Chrome, Vaya and Sci’Con messenger bags (Matt Pacocha)
While the days of ‘messenger bag cool’ are waning in some
places, there are still a host of companies putting out quality and in some
cases ‘craft’ cycling bags. Three recently landed in our office: Chrome’s classic Boris backpack, Sci’Con’s cool Solar
Genome and upstart Vaya’s recycled Medi Messenger.
Chrome and Vaya take the traditional approach in terms of
design and materials. Both use classic, messenger-approved, heavy-duty
vinyl coated fabric linings mated with robust structural fabrics like marine
canvas and high thread count nylon.
Sci’Con’s Solar bag isn’t the bombproof, waterproof,
workhorse that the other two are, being made from an uncoated heavy duty nylon
weave. But it offers a convenient solar recharging station for your mobile
device – pretty cool, if you ask us.
The US$120/£114.99 Chrome Boris fulfills the needs of those of us who
prefer a backpack, versus a traditional messenger bag. It comes down to this: if you spend any time lugging your pack on foot, you’re likely to prefer how a
backpack transfers the load. If you’re a messenger or find you’re continually filling your bag over capacity with odd shaped items, you’re likely to prefer a sling type bag. We found the Boris to be fine on a bike.
Boris has an EVA padded back panel
It’s constructed from materials traditionally associated
with messengers – 1000 denier Cordura with a waterproof 400 denier ‘truck tarp’ lining. Inside, two main pockets and five organizational pockets offer
plenty of storage, which is measured at 36 liters.
Sci’Con’s Solar Genome
The Genome is a messenger bag in style, but not a robust
workhorse piece. Rather, it’s slick 10 liter bag for short-haul commuters in sunny climates, where you can take full advantage of the solar
charging unit. This consists of a flap mounted solar panel, battery and quiver of adaptors.
Of course you pay for it: the bag costs a whopping
US$259. However, Sci’Con include all of the accouterments you’ll need to charge your
camera, phone or USB device; they even include a USB car charger with the bag.
The Solar Genome comes with a battery, to collect from the solar
panel, and USB charging adaptors
The Solar Genome lacks the other bags’ waterproof
finishes and liners but Sci’Con do include a cover, should you be caught in
a storm. Inside you’ll find four zippered pockets, a lightly padded laptop sleeve and a host of organizational pockets.
While the Medi Messenger from Vaya is the most
basic of the bunch – no zippers here – it surely has the most soul, and in the
world of messengering, robust and simple almost always trumps feature packed and
For US$165/£106 you get a bag crafted in Long
Island, New York by the designer, Tianna Meilinger, or one of her close family
members or friends. Like we said, soul – and that’s even before we mention that
the bag incorporates recycled bicycle tubes and canvas to bolster that warm and
fuzzy enviro feeling.
Hard not to appreciate Vaya’s ‘made by the designer’ construction
The Medi has a main pocket plus three organizational pockets
of various sizes, which make up the bag’s 23-liter capacity. The coolest feature is the oversize quick-release
buckle, which is mated to two metal D-rings. To
cinch the pack down to your back for riding, pull the end ring, and to quickly
loosen it, simply pull in the opposite direction. The system is super-fast and