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These are the Original Modern Messenger Bags
The first ‘Courier’ size Aerostich messenger bag was introduced in 1985. This was a few years before other messenger bag companies like Timbuk2, Chrome (and others) even existed. Other outdoor fashion companies such as Patagonia and North Face also introduced their messenger bags many years later.
In 1985 only two similar bags were available. Both were produced in small numbers for professional bicycle messengers only. (Everyone else who carried things by bicycle or motorcycle wore small back packs.) We patterned the first Aerostich Courier bag closely after the ‘proven-by-messengers’ bag.
Both of the early commercial-use messenger bags were made of cotton canvas, and they had no hook-and-loop (Velcro) on their lids, no reflective material anywhere, no strap-length cam adjusters and no side-release flap buckles for oversize loads. Aerostich was the first to incorporate these features and also to apply modern materials like Cordura nylon, hook-and-loop, 3M reflectives, plastic buckles and strap adjusters to this style bag.
Aerostich messenger bags still remain more strongly made than common bags sold at bicycle shops, outdoor stores and college bookstores. Because they are made for commercial users they are tougher, so they last a lot longer.
The construction details are different, too. An example of this is how the top flap is constructed. Common messenger bags connect the inner flap's fabric to the outer fabric with an inexpensive 'binding' stitched around the outside edges of the flap. This is fast and easy, but not especially durable. Every Aerostich messenger bag flap is first sewn inside-out, then turned right side-out and edge-stitched the same way a dress shirt collar is made. This looks 'right' and lasts much longer.
Another example is the Aerostich oversize shoulder pad. It is oversized to better spread your load better, and is highly detailed and carefully constructed of several materials, too. If you carry a messenger bag every day, you’ll want this pad.
Aerostich messenger bags are also all made in Duluth Minnesota by a motorcycle rider named Jim. He has been at Aerostich hand-making these bags start-to-finish for more than fifteen years. And rides a black Kawasaki Concourse, too fast sometimes. There really is a difference…
A Mr. Subjective History on Aerostich Messenger Bags
The Aerostich messenger bags are one of my most-favorite Aerostich products. We have been making them for over twenty five years, and they differ substantially from all of the other kinds of similar bags. Essentially, ours are a lot heavier-duty...
I like messenger bags so much because they are so easy to use for urban and utility motorcycle riding. They go on-and-off quick and are versatile. One of these bags hangs empty, near my riding gear so I can grab it whenever the destination involves picking up something, or when I need to carry something fast, without using bungees. Many of our customers use them for their routine daily commute, too. Messenger bags are a key technology for motorcycling personal mobility…An invaluable tool.
Our bags were the first ones ever made of a synthetic material (Cordura Nylon and reinforced vinyl). When we began, there were two or three others made of coarse canvas. Ours was also the first courier bag to employ Velcro (hook&loop) anywhere, and to have any 3M Scotchlight reflective, and to have a handle on the flap, and to use ITW Fastex side-release buckles. What was available elsewhere was crude -- bags made in small numbers in cities like New York, mainly for working bicycle couriers.
About a year after introducing Aerostich Messenger Bags, I remember being at the Motorcycle Dealernews trade show standing before Motorcyclist Magazine Editor-in-Chief Mitch Boehm, and several other editors, all of us in a small conference room in one of the hotels there,…giving a presentation. And the internet was years in the future still.
“The daypack is dead!” I began, trying to sound as declarative as possible. “The era of the messenger bag is now beginning.” I then explained why these still largely-unknown types of bags were so great for motorcyclists. And why they’d rule in the future. And why the Aerostich courier bags were made they way they were. It felt as though we were pioneering something entirely new.
A few years after we started making Messenger bags, other companies like Timbuktu (and many others) were started, and they made lighter-weight versions of messenger bags a common college bookstore commodity. About a decade later Chrome -- another company – added some contemporary hipster style and an automobile seat-belt buckle to the shoulder strap. And today there are countless other varieties from dozens of companies.
But the Aerostich messenger bag line (by size: 'letter', 'dispatch', 'courier', and 'parcel') remains the real-deal and ‘the original’ in terms of function, utility and durability. They are still the very best of this kind of bag available anywhere.
Recently we introduced a wax cotton variation in several colors. And a few years ago we added pink to the available colors of the Cordura models, and developed an optional internal organizer pocket system (available for the three larger sized bags).
Many specific patterning and stitching details set ours apart from the others. (One example - the lid-edge is turned and then hand topstitched. This is how a button-down shirt collar is made. It's neater, stronger and more expensive to do it this way. It makes a better flap. Almost everyone else's bags use cheaper machine-bound edging.)
Lastly, a special feature of our bags that I think is pretty cool is that for over fifteen years Aerostich messenger bags have been made by one individual here at Aerostich. And this person is a life-long motorcycle rider. During the years he's been employed here he's owned three or four different bikes. Recently he’s been riding a black Kawasaki Concourse. And he’s already been to North Carolina to visit his daughter and grandchildren on it a few times.
When you buy an Aerostich messenger bag, you are getting a hand-made classic American product, and an incredibly tough, practical, good bag.