Bagaboo Messenger Bags

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My daily gear bag for the past 9 months has been a Timbuk2 messenger bag that I designed using their Bag in a Box kit. This is the bag that actually turned me on to messenger style bags in the first place. Even though I’ve been happy with the Timbuk2 for quite a while now, I still find that I’m always on the lookout for one that has more pockets, better features, materials etc. Guess what? The Timbuk2 is going bye-bye because I recently discovered Bagaboo Bags.

Located in Hungary, these bags give new meaning to the term ‘custom made’. You can not only choose from a wide variety of colors for the interior, exterior and trim, but you can also have your logo sewn into the bag. No one will have a bag exactly like yours.

I sat down one afternoon with paper, pencil and an idea. Below is my idea come to life. Do you like it? There is a whole gallery of designs on Bagaboo’s site that can help spur creativity for designs of your own.

Bagaboo’s messenger bags have an exterior made of Cordura and an interior made from truck tarps. Of the 21 exterior and trim colors, I chose Military Green and light Grey. For the interior, I went with Orange.

As you can see, the outside of the bag is devoid of pockets. This is by design. As a messenger bag, you want the contents to remain safe, secure and protected from the elements. Cordura is water resistant, and the interior truck tarp is waterproof. Unless you dunk the bag in a lake, your cargo should remain dry.

You might notice the grab handle on the top of the bag. This was a feature I requested. It wasn’t listed as an option on the Bagaboo site, but when I asked for it, they obliged. Yay!

The messenger bags have a choice of strap systems. There is a front adjusting system that is better suited for actual bike riders / messengers, and the side adjust system for people like me, that walk to and from a parking lot. I chose the side adjust system, which consists of a big plastic clip. If you decide to order a bag with the side system, you have to specify which shoulder that you’ll be wearing the bag.

The shoulder strap is made from car seat belt webbing. This material makes wonderful shoulder straps because it is strong and comfortable. The strap also comes with a pad which is padded and has a long strip of fuzzy Velcro. The Velcro allows you to attach a phone holder or other accessory pouch.

Lifting the flap will reveal 3 vertical strips of Velcro sewn to the outside of a collection of 3 pockets. The underside of the tarp lined flap has a horizontal strip of Velcro, as well as 2 plastic clips. Even when the bag is very full, you won’t worry about keeping the flap in place.

The outer most pocket is approximately 11.5 x 6.5 inches. It is a flat zippered pocket with a pleat on each end.

A loop of fabric allows you to pull this pocket out to reveal another flat pocket that is approximately the same size as the pocket in front of it. This pocket has 3 pen/pencil slots though.

The largest pocket lies directly behind the entire set. It is zippered (2 zippers) and is approximately 14 x 9.5 inches.

Now lets take a look at the interior of the bag.

By default, the Bagaboo messenger bags have 3 interior pockets. You can see them at the top of the right most picture above. Two ‘corner’ open pockets and one larger middle pocket that is held closed with Velcro. As an option (i.e. more money) you can add a small 9 x 5 inch zippered pocket that hangs over the middle pocket I just mentioned. You can also opt for a large 12 x 8 inch flat zippered pocket on the back wall of the bag. A flat piece of foam is included that you can leave in the pocket to pad the back of the bag.

The Messenger bag comes in 4 sizes: Small (21.25x12x7.5in / 54x30x19cm), Medium (23.5x12x8.25in / 60x30x21cm), Large (25.5x12x10.25in / 63x31x26cm) and XL (25x13x10.25in / 64x33x26cm). I went with Medium and am quite happy with the size. It’s not too small and not too big, it’s jussssst right.

Above you see the empty bag with my Treo 650 in the bottom for a size perspective.

Here is a pile of all the stuff I tote around with me every day.

Stick all that stuff in this medium sized bag and there is still a LOT of room left for even more stuff.

And here I am wearing the bag fully loaded down with the stuff you see above. For reference, I’m 5’5.75″ (yes, I want to count every quarter of an inch I can!). The bag as seen here weighs in very close to 9lbs, but is still comfortable and easy to manage. I really like this bag. At first I wasn’t too thrilled with the over abundance of Velcro, but I’ve learned to tune out the ripppppppppppppp noises. Other than the Velcro, I can’t find anything to complain about. The material and workmanship exceeds Timbuk2. It’s just a much better bag. Of course it’s also ‘my’ bag because I put my own idea into it with the grab handle and gear design.

As designed, this bag costs 76 EUR (~$97 USD) + shipping. The special design for the exterior varies depending on the complexity. Just for example, the gear on my bag would cost about $15 USD.

Bagaboo has several other bags available as well. I was also sent the Teenage Dirtbag and Pebble bags.

The Teenage Dirtbag is like a light version of the messenger bag. You can choose the exterior, interior and trim colors, but the interior is Cordura, not tarp. The one you see pictured above is the large size.

Under the flap are two pockets. One is an open slot and the other is zippered. The interior of the bag has an inner divider, which is a zippered pocket itself, and has two inner slip pockets. The main thing I don’t like about this bag is that the divider does not attach to the bottom of the bag. So, it is more difficult to keep your items organized because they can slip from one side of the bag to the other.

The Pebble is a very small shoulder bag with a Velcro flap and an adjustable shoulder strop. There is a divider inside the bag, which functions as a zippered pocket, too. It splits the bag’s inside into two parts. Like the Teenage dirtbag, the divider is not attached to the bottom of the bag.

Both of these are cute smaller bags, but not really something I would find myself using on a daily basis. I have used the Pebble while out shopping, but I’m not a fan of the scratchy webbed shoulder strap. I much prefer the car seat belt webbing used in the messenger bag above.

Teenage Dirtbag 28 EUR (~$36.50 USD) + shipping. Exterior design prices vary depending on complexity.

Pebble 16 EUR (~$20.35 USD) + shipping. Exterior design prices vary depending on complexity.

Bagaboo messenger bags are fantastic. If you are looking for a durable bag that you can put your own stamp on, definitely check them out. You won’t be sorry.


Product Information

Manufacturer:Bagaboo Bags
Retailer:Bagaboo Bags
  • Custom made
  • Add your own exterior design
  • Lots of pockets
  • Quality materials
  • Shipping is expensive

19 thoughts on “Bagaboo Messenger Bags”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Julie wrote:

    Post your comments on the Bagaboo Messenger Bags review.

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

    Interesting and CAVERNOUS bag. I have tried to like messengers, from Crumpler to Timbuk2, but there is something about having a flap over an open compartment that really freaks me out. In a bag that big, I like having a lot more pockets, though your Roadwired packets seem to keep it all pretty well organized. I am an aficianado of the field bag…it is a much nicer size to lug around, though you can’t fit quite as much stuff in it. Thanks for the review!

  3. Hey Julie-it’s early and my glasses aren’t on, but do you carry 3 cell phones? Is that like “work, gadgeteer, personal”? Or can you conference call yourself?

    Um, on topic. Yes. Bags are nice. I like.

  4. Mark:
    I used to feel the same way about messengers till I started using one. Now I love them. I can pile everything in that I need and still have room for a McDonald’s bag (egg mcmuffin) on the way to work or the paper and mail on the way home.

    Your eyes are just fine 🙂 The Treo is my main phone, but I’ve been goofing around with a Nokia 6131 and a Motorola SLVR L7 here and there.

  5. Julie wrote:

    Your eyes are just fine 🙂 The Treo is my main phone, but I’ve been goofing around with a Nokia 6131 and a Motorola SLVR L7 here and there.

    Whew. That’s a relief…;-)

    So this cheating on your treo…does that mean convergency has not swept you away, body and soul? Or do you and the treo have an “understanding” about these things?

  6. questionfear:
    My Treo knows that I won’t stray very far from its backlit keys 😉 I’m hopelessly addicted to it. No matter what other phones I might try, I come back to the Treo in less than 48hrs.

  7. Julie wrote:

    My Treo knows that I won’t stray very far from its backlit keys 😉 I’m hopelessly addicted to it. No matter what other phones I might try, I come back to the Treo in less than 48hrs.

    I….er….I’m glad you two have worked something out. I would say more, but everything else that comes to mind pushes this metaphor well into a bad place and my inner puritan is preventing me from typing it out.

  8. Julie,

    Where did you get the small pencil pouches (at least they look like a pencil pouch) that you carry in your messenger bag?

  9. I am having trouble trying to contact the company, do you have any suggestions for me ? Most people seem to have gotten immediate responses from them, but I emailed them and sent an online order form thing with no luck. Do you have any suggestions on what i should do ?

  10. Bryan, et al:

    As I mentioned to Julie, I purchased a medium messenger bag from Bagaboo a couple months ago. I saw her review in late October and began designing my own bag, and finally opted to go forward and arranged with Tamas, Bagaboo’s proprietor, to produce my design. Once we agreed on the design and price, which included some options (a grab handle like Julie’s, extra “lamp” holders under the front flap and some other minor adjustments), I PayPal’d him and he told me he would get back in touch once the design was finished and ready to be sent. Six weeks later, I hadn’t heard much from him so I followed up, and eventually was able to figure out that the bag had not been finished but — finally, after a bunch of requests — and me advising him I would cancel the order if I didn’t hear from him within a couple days — Tamas finally sent me pics of the near-finished bag, and soon after, pics of the finished bag itself.

    I told him I needed the bag before January 20th, as I was going out of town, and the bag arrived by January 18th. I sent him an e-mail once I got to my destination telling him the bag was perfect; it took him nine days to respond to thank me for letting him know.

    The bag itself is great — aside from the personalized design option, the bag is incredibly solidly put together. It feels bulletproof: the cordura/truck tarp combo is extremely well made, assembled and appears professional. I sprayed my bag with a waterproofing material, not because I was concerned the bag wasn’t waterproof but to insure the white stripes I’d included in my bag’s design would not darken. Otherwise, the bag is solid. It is able to stand on its own (many free-style messenger bags sink or flop to one side), it is very comfortable to wear (empty or filled), the strap/pad is very comfortable, and the myriad little features, storage pockets and places to stash stuff is incredible. The only complaint on this end is that it’s hard to remember where I put different items; aside from the main compartment, I have six (6) different pockets — zippered, velcro-sealed, open — on the bag that accommodate stuff: pens, cd’s, pads, my iPod, cell, folders, keys, calculators, softcover books, magazines, newspapers — you name it, this bag can handle it.

    I had Tamas add on a couple of additional “lamp” holders — simply, these are small straps that enable me to hang Crumpler holders (one for an iPod or similarly-sized item, another for my digicam). Otherwise, I’ve got a variety of stuff stashed in this bag and it never feels heavy or untenable. I have gotten a number of “nice bag” comments from people on the streets of NYC, and rather than advise them from whom I got it, I just thanked them and was on my way. As much as this bag is really incredible, and I would do it over again, there are several cons to go along with the variety of pros associated with buying a bag from Bagaboo.

    Very Well-Made Product
    Easy To Design (Bagaboo very willing to assist or reproduce your design)
    Well-Designed Product
    Comfortable to Wear
    Stands Up Like A Briefcase

    Lack of Responsiveness from Bagaboo
    Cost, Time Associated with Purchasing (Hungary)

    Again, I would buy another bag from Bagaboo; but I would be very cautious and wouldn’t recommend Bagaboo to friends unless they acknowledged the lack of responsiveness and the excessive cost and wait time to receive the product.

  11. Thanks 🙂

    The stripes were my idea (to match my J-Fold wallet) and the Underground logo was my girlfriend’s. I wanted to include a “Who Dares Wins” SAS dagger logo on the bag’s flap as well, but I didn’t want to over-busy the design. In all, I’m really happy with it, despite the long delay from payment to receipt of the actual bag.

    Thanks for the recommendation — if not for your review, I (nor many other of us, apparently) would have known about Bagaboo. Let’s hope Bagaboo’s customer service improves to match the level of the product itself 🙂


  12. Are u staisfied with this bag,Julie?
    Its much more closer for me to buy this bag from Hungary,than
    to orde it from San Fran:)
    So i thought buying one L or M sized messenger bag.
    This one that u reviewed seems kinda small,or is it just
    a tricky pic?
    Looks like those bagaboo bags are pretty solid and heavily built?

    1. @Sveta The Bagaboo bags are very nice. By default, they don’t come with a grab handle though. The one I had made is similar in size to a medium Timbuk2. I think you’ll like them just fine.

  13. Thanx a lot,J 🙂
    I will go for the BAGABOO,thats for sure,and i will also
    order a grab handle,its veeeeery useful to have one of those
    on any type of bag:)
    Once i get the bag,i will post some of my opinions on it:)

  14. HI julie,

    great bag you have!!
    Mine is also a bagaboo standard Messenger, one in M (for me its huge and great for my work – bike courier, 3x in S and 1x workhorse custom special S).I find the standard bags are more comfortable as the workhorse. I love the two zipper pockets outside! So I launched plenty of money at bagaboo^^!!!

    But the quality and material are great and the price for a bag ist reasonable.


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