The dhb Blok 18 messenger bag is a budget-priced courier satchel refreshingly free of road warrior pretensions. Attention to detail is generally excellent, with imaginative graphics and an LED tab that places the humble blinky in pole position. However, persistent discomfort in my left shoulder suggests the triangular stabilizing strap doesn't distribute weight as effectively as more traditional designs.
Like the dhb Slice rucksack, it's made of a hardy 600denier, water repellent, rip stop nylon and is similarly well organised inside. A substantial storm flap hides an A4-sized pocket, perfect for envelopes, photographs, papers and other stuff you'd want segregated from chocolate, leaky drinks bottles etc. The flap keeps heavy rain firmly locked out, but for belt 'n braces there's a day-glow yellow nylon cover stowed inside the luxuriously padded base should conditions turn bandit.
Internally, we have three sections, the first ideal for thin shell type jackets, gloves, lights, spare tube, multi-tool, mini pump and similar bits and bobs. Next comes the main compartment for A4 folders, stationary, armoured cable/U locks, diaries and a spot of lunch. In-between sits the laptop sleeve, while another couple of pockets keep cash, credit cards and similar valuables tidy, yet out of reach of pick-pockets. There's another, integral to the outer wall, that seems perfect for compact cameras, passports, wallets or purses.
A clever camlock allows instant strap adjustment but feels distinctly low rent in comparison with reversible types. Having to wear it on my left side wasn't problematic when moderately laden and for scoots of around five miles. The padded shoulder and stabilising straps keep things in place round corners. Laden to the gills, the thin strap struggles a little, and I returned from a twelve-mile commute with a distinctly sore shoulder and moist back-something I don't generally experience with these designs.
Keenly-priced shoulder bag with some clever detailing but stabilising strap needs work to make it more comfortable.
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Make and model: dhb Blok 18L Messenger Bag
Size tested: Black/Green
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?
"Fully featured messenger shoulder bag swallows gear. Stabilizing strap controls the load. Numerous pockets to keep you organized."
Generally I agree but best saved for short hops of around five miles or so.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Padded air mesh back panel
Padded Shoulder strap with Camlock adjuster
Secondary Stabiliser strap
Main Zip entry compartment
Front Flap zip pocket
Front vertical slip pocket
Internal 15' padded laptop sleeve
Organizer panel with 3 small vertical pockets
Small secure mesh zip pocket
Stretch mesh side pocket - with elastic loop retainer
Reflective web light loop
Reflective print details
YKK external zippers
600D + Nylon Ripstop fabric
Lime green rain cover
Capacity (L): 18
Nice materials and detailing given the asking price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
There's no doubting the Blok is a well-conceived street satchel with excellent organisation and detailing. However, for all its charms,the triangular stabilising strap doesn't work as efficiently as more traditional types, in my case contributing to pronounced shoulder discomfort over longer distances.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nice materials, solid construction and weather resistance and great organisation.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Couldn't get along with the slightly quirky stabilising strap.
Did you enjoy using the product? For shorter periods.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly.
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)