In a city like Philadelphia, lots of people have opted to not own cars. Most people travel via public transportation, on foot, or on bicycles. One thing that most, if not all, of these folks have in common is their use of messenger backpacks to carry their belongings with them.
Being on the go, in this day and age, can require us to carry a lot of gadgets and stuff from home with us when we leave home. This is especially true for those living in the city. Everywhere you look you can see people carrying courier totes under their arm, or slung across their shoulder.
Bike messengers are still quite visible in Philadelphia; riding around precariously on fixed-gear bikes, weaving in and out of traffic. They are still very important when businesses want to get plans and contracts from one location to another, very quickly. All of these riders still use courier totes to carry those time-sensitive goods.
People travelling around on foot use these types of bags, too. When slung across one’s shoulders, they free up both hands for carrying other things, such as a phone or cup of coffee. These totes keep all of your belongings ready to grab, at all times, but safely stowed on your back.
When riding the subway or the El, a backpack keeps a person’s stuff out of sight, and safe. The adjustable straps can help to tighten the bag, so it is form fitting in tight, crowded spaces. You can hold on to the overhead handle, yet no have to worry about the bag sliding down your arm, because it is held tight across your shoulders. A good bag will keep a laptop stowed so that, when you can sit down, it is easily accessible and can be pulled out onto your lap.
Stylistically, the most well designed messenger backpacks come in every color of the rainbow. People may carry similar bags, but individuality can easily be expressed through color choice, as well as offering a variety of sizes of each bag. Not everyone is the same size, nor do they all want to carry the same amount of gear. Some people want a square bag, and others may want a shorter, wider one.
Totes for the urban traveler need to be constructed of super durable materials, to ensure the user does not have a “blow-out" on the street. It’s sad, but we’ve all seen someone’s bag break in a crowded place, belongings getting dropped and trampled. Materials like ballistic-grade Taslan nylon, waterproof duck canvas, and tanned top grain leathers give messenger backpacks the strength to go everywhere the user goes.
Almost everyone in Philadelphia carries a bag or backpack of some kind. It’s a modern age, when people are using more gadgets and multitasking, so it is very important to have hands-free messenger backpacks, so to speak. Tighten the strap across the chest, carry a cell phone with one hand, and a latte in the other.
What to look for in the best messenger backpacks
While the “super popularity” of the traditional messenger bag has probably faded a bit from its high point in 2005/2007 (when even Jack Bauer was using a messenger bag or “man purse”), Courier Totes have continued to stay popular over the last few years thanks to their incredible form and functionality.
Really a great hybrid between all of the benefits that a traditional bag offers as well as the stylistic benefits that a messenger bag brings to the table, finding the right one can be a little bit of a headache and hassle – if you don’t know exactly what you should be looking for.
I should know. I spent literally 18 months trying to replace what I thought was the perfect choice (it ended up ripping in the bottom and spilling my brand-new MacBook on the floor – but that’s another story altogether), and have probably investigated all of the different options that are out there right now.
Here are just a handful of the things that I thought were important when trying to find the very best backpacks to purchase.
Price wasn’t everything, but it was definitely important – just not in the way I thought originally
I know that you’re going to see a ton of different prices out there as far as courier bags are concerned. At the same time, most manufacturers of messenger backpacks are in a “flight to the bottom” of the market, so to speak – more interested in offering rock-bottom rates then innovating their products and making sure they are constructed out of high quality materials.
This would be a mistake. Obviously, you’re going to go into this purchasing decision with a very specific budget – and you should do everything you can to stick to it – but you’re also going to want to decide just how important this messenger backpack is in your day to day life.
If, like me, you’re using courier bags every single day (whether at school, work, or just on trips around town), it’s well worth spending a little bit more money than you would have otherwise to get your hands on something fantastic – something that’s going to last.
If you’re not going to be using backpacks on a daily basis and are just trying to kind of add something to your wardrobe, then you’re still probably going to want to look at something a little bit more on the expensive side – nobody wants to get caught with cheap looking things when they’re trying to look their best.
Construction material and attention to detail makes all the difference in the world
One of the biggest mistakes you can make – and a mistake that I made twice (yes, TWICE) – was not paying attention to the quality of construction materials used in the attention to detail paid during the construction process.
Two of the backpacks that I ended up purchasing – and then instantly demanding a refund on – were built out of cheap nylon like materials that promised amazing waterproof properties but never really backed up their big talk. Combine that with weak, ugly, and erratic stitching, and I had a real recipe for disaster on my hands.
At the same time, I ended up purchasing a high quality bag from Tucker and Bloom and couldn’t be happier with the purchase that I made. Not only are the construction materials used throughout high quality and high caliber, but you can see in all of the little details that this is a company that cares about the products they produce.