It's yet ANOTHER "Help me buy a bag posts!"
June 14, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

I am ruining my back with my messenger bag, and need a new one. Help! (lots of TL; DR inside)

I looked at many many other questions and none quite get what I need to know.

I have a Chrome Citizen that I have been using about 4 years. I *love* it. But the bag weighs a ton even while empty.

I am moving in a week, and will likely be riding my bike 5-10 miles a day commuting. I need a daily use bag - preferably smaller than what I have, but still rugged and waterproof.

I do NOT want a backpack. If I didn't hate the way they look, I would probably love the comfort. I also have a rear basket and panniers to use if needed for heavier hauls. Basically, this will be my purse.

The couple of things I won't compromise on are a padded strap and that the bag be waterproof. I would prefer if the bag can be used for right OR left shoulder. Also, I do NOT want a Timbuk2. I have 2 (I know - I plan on selling one of them) and don't like them much.

The bags I've been looking at/drooling over are The Chrome Corsair (no padding, but the price is right), Chicago WIG People's Bag (a little pricy, but locally made) and the ReLoad Dash (the frontrunner). I would prefer to spend less than $150. If it matters, I'm in Chicago.

So I come to you, the amazing hive mind. What kind of bags have you used and adored? Can you suggest something I've not thought of?
posted by bibliogrrl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a huge fan of the BaileyWorks SuperPro. I have two—a small and a medium—and they're fantastic. The prices seem to have gone up since I got mine, but they're absolutely worth it (mine are both years old and like new save for needing a cleaning). N.B: they don't weigh a ton, but I don't know that they're that much lighter than the Chromes. In any case, I'd recommend them over the locally-made-for-me ReLoad.
posted by The Michael The at 11:39 AM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am in the same boat!. My back can no longer tolerate my Chrome Metropolis when fully loaded. I used to carry 30lb bags of rice and cat food in it, but I now have a car and no longer need a bag as big as a car trunk. I'm thinking that proper panniers are the only way to go.
posted by tmt at 12:05 PM on June 14, 2010

and now for something completely different ...
great bags
posted by Bet Glenn at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2010

There are plenty of aftermarket strap pads available (most, but not all, attach around the strap, but some require that the strap is removable on at least one end), and there are treatments for nylon that can make it relatively waterproof (like, an-hour-in-a-rainstorm waterproof, not submerged-overnight waterproof).

Personally, I prefer a full-on waterproof liner, but if you want a lighter-weight bag, it might be worth considering.
posted by box at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2010

honestly? get a rear rack and panniers or front rack and basket.

I own a ridiculously awesome messenger bag from PAC Designs. It's got every ergonomic feature that you could ask for with a messenger bag: stabilizing strap, reinforced padding on the shoulder, multiple cinch options to optimize weight distribution, waist strap to transfer loads to your hips, second crossing strap to convert to a backpack, etc.

and it can still be a bear to use day-in, day-out with anywhere between 10 and 30 lbs of cargo. I still love the PAC bag, have owned it for 10 years, and its my default bag if I plan on roaming a lot on my day (ie. home to work to bar to friend's house to movie theater to home, etc.) because lugging around panniers off the bike can be a pain, too. But if I'm only going between work and home (or work > grocery > home) then I always prefer to bring panniers. Riding clothes don't get messed up, I get less sweaty, I breath more easily without all of that weight pressing on my torso and I stopped getting random weird nerve pain in my shoulder or lower back.
posted by bl1nk at 12:58 PM on June 14, 2010

oh, dammit, I just saw that you do have a rear rack and panniers ... so what I do if I don't plan on carrying a ton of stuff with me (like, commuting with just a lunch and work top/pants) is I put it all into a small Crumpler shoulder bag, and I put that in the panniers and just ride it that way. Depending on destination (ie. work w/ secure parking or home vs. grocery parking lot or parking meter outside of restaurant) I'll either leave the panniers on and take the shoulder bag off or take the panniers off and take everything with me.

Again, nothing on the back while on the bike. Don't make yourself carry your stuff, make your bike do that work.
posted by bl1nk at 1:05 PM on June 14, 2010

The Mountainsmith lumbar bags with strappettes. If you can find an older one, before the company moved production from Colorado to Sri Lanka, it'll outlast you. The new ones are pretty good, too.
I can't say enough about these bags. I have four or five of the old ones and I carry them every day, have since I lived in SE Asia. With the strap kit you have five ways to carry the bag. You have to see it, but it's not just another sack on a strap that's trying to saw off through your neck.
I've carried everything from kittens to bricks in there and I never suffered more than I deserved. That's all you can ask, really.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 1:05 PM on June 14, 2010

What about the Chrome Backpacks? I think they look a lot more awesome than a regular backpack and would definitely help out with your ergo issues. Otherwise, panniers are the way to go, I think. I can't think of a fully-loaded messenger bag that won't eventually torque your back. When I used to carry a messenger, I'd try to alternate shoulders but it never felt right over the left shoulder. Eventually, I switched to a backpack and the difference is incredible. I also use panniers, usually one side loaded, the other not. Though I will balance them if I have a really heavy load.
posted by amanda at 1:09 PM on June 14, 2010

I asked a similar question here about backpacks once. I got some great answers, and in researching some of the companies that people suggested I discovered one that hadn't been mentioned: Spire. I bought a few bags to try and liked the workmanship of the Spire bag best, so that's the one I kept. I've had it for several years since and it survived the beating of law school, and looks nearly as good today as when I first bought it. They make two messenger bags, both under $150.
posted by cribcage at 1:09 PM on June 14, 2010

Response by poster: I like the BaileyWorks bags because they can be used on either shoulder. The Chicago Wig bags I linked to do that, too.

I do use my rear basket for carrying most things, and when I have a smaller bag, I'll generally throw that in the basket rather than wearing it.

I'll probably end up getting one of the Chrome utility bags if only because the price is right and it will do what I need.

Really - I'm looking for the best bag I can get for the amount I can afford. This isn't going to be a heavy duty bag - just a purse. I'll keep my big Chrome bag for when I need something heavier.
posted by bibliogrrl at 1:21 PM on June 14, 2010

Response by poster: PS - for those who follow, I ended up getting the Chrome Vega. A couple of weeks in, and I like it a LOT. It fits neatly in my rear basket on my bike, and is waterproof. It is also forcing me to carry only the essentials.

posted by bibliogrrl at 12:49 PM on June 28, 2010

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