Apr 17 2012

Rickshaw iPad Messenger Bag Review

A trip to Europe for 8 days presented me with a bit of a conundrum. I needed a day bag that would cover me for three days of trade show and five days of touristing with the primary goal of carrying my new iPad plus the other stuff that I needed to schlep around.

Luckily, one of my favorite carry companies reached out to me and rushed me a care package. Rickshaw sent me one of their iPad messenger bags with explicit instructions to “run it through its paces”. Yup, I can do that.

Amazingly, the bag that Rickshaw sent me was EXACTLY what I would have picked out for myself. Grey tweed set off perfectly by a storm blue binding. It had the elegance of an ivy league afternoon.

OK, actually I did pick it out for myself. That is one of the beauties of Rickshaw’s online configurator. You have your choice of literally thousands of combinations and the web site will dutifully show you preview pictures of whatever your twisted little brain can combine!

The funny thing about an iPad is that I have about 387 bags and backpacks of various descriptions that will fit an iPad, but you can tell that they were not designed to fit an iPad. They have odd-shaped pockets or too much bulk or just a sort of Goldilocks level of stress that makes them fall firmly to the left of the “just so” category.

Love them or loathe them Apple can only be described as a “just so” company and there is something vaguely wrong about a case, container or form of carry that does not fit that level of aesthetic.

The iPad Messenger bag does not suffer from that issue. Does that come across as a left-handed compliment? That is certainly not my intention because there is an elegant simplicity to the bag that is purely unmatched.

Maybe the picture below will sum up some of what I am trying to say.


The phrase “classic lines” could easily be defined by the pillars and arches of the Roman coliseum (or Trajan’s Coliseum if you are feeling picky). However, I think the Rickshaw’s approach stands up nicely on a basis of classic lines.

As its name suggests, the iPad Messenger Bag is a messenger style bag that has its dimensions perfectly suited to the iPad, plus just a bit more.

At roughly 10 by 11 by 4 inches it is a relatively compact messenger. It features a good strap with Rickshaw’s quick adjust mechanism. This was highly useful as I found myself constantly adjusting my bag during my trip based on whether I was plowing through crowds with it snugged up to my back or on a crowded train with it in “pickpockets beware” mode under my arm and against my chest. Making any adjustment was quick and easy.

Because this is a “soft” bag it would curve against my body and would sort of mold itself to me. Well, until I filled it completely with bricks…but that is a different story. It really is a very comfortable bag to carry even when overstuffed.

The flopover flap is sealed with a long strip of vertical velcro and opens to reveal a large central area and a padded slot along the front perfectly sized for an iPad. This slot is well cushioned both along the front and bottom but if you want a touch more protection you can still put your precious iPad in an iPad sleeve. This does not impact the fit at all, and I did like that touch of extra security. Also, at just 1 pound the iPad messenger does not add unnecessary weight to your carry.

There are slots at each side of the bag that allow you to stow something long and thin like a pen, pencil…or a conductors baton. A taser won’t quite fit in this slot but a small lightsaber…just maybe!

The bag is constructed from fibers made of recycled plastic bottles and is actually machine washable! It is 100% recycled polyester, with a high-tech, eco-friendly, stain-resistant coating. Given how much you will likely drag this bag around this is a beautiful thing. Keep in mind, machine washable does not mean you can throw it in the dryer. Please let this baby line dry!

Every stitch of this bag is also made with love in the good, old USA. While I am not a jingoistic protectionist, I really appreciate this commitment to local manufacturing and I applaud them for taking the stance.

The main section is a big open compartment that will hold a surprising amount of stuff given the size of the bag. I crave just a bit of organizational functionality, but luckily Rickshaw had me covered on that. Every Rickshaw messenger has their trademark soft velcro strips inside. All I had to do was take the Deluxe Drop pocket out of my beloved Zero messenger and attach it inside the iPad messenger and I had a zippered pocket, a keyring fob and some pen slots and a business card pocket perfectly set up for me. Molto buona!


Since I was craving just a bit more organization than this, I grabbed a couple of pouches from another company and attached them with key straps to the D ring that was thoughtfully provided where the strap attaches to the bag. These attachment points are also double stitched for lifetime peace of mind and come off the bag at an angle so the strap is much more comfortable in the way the bag sits against your body. That D ring is actually intended for their Zero Cross Strap but I was happy to make it do some double duty!


As I mentioned, the first couple of days of my trip were at a trade show in Germany. Long, grueling days of meetings and research meant that the iPad messenger was filled with the iPad, various chargers and widgets, an extended battery, a bluetooth keyboard, a notebook and pens plus my passport and some various odds and ends. I also stuffed a wind breaker and a travel umbrella in there because the weather in Germany in March can be painfully unpredictable.

The iPad messenger did a great job of keeping this stuff close at hand and right at my beck and call.

When I transitioned to vacation mode what I stuffed in it changed a bit, but it was every bit at home. I still drug my iPad around (Google maps are a blessing for a clueless tourist) as well as a guidebook and some physical maps, chapstick, a bottle of water and ton of museum reservations. Again, it held everything with aplomb.

What really pleased me is that the iPad messenger simply cruised through the security road blocks every where from the Vatican to the Duomo. The guards waved me through places that were marked “no bags” and even on the claustrophobic stairways up to the top of the Duomo on Florence it was just the right size to squeeze through tight spaces with no one casting aspersions on me.

Of course, they didn’t speak English so maybe they were saying nasty things, but I just kept thinking they were saying, “Oh, what a devastatingly attractive American man and look at that lovely bag he is carrying!”

In retrospect, they probably just liked the bag.


In an effort not to hand out any more “left handed compliments” I am going to point out that the iPad Messenger is mostly ambidextrous, although with the positioning of the quick adjust strap it is somewhat happier on your left shoulder!

Really, there is nothing not to like about this bag. Great materials, impeccably well made from a very green sources and stitchery and assembly that looks like they were done by an obsessive compulsive neurosurgeon.

It feels great, looks great and has that “just so” feeling that Apple does so well, and Mr. Kipling did so tell.

THERE was never a Queen like Balkis,
From here to the wide world’s end;
But Balkis talked to her Rickshaw bag
As you would talk to a friend.
There was never a King like Solomon,
Not since the world began;
But Solomon talked to his Rickshaw bag
As a man would talk to a man.
She was Queen of Sabaea–
And he was Asia’s Lord–
But they both of ’em talked to their Rickshaw
When they took their walks abroad!

Humblest apologies to Mr Kipling for the poetic liberties. Now, if you will excuse me I have a bag I need to go talk to as I finish MY walk abroad!

(Note: if you are reading this on April, 26th than head over here to get the details on the 50% off deal!)

iPad Messenger Bag $80- $90

Rickshaw Bagworks, Inc.
904 22nd Street
San Francisco, California 94107
Phone: 415.904.8368
Fax: 415.723.7530
General Questions: info@rickshawbags.com

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