Classy commuter bags – part 1.
This week we are adding to our reviews of classy commuting bags, here is the first, the second will be out at the end of the week. Enjoy!
Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag – £240
Trakke are a small company located in Glasgow, specialising in classy messenger bags and backpacks, handmade to order (you also get updates on progression during the wait, along with the option of a personalised leather tag). They primarily make their products from waxed cotton so their bags are built to last and should be great for coping with the worst a London commute can throw at you.
The bag is carries 22 liters worth of gear and measures 38 x 34 x 16cm and will fit a 17” computer of the silver fruit variety, although I only tried it with a 13”.
In terms of pockets and dividers, the bag has a large, slightly padded laptop sleeve at the rear of the main compartment, two internal slip pockets at the front and two large zip pockets under the front flap. There is also a small zip pocket on one side and a larger slip pocket on the other side which is closed with a toggle. The combination of all these pockets provides plenty of space for organising daily materials and the general detritus of life on the road.
The shoulder strap is padded and there is a stability strap as well to stop the bag from shifting too much. I didnt actually use this as the bag did not slip at all anyway.
This really is a lovely looking bag. The one I got my hands on was a terracotta colour (burnt orange officially) and the slightly aged effect of the wax cotton made it look very smart, potentially smarter than it would look in black.
The bag closes with Velcro under the flap and then two metal buckles. This is a nice change aesthetically from plastic. The craftsmanship is really very impressive, there are no stray threads or imperfections anywhere and the bag feels bomb-proof, although for the price, which is not in any way insubstantial, I would expect nothing less. The strap is quite thick and padded and holds together with an industrial looking metal clasp, giving a comfortable and reliable feeling carry.
I experienced some light precipitation while trying out the bag. It was nothing major but it was enough to show that the water really beads up nicely on the bag and rolls off, for the most part. There were some areas of the bag that didn’t do as well, but they could easily be re-waxed and they were very far from wetting out.
The bag is quite capacious, at one point I had a laptop (13″ in its own sleeve), laptop charger, two notebooks, a catalogue, a large yogurt, some granola, a light jacket, my wallet, phone and keys and it looked very slimline and not over stuffed. There would have been plenty of room for a shirt or larger jacket in there as well. It was also not uncomfortable to carry around with this much stuff in it, although the weight was noticeable it was not too bad and still allowed me to drag myself halfway up to Highgate on my 2 speed Brompton without feeling like it was a hinderance.
I think the bag might be a little big for me. I am only 5’4” and I find that the bag sticks out beyond my side a bit. This will not be a problem for larger people (see images below), but it is something that bothers me. This is partly because I am very clumsy and tend to walk into stuff and people if there are things sticking out beyond my body/ normal operating parameters!
It looked a little more reasonable on Andreas than it looked on me!
The only real negatives of this bag are its weight, general robustness and price. The waxed cotton is thick, and whilst this is good for robustness, it makes for a heavy bag ~ 1.6kg. The other downside of the thick fabric is that the small pockets are a little hard to use. Maybe they will become more supple with use, but on a nearly new bag they are frustrating. The price is high, but it is handmade to order in the UK, and in terms of craftsmanship, I would actually be ok with paying that much – although I might be more likely to put it on a birthday/Christmas list first, just incase!
A further minor frustrating thing is the metal buckles on the front of the bag and the stabilising strap: I find them very fiddly to use. I definitely appreciate the quality look these lend to the bag, but I dislike how hard they are to use. They get a little easier with time, but I can see them being a bit of a chore in the winter with gloves. If you are not accessing the bag on the go a lot, then this will be no problem at all, but as I travel round London and make frequent stops it was a little faffy.
This is a very well made bag, and what you have to pay for with excess weight you gain in robustness and sheer class. I like the fabric and the bomb-proof feel. I also like that you can carry a lot of things in it and not really disrupt the line of the bag. This really shows excellent bag making skills in my opinion. My main negative points are due to personal preference and size. I am small and I like a backpack over a messenger, so I would probably be more likely to pick one of their backpacks such as the Arkaig, which would be an excellent choice if it is made with anything like as much care as the Wee Lug. All in all, Trakke seem very impressive and certainly worthy of a place on a the back of a London commuter.
If you wish to get your hands on one of these lovely bags, head over to Trakke’s website
If you have this bag, or one similar, let us know what you think!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.