I remember buying my first messenger bag at West Virginia University bookstore in 1995. I was tired of carrying a backpack, and it was the only other real option at the time. I have carried one ever since. For academic and office related purposes, I have found nothing better for the size, convenience, and comfort. That does not mean that all messenger bags are created equal. I have worn out a few over the years, and finding a replacement for one I was happy with has been challenging at times. I have bought relatively inexpensive messenger bags I liked so much I used them past what was frankly their serviceable life, and I have bought expensive messenger bags I could not wait to rid myself of.
The Elite Survival Systems Messenger Bag is an interesting entry into the field regardless of your intent and the type of environment in which you work. There are five basic criteria upon which this bag was evaluated: Capacity and Features, Durability, Comfort, and Overall Functionality.
Capacity and Features
A messenger bag is not a rucksack, nor was it meant to be. In general, they have the capacity to carry a laptop, sometimes a tablet in addition, a few writing implements, notebooks, a book or two, and for most people, all of that ‘stuff’ that gets crammed in on a busy day. If you need more space than that, you need a daypack at the minimum. The Elite Survival Systems Messenger Bag has excellent capacity for its size. The main compartment is well organized and utilizes space well for its intent and purposes. There are three interior mesh pockets that provide excellent storage for things such as chargers, headphones, and in my case and extra pair or two of running socks, as that always seems to be the one piece or workout gear I manage to forget. The pouches are not too ambitious; they have a nice volume, but they do not expand into the main compartment.
The remainder of the main compartment has slots for pens and pencils, a nice size pocket for a tablet that is secured by a Velcro strap and two smaller pockets useful for things like planners or small books. If you are like me, you normally have at least three or four books in your possession, and the main compartment will accommodate that quantity happily. Elite also thoughtfully included a key hook, which I find incredibly thoughtful and useful, but I never seem to use it. The sides of the main compartment are semi-rigid, which is another excellent feature keeps the bag neatly open when you need it to be.
The computer pocket is well padded on both sides. It easily accommodates most laptops with up to a 15” monitor. It is snug, and the computer does not have much wiggle room, which is a good thing as it does not allow for unexpected and unwanted weight shift.
Elite thoughtfully included a small, easy to access pocket on the front exterior just the right size for keys, cards etc.
Finally, Elite included a well-designed holster pocket on the rear with a skeleton holster that is easily moved for comfort and convenience. It accommodates most small to medium frame handguns with ease, and leaves enough room for extra attaching pouches for extra magazines, lights, or whatever frankly, you might want to attach. It is zipper closed and easy enough to access without being an obvious holster pocket. Again, there is good padding between the computer, your sidearm, and your hip.
Finally, there is plenty of room on the exterior should you wish to attach extra pouches of any sort.
The Elite Messenger Bag is pleasantly durable inside and out. I am not easy on anything I use and for the most part, the Elite Messenger Bag does not disappoint. The heavy duty nylon exterior is reinforced on the bottom where the bag tends to get scooted around. After three months of consistent use, there was no noticeable wear to this bag. There are no snags at all to the shell. The handles and carrying strap are also touch and well-built and if the ninety day’s use are any indicator, they should last years with no problem.
There is one salient improvement I would suggest, and that is eliminating the lightweight mesh on the rear of the bag. During the time I used the bag, the only damage incurred was a few snags to this material. If the user is carrying anything rigid that rubs up against this is likely to get snagged. While it admittedly provides a relatively friction free surface, its lack of durability in this department is a detractor.
If messenger bags seem to have one weakness, it’s generally comfort. This seems to stem from two problems: poor strap fitting and design, and an attempt to provide too much capacity for this sort of design. Elite dodged both bullets, and this bag is quite comfortable to carry. The strap and pad are well considered and thankfully, the pad provided for the strap is adequate and has an excellent non-slip surface. The padding provided for the bag makes it comfortable to carry in just about any position. Even when fully loaded (4 books, tablet, laptop, chargers, sidearm, and various miscellaneous materials) at about twenty pounds, it is not a burden.
Overall, this bag is impressive, and Elite did an excellent design and construction job. Elite stuck with what this bag is supposed to be, a durable, well-organized, light duty office/computer bag with good concealed carry capabilities. It is comfortable to carry for long periods, and it holds just the right amount for the design. The semi-rigid walls make it easy to open and find materials, and the padding provides comfort for the user and protection for the contents. The concealed carry pocket is well and truly concealed, and in a thoughtful position to provide easy, but secure access. It is priced competitively compared to its competition at the $90 threshold. In black or grey, the Envoy is innocuous in the urban environment, but it is available in coyote as well.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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