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I love my Timbuk2 messenger bag for on and off bike use. It has lasted for years (mine was made in SF, some are now made overseas) and has hauled everything from six bottles of wine to tools to a laptop. Invest in a strap pad and use the secondary ‘stabilizer’ strap and you’ll be happier. Mine is the Dee Dog which is in a word, huge.

posted by fixedgear at 6:11 PM on January 8, 2005

I did the messenger bag fad thing in 1998. I’ve since gone with something more practical, a Victorinox backpack. But I have a lot of friends who use both Timbuk2 and Manhattan Portage.
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posted by orange clock at 6:43 PM on January 8, 2005

If you want to blow some bucks you can always go with Jack Spade.

posted by orange clock at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2005

This doesn’t exactly answer your question, exactly, but it’s best if you don’t wear the thing while you’re riding. Get a basket instead, and let the bike do the work. You know, one of these.

Bad backs don’t mix with bags, even if they’re good bags.

posted by mudpuppie at 6:51 PM on January 8, 2005

Because my back and shoulder are not i burberry bags sale n the greatest shape, I can’t use backpacks while biking anymore. (My whole arm goes numb with pins and needles.) I’ve switched to for my bike and they rock. They are waterproof as I’ve been caught out in heavy rain with them and the contents remained bone dry! The panniers have handles, but they’re a pain to carry around if you’re planning to go from bike to foot.

I use a backpack with padded shoulder straps and back if I’m not biking.

posted by aedra at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2005

I would say for heavy things in one bag, backpacks beat out messenger bags. I used to do the latter, and it just destroyed my shoulders every day. However, I found on my bike I prefer the laptop only messenger bag on the shoulder (because I live in Brooklyn where the streets are rough prefer my computer not bang around) coupled with other things in a tote in the basket. The weight on my shoulders in negligable and the baby is safe.

posted by dame at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2005

Avoid messenger bags if you back is bad. Look for a high quality backpack that has padded wide shoulder straps and has a adjustable waist belt (and use it!) trick is to get your hips to support most of the load and not your shoulders or upper back. If you can go into a outdoor store in your area I would go in and get someone (who knows what they are doing) to fit a pack to your back. Not all packs fit all people and an ill fitting backpack can cause problems as well. They should also show you how to wear/adjust a pack so you can avoid discomfort. Panniers are a good alternative too if you don’t have to walk far.

posted by squeak at 7:08 PM on January 8, 2005

Best bet: bags that attach to your bike while you’re riding, not to you. Several people have mentioned that above.

If you absolutely have to get a back that attaches to you, don’t go for a me burberry bags sale ssenger bag. They’re truly not good for your back, as they don’t evenly distribute weight to your musculature. Instead, opt for a well made backpack and wear both straps at the same time at all times. Also, try not to make the bag too heavy if you can avoid it.
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posted by nyxie at 7:09 PM on January 8, 2005

Should also add, try to get a bag that has a sternum strap as well.

posted by squeak at 7:10 PM on January 8, 2005

I also have some significant back problems that are badly exacerbated by shoulder hung loads, and even more so when I carry them on a bike. My problem is primarily in my lower back, in the muscles, not the spine, in case that helps your eval.

My sense has been that the messenger bag properly slung is a bit kinder to my back than a backpack. I use one with a wide stiff nylon strap and the usual cross chest clip, and I make sure it rides low enough that the weight rests on my pelvis.

All that said, my ideal solution is a lumbar pack. I have a really nice, fairly large Kelty Moab; it’s really a nicely designed bag, as seems typical of the Kelty lumbar bags. This one can be carried either with a single over the shoulder strap, like a messenger bag, or as a lumbar pack, around the waste. All the load is distributed onto my hips. It looks much smaller than it is, because the design essentially cuts away unused space in the upper corners. And on the few occasions when I’ve had to load it heavily (like riding back from a bookstore), I’ve found that I can pull the shoulder strap over my shoulder to absorb a little of the load and stabilize it.

This particular bag would not be big enough for most modern laptops, but I know that Kelty makes a lumbar that’s designed to carry them. Give them a look. I know, they have a reputation for being tres uncool, but they don’t look nearly as bad as you’d think they do, and they’re just so goddamn practical it’s not even funny.