Versatile messenger bag fits all your stuff and more

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Get all your stuff together in this lightweight, classy, functional messenger bag.
Get all your stuff together in this lightweight, classy, functional messenger bag.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Ever try to go from home to the gym to the office to the party in the same day? If you have, you’ll know that move requires a lot of carrying capacity, typically across several bags.

Now try to do all that as an eco-warrior on a bicycle. You’ll want one big, waterproof bag that can hold your work stuff, your gym clothes and maybe a rain coat in case it gets wet out there. Stylish and useful, the Vitesse from WaterField Designs is a lovely, waxed-canvas messenger bag that will fit all that stuff.

Best List: Gear that will take your adventures over the top

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WaterField Designs' Bolt briefcase is not for hoarders who want to carry every infernal gadget with them everywhere they go. Like the impossibly thin new MacBook, it's stripped down to the essentials — and the essentials are stylish, sturdy and compelling.


The $249 Bolt will surprise you with its slimness. It comes in two sizes — the small one I tested holds up to a 13-inch MacBook Air (the larger model holds up to a 17-inch laptop). After sliding in an 11-inch Air, an iPad and an envelope full of documents, the Bolt was fairly full; there was barely room to toss in a pair of headphones. 


But that's the point of the Bolt. It's designed for carting around your must-have gear in a sleek, pleasing package. The brown waxed canvas bag looked good out of the gate (and even better after a few trips gave it more character). The chocolate leather accents, including a thick bottom that's perfect for keeping grime at bay, seem like they will only look better over time.


The craftsmanship employed by the San Francisco bag maker is evident from the first zip of the Bolt's hefty, waterproof zipper or the first flip of the

WaterField Designs' Bolt briefcase is not for hoarders who want to carry every infernal gadget with them everywhere they go. Like the impossibly thin new MacBook, it's stripped down to the essentials — and the essentials are stylish, sturdy and compelling.

The $249 Bolt will surprise you with its slimness. It comes in two sizes — the small one I tested holds up to a 13-inch MacBook Air (the larger model holds up to a 17-inch laptop). After sliding in an 11-inch Air, an iPad and an envelope full of documents, the Bolt was fairly full; there was barely room to toss in a pair of headphones.

But that's the point of the Bolt. It's designed for carting around your must-have gear in a sleek, pleasing package. The brown waxed canvas bag looked good out of the gate (and even better after a few trips gave it more character). The chocolate leather accents, including a thick bottom that's perfect for keeping grime at bay, seem like they will only look better over time.

The craftsmanship employed by the San Francisco bag maker is evident from the first zip of the Bolt's hefty, waterproof zipper or the first flip of the "snaps" that close the front pockets. (They're not really snaps: They look like snaps, but in reality they're magnets that effectively hold the pockets shut but are 1,000 times easier to work than your typical closure.)

A leather-faced pad on the removable shoulder strap boasts a grippy, rubberized back that keeps the Bolt from sliding around. And speaking of not sliding around, the simple pass-through on the back of the Bolt is perfect for sliding the petite bag over the handle of a piece of carry-on luggage.

If you go from a backpack to a Bolt, you will undoubtedly miss all that extra space for cramming in jackets, water bottles and half-eaten sandwiches. But, like a decluttered house, the Bolt's wonderful minimalism will grow on you. — Lewis Wallace

Buy from: WaterField Designs

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


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MixBag has all the pockets you’ll need (but you pay for every one)

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The MixBag is versatile, but it won't necessarily make you look super-cool. Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac
The MixBag is versatile, but it won't necessarily make you look super-cool. Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

I was pretty sure I would never need to look any further than my trusty Chrome bag when it came time to be out and about with my electronics. It was a simple system, really: Just chuck everything into the bag’s cavernous pocket, buckle it in and go. It was quick, and it worked — until I needed to actually get anything out of there.

See, for all its style and the novelty of its seat-belt strap, Chromes are really only meant to transport one or two larger packages. Because they’re messenger bags. You know, for messengers.

The MixBag takes a different approach: It’s smaller, but it has a pocket for everything you might possibly need to carry around.

Cram your entire life into this streamlined messenger bag

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This thing fits a *lot* of stuff. Photo: Rob LeFebvre, Cult of Mac
This thing fits a lot of stuff. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I’m all about minimalist bags; paring down my kit to the bare essentials so I’m not bogged down when traipsing from place to place is a daily goal of mine. I’ve gone minimal with my wallet, my MacBook and the various digital and analog ephemera I need to carry with me as I go about daily tasks for work and at home.

There is a time, however, when you need to have a larger subset of your general kit. You might need that extra battery pack (or two), your MacBook Pro, both your iPads, a couple of backup hard drives, an external keyboard, a gaming mouse, a PlayStation Vita, headphones and (of course) all the associated wires and plugins that these items require. Oh, and maybe a water bottle, a wallet, an iPhone and a set of keys.

That’s the exact stuff I’ve got packed into an STM Quantum Messenger bag — and it fits handily, with room to spare.