Until my recent move to New York City, I never appreciated the importance of a multidimensional, high-quality, urban messenger bag—I’ve spent the past few months cramming my laptop into purses or dragging heavy, oversized totes around the Big Apple. Earlier this month, I picked up the $58 City Bag Medium from local boutique chain (and socially responsible brand) Brooklyn Industries, and I was happy to discover that it offers the perfect option—I’ve yet to step out without it.
The City Bag is made from nylon with waterproof coating—I chose the lovely gray version—making it a great go-to bag for any weather condition. The bag is designed in the style of a classic messenger bag with a single Velcro flap to close. In addition to two small, cell-phone sized pockets, one on each side of the bag, an outer zippered pocket runs the full length and depth of the messenger. The adjustable strap is crafted out of a seatbelt, making it strong but comfortable.
The main compartment measures 14 inches across, 12 inches tall, and 5 inches deep. Although the bag doesn’t offer a padded notebook compartment, the company says the City Bag is one of its most popular “laptop bags.” This is likely because of the interior, Velcro-secured divider that snugly stabilizes your computer, leaving the bulk of the main compartment free for other stuff. I found the City Bag to be quite spacious—my 13-inch Macbook Pro took up hardly any space at all inside (although a 15-inch MacBook Pro won’t fit.) If the lack of dedicated laptop padding worries you, a 13-inch laptop in a thin, padded sleeve still fits nicely.
While Brooklyn Industry’s take on the classic laptop messenger is well-designed and handsomely crafted, there’s not a ton of structure to the bag—if it’s not relatively full of stuff, it sags a bit and loses its shape. While I prefer the lightweight, flexible feel to stiffer alternatives such as Timbuk2’s messenger bags (some of which can stand upright), the City Bag definitely loses some aesthetic appeal when it collapses on itself while empty.
Overall, there’s not a ton to improve upon with this bag. The lining could use some padding but your laptop doesn’t feel too vulnerable as is—as long as you don’t drop the bag onto concrete, of course. Ultimately, for a stylish, efficient messenger bag to cart around urban areas, Brooklyn Industry’s City Bag Medium gives quite the bang for your buck.
Stephanie Kent is a former Macworld intern who writes from New York and currently works at the TED conference.