Do you own a waterproof messenger bag? No? Too bad, you should buy one. Messenger bags have proven to be useful in a number of scenarios and having one that’s waterproof can only make it even more useful. A messenger bag is probably one of the most common and practical means of carrying stuff around, together with your traditional backpack. You’ll love having a bag that can aid you to reach your stuff real quick, that you can use to carry books, notebooks, your laptop, tablet and even some clothes.
I feel obliged to mention that whilst being extremely practical, messenger bags are not meant to carry around a considerable weight. They are not as comfortable as backpacks either and, depending on what you compare them with, they can be rather expensive. In fact, they are more expensive than laptop bags, but the price is justified since they are useful in so many more scenarios. As I’m sure you’re used to by now, I’m going to walk you through some facts and features of messenger bags, so that you’ll always be informed before clicking on “Buy now”.
Just as we always do, let’s talk about the main features of a messenger bag so that you can determine which of these your future bag MUST have:
Waterproof/water resistance – Making a waterproof messenger bag is really easier than you’d expect. As a rule of thumb: if the flap is waterproof, the only place where the water can infiltrate the bag is at the edges of the flap. There are a lot of waterproof messenger bags that come with wings to cover these gaps. All you have to do is make sure the bag is cinched tight so that rain doesn’t enter. One thing to pay attention to before you purchase a bag is that the wings will funnel water out and not in the bag. You will find a lot of bags that are labeled as being “water resistant” and not “waterproof”. Manufacturers will do so because your belongings won’t stay dry if you actually submerge the bag in water.
Pockets – This is a feature where you can’t go right or wrong because it strictly depends on what you want to carry around in your messenger bag. However, it is important to mention that if you’re looking for a waterproof messenger bag, external pockets may not keep water and humidity away from your things, mostly because, as I mentioned earlier, what really make a messenger bag waterproof is the flap. If there are pockets located outside this flap, chances are they are not waterproof. There are messenger bags that come with a single large compartment and no extra pockets. Others come with a small pocket hidden on the back of the back. Others have front pockets. Some even have small pockets inside the main compartment.
Shoulder strap – Unlike a backpack, a messenger bag will practically make you carry around the weight on a single shoulder. Needless to say, the comfort level of the shoulder strap is crucial in this situation. Another rule of thumb is this: the thicker the padding, the more comfortable the bag. It is also important to buy a messenger bag with an adjustable shoulder strap. Can the shoulder strap be adjusted without taking off the bag? Can you do it with a single hand? This is particularly important if you ride the bike a lot and may need to adjust the strap without getting off the bike.
Stabilizing strap – Good messenger bags should come with stabilizing straps. They are particularly useful for people that hike or ride their bikes while carrying around a messenger bag. This strap will prevent the bag from wobbling around as you move. In general, people don’t use this strap when they’re walking, mostly because the movement is not so abrupt as to have the bag move around too much. Stabilizing straps can either connect across your stomach/hips or they can connect to your shoulder strap. Horizontal straps are highly recommended because they help take a little bit of weight off your shoulders (how poetic). However, they may not be so comfortable when you’re riding a bike since you will feel the tension around your waist. In that case, the second type of straps, the ones that connect to your shoulder straps, are better.
Reflective patches – This is actually a feature that all bag manufacturers should consider, especially those that design bags for bikers or hikers. Being spotted by cars in the dark is really important for your safety, so your future messenger bag should come with some reflective material located on the back.
Laptop protection – You know how laptop bags and backpacks have a dedicated laptop compartment which is meant to be shockproof and sometimes waterproof? The goal of that compartment is to keep your laptop safe. Well, a messenger bag can also have this kind of compartment. The difference between this and a regular compartment is that the prior comes with thick padding so that your laptop can stay safe even if you happen to drop your bag from a moderate height. Even more, there are also bags that come with floating laptop compartments, so that your laptop doesn’t touch the ground. Pretty neat, huh?
Flaps – In your quest to find the best waterproof messenger bags, you will observe that most of them have a closing system made of 2 parts, generally composed of Velcro and a clip. One of the most frequently-used designs features plastic buckles, mostly because they are easy to use. The downside is that these particular buckles are difficult to use if the bag is on your shoulder. You need to make sure that when you are in a crowded area, no one will try to steal your things by unclipping the buckles.
Bags for biking
As you’d expect, having the wrong bag while you’re riding a bike can cause extreme discomfort. The bag will tend to swing around a lot and you’ll find it very difficult to ride a bike while having to move your bag from front to back the whole time. Luckily, there are messenger bags designed for people who ride the bike on a regular basis. They come with adjustable shoulder straps so that you can cinch the bag tightly at your back. What most people won’t tell you is that the best shoulder straps for people who ride bikes are asymmetrical. This way, the bag rides a few degrees off vertical so that when it’s secured tight, it won’t swing around. Messenger bags for bike riders are also equipped with stabilizing straps. This way, you can secure the bag against your back so that it can rotate together with your upper body when you rotate left or right.
It is very important for a messenger bag for bikers to be able to shape against the rider’s back. As you ride your bike, your back is somewhat curved. If you’re carrying a laptop around in your bag, you’ll feel very uncomfortable with something that rigid pressing against your back. In this case, you need a messenger bag that comes with decent padding.
Bags for walking
In general, messenger bags designed for walking are easier to find and less pretentious. You can carry the bag on your lower back side or against your hips, and you won’t feel that much movement, nor will your bag get sweaty. Padding is not that mandatory as it is with biking bags, so you can afford to choose fashion over comfort.
Såk Gear BriefSak Waterproof Briefcase
This waterproof messenger bag is made of 500D PVC, meeting your waterproof standards via its welded seams that will keep your items protected. Even more, the padded protection is possible thanks to a removable cushion organizer, so that your laptop and other valuables can stay safe from shocks. IF it’s ever in the way, you can just slide it out and leave it at home.
The bag comes with 3 exterior zippered pockets so that you can store the items you always need at hand, like your wallet, phone or keys. These pockets also have included reflective trim, so that you can stay safe even during the dark.
What’s truly amazing about this bag is that you can choose one of three ways to carry it: you can place it on your shoulder thanks to its adjustable shoulder strap, you can hold it by its top handle and carry it around like a shopping bag or you can slip the luggage strap over the handle of your rolling suitcase, in which case you won’t even feel its weight. Inside this waterproof messenger bag, you will find padded removable organizer, with separate sleeves for your laptop (up to 17.5″ screen size), phone, pens, notebooks & tablet.
Outdoor Research Rangefinder Waterproof Messenger Bag
The Rangefinder is one of the best waterproof messenger bags that money can buy. It is very comfortable to wear, thanks to the shoulder strap that the soft materials used. The cross strap is easily adjustable whether you carry the bag on your right or left shoulder. Due to its supple design, the Rangefinder is easily positioned on your back regardless of its cargo.
One thing you’re going to love about this messenger bag is that it can hold up a surprising amount of stuff. In fact, it will remind you of the practicality of a duffel bag. The buckles are surprisingly durable even if you manage to squeeze in 2 more liters, over its maximum capacity. There is a small pouch located on the outer side of the bags and it’s a blast for people who love to organize their items. While it doesn’t have designated slots for items like pens and pencils, you so have room to store them so you have quick access to them when needed. Granted, this may not be the ideal school bag.
The outer flap has no Velcro, which can be translated into less noise when you want to open the bag. This could be a downside for people who like the extra safety provided by a bag closed with Velcro. After all, if anybody wants to steal from your bag, that Velcro could tip you off by the noise it makes when someone opens it. Now, let’s talk weatherproof. While it’s not the best bag for organizing your small items, it does a great job in terms of padding and protection. The waterproof material and inner drawstring closure ensure a good seal against the elements. The weatherproof fabric still manages to make the bag light.
We do have to mention that the lid can feel quite small if you cram up all sorts of volume-pretentious items. However, the drawstring and compression closure will make up for this pitfall.
So who exactly is the Rangefinder for? It surely makes up for a good office/business bag, but it’s also ideal for people who commute or ride the bike a lot (since we mentioned before that the bag is extremely comfortable to wear). The padded sleeve will make up for a very useful laptop compartment.
Timbuk2 Classic Waterproof Messenger Bag
There is a good reason why the Timbuk2 is one of the best selling messenger bags on Amazon. It provides a lot more comfort than what you’d expect from such a large messenger bag. In fact, depending on the size, the bag measures (in inches):
4.72 x 11.81 x 9.84 (XS)
5.12 x 16.14 x 10.63 (S)
7.09 x 18.11 x 12.2 (M)
7.87 x 20.08 x 13.78 (L)
The supple fabric from which the bag is made of will make sure that it snuggles on your back even when you’re riding a bike. One you’ve also installed the cross strap, you’re good to go. The shoulder strap adjustment system is one of the best out there because it comes with double back straps and a camming buckle. If safety is one of your primary concerns, you will be happy know that there are reflective tabs hanging off the bag, making it easy for cars to spot you even if you’re riding in the dark.
With pockets, the Timbuk2 does a good, but pretty classic job (hm, didn’t the “classic” in the title tip you off?). There is a side access zipper located under the flap, which makes for an ideal “hiding spot” for your phone or wallet. The internal pockets are meant to hold your water bottles. However, take note that they may be too tight for certain custom ones. Since there are a lot of people who want their messenger bags to allow them to safely carry their laptops or tablets, let’s see what the Timbuk2 has to offer on this side. The bag comes with an internal padding divider, which means it can host a laptop. The zippered pockets could also cover up homes for smaller items, like cords or small electronic devices, such as phones or mp3 players.
There is a double loop cam buckle system that will allow you to adjust the shoulder strap in such a way that there won’t be any unnecessary wobbling. However, this adjustment process can take longer than expected, so it’s not worth trying to do it when performing other actions, such as riding the bike. One thing we didn’t like was the positioning of the grabbing handle. Since it’s slightly placed on the back side of the bag, your Timbuk2 will tilt forward as you grab the handle and the Velcro or buckles are not firmly secured into place.
In terms of weatherproof capabilities, the Timbuk2 does a great job. It’s a wonderful choice for people who have to face rain on a regular basis. The lack of external pockets and the fact that the sides of the flap overlap when they are close, will ensure you that the bag is sealed tight and won’t let any rain squeeze through. You will notice that the fabric does get wet, but thanks to the rubber feeling liner, water doesn’t actually get to reach your items. Granted, this is not the most aesthetically pleasing bag on the market, especially since the material tends to wear our. Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t really affect the durability or the waterproof capabilities of the Timbuk2.
Mobile Edge ECO Waterproof Messenger Bag
The ECO is another of Amazon’s best selling waterproof messenger bags, but does it provide everything you look for in such an item? To be honest right from the start, I have to admit that the Eco is not the most comfortable waterproof messenger bag that money can buy. There is no cross strap, which makes it hard to secure the bag exactly as you want it. Even more, it has a rather boxy design, which means that it won’t feel very comfortable around your back, no matter the items you’re transporting. The adjustment buckle is placed into the shoulder pad, but there is a padding that should prevent you from experiencing discomfort caused by that piece of plastic. Even so, the padding doesn’t seem to do a very good job and on long distance usage, you will feel some irritation.
Compared to the other messenger bags we’ve reviewed, the ECO does earn extra points in organizing. It has a mere 12-liter capacity, but it can provide the organizational features you need from a school/business bag. There is a large mesh pocket, located under the flap, pocket which can be used for a variety of purposes. You can easily access this pocket then the lid is open and, if required, it can help balance the bag when you place it on a hard surface. Aside from the regular slots for holding pens and pencils, there is also an ID holder which can be attached in several specific places on the bag. However, this holder is attached via some Velcro patches, which can’t be exactly translated into security. I, for one, would not hold my IDs or credit cards into a pocket that can easily be pulled off.
If you’re interested in how the ECO can store your electronics, know that it does a pretty job at this chapter. The padding included inside the bag makes for excellent protection for your laptop and tablet and the Velcro keeper straps are there to make sure the internal sleeves are secured, making it even more difficult for your electronics to fall out of the bag or for someone to steal them (I doubt anyone would try to steal your laptop while you’re holding the bag, that would be pretty hard to pull off even without the Velcro straps). The internal sleeve can house a 17-inch laptop, meaning this bag is a great buy for both students and businessmen.
Here’s a chapter that will really interest you: waterproofing. To be honest, yet again, this is not the best waterproof messenger bag that money can buy. If you’re using the shoulder strap to carry the bag, the sides will be pulled outward, exposing the center pouch opening at each end, because the cover flap over the top is not wide enough to keep rain or snow from entering the pouch ends. It is, however, water resistant, which means that a few drops of rain won’t actually damage the insides of the bag. Even so, you can store away your phone or tablet into the sleeve located on the back of the bag. This sleeve is protected with a weatherproof flap which should provide some protection and ease of mind.
One thing we really did like about this bag is that it’s easy to use. You can open the flap quite easily and gain access to the contents of the back. While it makes for a great choice for student and people that need to carry a lot of papers and electronics to work, its appearance is not that pleasing. If you need a messenger bag suitable for formal business attire, you should look somewhere else.
Patagonia Black Hole 24L Waterproof Messenger bag
With a price tag of $124, you may think that this waterproof messenger bag is a bit overpriced. But as we began our research and discovered just how awesome this product is, we’ve decided we’d totally pay the money to get it. Even if it’s amazing in a lot of way, it is not the most comfortable waterproof messenger bag on the market. Since it doesn’t have a cross strap, it won’t be the ideal companion on a bike ride. If you do decide to take with you when you’re riding the bike, you will notice there is a lot of swinging to the front, especially if the terrain has obstacles. However, depending on how you use it, you can make it a comfortable wear. For example, if you carry around clothes, your back will feel comfortable. The supple fabric is a plus that recommends this bag for casual and daily use. the foam back panel is there to keep your back comfortable even if you’ve stuffed hard items inside the bag, just as books or a laptop.
But how does the bag perform when it comes to packing your things? The number of pockets seems to be just right for you to carry both large and small items, but not high enough so that you’ll have a hard time remembering which pocket hosts your keys and where you’ve placed your wallet. On the side of the main internal pocket, you will find a very handy key chain clip. I, for one, love this feature, since keys are pretty much the easiest thing to lose on a daily commute. The 24 L capacity of the bag is more than enough to carry around books, a laptop, your valuable, your gym equipment and even some spare clothes if you’re going away for the weekend. You can always opt for a bag with larger capacity if you need the extra room.
The padding on the back of the bag does a really great job at keeping your electronics safe. the laptop sleeve is separate and it is secured by a plastic buckle. Thanks to the additional pockets, you’ll find that there is a decent amount of space for you to take your cords and cable with you if needed. If you’re interested in where you can store small valuables, like a phone, a mp3 player or your wallet, you should know about the conveniently placed zippered pocket located on the flap and under the flap.
As promised, the Patagonia Black Hole is a waterproof messenger bag. The outer flap is keen on protecting what’s inside the bag, so you don’t have to worry about your stuff getting wet if rain happens to catch you along the way. In other words, I highly recommend this bag for anyone who carries around their electronics on a regular basis and is looking for something durable and protective against the elements. The only downside to the whole waterproofness of the bag is the fact that the outer flap does not have a waterproof zipper. The good news is that waterproof zippers are harder to open and close, so maybe that’s not a downside after all.
Since the fabric is lightweight, carrying the bag around is easy. It’s also easy to handle the bag, even if you’re in a crowded place, just as a train or subway. You can open the flap and fold it out of the way to gain access to the interior of the bag. The external zipper pocket is a great place for the things you need to use often, like wallet or phone.
In the end, the Patagonia Black Hole is a very good waterproof messenger bag for people that need one for daily usage. It’s comfortable enough for carrying around in public means of transportation, but also for people that drive their own cars. However, if you’re into daily bikes rides and need a waterproof messenger bag to carry your items, these are much better choices out there.
Chrome Buran Unisex Waterproof Messenger Bag
The Chrome Buran is one of the most durable messenger bags the market has to offer. While being super rugged and providing a large capacity for you to carry all sorts of items, the bag is quite bulky for someone small. In other words, it’s not the best choice for women or children, since it’s pretty much going to cover the back entirely. Even if it does seem to lean nicely against your back while riding a bike, it’s heavy and stiff and doesn’t really score very well in terms of comfort. Even more, the Buran seems to be misusing fabric by adding it where it’s not necessary. For example, Chrome has used flaps to cover the pockets which are already located under the flap. So yes, the Buran is designed for people with large bodies. The shoulder strap can confirm that, since it’s extra wide and will feel too big for a small body.
The middle organizational sleeve can only be closed with Velcro, so chances are it will often pop open when not needed. Instead of using zippers for the pockets located just under the main flap, Chrome used… more flaps. When the bag tilts over diagonally as you wear it on your bike, stuff, like your keys, can actually fall out. There is a zippered pocket which is located way out of reach, under layers of fabric and Velcro, making you almost too bored to even consider using it for anything.
One chapter where the Buran does perform well is capacity. Being able to hold 20 L, you can stuff a lot of things inside the bag and still have easy access to the outer pockets. The bag comes with an internal padded and zipper sleeve, which offer enough protection for you to consider storing your electronics in here. There’s plenty of room for a 15-inch laptop.
The handle located on the top side of a bag is a nice feature. The seat belt buckle is adjustable and it’s really easy to tighten and loosen it in a variety of situations. I can’t really say the same thing for the cross strap. The excessive use of Velcro on the Buran will make a lot of noise and attract attention if you plan to open the bag in a quiet place. The main compartment flap doesn’t seem to be very user-friendly either because it’s stiff and large and occupies a lot of space when you open it.
With all the downsides I’ve spoken about, you’re probably wondering “What in the world does this bag provide to justify that $160 price tag?!” The answer is durability. The fabric is wicking, the side of the main flap overlap in order to keep your items protected, the laptop compartment comes with a zipper and was made of neoprene-like material. Even if the zipper in the back is not waterproof, it will press against your body, so chances of any rain reaching that pocket are actually very low.
With a weight of 4.02 lbs., this is definitely one of the heaviest waterproof messenger bags we’ve come across. Even if we like its large capacity for storage, your left shoulder could end up numb after carrying a fully packed Buran throughout an entire day.
Ugh, is it time to pick our favorite waterproof messenger bag? Fine, we do vote for the Outdoor Research Rangefinder. Not only is it a durable and waterproof messenger bag, but it’s also the kind of bag that people on the go would love to own. While it doesn’t excel at organizing your stuff, its large capacity makes it super easy to just throw stuff into the bag, secure it and be on your way.