I have mostly been using a pannier through the winter as I find it useful in the rain. However, regardless of using it for months now, I still don’t really feel like it works for me for regular trips into and around central London. I love it for longer rides, but start stop travel for me is easier with my stuff on me rather than the bike.
Whilst I have some backpacks that I enjoy cycling with, a messenger bag appeals to me as well. I have a Timbuk2 Classic but find that they pull too much while cycling, making me feel like I am struggling to breathe. Enter the Mission Workshop Rummy – an awesome looking messenger bag with full on-bike pedigree.
What is it?
Mission Workshop was founded by the guys who founded Chrome, also a purveyor of fine urban bags (we have even reviewed a couple ourselves). They left to start their own company, Mission Workshop, such named as it is located in the Mission District of San Francisco. The bags are still made in the US and they have a couple of stores in California.
The Rummy that I have is the medium sized messenger with a 27 litre capacity. Even though it is the medium it is quite large, far larger than my old medium Timbuk2 messenger. This is great for carrying bulky items and picking up things on the way home.
The thing that sets the Rummy apart from other well made messenger bags is its flexibility in closing methods. It can be a roll top or a regular flap, which is great for adapting the bag to the load you are carrying. When the top is rolled down the other pockets are easily accessible. With the large flap over the bag, everything is covered.
As I have mentioned before, and you will have figured out yourself from past photographs, I am not very tall. This is a somewhat limiting factor for bags, particularly messengers. I spent quite a long time deciding between the Rummy and the smaller Monty. The guys in Condor were very patient with me when I went in to buy it, there was a lot of mirror time making sure I didn’t look ridiculous!
The bag is a little large on me, but it doesn’t stick out too much. It certainly doesn’t stick out far enough to get in the way while cycling, and that is the main thing. The bag wraps itself around my back a little, making it feel really secure. The smaller one would not have done this. Only time will tell if this proves far too hot in warm weather.
The main shoulder strap is very well padded and has a little secondary stabiliser for when the bag is really full. It has not moved around on my back at all while riding, with or without stabiliser. The shoulder strap can also switch sides, a nice novelty if you are left handed or just occasionally fancy switching shoulders.
The length of the shoulder strap is very easy to adjust but does not slip when on. Straps generally are one of the reasons I wanted a messenger – I have endless trouble getting rucksack straps to the same length when stretched out on my bike and it irritates me no end. Not a problem with a single strap.
I really like being able to swing this bag around and get at my keys, wallet and phone. It is easier than removing a rucksack or digging through a pannier. As the strap is so easy to adjust, I can loosen it to put stuff into the bag without having to take it off, a quintessential part of messenger bag utility and something that I like as a regular cyclist too.
Initially it was a bit awkward with the rolling and the flapping, but you figure it out and learn what works best for what you are doing. I like having the top rolled down as then I have easy access to the front pockets., although not so easy that they are insecure while out on the busy street.
It is a great size, and whilst it is a bit big, messenger bags are kind of supposed to be big. I would have found the smaller one too limiting for changes of clothes and picking things up on the way home. With this one I don’t have to worry too much about running out of space. I went food shopping with it the other day and used the flap over and easily fitted nearly a weeks worth of food in there.
There is plenty of organisation for all my blogging bits – laptop, notebook, pens, tools etc. I have taken to putting my laptop in the front large zip, as then it doesn’t rest against my back. It fits in there with my sleeve, just, so it is protected enough for what I do.
There is no way the rain is getting into this thing. I haven’t used it in heavy rain, but persistent stuff was not getting in thanks to the closures and the waterproof lining material. Overall the construction is incredible and it is clear this is a bag that is going to last.
When full with laptop and lock and bits, it is heavy. The strap certainly makes it feel more comfortable than other messengers I have tried, but the weight is still there. The size and capacity is convenient, but I do have to be careful to not over fill it.
I think that the thing that makes it more comfortable than other bags will be its downfall in the summer. It gets kinda hot. It was just warm enough to cycle in a t-shirt the other day (hallelujah) and it got a little hot across the chest from the strap. I don’t know if this is something I will adjust to as I reacclimatise to warm weather, we shall see I guess.
There are no reflective details on this bag. There is a loop for a light though. I don’t mind too much (and actually like its sleekness with nn reflective hits), but if this is something you look for in a bag, you might need to get crafty with a needle and thread.
I really like this bag. It is just the right amount of large and fits as much or as little as I wish to carry. The shoulder strap is the best one I have tried on a messenger bag and the whole bag hugs my back well.
Even though it functions as well as you would expect for a proper messenger bag, it still looks pretty smart and there is no gaudy branding. The black one blends in well in the city and even though I don’t work in an office, I know it would be ok in most.
As it is American made it is a somewhat premium product, although not crazy at £155. Given the quality of the materials and manufacture, it is going to last a good long time and so is, in my opinion, worth it.
Do you have a messenger bag that you love?
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