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If you are riding a bike to the office, taking a short trip, or running an errand around your neighborhood, you can really use a messenger bag to carry your personal stuff. It’s much more comfortable than riding with a big duffel bag behind your back.
Our pick for the best bike messenger bag is the UrbanTourist by Kulie, because it does something no other bag on our list can do: It attaches to the front of your bike as a handlebar bag, then easily detaches so you can sling it over your shoulder and carry it where you need to go.
You don’t even have to touch it while you’re riding.
If that’s all you need to hear, then here you go:
We’ll tell you more about the UrbanTourist down below. But first, let’s take a quick look at our list of the seven best bike messenger bags.
Best bike messenger bags at a glance
- Kulie UrbanTourist
- Peak Designs Everyday Messenger
- Chrome Industries Mini Metro Messenger Bag
- Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag
- Manhatttan Portage Medium Professional Messenger Bag
- Rapiddominance Classic Military Messenger Bag
- Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag
If your needs are particular, finding the best biking bag for yourself can be challenging with so many options on the market.
The best bike messenger bag will have adequate space to hold everything you wish to carry, such as your phone, cards, computer, cash, and any other accessories you might need when you’re out and about.
It should also be able to withstand whatever weather conditions you might face as you’re cycling around.
After many hours of online research that we then verified by visiting shops in the Metro Vancouver area to examine bags in person and get the opinions of staff, we’re confident that you won’t go wrong with any of the bags on our list.
Best bike messenger bags in detail
The UrbanTourist by Kulie is the bag that excited us the most.
Messenger bags—and to some degree, any bag that you carry on your person, such as a backpack—are not without their dangers. Accidents happen. As much as we love a sturdy, durable strap, you don’t want one wrapped around your neck if you go down on your bike during a ride. This happened to a friend, and it made his rehab much longer than it would have been otherwise.
The UrbanTourist does away with this problem entirely.
You don’t carry the UrbanTourist on you while you ride. Instead, it snaps to a mounting device on your handlebars and serves as a conventional front-handlebar bag until you park your bike and dismount.
Then you unhook it from your bike, duck under the shoulder strap, and off you go to school, or the office, or whatever.
Here a closeup look at the mounting device so you can see how it works:
If we’re being honest, the hard plastic mounting piece on the back of the bag does downgrade its appearance slightly when you plop it down on the boardroom table, but we think that’s a small price to pay for this level of safety and convenience.
If you’re worried about how that piece will feel against your hip when you’re carrying the bag by it’s shoulder strap, don’t be. It’s quite flat and basically unnoticeable, unless you really concentrate on it.
Kulie is a Seattle-based company founded last year by Preeti Viswanathan after she left her finance job with Amazon to become an entrepreneur. She and her company are off to a heck of a start with this bag.
One of the other things we love about the UrbanTourist is that it offers a lot of protection for your stuff. It’s well known that a front handlebar bag with a lid that closes will keep things more secure than a front basket where items can rattle around, but the UrbanTourist takes things a step further. Most handlebar bags attach to the bars with velcro loops, so the bag swings forward and backward as you ride over bumps. Not this one. Its firm attachment means everything stays in place.
The other great thing are the side panels, which seem to have some sort of molded plastic inside. You’ve got really firm ends on the bag to protect your apples and bananas from bruising as you go about your day.
The bag is water-resistant, with zippers and attachments that feel really solid and durable. The top flap closes with a broad velcro strip and 3M reflective tape on the side give you a little extra visibility from the front when it’s mounted.
The UrbanTourist comes in black or heather grey. They have a two-litre version as well, but that one doesn’t have the click-in mount—it just attaches with velcro loops. It’s also quite small. Two litres doesn’t quite hold a six-pack of beer. You’ll need the five-litre to carry anything substantial.
- Five-litre carrying capacity
- 3M reflective tape
- Wide velcro strap for closing
- Mounts easily to your front handlebars for the ride
- Rugged and durable
- Firm, molded side panels provide good protection for delicate items inside
- Mounting bracket always on side of the bag
- Sacrifices some style for practicality
Peak Design makes bags for photographers. You don’t have to be a photographer to take advantage of its Everyday Messenger, but if you happen to own camera gear and need a great way to carry it, you’re going to love this bag. It includes flexible, protective dividers to separate lenses from other gear and keep everything safe.
But if you don’t know a F-stop from an F-bomb, don’t worry. These dividers can be taken right out of the bag so that it just becomes one large compartment. Or maybe you keep one divider in there to hold a water bottle and leave the rest open. You have plenty of options.
There’s a slot here for a 13-inch laptop computer, several elastic internal pouches, and six litres worth of space if you expand the adjustable latching mechanism to its maximum.
The bag is extremely comfortable, whether you carry it with its padded top handle or padded shoulder strap.
On the outside, this is a bag for life. On the inside, it really depends on how much you intend to use the flexible dividers. They will wear out over time if they’re constantly rubbing against hardware, but the good news is you can buy them separately from Peak Design whenever you need a replacement. That said, if you’re not a photographer and you’re just using the Everyday Messenger as a regular bag, it’s going to last many years.
This is the high-end bag on our list, but I can assure you that with Peak, you get what you pay for. Peak is THE name in bag design for photographers, with a reputation for quality and sustainability. The Everyday Messenger is made from 100% recycled material.
- 13-inch laptop sleeve
- 100% recycled material
- Organizational features that are flexible and removable to protect expensive gear
- Patented latch is really easy to open and close with a single hand
- Expands to six litres of volume
- External stash pockets have good weatherproof zips
- If you’re not a photographer, you may be paying for some organizational features you don’t need
- Internal dividers won’t last as long as the rest of the bag
If you’re going to invest in a bag like this, you’re probably going to want to know more about it. Fortunately, Alish Patel from Peak Design has recored a detailed walkthrough of the Everyday Messenger that we encourage you to take in:
The Chrome Industries Mini Metro is designed for people who want a small urban utility biking bag for their everyday use. If you often carry small items with you, then this bag is ideally meant for you. Its size is perfect for light bike commutes, a work bag, or for other short trips.
The bag is made from different materials that make it versatile and durable. Industrial-grade nylon ensures it is fully weatherproof, keeping all your items dry when you get rained on while biking. The military-grade truck tarpaulin material also ensures a long life for this bag.
The Mini Metro comes with a cross-body strap or a shoulder sling, and a shoulder strap with reflective strips that provide great visibility at night. The shoulder strap also has a stabilizer strap which fits under your armpit to really lock the bag in place while providing ergonomic relief. The iconic seatbelt buckle ensures a seamless close and release. The buckle even has a built-in bottle opener! (But don’t drink and cycle.)
Small, easy to operate and adjust to your liking, this bag is one of the best you can find.
- Iconic seatbelt buckle
- Ergonomic design
- Waterproof tarp liner
- Reflective straps for night vision
- Durable with high-quality material constriction
- Easy to use and adjust
- Comfortable cross-body strap
- Not ideal for carrying larger items
The Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag is a messenger bag that’s great if you want to hold a variety of things as you ride your bike. It comes with plenty of pockets for organizing and carrying small personal effects conveniently.
With it, you can carry your laptop, water bottle, your office or class items, phone, and other accessories easily. It comes in different sizes. You can choose an extra-small, small, medium, or large bag—whichever suits your needs.
The messenger bag comes with a low-profile handle that’s fitted at the top for easy grabbing. It also has partly concealed flap buckles and bottom compression straps that offer a refined and secure closure to keep your items safe. With the smart hook and loop, you can close it quickly and easily. The Vista loop allows convenient attachment of bike lights.
The TIMBUK2 is made from 150D Poly Tweed, a rugged material that gives the bag durability. The waterproof TPU liner and flap corner also ensures that your stuff won’t be soaked when the weather turns harsh.
- Fully adjustable shoulder strap
- Removable cross-body strap
- Easy to clean internal TPU liner
- Internal organizer
- Many pockets that make it versatile
- Comfortable to carry with different straps
- Simple, effective design
- Would like to see an ever larger version for bigger stuff
If you want a messenger bag designed for riders who want to carry more stuff for daily use, this Manhattan Portage Medium Professional Messenger Bag could be the best pick. With its two reflective stripes, you can be sure that motorists will see you clearly when on the road.
This bag is built from high-quality Cordura Plus nylon to ensure many years of use. The material is strong enough to carry heavier items like a laptop and its charger, books and binders.
The interior of the bag is partitioned to allow for tidy organization of your items. It has a larger main compartment, a zippered compartment for holding smaller stuff, and one zip pocket on the flap for carrying things that you have to access frequently. The fabric in the interior is also waterproof.
The bag features a sturdy Velcro closure with two buckles for secure closing. It also comes with a durable metal buckle that provides unlimited adjustments of the straps for as long as you use the bag.
Aesthetically, this is probably the most rugged bag on our list and the least well-suited for fashionable business use. It’s a workhorse!
- Large main compartment
- Large zip pocket below the flap
- Zippered interior compartment for smaller stuff
- Waterproof interior fabricStrong Velcro closure
- Durable for longer usage
- Good capacity, with variety in the size of compartments
- Strong, adjustable straps
- Bright yellow stripes for visibility when riding at night
- Relatively high price
- Not as many storage compartments as some other models
The Rapiddominance Classic is a well-constructed messenger bag that comes as sturdy as you want it. The quality and sturdier design of this bag make it one of the most durable and versatile messenger bags you can own.
The Classic is made from a high-quality canvas material that gives the bag its durability. Its design features seven pockets that include two front-zippered pockets for carrying things like a flashlight and keys. The two side pockets with button closure offer a convenient space for holding an umbrella, water bottle or any other item that demands speedy access.
The outside back pocket, fastened with a hook and loop, is also perfect for carrying items to which you want easy access. The main interior compartment is good for larger items while the zippered internal pocket can hold valuable small items.
The adjustable strap on this bag has antique brass details that give it a classy style, while also contributing to its durability.
- High-quality canvas with polyester lining material
- Seven pockets in total
- Brass buckle and rivets
- Reinforced seams
- Plenty of storage pockets for carrying more items
- Designed for heavy-duty usage
- Fully adjustable shoulder strap
- Made to last
- Flap seems too long for the bag
- Heavy and bulky, even when empty
The Timbuk2 Command is designed for anyone who likes riding to work or school while carrying a computer. The bag is simple and designed to facilitate easy access to the items kept within.
The bag features a durable Oxford nylon fabric construction that gives it a smooth feel. Since this is a laptop messenger bag, it has a high-density foam sleeve where you can keep your computer. The foam comes with crate holes for excellent air circulation.
It features a clever-zipper placement with the main compartment, designed to allow easy grabbing of the bag whether it’s zipped or not. There are also small pockets to hold small items like pens, pencils, or a pocket flashlight. A nice internal pocket can hold a power cord that is accessed through a zipper running the horizontal length of the bag.
The Command comes with a removable and reversible strap that is perhaps excessively long, but does distribute weight evenly and is comfortable enough. You can adjust the strap to your liking quite easily. The bag is fitted with a handle at the top, in case you don’t want to use the straps once you hop off your bike.
The bag features a hook closure which makes it really easy to hook and unhook the bag by rotating the hook and loop, rather than using lateral force. The Velcro closure also comes in handy if you don’t want to use the hook closure. If you want a good laptop-specific messenger bag, this is a nice choice.
- High-density foam for a computer sleeve
- Durable Oxford nylon fabric
- Velcro flap closure
- Fit cam buckle
- Strap and handle
- All pockets are useful
- Rugged and looks great
- Has a handle and strap for convenient carrying
- Doesn’t sit upright
- Power brick pocket is a little small
What to look for when buying a bike messenger bag
These are some of the things you want to be thinking about when picking the best bike messenger bag for your needs and budget:
Before you buy the bag, ask yourself how much space you need in the bag. With volume in mind, you can narrow down your choices. The capacity has to be informed by the type of items you intend to carry, and how many of them. If you’re going to carry a computer, the shape of the bag will be just as important as the volume.
Bike messenger bags come with a range of pocket designs. Some will be partitioned for tablet, mobile phone, power cord, paperwork, and other compartments. The bag organization you choose should take into account the type of items you will carry regularly.
A messenger bag isn’t meant only for riding. There’s a good chance you’ll be carrying it when you walk around with your items as well. As such, you need to pick a bag that works well in both situations. When buying the bag, definitely try putting it on your shoulder to see what it feels like to walk around with it. If it has a handle, give that a try as well.
Most bike messenger carriers feature one shoulder strap with a joint waist strap to offer stability when biking. However, getting a bag with wider adjustable straps is ideal, because you can really adjust them to your comfort.
In most cases, you are going to carry your bike messenger carrier while riding and walking. Choose a bag with a wide strap and lots of padding for comfort, especially if you’ll be carrying heavier items like a laptop, books, and tablets.
A well-ventilated bag can give you a little extra comfort on hot summer days. This feature is more common in larger messenger bags.
Waterproof vs. water-resistant
It might seem like a no-brainer, but we’ll remind you to choose a waterproof messenger bag if you’re riding in an area where you sometimes get caught in the rain. You do not want important papers or expensive electronic devices picking up moisture during a downpour. Even if your bag looks like it’s providing cover, if it’s not waterproof then you are going to have some wet items.
There is a difference between a water-resistant bag and a waterproof bag. A water-resistant bag will shelter your items in a light rain, but it won’t necessarily keep rainwater from reaching the inside of your bag—especially if the rain is heavy. Needless to say, full immersion in water is big trouble with a water-resistant bag, but most waterproof bags can withstand it.
Be sure to get the waterproof bag if you want to keep items safe from water!
Choosing the best bike messenger bag for your everyday commute can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. From the selection of bags we’ve reviewed above, and with the help of our buying guide, you should be able to pick one that’s right for you.
Ultimately, choosing a messenger bag is a personal affair. Strike a balance between your budget and features that will suit your needs and lifestyle.
Bike messenger bag FAQs
What is a bike messenger bag for?
A bike messenger bag helps people carry personal items like books, office files, and tablets while moving between home and work (or class) on a bike. It’s a less bulky alternative to a full backpack that can move quite seamlessly into business mode once you’re off your bike.
Are messenger bags perfect for use in all weather?
There are messenger bags constructed with weatherproof materials, which makes them perfect for rainy weather. Others, however, are made from cotton materials that make them unsuitable for use in rainy weather. Therefore, not all bags are designed and made to protect your items from harsh weather elements.
If you ride in the rain quite often, consider buying a waterproof bag for maximum protection of your items.
Do I need a bag that has reflective material on it?
Reflective material on a bike messenger bag is optional rather than mandatory. However, we encourage anything that will give you an extra measure of safety. If you ride at night or someplace where it gets dark early, a reflective strip can potentially be a lifesaver. Given the choice, we’d take it every time.