How to pack your messenger bag

Tried using a messenger bag and found it uncomfortable? Still haven't mastered the 'secrets' to a more comfortable carry? Listen up as we explain how to make your messenger bag super comfortable no matter what you pack in it!

00:34 - How to make your own back pad
01:17 - Messenger bag packing theory 101
01:37 - What I would normally carry with me
02:38 - Padded stuff in first
02:58 - Flat flexible items next
03:08 - Bulky items next
03:19 - Smaller items go here
03:38 - Why you shouldn't put your laptop next to your back, and instead where to put it
04:18 - Wallet and pens live here
04:27 - Deoderant goes here
04:34 - Phone in its dedicated pocket
04:43 - D-lock holster and its advantages
05:05 - Using the front flap clipping points
05:20 - Being a hipster
05:36 - Adjusting the messenger bag correctly

Our entire range of messenger bags can be found here. Rest assured though that these tips and tricks also apply to other messenger bag brands!

Messenger bag packing 101
Dave here from BOgear and a question I often get is "my messenger bag is really uncomfortable. How can I pack it so it is comfortable, and so it doesn't dig into my back?"

Back padding - it really makes a difference
There are a couple of different reasons why your messenger bag isn't comfortable. It comes down to the way you pack it. It also comes down to whether or not you've got back padding or optional upgrades. As I am sure you are aware, we do make custom messenger bags as well as off the shelf messenger bags. We can do custom upgrades to any of our bags - the most popular of which is removable back padding. This makes a massive difference to carry comfort.

Making your own back pad
The other thing you can do is make your own little back pad that you can insert and remove from the bag. One of the tips I've learnt along the way is to buy yourself a really big padded mailbag - one that fits the width of the back of the bag. This is important, so you have a big area of padding. The padded mailbags that have bubble wrap inside are best, and to ensure it lasts a long time tape it up with gaffer-tape. This creates a nice little pad that you chuck inside your bag which should keep you comfortable. So that's the first tip!

Packing your bag also makes a difference!
The other tip is how you actually pack the messenger bag:
1. Make sure you put something padded against your back.
2. You put any flat things next
3. Then any boxy or sharp things on top of that.
4. Always put your fragile things on the outside, or anything that you need to access quickly or easily.

Real world carry example
So if I'm riding to and from somewhere, I've always got a shirt for the other end. We live in Brisbane it's hot. I sweat. I've also got a towel, because I sweat for about 15 minutes afterwards and need to wipe down. I've got my deodorant, and D-lock. Keys to go with the D-lock. I also have my power cord for my laptop. I usually carry a 13 inch, but I've instead got a 15 inch just to show you (it fits neatly in our Sindrome messenger bag). And of course, I've always got the extras such as notebook, sketch pad, the little black diary, and I have pens. A light if it is night, a phone and a wallet.

Packing for the real world - the bigger stuff
So the way to pack comfortably is to put your padded stuff against the back wall, so you've got something nice against your back, (that is if you don't have back padding or if you don't use the padded mailbag tip). Then you grab your flat items that aren't sharp. These should be slightly flexible, so they will round around your back a little bit, making it nice and comfy (it also stops things stabbing you in the back). Put these in next. On top of all this, put anything that is boxy, like a camera case, boxes. Whatever it is, you would put that on top.

Packing for the real world - the smaller stuff
My power brick isn't so necessary to have all the time, so I'd put that inside on one of the internal pockets. I generally don't like having lumpy things against my shoulder - I prefer having lumpy things down at my hip. In this case the hip is on my far side, so I'll put it in the far pocket. Next up is my laptop. A lot of people put their laptop on top inside their bags (against your back). I wouldn't recommend this as the laptop is not flexible, yet the bag will try to round it out (ie. flex it) ever so slightly. What I do recommend is putting your laptop in the external pleated pocket. The only problem with this is that it is on the outside, so if you do crash, it can be easily broken. Regardless, it is a heck of a lot safer in terms of day to day use and flexing/bending. Putting it on the outside ensures it doesn't bend. If you are super worried, put it inside the main tub but as close to the front wall as possible (ie as far away from your back as possible). If I'm not wearing my hip pouch, I put my wallet in the small pocket beside the pen pockets. I put my deodorant inside the bag, (on my hip-side) along with my power brick. My phone I'll put in the easy access pocket just above the external pleated pocket, along with my black note book. The D-lock goes in the D-lock sleeve. The advantage of having this D-lock on the outside is that it is not going to damage my laptop, because it is under the laptop, and the weight of the lock is not going to be pressing on the laptop, it's going to be pressing against the inside of the bag. All I've got left is my fiber flare (light), which I'll chuck on the front clipping webbing. And because I want to look like a hipster, I like to keep my keys attached to my shoulder. Jokes aside, it is really a great spot to keep your keys, as it is easy access (as is your D-lock).

How to put the messenger bag on correctly
So now I do up the compression, I do up the front clips, and throw the beast on. After doing up the main strap and adjusting it correctly, I loosen the hip and shoulder compression according to the interior volume of the bag. At the moment it is quite empty, so I'll keep the compression done up quite tight. Finally I do up the stabilizer strap.

Breaking it all down
Right now I've got the towel and t-shirt against my back (inside the bag), so this messenger bag is nice and comfortable. I've got some flat things on top of that which are slightly flexible, and if I round my back slightly will round with it ever so slightly. If I had anything big or boxy, I would have that behind all this. The reason why I didn't put the boxes next to my back is because it would stab into my back - especially against my spine and it would be really uncomfortable. Any fragile stuff is on the outside so it doesn't get crushed by the interior contents, and of course the D-lock is in the D-lock sleeve, for easy access when you stop. And the keys as well are on my shoulder.

So now you know how to comfortably pack a messenger bag! I hope this helps. If you have any other questions you would love answered, please let us know.

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