The Trakke Wee Lug Mk2 is an incredibly well-made, sturdy, weather-resistant, lovely detailed messenger bag but it's really rather expensive and is unfortunately troubled with potentially poor capacity and a fiddly strap closure system that doesn't play well if you push that cargo limit.
Two things will cross your mind when you first sling the Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag over your shoulder: it's a lot of money, and crivens it's a beautiful thing. The Wee Lug is a reassuringly heavy bit of kit; weighing over 1,200g it's a substantial heft even before you fill it with stuff, and made from a tough waxed cotton and sprinkled with stainless steel fixings and chunky details, it feels like it's going to put up with a lot of use and live a long, hard and fulfilling life. And it smells nice.
Everything about the Trakke oozes high-level quality. The body is made from a heavy duty water-resistant waxed cotton, and the liner is also a water-resistant cotton as a second layer of defence against any persistent precipitation. That inner layer is coloured a bright orange, making it easier to find things inside the furthest corners of the bag, handily. All of the fixings on the bag are top notch as well, with stainless steel buckles on the straps and metal D-rings on the ends of the flap straps; zip tags are leather and the Cobra quick-release buckle on the shoulder strap looks and feels like it's been stolen off an ejector seat.
Trakke says the Wee Lug has been designed specifically for cycling, and to that end the shoulder strap has a long, wide and well-padded sleeve on it; it's sewn in place so there's no room for side to side play, there are quick adjustment D-rings on it for fast and easy tightening/loosening the bag against your back, and the whole thing can be fiddled with to be left or right shoulder specific. The strap has a Cobra quick release buckle on it for instant removal of the bag if you don't want (or it's too heavy) to hoick over your head. It's a solid and robust mechanism and a tactile joy to use.
In terms of storage, the Wee Lug has a cargo volume of 17 litres. The main compartment has a zipped laptop sleeve in there that's big enough for a 15in Macbook Pro and it's slightly padded on the inner side so that a bike lock or tin of beans doesn't dent your posh computer. Two open pockets sit on this sleeve for things inside the bag you might need to get to quickly; they're big enough to slip a small D-lock, book or electronic reader thing in. There's a metal D-ring on the outer hem of the main compartment that'll be handy to clip frequently used keys onto. Outside the bag are two large pockets each with a pleated seam to allow them to expand and both are kept secure and weatherproof with leather-tagged weather-resistant zips.
The main compartment of the Wee Lug is big enough to carry enough of what you might need on a bike commute: a lock or two, some books and files, an extra layer and all the random ephemera that can come with you on your way to work or whatever it is you do on a bike with a bag over your shoulder. The two outer pockets are pretty capacious and you can fit all the bits in there that you don't want to tussle with the contents of the main compartment or you need easy access to – wallet, phone, pens, this and that.
Despite the substantial shoulder strap, the Wee Lug does still wander about on the back, like most courier bags have a habit of to be fair, and it does need a stability strap (Trakke actually recommends one for cycling work and it will cost you an extra £18) that crosses the chest to prevent the bag from swaying about when you're on the bike and negate the frequent elbow-back-into-position that's otherwise required.
Like the bag, there are stainless steel fixings and it can be tightened to cinch everything nice and tight to the body. A couple of things to note about the stability strap, though: because it's captive both ends it can't slide to its natural position when on the bike, or be moved to a more comfortable place which may or may not become a bother to you.
For the same reasons of being secured top and bottom it can't be slid to the end of the shoulder strap and so it gets in the way when you're off the bike and carrying the Wee Lug either slung over your back or just on the one shoulder. But more importantly than that, while the stability strap is held in place by those beautiful stainless steel clips, the way that they engage into the webbing loops on the bag means they can slip unhooked from the bag in use, something it does on a too-frequent basis.
The stainless steel buckles used to secure the flap on the Trakke, while absolutely lovely and tinkleclunky in use, are more fiddly to operate than a normal plastic clip buckle you'd usually find on a messenger bag and you need both hands to manipulate them, or be incredibly dexterous with one. This does make them secure, though. How fiddly and annoying their operation becomes will depend entirely on how often you use your courier bag. Left under an office desk all day, not a problem; used for frequent stops and errands during the day as a utility bag, you know, like a messenger might, or just someone who uses their bike to bap about and do stuff, they're a little bit tedious.
The Wee Lug has done a good job of shrugging off whatever rain it's been ridden through, with the waxed cotton outer doing that thing of repelling moisture in a greasy way, and the dry finish waxed cotton liner is there to provide a second layer of protection, although things never got that bad. The seams aren't taped so water can seep through these in a biblical downpour, or if you threw the bag in a lake maybe. If it does start to lose its ability to shrug off water then the outer can be reproofed with some Trakke Reproofing Wax (£15).
There's no getting away from the fact that it's expensive, even in relation to the more pricey courier bags out there. It's built by hand using only materials and components found within the British Isles, and there's going to be a cost to that; whether that's worth the premium is up to you. That aside, it does have the potential to be a very good courier bag: the construction means it's going to last a long time – it does have the feel of something you might be able to hand down to your grandchild. That is, if you can put up with the annoyances of the otherwise beautifully finished details.
Your needs may differ wildly, but one of my basic demands for a courier bag is that it can roughly swallow about the contents of a supermarket hand basket. I'm the sort of person who frequently runs errands for bits on my bike, maybe you do too: as a special trip for supplies or just on the way back from work for a few odds and ends. The Wee Lug can struggle with the accumulation of standard shopping or just needing to carry something on top of the usual, and if you do carelessly pack the bag over the specified volume because there's a special offer on chocolate milk, they're knocking out packs of crumpets for pennies at the end of the day, or you just had to bring back something extra from work, then the straps aren't long enough to reach the flap stretched across the overstuff to secure everything down.
And those trendy stainless buckles are a pain to operate at full stretch as well, as they need a bit of slack in the strap to pull through and then fold back. You can buy Trakke strap extensions if you find yourself doing this a lot and they'll set you back £30 for a pair. If you use this bag and know how much you're going to carry at all times – maybe you just ride to and from where you have to go with the same cargo every day – then this won't be a problem, but for those who use their messenger bag as a do-it-all freight carrier then it can become troublesome.
Courier bags can be incredibly personal bits of kit, and there's a massive choice out there to suit anyone's specific budget and needs. A score over £200 is a lot of money to spend on a bag and for that spend I'd want it to be perfect, something the finely executed but fiddly details and middling carrying capacity weren't for me. If I was going to add things to the Wee Lug, a small and easily accessible pocket for phone and keys would be handy; these items can rattle around and get fumbly lost in those large outside pockets.
The Trakke Wee Lug is, on the surface, a lovely bag, and a lot of thought has obviously been put into the construction and all the little details. It's a bag that, should it suit your requirements, will survive a good kicking over an extended period of time. A good messenger bag can become a reliable friend and stick by your side for many years and I really wanted the Wee Lug to be one of those, because it's a rugged beast with aesthetically pleasing fixings that in well-suited hands could last forever. But for me it's edging towards style over substance as the limited carrying capacity exacerbated by the short straps, the fiddly flap clips and the self-releasing stability strap made the Trakke Wee Lug a frustrating day-to-day courier bag for doing the variety of stuff I use my on and off bike bag for.
If you use your messenger bag for carrying about the same amount of stuff day to day and want something that will last a lifetime and yet look smart in a meeting, maybe the Wee Lug might be worth all that cash. Might.
Potentially great and rugged but spendy messenger bag with disappointing cargo volume and fiddly strap buckles
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Trakke Wee Lug Mk2 Messenger Bag
Size tested: 45 X 29 X 18 CM
Tell us what the product is for
Trakke says it makes products for the everyday adventurer, for the seekers of the route less traveled (even if that is the DLR), creating equipment that is durable, versatile and timeless, blurring the line between kit and companion. All Trakke kit is built by hand, using only materials and components found within the British Isles. The Wee Lug is its award winning messenger bag with an updated strap designed to give the best possible fit, and with every detail tweaked to make it more functional and durable than ever before. There's a large main compartment to swallow gear, a laptop sleeve to protect tech, two internal pockets and two expanding pockets on the front for stashing your essentials. Wear it high on the shoulder for the daily commute, or low on the hip for a quick walk to the pub. Add a stabiliser strap for a super-secure fit while you're charging through the city. Materials that are time-tested and reliable to create bags that thrive out in the wild, wherever your wilderness may be.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight - 1.2 KG
Dimensions - 45 X 29 X 18 CM
Colours - Olive, Black, Navy, Plum, Crottle
Volume - 17 Litres
Fits 15' Macbook Pro
Outer Fabric - Waxed Cotton
Liner Fabric - Dry Finish Waxed Cotton
Webbing - Polyester
Hardware - Stainless Steel
Details – Leather
British made materials
Beautifully put together bag with tough fabric and fine detailing.
Hard to pin this one down as this depends on your baggage needs, but there were more little irritations than a £200+ bag might deserve.
The waxed cotton fabric that can be reproofed as necessary and the stout detailing suggest the Wee Lug will last a long, long time.
It's big boned, and that's a good thing.
The extensive strap padding made the Wee Lug on-bike comfy but if you use the recommended stability strap it makes off-bike shouldering tricky.
Even if it might last you a lifetime that's a lot of money to spend on a messenger bag. I've had courier bags for half the price that have lasted decades of hard use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Wee Lug could be a great messenger bag – it's tough as boots and water resistant – but the fiddly details and potentially limiting carrying capacity let it down. As does the price.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Sturdy waxed cotton construction, stainless fixings.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Poor capacity, fiddly stainless fixings, price.
Did you enjoy using the product? I wanted to, I really really wanted to because it feels bombproof and the stainless steel bits are pleasing, but in my day-to-day courier bag loading I just found it frequently annoying.
Would you consider buying the product? No. There are cheaper long-lasting larger capacity courier bags that serve my purpose better.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Pitching over £200 for a courier bag is a big ask, and although the rugged waxed cotton construction and high-end detailing mark the Wee Lug out as a premium product that should last an absolute age, the fiddly buckles and compromising capacity might put a lot of people off if they use a messenger bag as a beast of burden rather than a nice bag for the commute, pub or train.
About the tester
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.