Backpack or Messenger Bag: Which to choose?

Backpack or Messenger Bag: Which to choose?

Backpack or Messenger Bag: Which to choose?
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Sometimes it’s hard to work out what kind of bag would suit your need. Typically, it boils down to one key decision; choosing a style. Backpack or Messenger Bag? We delve into the details to help you make the right choice:

Choosing a Messenger Bag

A Wee Lug Mk2 in Olive worn by a man standing with a bike.


Easy Access: Messenger Bags tend to be ‘landscape’ orientation, so the opening is on the widest part of the bag. A bigger opening makes it easier to access, and you don’t have to dig as deep to find what you need.

Less Sweaty: Courier Bags tend to make less contact with your body, so they let your back breath more easily.

The Messenger Swing: The single strap on a messenger bag allows you to swing it around your body without removing it. That makes it really quick and easy to access on-the-go. No wonder Bike Couriers love them!


Single Strap: While a single strap is great for accessibility, it does mean that all the weight of the bag is carried on one shoulder. This can be uncomfortable after long periods of use, or if you’re carrying heavy loads.

Limited Capacity: The style of a messenger bag means that they don’t scale up very well, so don’t expect to find a 60 litre pack to swallow your gear! That said, most people don’t need a huge space for day-to-day use.

Less Stable: Messenger bags have a bad reputation for being less stable. If your body is moving, especially on a bike, they can swing around and get in the way. However, this doesn’t need to be a problem. We make Stabiliser Straps that keep our bags exactly where you want them.

Ideal For:

Cyclists, Photographers, Commuters, Urbanites and (of course) Bike Messengers.

Choosing a Backpack



Great for Heavy Loads: Two straps mean that the weight of the pack is distributed more evenly on your shoulders, making backpacks more comfortable to wear, and better for your posture.

More Versatile: Backpacks are well suited to a wide range of activities – from walking around town to more active pursuits such as hiking or climbing. The added versatility means you’re less likely to need more than one style of bag.

More Efficient to Pack: Backpacks sit vertically on your back, so they’re easier to pack well. You can load the weight nearer to the shoulders to make it easier to carry. They are also easier to overfill, and allow other items to be strapped onto the exterior more easily.


Easier for Pickpockets: The trouble with a backpack is that it sits on your back. That sounds obvious, but it can be a problem if you’re worried about security as you can’t see what’s going on behind you.

The ‘Rummage’ Problem: The ‘portrait’ orientation of backpacks means that the mouth of the bag tends to be smaller, while the main body can be quite deep. That can make it hard to reach the bottom. Look for a bag with a bright liner to make it easier to find what you’re looking for in the depths of your bag!

Less Smart: For some reason, backpacks have a bad name in the office environment. They can be hard to pair with a suit – but opinion is changing. More and more people wear a backpack to work nowadays. Why shouldn’t you?

Ideal For:

All-Rounders, Hikers, Urbanites, Climbers, Cyclists – pretty much everyone.

So Which Should You Buy?

It may help to think about what you carry on a daily basis, what you’ll use the bag for most and what features will suit you best. Once you understand your requirements more fully, you can work out exactly which style will work for you.

But ultimately there’s no easy answer – it all comes down to personal choice.

So which would you choose?

Backpack  or  Messenger


The Award Winning Wee Lug Messenger Bag by Trakke, made from waxed canvas. Voted best work messenger bag.

Wee Lug Mk2

Our award winning messenger bag just got an upgrade. The Wee Lug is a messenger bag built for life in motion. We’ve updated the strap design to give the best possible fit, and tweaked every detail to make it more functional and durable than ever before. With a large main compartment to swallow your gear, a laptop sleeve to protect your tech and two internal pockets, you can keep your kit organised - and if that isn’t enough, two expanding pockets on the front are perfect for stashing your essentials. Wear it high on the shoulder for the daily commute, or low on the hip for a quick walk to the pub. Add a stabiliser strap for a super-secure fit while you’re charging through the city. Choose your colour to add to your cart and hit the road!
Trakke Assynt 17 Backpack - award winning backpack design.

Assynt 17

Inspired by vintage mountaineering equipment, the modular Assynt Backpack range is built for adventure everywhere. Chuck your gear in the main compartment and stow your valuables in the internal zip-pocket. The lid pocket keeps your essentials at hand, and there’s a laptop sleeve inside to keep your tech protected. Keep it simple for fast & light excursions, or add a padded waistbelt and sternum strap for high-adrenaline adventures.