It’s no secret that I love items with a slight militaristic flavor, and it is common knowledge that olive green is one of my favorite clothing colors. That’s why when it was offered, I was eager to review the perfectly colored and fabulously styled MEDIUM Design Group Deployment Messenger Bag.
At first glance, the Deployment Messenger bag looks like a direct cousin of something that might be found in an Army Navy Surplus store. The dark olive green body coupled with the lighter khaki green accents look right at home with the parachute-style hardware. The bag looks tough – but not overly masculine. For style points alone, I would give it a 10 out of 10.
However, style is never the only consideration when Julie or I do a review, every factor must be considered. Let’s start with the actual construction of the bag…
Measuring approximately 11 tall x 16″ wide x 6″ deep, the bag is composed of heavy olive green nylon. The nylon feels like something between the thickness of a tarp and the thinness of a pair 80’s parachute pants. The entire bag is composed of double fabric layers, so I have no doubt that the nylon exterior will be long lasting and able to withstand daily abuse. The exterior has the slight sheen that is inherent to nylon, which keeps the bag from looking too drab.
Picture courtesy of the MEDIUM Design Group site
The contrasting khaki green straps are made of nylon webbing, and they feature what looks like a red stitch through the middle of their weave. The only noticeable branding on the exterior of the bag is a screen printed MEDIUM logo.
The shoulder strap’s stress points are reinforced with large black zigzag stitching…
…and the front panel of the bag continues the black zigzag theme on the two nylon accent pieces.
The rear of the bag is left plain, and I can’t help but think that an opportunity was missed by not adding a deep exterior pocket.
The 2″ wide nylon webbing shoulder strap originates on the right side of the bag. Two heavy plastic D-rings hang on either end of its reinforced base, and there are two stiff nylon loops which can be used to hold a couple of pens.
Included with the bag is an 8.5′ tall x 3.5″ wide aluminum “fuel bottle” with a screw top that has been outfitted with a small carabineer for attaching to one of the bag’s D-rings.
Even though the bottle is not insulated, it should be handy for toting beverages.
Under the strap’s base is a 3.25″ x 3″ pocket kept closed a velcro flap. Eight inches of nylon lacing hangs from either side of the pocket’s flap, which can be laced through the two nylon loops on the pocket’s body. I’m not sure if there is a practical reason for this, but it is a visually pleasing touch.
The shoulder strap can be extended to a maximum of 56″, allowing it to adjusted for wearing either across the chest or on the shoulder. Any extra strap material can be tucked into the heavy plastic D-rings on the left side of the bag.
The front flap of the bag hides a 7.75″ tall x 7″ wide pocket which is secured with a 7″ strip of olive green Velcro. A still nylon loop at the top of the pocket makes its opening easier. Although I am no fan of the sticky stuff, it doesn’t seem too obnoxious on this bag – probably because it is not passed through to access the main compartments.
Perhaps the singularly most unusual thing about the bag, and what most likely gives it is name, is the parachute deployment hardware on the front. Sewn into the top flap is a 2″ wide x 2″ tall aluminum framework loop.
Made to attach to the loop is a 3″ long x 0.75′ aluminum quick-release hook with a 7.5″ long x 1′ wide nylon strap attached.
There are what look like brass screws and rivets on the hook, which add to its intriguing design. The bag is opened by pulling the nylon strap up and out, which releases the catch mechanism on the hook.
When standing with the bag at one’s side, after a couple of practice runs pulling the strap “up and out” to release the catch is easily done. When the bag is lying on a table or in the user’s lap, remembering the “up and out” motion is important, as the natural thing to do is just tug on the strap – which will not activate the deployment mechanism. Since no one wants to look like a doofus when trying to open their bag in public, a few trial runs from different angles in the comfort of the user’s own home would be in order.
After the bag has been opened, a 9″ tall x 7″ wide pocket is revealed on the front outer wall. This pocket is held shut by a 2″ strip of olive green Velcro, and once again there is a stiff nylon pull-loop.
Directly above the pull-loop is a snap attached to a 3″ long x 1″ wide nylon strap used to keep the main compartment of the bag closed. Lifting the snap reveals a cavernous 11″ tall x 16″ wide slick black nylon-lined interior. On the back wall is a 10″ wide x 7″ deep zippered pocket.
I should mention that none of the pockets in the bag are divided for holding specific types of gear, but depending upon the user that may or may not be seen as a con. Smaller items may be stowed in separate gear pouches inside the main compartment, and the pockets are sized to easily accommodate digital music players, digital cameras and PDAs. The large interior of the bag, although not specifically padded for carrying a notebook, can easily accept up to a 13″ wide laptop computer inside a padded sleeve.
Empty, the Medium Deployment Messenger Bag weighs in at well under a pound; probably a third of that weight is in the deployment clasp alone. Because it is so light and flexible, the bag may be folded and placed in another bag until it is needed. On the shoulder, the Deployment Messenger Bag’s 2″ wide strap helps to disperse the filled bag’s weight without that uncomfortable “digging in” feeling that thinner straps can get. However, the lack of a shoulder pad is really felt when the bag is loaded.
Speaking of loading the bag, this is where I ran into my first real issues…
I thought that this would be the perfect bag to bring on our recent trip to Kansas City, so in anticipation I loaded the month’s as of yet unread Vanity Fair, Texas Monthly and Rolling Stone magazines in the bag’s main compartment, along with my electronic gear’s travel cables. I stuck a few more odds and ends in the various pockets around the bag; and when I picked it up to see how the bag felt, I got a nasty surprise. Not only did the magazines slump into an uncomfortable to wear “roll” in the bottom of the bag, just those three magazines had made the bag seem intolerably heavy. I was really feeling the lack of a shoulder pad, and the combination of the slick nylon interior against the smooth covers of the magazines did not offer enough friction to keep the magazines standing in place.
When I loaded the bag with my Fujitsu P2110 inside its WaterField Sleeve Case, there was room to spare and the added padding of the sleeve kept me from worrying about the laptop’s safety. On my shoulder, the bag still felt heavy, but at least I was expecting that.
Overall, I am rather disappointed in this bag. I love its style and the touches that make it unique; but for my needs, it is not very practical.