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Cycling is an excellent way to get some cardio exercise out of your daily commute or lower your carbon footprint, but it’s not always the most convenient method of transport when you have a lot to carry.
If you’ve ever struggled to juggle your work, school, or shopping essentials while riding your bike, why not try a bike messenger bag?
Messenger bags are specifically designed to make carrying heavy loads more comfortable and practical. Best of all, these bags tend to be designed around the needs of cyclists, so they’re perfect for busy bike riders!
We’ve made a list of the 5 best bike messenger bags, together with a buyer’s guide and FAQ section.
Can’t stay long? Check out our top pick:
- Well-loved brand
- Poly tweed construction
- PU lining
- Simple, classic aesthetic
- Vibrant colour range
- Organization-focused design
- Close fit
- Breathable, padded strap
- Additional stabilizer strap
- Extra top handle
- Compression strap and buckle closure
Best Bike Messenger Bag Reviews
OUR TOP PICK
Timbuk2 has been manufacturing messenger bags suited to the hustle and bustle of city life since 1989, so we had high expectations for the company’s Classic Messenger Bag. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed!
We should mention off the bat that this bag comes in a choice of sizes. It’s available for purchase in X-Small, Small, Medium, and Large. To give you an idea of the scale, the Extra Small model measures 9.84 x 10.2 inches, while the Large measures 13.8 x 15 inches.
Now, that may not seem like much of a size difference, but in practical terms, it’s the difference between fitting a 9-inch tablet or a 17-inch laptop! Basically, there’s a size option in Timbuk2’s range to suit anyone’s transportation needs.
Like most things in life, though, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and Timbuk2 doesn’t disappoint in this area, either!
We’d especially recommend this bag to students because of the design’s focus on organisation and compartmentalisation - although it’s also ideal for just about anyone who likes to stay organised on the go. There are so many pockets in this thing, we challenge you to use them all!
You have the main compartment for your larger essentials, of course, but there is also a total of 3 zip pockets (including an easy[access side pocket) with both smaller and larger capacities for carrying valuables or small accessories of any size.
Beyond that, the Classic Messenger also features an open sleeve pocket as well as organizer compartments for pens and pencils. There’s even a long, sturdy leash attached with a metal clasp for your keys!
Thanks to the solid closure buckles and compression straps attached to the flap, you can trust this bag to keep all of your items safe and secure.
Finally, we need to talk about how this bag fits and the different ways it can be carried. This is a close-fitting bag, which is perfect for bike riding since it’s less likely to throw you off balance.
- Represents respected brand
- Classic, minimalist style
- Durable poly tweed
- Wipe-clean PU liner
- Bold colour options
- Designed for organization
- Padded, breathable cross-body strap
- Extra stability strap
- Buckle and compression strap closure
- Includes top handle
- Not the best at retaining structure
If durability is your priority, allow us to point you in the direction of the OIWAS Messenger Bag Satchel. We’ve been absolutely blown away by the sheer strength of this bag’s construction, and we suspect you will be, too!
This messenger bag comes in a choice of black, grey, or pink, and has an uncluttered, symmetrical design that’s both completely unisex and wonderfully versatile.
The waterproof canvas material that makes up most of the OIWAS Messenger Bag is rated at an impressive 600 D. This ultra-thick fabric, as you might expect, has incredible tear-resistance.
This quality, combined with the bag’s whopping 17.8-litre capacity (almost your average cabin-sized suitcase), allows for the transportation of bulky and heavy objects without risk of damage to either the bag or your possessions.
This messenger bag is super comfortable to carry because of the widely-padded shoulder strap that won’t roll, slide, or dig into your shoulder.
You can easily adjust its length using the attached buckle to make the bag sit where you want it to.
If wearing the bag satchel-style does become uncomfortable at any point, though, you can always use the smaller top strap to carry it like a briefcase or handbag.
Extra protection for your valuables is provided by the bag’s internal pocket system.
The main compartment has enough storage space for multiple large textbooks, gym gear, or even a modest amount of groceries, so it really is suitable for most purposes.
The laptop sleeve is large enough to hold a standard laptop (up to 15.6 inches). Additionally, several smaller zip pockets and gadget sleeves are built into the bag for those items you want to keep extra safe and separate.
We also love the closures on this bag. You’ll never need to worry about the security of your essentials thanks to the fixed-button closure that locks into place and won’t come undone accidentally.
But of course, when you’re cycling with a bag in tow, it’s not just your belongings you need to think about protecting - you also need to ensure your own safety.
The OIWAS Messenger Bag helps with this by incorporating a large, reflective strip down the front of the bag to help alert road users and pedestrians to your presence.
- 600 D waterproof canvas
- 17.8-litre capacity
- Wide, adjustable padded strap
- Includes zip pockets and electronics sleeves
- Sturdy fixed-button closures
- Durable SBS zippers
- Features large reflective strip
- Comes in grey, black, and pink
- Unisex design
- Material feels slightly on the cheaper side
Students and professionals alike regularly need to carry water-sensitive items with them on their travels, from electronics to paper documents.
While many messenger bags have some level of built-in waterproofing or at least water-resistance, it’s reassuring to see a reputed cycling brand like Rohtar making this their main priority.
The Rohtar Waterproof Messenger Bag is made from waterproof PVC fabric. As well as keeping moisture at bay with the help of the bag’s innovative vacuum sealing top closure, this fabric is tough enough to withstand a lot of long-term use.
We’ve been referring to ‘the bag’ in the singular thus far, but Rohtar has essentially rolled 3 bags into 1 with this design.
It’s a messenger bag, of course, but thanks to the full adjustability of the straps, it also functions as a detachable pannier (clips are built-in) and a rucksack!
Sadly, while the fabric used to make this messenger bag is top-quality, the stitching doesn’t quite match up to it in some cases.
This seems to be more of a consistency issue than a question of general quality because most customers don’t experience this problem, but it’s something worth bearing in mind.
- 3-in-1 functionality
- 100% waterproof PVC fabric
- Modern aesthetic
- Vacuum-sealed top
- Adjustable, click-mechanism straps
- Targeted area padding
- Features triangular reflector
- Available in 18 and 25-litre capacity
- Comes in black or yellow
- Inconsistent seam stitch quality
Manhattan Portage’s Bike messenger bag draws on the design of more traditional messenger bags to provide an eminently practical bag for busy professionals.
The Manhattan Portage messenger bag achieves the perfect balance between organisation and simplicity.
While it can be nice to have a plethora of concealed or zipper pockets inside your messenger bag, it can also make your essentials less easily accessible. A lot of professionals just don’t have time for that.
This bag has a single main compartment with a divider and 1 zipper pocket. This means that there’s designated space for your laptop and smaller essentials like keys and phone, but the rest of your belongings remain easily accessible in the main pocket.
The simplicity and accessibility of this bag extend to the closure, which takes the form of a single buckle on the top flap.
Again, this means that it won’t take you more than a couple of seconds to get into your bag - but it does also mean that you probably won’t want to keep anything too small or valuable in the main pocket since it could fall out.
Where overall construction is concerned, this bag is made from durable but lightweight canvas with a waterproof coating, so it’s got all the most important features of a messenger bag.
Triple stitching has been employed for the seams, so you won’t be noticing any loose threads or holes anytime soon.
At 2-inches wide, the shoulder strap sits flat and comfortably across the wearer’s body. It can be adjusted using the strap buckle, and because it’s made of nylon webbing, it’ll hold its own against even the heaviest loads.
This bag is available in 3 basic colours: black, grey, and navy. The extra splash of vibrant red from the brand logo stitched into the front corner goes a long way towards making this bag look unique despite its minimalist aesthetic.
- Traditional, minimalist design
- Waterproof-coated canvas
- Divided main pocket
- 1 zipper pocket
- 2-inch thick nylon webbed strap
- Triple-stitched seams
- Eye-catching logo
- Main pocket is not suitable for small items
This bag is absolutely beautiful to look at, with a neat, box-like structure that holds its shape and a high-quality canvas construction that both looks and feels superior.
Depending on your individual style, you can purchase this bag in over 40 unique designs! Pick your favourite colour from a selection of muted tones and vibrant hues, and choose between zipper or PU leather buckle detailing.
This bag is also available in Medium or Large. The Large size is big enough to fit your average-sized laptop at 13.6 x 10.2 x 4.4 inches, while the Medium, measuring in at 12.4 x 9.4 x 3.4 inches, is better suited to tablet-sized objects.
One of the best things about this bag is that it has padding on the pack panel while is also designed to stimulate airflow, so you can say goodbye to bag-sweat and discomfort for good.
It has a shoulder strap, fitted with the same airflow padding, which is 41 inches long in total but can be shortened to the perfect fit using the buckle adjuster. The design also features a top handle for hand-carrying.
Inside the bag, you’ll find all the pockets you could possibly need. The main compartment features a laptop pocket and a zipper pocket.
There are also 2 small inner pockets, 2 side pockets, and even a couple of pen holders under the flap - you’ll be the most organized cyclist for miles around!
2 zipped pockets are built into the outside of the bag for easy access, and the whole bag is fastened securely with a durable, smooth-toggled zipper closure at the top.
If you’re looking for a large messenger bag to carry your weekly shop or enormous physics textbooks, this probably isn’t the bag for you.
However, if you normally have a small to moderate amount of baggage to carry with you and want to do it in style, we think you’ll love it!
Just remember not to use it in the rain if you can avoid it because it’s not waterproof.
- Over 40 designs
- Available in small and medium
- Padded, ventilated back panel
- Airflow padded shoulder strap
- Built-in top carry-handle
- Multiple inner and outer pockets
- Smooth closure toggles
- Not waterproof
- Small capacity
Best Bike Messenger Bag Buying Guide
We mentioned earlier in our introduction that a combination of specific features can set a messenger bag apart from the rest of the competition as an ideal bike messenger bag.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll be going over some of these features individually to help you ensure that your messenger bike is perfectly suited for bike use.
As with any kind of bag, the desirable size of a bike messenger bag will totally depend on you, the wearer.
When determining what size messenger bag you need for riding your bike, you’ll need to think about how much you need to carry and how much weight you can realistically support while cycling.
As our reviewed messenger bags have showcased, bike messenger bags can be purchased in a variety of sizes with many manufacturers producing the same bag in different size options.
If you intend to use your messenger bag to carry a laptop, we would recommend measuring the size of your laptop first to make sure it will fit, since many messenger bags are advertized as laptop-compatible but do not acknowledge that laptops come in different sizes.
If you’re planning to carry a lot with you in your bike messenger bag, we recommend a bag with over 1,500 square inches of storage space.
A bike messenger bag should be durable and, ideally, weatherproof. Both of these qualities are dependant on the fabric or materials used to make the bag.
Many messenger bags are made out of canvas, which is an excellent choice for durability, but canvas alone won’t provide much weatherproofing.
This is why a good portion of messenger bag manufacturers are making their bags out of more water-resistant materials like nylon and Cordura.
The addition of an interior lining is also desirable because it will help to weatherproof the bag and also make it easier to clean in the event of a spill. For the most durable and waterproof lining, we recommend tarp or vinyl.
As a general rule regarding the weatherproofing and durability of messenger bag fabric, we recommend looking at the Denier of the material (normally expressed as a number followed by D). A higher number indicates a thicker material, which will not only be more durable but more water-resistant as well.
It can often be helpful to have more than one type of closure on your bike messenger bag. This is because you want to have a balance between keeping your items safe and secure and being able to access essential items when you need to.
For the main compartment of your messenger bag, buckle and/or compression strap closures are ideal because of the strength, durability, and support provided by these closure types.
However, for external and side pockets, zip or velcro closures are usually best because you can access your essentials like your phone or tablet more quickly and efficiently.
Often, a combination of different closures can help to keep your messenger bag as secure as possible, so if you can find a bag that suits you with multiple closure systems, we would recommend that you do so.
The strap of a messenger bag is key to determining whether the bag will be comfortable to wear or not. It will also dictate how securely and practically the bag stays in place while it’s being worn.
Both of these things are especially important when it comes to bike messenger bags because, while cycling, any discomfort, slippage, or imbalance can be distracting and dangerous.
We recommend prioritizing bags with padded straps for extra comfort. Ideally, the strap should also be adjustable so you can make sure it fits you properly.
An underarm stabilizer strap can also help to keep your messenger bag in place so that it doesn’t slide around and pull you off balance while you’re riding on the road.
Everyone knows how important it is to be safety-conscious when riding a bike, especially on the road. When most people think about bike safety, the first thing that comes to mind is a helmet. But did you know that your bike messenger bag can also help to keep you safe while cycling?
The most dangerous time to ride a bike is at night because of the reduced visibility. Cyclists are required to use at least 1 light when riding in dark conditions, but this doesn’t provide nearly as much visibility as the headlights that many states require car drivers to operate when driving at night.
Therefore, it’s always helpful to have some extra reflective or light-giving accessories on your person when riding a bike at night or in reduced visibility (eg. heavy fog).
One option for drawing attention to yourself when cycling at night is the humble reflective strip. This is a simple and effective way of making yourself a little more visible to motorists and pedestrians at night.
Some messenger bags feature a reflective strip, so if you’d like a little extra peace of mind for your nighttime bike rides without having to invest in more bike lights, this is a convenient option.
Alternatively, certain messenger bags have practical loops built in, to which you can attach a light of your choice (in compliance with your state’s road laws, of course).
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need a bike messenger bag?
There are many products available on the market for transporting your groceries or essential items while on a bike. Baskets, for example, are a popular choice, as are fanny packs and backpacks.
However, with messenger bags also being a fashionable choice in recent years, you’ll probably get the most use out of this type of bag because of how multipurpose it is.