us away with its comfort on a bike due to an awkward cross-strap , but for walking around town and taking public transport, the padded shoulder strap gets the job done. The messenger bag with an identity crisis: Topo Design's Mountain Briefcase converts from an over-the-shoulder messenger bag to a backpack in just moments. The Timbuk2 Proof is an elegant and well made "dressed up" messenger bag. We liked the simplicity of the Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase. It proves you don't need a multitude of pockets to stay organized.
The Daylight bag features a rail system if you purchase their add-on cache for your tablet -- it slides in and out easily and nests nicely in the bag.
The Black Hole keeps electronics safe and secure, and still easy to access. The Tom Bihn model was so easy to use, we took it almost anywhere we went.
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