The Trakke Wee Lug is an exquisitely made messenger bag, produced by a team of dedicated young craftspeople up in bonny Scotland and comes with a lifetime guarantee. Which should give you some incentive to live a long and adventurous existence because, at £220, it's one you're going to want to get your money's worth out of.
- Pros: Beautifully made, capacious and practical, stays nice and stable on the bike
- Cons: Very expensive, strap buckles a little fiddly
Trakke has been making incredible messenger bags up in Glasgow for almost a decade now and company founder Alec Farmer has stayed resolutely focused on an ethos that prizes quality over quantity. That said, the brand has expanded naturally and Trakke has grown into a small team producing deluxe products that are a little bit different but, in terms of craftsmanship, a match for anything on the market.
The new Wee Lug – an updated version of Trakke's original bag – is a perfect case in point. The main material employed is waxed canvas, although Trakke has now moved to using a dry-finish version rather than the previous greasy 'Barbour jacket' stuff that can feel a little unpleasant to the touch.
In terms of practicality, there have been a few other improvements. The two zip pockets on the front are now easily accessible, even when the flap is closed. Meanwhile, inside, two bottle pockets accompany a zipped rear pocket that can accept up to a 15in laptop, a smaller zipped pocket for valuables, and the cavernous open main pocket. In all, it'll carry 20 litres – a welcome 3 litre increase on the previous version of the bag we tested.
Trakke's traditional attention to detail hasn't gone missing in this update. Construction is magnificent and the Wee Lug is as robust a product as you're likely to find. The front strap buckles are solid steel and seem unbreakable, while the shoulder strap uses an AustriAlpin Cobra quick release buckle, as used on parachutes and military equipment the world over.
First of all, let's talk about the sheer volume of the bag. When Jo tested the previous version of the Wee Lug he found its capacity wanting, but that's not a problem the updated version suffers from. I first used the Wee Lug as the family's easy-to-access passport/instructions/laptop/books/magazines/charging devices/sweets/toys holder on holiday. Whereas normally even the most willing carry-on bag tends to eventually reach a point where it will accept no more, the Trakke just kept swallowing everything we gave it.
I was slightly concerned that having effectively only three pockets inside would make things hard to find, but the wide opening actually means rifling through the Wee Lug is very easy, even in cramped spaces. In the end, I hardly used the two small front zipped pockets at all.
While the strap buckles are super-sturdy, they can be a little fiddly to close when at the end of their straps. Possibly more important, carrying the Wee Lug off the bike is very comfortable and the shoulder trap is wide and supportive. A subtle webbing handle on the back means you can also carry the Wee Lug like a soft briefcase if you wish.
On the bike
To get a really nice, stable position for the Wee Lug while riding I used Trakke's optional stabiliser strap, which will cost you a further £18. This is a fairly simple accessory with a couple of buckles that attaches between the shoulder strap and one of the webbing straps around the bottom of the bag. Thankfully, both the shoulder and the stabiliser straps can be tightened one-handed, so if you're on the bike and feel like it's all a bit loose, securing things on the go is easy.
With everything nice and tight, the bag is impressively immovable. Even potholes and speed bumps had little effect dislodging it from its position slung across my back. In fact, using the bag on the bike opened up one of the other improvements with the refreshed Wee Lug design: those zipped front pockets really come into their own here, with the ring pulls on the zips being particularly helpful to find in a rush.
Waterproofing is good, too. The seams aren't taped, so there's the possibility of damp ingress in an absolute monsoon but we never came close to experiencing that. In typical British drizzle or rain, it more than holds its own. And should the waterproofing wear off, you can simply reapply it.
However, there are a couple of small points to make. Jo's previous criticism of the solid steel strap closures remains: they look great but if you're regularly opening and closing the Wee Lug on the bike, they are tricky to use (although they do get easier with practice).
And in terms of in-the-saddle comfort, the Wee Lug actually feels better the more you carry – a decent load has it sitting much more satisfyingly in place. So if you're only a light commuter, a bag this big and strong could be overkill.
Value and conclusion
Which brings us on to the thorny issue of value. There's no getting away from it, this is an expensive bag. The Chrome Welterweight Citizen is another premium messenger bag that we felt was very expensive, but even that is £60 cheaper than the Trakke.
Personally, I really value the handmade in Scotland, boutique element of the Wee Lug. I really value the idea that its sturdy cotton construction will age beautifully to create character and personality. I really value the fact it's been made to last forever. But I don't really value the idea of spending £220 on a bag.
This is a fantastic bit of kit that effectively mixes sensible modern design with the best of traditional craftsmanship. So it's not that the Wee Lug isn't worth it, per se (although the extra £18 for a stabiliser strap is a bit of a kick in the teeth). It's just that – personally – I'm not sure I could ever justify paying that price.
And that is probably the most critical criterion. If you've got the budget and the inclination to buy yourself a Trakke Wee Lug, I don't think you'll be disappointed. This is a trusty, comfy and beautifully made carry-all companion that will age with you and share your adventures without fail. But for the rest of us, there are other cheaper options that might not be as good, but may be good enough.
Beautifully made messenger bag that has enough charm to counter most criticism – but only if you can afford it
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag
Size tested: 20 litres
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?
The Wee Lug is a 20-litre messenger bag, handmade in Scotland.
Trakke says: "Our award-winning messenger is now better than ever. The Wee Lug is designed for the urban commuter. A refined pattern makes for an even more comfortable carry, while the double zip pocket on the face is now easily accessible, even when the flap is closed! The interior organisation has been re-designed to include bottle pockets and a neater, easier access layout."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Dimensions: 30 x 54 x 17 cm
Colour: Olive, Black, Navy, Cumin
Volume: 20 Litres
Laptop Sleeve: 15in Macbook Pro
Outer Fabric: Dry-Finish Waxed Canvas
Liner Fabric: Dry-Finish Waxed Canvas
Hardware: Stainless Steel
Really beautifully made but also practical and hardy.
Comfy on and off the bike. Easy to use. Rainproof to all intents and purposes. Just enough pockets.
Fantastically durable and comes with the promise that Trakke will fix any faults free of charge.
Waxed cotton and steel fittings aren't light – considering the quality of its materials, the Wee Lug's weight is understandable.
Excellent – the shoulder strap is nice, wide and well padded.
This is hard, because in terms of boutique-level quality and material choice, you can see why this bag is so expensive. But you could buy something that does the same job acceptably well for a lot less.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. It holds everything close to the body on the bike and feels stable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really nicely made. I also thought it carries a lot.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Chrome Welterweight Citizen (https://road.cc/content/review/251391-chrome-welterweight-citizen-messen...) is another premium messenger bag which we felt was very expensive, but even that is £60 cheaper than the Trakke at £160.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Only if my lottery numbers come up.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
There are two main problems with the Wee Lug: the price and the slightly fiddly front strap closures. Everything else seems very good or near perfect.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure