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Sling a messenger bag over your shoulder and hit the road

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Getting Started:

Bike messenger bags are the stylish bag of choice for many urban cyclist. mission-workshop-rummy-green-man-on-bike

These comfortable shoulder bags rest diagonally across a rider's back and typically have a stabilizing strap across the chest to keep the bags secure while riding. They are well-known for quick cargo accessibility due to their one-shoulder design, which allows a rider to slide the bag from back to front, for easy loading without having to take the bag off.

With the multiple shapes and colors available, bike messenger bags have lots of personality while being highly functional for the daily tote-n-ride.

With the ease and comfort of the messenger bag, it's no wonder they have sustained such a long history. They began as mail carrier bags for the Pony Express riders in the nineteenth century, resurfaced in the 1950's high-fashion shoulder bag scene, and have continued to make an impression ever since as a utilitarian bag used by active enthusiasts with places to be and stuff to carry.

Today, these bags are designed with the idea that they are being zipped all over town, delivering gear, carrying books, or just enduring the everyday hustle and bustle of a bike messenger.

Made to be ultra durable, they are typically constructed from high denier Cordura, the heavy-duty fabric which offers toughness while being highly water-resistant or waterproof. In most cases, the fabric is completely waterproof, but some design features like stitched seams or outer pockets, will dub the bag as water resistant.

For comfort and fit, messenger bags rival bike backpacks.

After many years of figuring what works best, there are some standard features that every messenger bag should have. The shoulder strap is the main point of interest, considering all comfort fit factors ride on this part of the bag, while the rest is convenience.

Shoulder straps should be fairly wide on bike messenger bags in order to distribute weight more evenly across your body. The straps are either reinforced and padded along impact points, or include an adjustable pad which can be moved along the strap for custom comfort.

A cross-chest stabilizing strap is used in conjunction with the shoulder strap to keep the bag in place while riding. Good messenger bags have tons of cinching straps and buckles attached to the shoulder strap and stabilizing strap so you can adjust the bag to fit, whether you're very tall or very small and everything in between.

The shoulder strap can also double as a Batman-like utility belt, it's a great place to accessorize with cell phone holders, lock holsters, small ditty bags -- all necessary items to have at your immediate disposal.

The structure of messenger bags are designed for ultimate convenience. Equipped with a large main flap that secures with cinching buckles, Velcro, or both, you can quickly open the bag, expel it's contents, and hurry on your merry way. chrome-mini-bike-messenger-bag-green-stock Some bags go a step further with a waterproof roll top flap which opens up organization accessibility while increasing waterproofing with the tight roll closure.

Keeping with the multi-faceted bag theme, the large main compartment usually will have multiple organization features like pen slots, pockets, and removable key ring holders. For those who need to be plugged in at all times, some messenger bags will also include an integrated laptop sleeve, or offer a removable one as an accessory.

So, then the question still hangs, "Are bike messenger bags the right bag for me?". As one of the most versatile and well-known bags on the market, the answer is probably "Yes." Some main points to consider: Do you prefer to carry your gear on your bike or on your person? How much do you want to carry? How much use do you need from a bag when it's not on your bike?

Messenger bags keep your bike bag-free, for a lighter and more maneuverable commute. Which is why they are often the bag of choice for bike messengers or couriers who are constantly moving around by bike.

Messenger bags are also great for carrying a lot of gear, but they can be problematic if overloaded. Even the larger messenger bags have a structural limitation based no the way it rests on your back. Bulky or odd shaped items can often sit awkwardly against your back or poke through the side of a messenger bag, so it's good to evaluate the type of cargo you want to carry.

As far as usability off the bike, cyclists and non-cyclists alike have come accustomed to using messenger bags as an everyday bag.

Customize and accessorize

  • Stuff on your strap: The main cross strap is a great place to put small items that you need quick access to. A cell phone holster lets you answer calls on the fly without missing a beat. ortlieb-sling-it-woman-pulling-out-laptopChrome also offers an accessory pouch, which is made to hold an iPod and your tips, with room to spare for small odds and ends. If you prefer to hold items at your waist, accessories such as the Ortlieb u-lock holster can attach to your belt, or additional waist strap. All handy items to keep your necessities close at hand.
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  • Organize it up: For additional organization, look no further than Ortlieb. With items like the Messenger Bag Organizer, Messenger Bag Document Compartment, and the Waist Strap Pocket, you can add all of the extra pockets and pen holders you need to suit your fancy. These items are compatible with most of the Ortlieb Messenger Bags, and snap securely into place for an easy organization addition transition.
  • Tech out: Messenger bags are great for toting around all of your fun, portable gizmos. Items like the elaborate Ortlieb notebook insert, or the sleek Chrome lap top sleeve, available in four different sizes, give you confidence that your pricey technology is well protected.

Big bag, little bag, which bag is for me?

  • Mini Me bag (700-1000 cu. in.): A mini me bag is usually a fairly simple bag made to hold a small to medium sized laptop with a few organization pockets. The most basic bag in the line up is the small Timbuk2 Catapult Messenger Bag, it's a minimalist bag with just enough room for a light rain jacket and your essential gadgets or peripherals. The Banjo Brothers Pocket Messenger Bag is the smallest messenger bag we carry -- so small you can stuff it in your jersey until you need it. For a small bag with all the bells and whistles, the Chrome Classic Bike Messenger Bag leads the way in pockets and detail. With the roll top closure option, and the five internal zipper pockets, you can get all the benefit of the large bags, but smaller.
  • chrome-vega-girl-with-green-hat
  • Medium Me bag (1000-2000 cu. in.): Medium me bags are the most popular size messenger bags, usually with lots of fun pockets and compatible with multiple accessories. Some great everyday bags by Chrome include the Chrome Vega Shoulder Sling Day Bag and the Chrome Soma Shoulder Sling Laptop Pack. With an included laptop pocket, plenty of space and organization, and the extremely cool shoulder strap buckle, these bags will fit all your gear in style. The Ortlieb Sling-it Shoulder Bag Large is a standard style bag, with enough organization for the necessities with nice details geared toward carrying a laptop and important documents.
  • Maximum Me bag (2000 cu. in. and up): Hold a bunch of stuff! Chrome has three bags that can hold a gi-norm-ous amount of gear, with a bunch of features. The Chrome Berlin Pro Bike Messenger Bag is the creme of the crop as far as organization pockets and size, with a maximum capacity of 3200 cubic inches. Carry whatever you want with these large capacity messenger bags.

For further information on bike bags, please review our Bike Bag FAQ's and our Bike Bag & Rack Comparison Chart.

Our Brands:

Banjo Brothers : High quality, well-built and affordable panniers, backpacks, handlebar bags, seat bags, messenger bags, and more for bike commuters, recreational and urban cyclists.

Chrome : There's no mistaking Chrome's easily recognizable griffin insignia seal of approval. A high quality brand known for their bomb-proof gear, savvy style, and original flare of custom metal buckles, Chrome elegantly combines both function and fashion.

Ortlieb : The tried and true German brand Ortlieb has been making the leading waterproof bike panniers for decades. It was only natural for the large bag company to dabble in producing other waterproof bags. Ortlieb's patented T-ZIP waterproof zipper and classic waterproof materials allow these messenger bags to go where no bag has gone before.

Timbuk2 : Born in the San Francisco garage of a former bike messenger, Timbuk2 began custom bags in 1989 and has expanded to other product lines, such as messenger bags and laptop sleeves.

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