26 Feb 2013

First Look: Eastpak Kruizer Velow Messenger Bag

Not all reviews or in this case, a first look, have to revolve around hiking gear in my opinion. And since this is my blog I can do whatever the heck I like :p .
I do a lot of biking to get to places or just for the sport of it and hence I thought I'd share my first look on my newly acquired Eastpak Kruizer Velow, a whole mouthful.

Eastpak Kruizer on my back

After biking for 5 years with a backpack, I was searching something new, something that allowed for quick access and doesn't make my back sweaty on warmer days. On the latter I can't yet say anything because it's still winter* here.
I turned towards messenger bags because I like the way they look and I got inspired by the many death-defying riders wearing them. If they're good for couriers, then a commuter must be pleased by them.
*for Scandinavian readers: summer

When I saw the Kruizer in a store I didn't know Eastpak started a line for the biking crowd, although this isn't too surprising since everything and everyone is jumping on this trend. From Hollywood to H&M, bikes are the environmentally friendly fad. When I tried it on it felt comfortable and secure plus large enough for the things I carry when commuting. A quick search on Amazon yielded a result that costed 30€ less so I choose to kill retail and bought online.

I'll start by summing up the pro's and cons of the bag but I'm aware that these impressions might change after more rides, I'll update here accordingly then.

The Good Stuff

The Kruizer's added safety
  • Reflection!! Yes, I am a fan and yes maybe a little obsessed. But Eastpak definitely brought a smile to my face with these big stripes of grey gold. Placement is well thought out: on the bottom of the bag so they show when you're leaning forward when biking. The little patch on the clasp is just not hidden by my right arm. The reflective cords on the zippers show the attention to detail.
  • 2 Openings. One zippered on the back for laptop access and one quick access velcro flap for the main compartment. But essentially, they both end up in the same area, the divider for the laptop is supple enough to push aside.
  • Lots of compartments for cell phone, ballpoints, and other thingies you need and think you need. All zips run very smooth.

Eastpak Kruizer Compartments

7 cm of softness
  • Comfortable, broad neoprene shoulder strap. I have the impression this ups my carrying comfort with a heavy load. Even on bare skin, if you're that way inclined, it's soft enough. Laufbursche has this seat belt like strap like most messenger bags, so I'l be happy to hear what users think about it.
  • Easy on and off, the system to loosen and tighten te strap is fast and it needs to be because I take it on and off all the time. A bonus for the messenger design is you don't have to completely take it off, just slide it to the front.
  • Weather resistant: I have not yet had the opportunity to test it in rain but the shell material and design of the bag look like they can handle rain quite well.

Things that could be done better

  • The strap clip: Now, you might think it's easy operable with one hand because it looks that way. But you need two hands, one to hold the strap so to tension the damn thing and the other to loosen it. I think it's the design that's in fault here. On a regular backpack you have these tensioners which you just pull and re-tighten, maybe that would fit better here but it aesthetics won this battle.
The wicked clasp

  • Cord retention: There is no retention for the main or compartment straps. I don't especially miss it on the main strap, but for some the flapping could be like a Chinese water torture. 
  • It just fits A4 size paperwork and barely fits a binder. If I were using this for school, I'd go one size up.

A small binder (not full of women) just fits the Kruizer, even when zip is closed

Bus Pass on the bottom of the Kruizer

  • Location of the buss pass, I don't know whether I should find it clever or insane? On the very bottom of the bag, it allows for NFC scanning so you don't have to get it out but here we're still doing things medieval style and actually have to get it out of the bag.
  • A cell phone bag on the main strap would be nice but they don't sell one. A strange move IMHO since some messenger bag manufacturers do offer this.
  • Location of the bike light loop. It's OK if you own a bike like me and sit moderately upright, that way the light shines towards cars behind you. If you're the proud owner of a road racing bike, you're probably more slanted and the light points upwards. A minor thing really, and could be fixed by a loop on the bottom.
The Kruizer's reflection while biking

Some Specs 

Material: Polyamide
Weight:   505 gr. according to the site (size S)


The Kruizer has all the bells and whistles a commuter and possibly a courier could want. It hasn't been in my posession for so long so do consider this a first look, when my opinion on something changes, I will jot it down here.

The added safety of reflection, the broad shoulder strap and "it looks like it will take a beating" got me buying this bag. The fit is a personal thing and to state the obvious: try before you buy (or send it back for free with Amazon). I find it comfortable with moderate weight in it and definitely sufficient for the daily commute. The negatives like cord retention (sow one yourself) or bike light loop positioning are details and I am nitpicking a bit here.

I hope you enjoyed this write-up. It was nice to take a little side step from hiking gear. Plus, since the product is relatively new, the non stock pics of the bag and some user-based info might be helpful. I know they help me when I'm looking up info about gear.
Lastly, the famous German ultralight couturier Laufbursche has a messenger bag in the works which I already saw in his workshop. It'll be nice to see how they compare.

Disclaimer: I bought the Easpak Kruizer Velow via Amazon.de and paid 40 EUR for it.

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