I’ve looked at quite a few laptop bags, and in the process of reviewing those products, I occasionally find my own Next Great Bag. The latest to earn this honor is San Francisco-based Rickshaw’s Medium Zero Messenger Bag ($70 to $90, depending on material) with the company’s $20 13-inch laptop sleeve. For my uses, at least, it’s the mythical perfect messenger bag, offering just the right combination of features in a beautiful, portable, comfortable carry-all.
The Zero Messenger comes in mini, small, medium, and large sizes, each with your choice of fabrics: Cordura nylon, Performance Tweed, or Waterproof X-Pac. For this review, I used the Performance Tweed—Secret Garden Medium Zero. The Medium measures 19 inches wide, 11 inches high, and 6 inches front to back, and with the $20 13″ Laptop Sleeve, which attaches securely to Velcro pads inside the Zero, accommodates laptops up to 13 inches.
The inside of the bag consists of a single, large compartment. Even with the laptop sleeve attached, there was still plenty of space left to fit other items. On the outside, you get two eight-inch-square front pockets that are hidden when the bag’s top flap is closed. You can also upgrade your bag with a variety of accessories, including deluxe pockets, strap pads, and smartphone cases.
The Zero covers all the bases. The bag is comfortable to wear with a thick strap that evenly distributes its weight. The top flap is long enough to close completely even when the bag is filled to capacity. Perhaps most importantly, the laptop insert offers excellent protection—the sleeve is well-padded, but not bulky, and is lined with a soft, protective layer of cloth so your laptop slides in and out easily. It also fits so securely that at first I didn’t even realize it was removable.
But the real star of the Zero Messenger is its exterior fabric—specifically, the UK-inspired Performance Tweed. Made from 100-percent recycled polyester and woven here in the U.S., the material is soft but durable, and its texture and design offer a unique, but still classic, take on the standard messenger bag. The tweed is as smart as it is beautiful: It’s glossed with an eco-friendly, stain-resistant coating and is incredibly durable—mine’s already made it through several machine washes and still looks as good as new. In other words, if you’re considering the Zero Messenger, splurge for the Performance Tweed.
The Zero Messenger leaves me wanting for nothing. It’s comfortable and fashionable, and I can rest easy knowing my computer is secure inside. And while this is a pinch-me-it’s-too-good-to-be-true combination, it’s also great to find a reputable, local (San Francisco) company making quality, eco-friendly products. Go forth, Macworld readers, I’m confident you’ll become Rickshaw converts, too.
Stephanie Kent is a former Macworld editorial intern. She now lives and writes in New York City where she works for TED.