Turn my messenger bag into a backpack. QUICK
April 9, 2010 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Look, I'm no genius, but it seems like you should be able to buy some sort of strap that can convert an existing messenger-style bag into one that can be worn more like a backpack. Right?

There are hybrid type bags (such as the BumBakPak) that have a nifty strap to convert from backpack to messenger.

Can I not just buy a strap like this and put it on any messenger bag? If so, where? HELP.
posted by c:\awesome to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah no that's not really possible unless you have messenger bag made to do that.
posted by kthxbi at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2010

It's possible, but it will require you to sew on the strap or attachment pieces yourself. Normal messengers bags can't turn into convertible bags/backpacks without some sewing. I imagine any sort of specialty fabric/sewing store would have what you need.
posted by Grither at 10:48 AM on April 9, 2010

Response by poster: Why?

The BumBakPak seems to be a regular strap that connects on both side clips of the messenger bag, but an extra piece that clips onto the top-center of the bag, right where every messenger bag has a handle. Couldn't that center strap just velcro on to the handle or something? Doesn't seem like rocket science here.
posted by c:\awesome at 10:49 AM on April 9, 2010

My old timbuk2 bag came with this, though it didn't go over the shoulder-- it was more for stabilizing large or heavy loads, and it was pretty effective.
posted by alexei at 10:49 AM on April 9, 2010

Ok well my chrome bag has no such handle that you're talking about. Neither do timbuk2 bags. I think we're not on the same messenger bag wavelength here.
posted by kthxbi at 10:50 AM on April 9, 2010

My bag doesn't have a handle there either.
posted by phatkitten at 10:51 AM on April 9, 2010

Neither of my messenger bags have the top-center handle. I don't think this is a common feature on messenger bags aimed at bicyclists.
posted by box at 10:52 AM on April 9, 2010

Response by poster: Timbuk2 bags have that handle, because I'm looking at mine right now.

Anywho... seems like I could make one of these myself then mass produce them for a million dollars.
posted by c:\awesome at 10:53 AM on April 9, 2010

Timbuk2 messenger bags don't come with that handle. Maybe the laptop bags do, but not the messenger bags.
posted by MesoFilter at 10:57 AM on April 9, 2010

Looks like a piece of rope would do the trick. Or even just one of these buckle things in a loop with that seatbelt type material. Nothing fancy required, just loop that around your middle handle and the normal handle and ta-da: BumBakPak!
posted by Grither at 10:57 AM on April 9, 2010

This is what I'm talking about. Would need to find the appropriate (short) length.
posted by Grither at 10:58 AM on April 9, 2010

I have a Timbuk2 messenger bag that has the center handle, and one that doesn't.

Check the site. Not all their messenger bags have the handle.
posted by rtha at 11:00 AM on April 9, 2010

Rei or other camping supply stores carry straps and buckles
posted by ljesse at 11:06 AM on April 9, 2010

I have a BumBakPak. You're wrong about it. The strap is no ordinary strap. It' has a oddly angled set of bits in the middle and padding on both sides to work out all the magic, plus extra D rings at odd places to shorten or lengthen depending on the mode. It also doesn't connect to the center carrying handle but to a special dangle strap attached near the middle of the bag. The key point is the strap needs to be much longer to be a back pack (bum pack, really) and you can't just magically add that. If you tried to just use the center handle, the strap would slide around and the bag would always be lopsided.

TL;DR: It's more clever than it appears in the little video.
posted by chairface at 11:12 AM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Would two of these work? Or, alternatively, these. You could clip both hooks to the handle on top. I'm not sure where you'd clip the bottom two hooks. Ideally, to each lower corner of the bag.

Or perhaps the Innova Bakpack Strap would work -- it looks kind of like the thing you linked to. You could try attaching the middle two clips to the handle, and the outer two clips to whatever is attaching the ends of the normal (shoulder) strap to your bag.

This Protech Padded Backpack Strap might also work. The top could probably clip to the handle, and (again) the bottom two loops could go through whatever is attaching the ends of the normal (shoulder) strap to your bag. The V shaped part would probably end up lowish on your back, like with the BumBackPack.

These might be more wearable if the bottoms of the straps could attach to rings (or something) on the lower corners of your bag. It's hard to say.
posted by sentient at 11:30 AM on April 9, 2010

One of the problems is that many of the more comfortable messenger bags are asymmetrical; they're made to be worn over one shoulder or the other. They couldn't easily be converted.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:02 PM on April 9, 2010

They can't be converted because they have different shapes: messenger bags are wider than they are tall; backpacks are taller than they are wide (like your back). Backpacks are also more rigid, and their straps go vertically instead of "horizontally" across the top (which in practice is diagonally across your chest).

Sure you could put another strap on your messenger bag, but it wouldn't be comfortable to wear as a backpack. And, as you probably know, wearing only one strap of your a backpack doesn't make it fit like a messenger bag either.
posted by k. at 12:30 PM on April 9, 2010

i used to work for a small messenger bag company, and i gotta agree with k. there's a reason a product like this isn't on the market: messenger bags make shitty backpacks. i mean there's that bumbakpak but... jesus, have you looked at that thing?

honestly, i don't really know why messenger bags are that popular. they're really only suited to slinging around to access the contents without taking them off (in other words, messenger work). even when i worked as a messenger, i rocked a backpack.
posted by johnnybeggs at 1:48 PM on April 9, 2010

When I'm actually on a bike (my preferred mode of transport) I prefer the messenger bag to a backpack; most backpacks, when adjusted properly, make me feel like the weight is riding too high on my shoulders. As for people just walking around with them, I think it's style more than anything. Both backpacks and messenger bags are good for different applications, but I think a hybrid isn't going to do very well at anything.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:55 PM on April 9, 2010

I ordered a BumBakPak, tried it for a couple of days, and returned it promptly. If you look closely at the photos on the website, you'll notice that what none of them show is the back of the bag, where the straps attach, and how the bag-to-backpack conversion works. Why? Because it's not well designed — I found the conversion inconvenient and the strap hardware quite uncomfortable.

One-strap bags, messenger-style or otherwise, will mess up your posture and throw your back out of alignment over time. Backpacks are the way to go, IMO.
posted by Lexica at 2:57 PM on April 9, 2010

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