I recently bought a Patagonia MiniMass messenger bag. I have a couple of bags already, so why do I need a new one? I don’t need one, but it is nice to have a new one that fills a specific purpose.
The other day I listened to a relatively new photography podcast called “Your Itinerary” whose focus is travel photography. In that particular episode, the host interviews a VP of a camera bag manufacturer. During the conversation, the thought that no one camera bag is perfect for all situations kept coming up. I agree with this thought, and am happy that I can now feel less guilty about satisfying my love of messenger bags and backpacks.
The Current Lineup
Before I bought my new bag, I had two main bags. The first is my REI Messenger bag, with a padded insert for carrying camera gear. The second is a North Face Router backpack, also with a padded insert. Both are good for carrying my dSLR and lenses, the messenger bag being more nimble since I can get the camera out of the bag quickly. The Router holds a lot more and since it’s a backpack, the heavy load is distributed between both shoulders. If I get really tired, there is also a waist strap so I can use it as a pseudo backpacking pack.
The Missing Link
The problem with both of these is that thye are large. Lots of times I don’t want to carry them. I mistakenly thought that I could carry either of these wherever I went and have access to my beloved dSLR (actually SLT, for you purists). But now I realize that a smaller bag would be better for an “everyday carry” and since I have my Fujifilm XF1, I don’t need to carry the dSLR for general walkabout photos. The XF1 and RAW can produce some great photos.
The New Bag
I did some research online, watched video reviews, and then went to REI to check out the bags they had in person, specifically looking for a small messenger bag. The Patagonia MiniMass stood out as the best one, and REI had it on clearance! What great timing! Unfortunately, they didn’t have the color I wanted in stock, but I ordered it online and had it shipped to the store. After a week, I had the bag in my possession.
So, how is the bag? In a word: Great! It’s small, but not too small, comfortable, the pockets and storage are for the most part well-thought out. I can fit everything I need into it, and in fact if I wanted to squeeze the dSLR and an extra lens in there, it could do it.
Here’s a list of stuff I currently carry in it:
- Nintendo 2DS
- Fujifilm XF1 camera
- UltraPod Tripod
- Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet
- HP Bluetooth Keyboard
- Nixon Wallet
- Small electronic items: Charging/USB cable, battery, card adapter, extra SD card
- Small sundries: lip balm, aspirin, pepto, bandaid, instant coffee packet, tea bag
- Small Gerber knife/bottle opener
- Thin Notebook from Muji, Letter-sized clear case for papers
- Red and blue pens
- Microfiber Cloth for lens cleaning and whitebalance
- Small Camp Towel
- Sansa Clip 4+32GB MP3 player & Sony earbuds
- Morale boosters: Ugly doll and Ghibli dust bunny
As you can see from the list, there’s a lot that I carry! But in reality, it does not weigh that much. It’s a nice little kit and I can even shoot RAW, edit on my Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet, and post to Instagram all while on the go. One useful feature of this bag is that the two cover-straps also double as compression straps, so you can expand or slim down the width of the bottom of the bag. I wish I had this on my larger messenger bag and backpack!
Of course with any bag, there are a couple of things that I’d change. Well, just one in fact! There is only a single outside pocket for a water bottle. This pocket is perfect for carrying the Fujifilm XF1 compact camera, but I wish there was another pocket on the other side so I could carry my 12oz. Liberty water bottle. Since that bottle has a handle, there may be some way to attach it.
All-in-all I love the Patagonia MiniMass messenger bag. It fits into my life perfectly!