There's plenty of space in the Howies Marloes Messenger Bag for a change of clothes, laptop and your valuables, and it sits comfortably and stably on your back when you ride.
With a claimed capacity of 11 litres, the Marloes is a handy size for carrying your stuff on a commute of up to four or five miles, or for popping to the shops.
As well as the main compartment there's a padded section for a 15in laptop, a zipped outer pocket for your small valuables, and a larger zipped section on the back of the bag for smuggling secret documents.
A 2in webbing strap takes the load, with a dense foam pad to stop it digging a trench in your shoulder if you really fill the bag up. From the strap to the opposite corner of the bag a stabilising strap takes care of, would you believe it, stability.
And it all works very well. It sits in the middle of your back, the exact position depending on exactly how enthusiastically you cinch the strap, of course, and it stays there. All very fuss-free and straightforward to use.
If you ride through winter, there's reflective piping and a Howies logo for night-time visibility. Howies doesn't make any claims about waterproofing, but the double-layer construction has warded off real showers and kept the contents dry through a simulated deluge in a bathroom shower too.
A bag like this is as much about fashion as practicality. I like its subdued grey duotone appearance, though as I write this on a grey autumn day I can't help feeling a splash of colour would be nice too. But Howies is very much about unostentatious gear and it fits right in with that aesthetic.
Comfy, stable and practical mid-sized courier bag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Howies Marloes Messenger Bag
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Medium sized messenger bag with quick access slip pockets and a zip pocket under the flap. Large interior pockets and a separate padded laptop pocket, big enough to fit a 15" laptop or some documents (in case you are actually a bicycle messenger). Large external zip pocket against your back for secure storage of valuable stuff.
"Wide, adjustable cross shoulder strap with removable shoulder pad and clasp adjuster. Fitted with removable chest harness to stop the bag swinging around while on your bike.
"Velcro-down flap, fastened with adjustable clips. Finished with reflective piping and details to keep you visible at night."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Approximately 11 litres capacity
* Comfortable, adjustable wide shoulder strap
* Removable shoulder pad
* Removable chest harness with clip garage
* Quick access front pockets
* Two interior slip pockets
* 15" Soft, padded laptop compartment
* Exterior back zip pocket for secure storage
* Adjustable velcro and clip fastening
* Zip pulls for easy access while wearing gloves
* Reflective piping
* Printed with reflective howies logo
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Marloes is a solid 7/10. It does its job well and without fuss but it's otherwise unremarkable. It lacks some of the bells and whistles of a serious bag aimed at actual messengers, but it's smaller and cheaper than such bags, so it's unfair to expect ultra-quick release buckles, multiple compartments and the ability to swallow the kitchen sink. But judged as a courier-style round-town bag, it's a good example of the breed.
About the tester
Age: 48 Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.