Best mens over the shoulder bag?
December 4, 2009 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Best over-the-shoulder mens dispatch bag / "manbag"? Recommendations please.

What is the best over-the-shoulder "dispatch" style bag / "manbag"? There are many on the market but I need one which is ideally waterproof and well constructed, and is durable enough for every day use. It would be nice if it could fit a standard 15in laptop and has enough depth to hold large(ish) books. I have had many that have broken and others I have seen just don't look very good in terms of the style. I'd like the bag to be either black or brown, quite plain, and of quite a high quality at a reasonable price. Any ideas?
posted by samengland to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I believe these are also called messenger bags.
posted by samengland at 2:29 PM on December 4, 2009

Can't go wrong with Chrome brand. Mine's 3 years old, abused, and going strong.

Here's one in all black
posted by thedaniel at 2:32 PM on December 4, 2009

I'm a big fan of Tom Bihn's bags, though I have not used one of the messenger bags. I have several others, though, and I can't praise them highly enough. My Empire Builder briefcase was my daily companion for many years; it's still going strong but now it sees competition from another Bihn bag--the Western Flyer suitcase (used as briefcase)--which fits perfectly in one of the baskets on my bicycle rack.

My brother-in-law makes great messenger bags: Zugster Bags. He makes them as a hobby, so there's a long wait for custom bags, and his standard bags are snatched up very quickly once he posts them for sale.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:35 PM on December 4, 2009

When I rode my motorcycle (sigh) I used one of these. It's entirely waterproof (I rode with my laptop often in heavy downpours) and after literally years of daily use it never ripped or tore. In fact, I stopped using it only because it had gotten so grimy that my wife started giving me shit for walking around with it. I think Aerostitch also makes smaller, "notebook" sized bags.
posted by lex mercatoria at 2:36 PM on December 4, 2009

Timbuk2 bags are highly regarded around here. I've never owned one, but some friends of mine do and they all seem to like them. They can get a little expensive, though.

I use a Land's End Classic Attaché. While not waterproof, it looks great, is insanely durable, and Land's End will replace it if it wears out. (I went through two or three bags in ten years, until someone stole mine, and I got another shortly thereafter.) They also have other bags you may like; if the attaché is any indication, it'd be hard to go wrong.
posted by tellumo at 2:43 PM on December 4, 2009

I'm at a point where I'm pretty loyal to Timbuk2's products. Specifically, I had a laptop in one, walked through unexpected downpour for twenty minutes, and had a bone-dry laptop. For that certainty, I'm happy to pay a few bucks more.

(For what it's worth, these are usually called messenger bags, at least in the US; other names are less common by a large margin, at least in my own experience.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:48 PM on December 4, 2009

posted by kestrel251 at 2:51 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: I'm actually in the UK - any recommendations for bags available from UK retailers?
posted by samengland at 2:52 PM on December 4, 2009

+1 Tom Bihn. I have been carrying an "Id" bag for 3+ years and it is in great shape.
posted by Mid at 2:52 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for recommendations so far.
posted by samengland at 2:53 PM on December 4, 2009

I've had a Briggs & Riley bag for a couple years that would seem to fit all your requirements (waterproof, durable, high-quality, intelligently organized) -- except maybe width since it barely holds my 13" laptop. But lo & behold, they have another bag that's specifically designed for a 15" laptop.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:54 PM on December 4, 2009

(UK stores)
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:55 PM on December 4, 2009

I have a Chrome bag, but they're not exactly reasonably priced anymore (the bag I got is about 2x as expensive now as when I got it), and they're not exactly 'quite plain.' It is, however, a fantastic bag; absolutely nothing* is wrong with it after 4 years of basically every day use. The outside is entirely waterproof, the inside has 2 sections that are both waterproof also (so spills are contained), and even road grease works out of the cordura pretty easily. The last year or so I've been kind of wishing I got a BaileyWorks bag instead, so I've been trying to be a bit rougher to this one under the reasoning that if this one breaks I'll get a BaileyWorks bag, but I haven't had much luck.. even all of the pieces that you'd assume would break, like the fancy seatbelt buckle and all the snaps, are still going strong.

* I lie. One piece of stitching from the backside of a seam on one of the inside pockets pulled out maybe an inch or so.
posted by devilsbrigade at 2:59 PM on December 4, 2009

Best answer: I recently bought a wonderful The North Face messenger bag from john lewis. It is the most awesome bag. EVERYTHING fits in it. Its got a compartment in it for my 15' laptop and carries all my large cisco networking books to and from university.
posted by gergtreble at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2009

Mountain Hardware Sentinel - Awesome bag, I have the Jr (Smaller and non-PVC) but tje Sentinel is identical save for a larger size and the waterproof PVC materila.

I use it daily as I work IT in downtown Portland, and we have 3 offices spanning 1 mile. So I do tons of walking carrying laptops, phones, and other goodies in it. Even though my Sentinel Jr is not the 'waterproof model' I have been in heavy Portland rain a couple times and nothing got wet.

I shyed away from the Chrome bags because EVERYONE has one and it was the trendy thing to do. And because of that they were extremely expensive. I like Timbuk2 bags but I got the Sentinel Jr for cheaper. Also if the Elevated Rewards (Free) program is available in the UK, I think you can get 20% off the Sentinel/Sentinel Jr right now.
posted by NotSoSimple at 3:26 PM on December 4, 2009

BaileyWorks bags are waterproof, indestructible and have a very simple design. They may seem a little pricey but the quality of manufacture is insane.

Both of mine have been through years of abuse and weather, on bikes and off, and somehow still look new. They are among my most prized possessions. The medium or large would accommodate your laptop.
posted by quarterframer at 3:33 PM on December 4, 2009

Again? See my previous post, where I link to 6 AskMe threads on this same topic.
posted by sophist at 3:38 PM on December 4, 2009

Ah! I just realised I linked to the red version of my bag. Min is in fact deep dark black.
posted by gergtreble at 3:40 PM on December 4, 2009

I bought this one myself a while ago, and I kind of love it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:03 PM on December 4, 2009

Acme Made "Clyde" bag.
posted by nicwolff at 5:16 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: The North Face messenger bag from John Lewis recommended above is available in black.
posted by samengland at 6:43 AM on December 5, 2009

I have a Musto Navigator's Case and use it daily. As you'd expect from Musto, it's waterproof and durable. The pockets are also very well laid out (I particularly like the small front pocket near the handles, which can hold a wallet or train pass) and can be easily accessed without taking off/putting down the bag. It has both an over-the shoulder strap, and a pair of handles on the top.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 6:47 AM on December 5, 2009

I've had my Timbuk2 for five and a half years now, and it's still in great condition. It's gone everywhere with me, and all it has to show for it are some scratches and a little peeling fabric off the back. My girlfriend got her bag a little after me, and it's in about the same condition.

A friend of mine had a Chrome bag that he loved, but they were just a little too expensive for me at the time. And another friend has a Crumpler that's never left his side. I'd recommend all three brands.
posted by gchucky at 7:50 AM on December 5, 2009

I have a Chrome bag, and while I agree that it is well made and substantial, it's a little too bulky for me. At a certain point they ran into overkill on the construction for daily (non-professional) use.
posted by OmieWise at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2009

Another vote for Timbuk2. I've used mine 5 days a week for about 2 years now, it's waterproof, and hasn't had a single loose stitch(that I've found).
posted by specialnobodie at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2009

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