Messenger bags, typically one-shoulder, across-the-chest designs, are ideal for carrying necessities on a bike — especially if your ride isn’t equipped with a basket. Some of the same features that help working cyclists speed deliveries efficiently around town benefit commuters and casual cyclists as well.

The idea is that messenger bags don’t swing in front of you or hang in your way while you ride. The classic messenger style has a padded strap meant to be worn close and tight, keeping the bag high on the back. Sometimes these bags have a secondary, smaller strap to help hold the primary strap in place (see the bags from Brooks England, above, and Chrome in our slide show below).  In addition, your options aren’t limited to traditional canvas and nylon. Fashion’s love affair with the leather school satchel, which offers another across-the-chest option, is long-running. For city cycling, shorten up the strap for a snug fit, and you’re ready to ride.

(Photo above) Brooks England Barbican Shoulder Bag – Cotton with vegetable-tanned leather details. The ends of the shoulder straps fasten around the waist to help secure the bag and assure equal distribution of weight.
15 W x 11 H x 5 D $335

Editorial research: Christina Bogdan

  • Crumpler Hillman Hunter, $80 -- Waterproof outer and rip-stop lining with quick-release compression straps and a full-width safety reflector, 7.8 in H x 14.5 in W x 5.1 in D

  • Timbuk2 Freestyle Messenger, $59 -- Ballistic nylon exterior with waterproof liner. Pouch for your iPad or Kindle, 8.9 H x 12.8 W x 5.1

  • Proenza Schouler PS1 Large Leather, $1,995 -- Leather flap bag with handle and removable shoulder strap, 11 H x 16.75 W x 7 D

  • Serapian Evolution Flat Messenger, $1,185 -- Textured leather with top and side zip pockets and detachable webbing strap, 12 H x 11.75 W x 2 D

  • Chrome Lieutenant Rolltop Messenger Bag, $170 -- Weatherproof outer shell and waterproof tarpaulin liner with bar welded seams. Roll-top closure to accommodate a variety of loads, dual waterproof compartments and mounting loops, 15 H x 21.5 W x 5 D

  • Steelwool Plain Musette, $55 -- Cotton canvas with cotton webbing and edges bound in waxed cotton tape, 10 H x 13 W

  • Ally Capellino Tommo Despatch Bag, $273 -- Oiled canvas with coated canvas base. Reflective trim for safety. 18 W x 14 H x 7 D

  • Wool Messenger Bag, $128 -- Made from recycled Swiss Army wool blankets with heavy duty leather straps, 10.2 H x 12.2 W x 2 D

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