Waterfield Shinjuku messenger bag review – a ruggedly handsome bag

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REVIEW – I’ve always been a backpack man whether going back and forth to the office or traveling for work. I had one for my laptop and other office-related paraphernalia. I also had one for my good camera, lenses, etc. They were fine and did the job. Then I went remote and only needed them for travel, which I always overpacked because if 1 was good, 3 or 4 of an item was better. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten tired of lugging all the extra around and wanted a bag that would help me take only what I needed. I’ve always thought a messenger bag would be good but didn’t want to buy one only to find I hated it. Thankfully Waterfield presented The Gadgeteer with its new Shinjuku messenger to review and I was lucky enough to snag it up. I knew I loved the looks because, hello, waxed canvas and leather, but would it be what I wanted? Let’s find out.

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What is it?

The Waterfield Shinjuku messenger bag takes its styling from the fast-paced Tokyo lifestyle while using waxed canvas and leather to give it rugged good looks.

What’s included?

  • Shinjuku messenger bag

Tech specs

Click to expand


14 oz. Brown waxed canvas
VX-11 X-Pac Canvas Laminate
Full-grain leather accents

Dimensions & Weight:

Compact:s11.5” (l) x 2” (w) x 10” (h); 1.3 lbs.
20.32 (l) x 5.08 (w) x 25.4 (h) cm; 0.59 kg
Volume: 3.8 Liters

15” (l) x 2.5” (w) x 11” (h); 2.25 lbs.
38.1 (l) x 6.35 (w) x 27.94 (h) cm; 1.03 kg
Volume: 6.8 Liters


Design and features

The Waterfield Shinjuku messenger bag comes in 2 sizes; compact and full. I received the full to review. Now let’s talk about materials since that’s what grabbed me. I love waxed canvas and you know what’s better than waxed canvas? Waxed canvas and leather, and the Shinjuku messenger bag has both. It’s made of 14 0z canvas and is rugged but supple. I was surprised at how flexible it is.

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The leather used for its accents is chef’s kiss. It looked fantastic right out of the box and bag it was shipped in. The real beauty is it will only get better with age. As you can see below, it’s already gotten some character after my first trip. I also appreciate Waterfield’s subtle branding, simple and clean.

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It has a good amount of room for my business/travel essentials. I can get my iPad, 14″ laptop, zippered bag for cables, charger, laptop power supply, earbuds in a case, Bluetooth earbuds with charger, pens, stylus, and a couple of other odds and ends. There’s also a water bottle sleeve in there but I wouldn’t have been able to fit my laptop in there should I have used it.

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On the front flap, there’s another flat pocket equipped with a waterproof zipper. I did try to cram some stuff in there as well but then the bag didn’t close well so I opted to leave those articles at home. I wanted to pare down and the stuff I left were extras anyway.

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The interior is lined with a golden water resistant liner with a honeycomb pattern. I think it’s an attractive but functional feature. I like that it helps me find things in the bottom of my bag easily. My black backpack with its black interior can be a nightmare at times to find what I need.

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The few pieces of hardware used on the Shinkuku messenger bag are all metal, not plastic. Plastic would undoubtedly cheapen the look of this beauty.

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Another nice feature of the Shinjuku is hidden in the front flap and pouch. There are magnets in them to keep the flap closed when you’re out and about.

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The construction is also top notch in my opinion. This feels like a solid bag that won’t fall apart on you. It should last for years.

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Finally, if you don’t like carrying your keys in your pocket, Waterfield has you covered. They’ve included a key tether in the bag as well.

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What I like about Waterfield Shinjuku messenger bag

  • Waxed canvas and leather!
  • Solid construction
  • Magnetic closure on the front flap
  • Minimal branding

What needs to be improved?

  • Nothing

Final thoughts

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The Waterfield Shinjuku messenger bag fits the bill for me in its looks, functionality, and I’m hoping, longevity. I know it’s not going to be for everyone. This is not an inexpensive bag. There are certainly cheaper alternatives, but how long will they last? Do you want to go cheaper and have to replace it in a few years or pay for something that’ll last? I would definitely buy this for myself. If this bag calls to you, buy it. I’ll stand by my recommendation.

Price: $239 for the full sized
Where to buy: Waterfield
Source: The sample of this product was provided for free by Waterfield. Waterfield did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

2 thoughts on “Waterfield Shinjuku messenger bag review – a ruggedly handsome bag”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Robert Grenader

    Nice bag; Gary does great stuff. I never carry keys on included straps; they are always in my pocket. If my bag is stolen, I can still get home.

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