I spent several weeks of scouring the web and reading gobs of sites and reviews in search for the right laptop messenger bag before pulling the trigger on the Ugmonk Messenger Bag. After 4 months of using it daily and putting it through its paces, I’m here to tell you that it was worth the investment.
Design and Quality
If you’re familiar with Ugmonk, led by Jeff Sheldon, you’re no stranger to Jeff’s commitment to high-quality and beautifully-designed products. All of the products exemplify this mantra, and the Messenger Bag is no exception.
I own the charcoal one, and the color is deceiving (in a strange, good way)—it looks different in warm and cool lighting, and it’s also changed over time.
The bag has seen sun, shade and rain (soon, snow), and I love the patina that has developed on the leather from the past 4 months of age and use.
I love the contrast of the vegetable-tanned leather against the charcoal canvas, and the nickel-plated button studs, clips and rivets add a nice touch to the overall look of the bag.
But design isn’t everything, especially for a messenger bag.
It’s easy to get wrapped in the new and unboxing experience, but only after giving it time and use through real-life conditions can I decide whether I like a product and would recommend it. Beyond the luster, the Ugmonk Messenger Bag has outlasted my expectations and has become and been my everyday bag.
On the inside, the bag has two main compartments.
The back compartment is designed to be a laptop/tablet compartment that can fit up to a 15” laptop without a case or a 13” with a case or sleeve. It also has a strap that secures onto a button stud to keep your laptop or tablet secure.
The front compartment has 2 storage pockets (one that buttons down and the other has a leather strap with a clip for your keys) and 2 pen holders.
Each end also has a storage pocket for random storage needs.
On the outside, there are 2 large pockets: an easy-access one in the front and another in the back, which buttons down.
Handles, Straps and Hardware
The Ugmonk Messenger Bag has a single shoulder strap with a shoulder pad, both made of leather. The ends of the straps have swivel clips, which allow you to detach the strap from the bag.
The strap and shoulder pads are both adjustable. The strap is adjustable with a center bar buckle with a tongue and has 7 holes, which are 3” apart. I wish I could adjust the strap more accurately than in 3-inch differentials, though.
To adjust the shoulder pad, slide it to the desired position.
When I received the bag, the leather was stiff but breaks in nicely after a couple of dozen uses. The shoulder strap was a bit uncomfortable at first, but once it breaks in, it conforms nicely to your shoulder. The underside of the leather is unrefined (including the shoulder strap and pad) but looks rougher than it feels and becomes softer with time and wear.
A leather handle on the top allows you to quickly grab it. The outside of each end has adjustable cinch straps.
The front flap closes with 2 straps that secure onto button studs. Each strap has 3 holes, allowing you to close it tighter or looser depending on how full the bag is.
I use this bag almost every day, and it’s held up well thus far. The quality of the canvas is excellent—the canvas is also water repellent, which has helped while walking in the rain during my commute. I have spilled water in my bag and noticed that, even on the inside, the material doesn’t soak up the water immediately.
The stitching is tightly knit, and the rivets are securely fastened. I got to meet Jeff and talk to him for a moment at Circles Conference, and he mentioned that he deliberately used hardware that would last, which is why there are no zippers.
One thing to note is that the top flap doesn’t fully cover the top opening (the ends stick out) when the cinch straps aren’t set on the tightest setting. Keep this in mind if you’re out in the rain—water may get inside and potentially ruin or damage something. If I could change something about this bag, it would be that the opening would be fully covered when closed even at its loosest setting.
I’m thoroughly happy with my purchase and the performance of the Ugmonk Messenger Bag. When I was in search for a bag, I gave myself a $200 budget. It came in right above it at $235, but in my opinion, it was worth it. As I had mentioned, it comes in 4 colors:
New customers: Use this link to get $15 off your first purchase of $50 or more (expires October 16, 2015) at Ugmonk.com.
The other bag on my list was ONA’s Brixton, which would be more favorable for photographers that want to carry gear with them. I wanted something slightly slimmer for everyday use, which is why I chose the Ugmonk Messenger Bag, but I was torn between the two for a while, so definitely check out ONA, too.