Well-made bag to carry lots of stuff, but little protection (June 29th, 2006)
Product Manufacturer: CourierWare
Price: $95.00-bag $35.00-sleeve
- Strong nylon. Great stitching. Good padding in laptop sleeve. Reasonable price.
- Outdated design. Doesn't close up completely.
Perhaps if I were a courier, I would better understand the design and appeal of the handmade CourierWare bags. Bike messengers who wanted to design a better bag founded the company, and I'm sure that when they released their first bag more than 20 years ago, that is exactly what they had done. The CourierWare bag is undoubtedly a better bag, and though there is almost nothing wrong with the bag, I think it is simply outclassed in today's marketplace.
Materials Built to LastCourierWare doesn't skimp on materials or build quality. The nylon outside is tough to the point of being nearly bulletproof. They claim that the 1000 denier Cordura nylon used is "known as the most durable, abrasion-resistant fabric on the market." The stitching is so solid that the company guarantees it will last as long as the material. Also, the bag is'nt padded like many of the bags available today. The interior is lined with waterproof nylon, though I'm not willing to test this claim with my laptop inside.
This leads me to my primary complaint. Completely closed, the CourierWare bag is not completely sealed. With the flap down, there are still exposed areas on both sides of the bag that could allow water to seep in. Though I don't rely on any bag being 100% waterproof, the CourierWare bag seems especially open to the elements. I wouldn't hazard taking out my laptop in a strong rain for fear that it might be exposed to moisture. The same is true for any papers or magazines in the interior pocket. The only thing sealing the pocket closed is the flap; there is no zipper and no Velcro on the interior of the bag to hold the large space shut. Velcro and plastic clips hold down the flap, and it is secure, but even closed, there is an opening on the side.
Design could use UpdatingThough the company bills this as a courier's bag, today's messenger bags have a slightly different shape. It would be more accurate to describe this as a shoulder bag. When I think of courier bags, I think of offset straps that balance the bag on your back when worn cross-chest-style. Some bags today even offer a second strap across your chest to keep the bag secure. The CourierWare bag has one fixed strap, with a huge, solid buckle on the end. In my first week of testing, there was one incident in which, pulling the bag up by the strap, the strap came loose from the buckle. It seems like a solid, gripping buckle, though. It is described on the website as marine strength, so I imagine this was more user error than the bag's fault. They do guarantee that the strap will never separate from the bag.
Versatile InsideAt first glance, there doesn't seem to be many pockets in the bag, but there are plenty of dividers. Except for the back magazine pocket, none of them seal shut, but they provide ample space for all of my accessories. Unfortunately, there was no clever way to keep tangled wires from becoming unruly. A detailed picture of the SuperDeluxe features appear on the site.
Laptop InsertThe $35.00 laptop sleeve is a nice addition. The padding is soft, and the fit is not too tight. The sleeve fits the bag, but isn't held in place inside the bag in any way. It seemed to bounce a bit, and sometimes small items in the large pocket would slide under or behind the laptop. The sleeves fit iBooks and PowerBooks, so you'll have to custom order for a MacBook. The sleeves and bag flaps come in fifteen different colors.
CourierWare's website boasts that their bag design has not changed for the last couple of decades. Unfortunately, newer designs, and more contemporary uses, have left these bags feeling archaic. The company should put their excellent workmanship and quality materials into a bag that is better suited for today.
(Editor's Note: If rated for workmanship alone, these bags certainly rate 5-stars or above. All of them are sewn to order, with excellent materials. They offer a variety of bags and some customers claim they show no wear after years and years of use.)
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor