Messenger bags are quite useful. They can carry more, easy to maneuver for accessing the contents and fairly stable. Besides their utility they’ve become some what of a fashion staple amongst the hip. Their resurgence in popularity can be traced back to that iconic city bike messenger. From their elevation into fashion inspiration, companies jumped on that train and began to make these bags to satisfy those who were drawn to it’s utility and fashion relevance. Now with the trend sort of blending in with the staples of other fashion must-haves you could say the messenger bag has entered the “gray man” realm. The good folks over at Grey Ghost must of recognized this as a great opportunity to bring out a bag that was functional for the “prepared” but blended in nicely at the local espresso shop. Lets take a look at the Grey Ghost Wanderer Messenger Bag.
First thing you’ll notice is the look of the bag. The waxed canvas gives it that great look that elevates the piece and will have all your bearded, plaid shirt wearing friends shaking their heads in approval. The waxed canvas has great water repellent traits and to further enhance it’s resistance to the wet they used waterproof zippers. The outside pockets on the main flap are fleece lined providing some protection for items that need to be babied a bit more, for example glasses or high dollar phones. The great thing about the pockets is that they are not to deep and wont allow you to overcrowd them with unnecessary items. The branding can also be found on the front flap but it’s a tiny embossed blacked out Grey Ghost skull on a rectangle patch. There are two outer pockets on the side. The first one is a simple pocket that has no closure and really only fits a smart phone or small IFAK. You could fit an AR style mag in there if your line of work requires you to, but you wouldn’t be the gray man anymore if you went that route. The other side pocket is a bit more complex. There is a top flap that is sealed via velcro and then a waterproof zipper down the center that once pulled down exposes a spandex style pocket that can expand to fit a water bottle or other gear of that size. When not in use, the pocket retracts and can be zippered up giving the bag that clean, streamlined look. At first I thought this was overkill in terms of design, but I ended up liking the fact that I could use the pocket in more ways than just a water bottle carrier. This style allows for a good amount of versatility.
The top flap closes via magnetic closures as opposed to the traditional buckles. There is a zippered pocket before you go into the main compartments that fits an iPad mini and other similarly sized items. Where the two magnetic closures are there is a waterproof zipper to the left and right. By unzipping these you expose an admin style panel with two spandex style pockets. More of these style pockets are against the bag as well. The main compartment is divided into two spaces. One furtherest from the body can fit a laptop but it’s not padded. The larger pocket can fit clothes and a spare jacket. Using a packing style cube I was able to get 3 days of clothes in there along with a mid weight jacket. The very back panel on the outside can be accessed by zipper. When you open it, there is a wall of loop for a hook-n-loop style holster or mag carrier. The panel is padded to prevent printing of your firearm. I also fit a level III+ ballistic plate with trauma pads in there. Carrying off body is not for everyone but if you decide you have to, the Wanderer has options.
Ok, so how does it work?
I’ve used the bag mostly for travel and took it with me on a training class. The large shoulder strap was quite comfortable and didn’t have me reaching for a padded shoulder sleeve. The size seems to be just right, not too big and not too small. I was able to carry 3 days worth of clothes, a computer, a mini iPad and all it’s assorted cords quite comfortable. I’m not into carrying off body so in the class, I never really ran it through its paces. In dry fire explorations, it seemed to work fine. Swinging the bag to the front and accessing the zipper was relatively easy but you won’t win any quick draw contests. Now, if you don’t like guns or carry one, this bag is still great and looks pretty sharp. It’s designed for some rugged use so you know it can live up to the stresses of urban living. There are some things I would add, like a padded sleeve for a laptop but besides that it did it’s job in carrying my gear around. For more info on the Grey Ghost Wanderer.