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Part of the company's urban-focused luggage range, the Altura Grid Messenger Bag offers plenty of carrying space, looks good, and is tough and well featured. It does take some fiddling to adjust when more heavily laden, though, and the security strap could be longer.
A messenger or courier bag is one of the simplest ways of carrying loads on a bike, and the Altura Grid offers up a lot of features to make it a practical everyday commuter option. It's lightweight but rugged, with a durable water repellent finish. It has a capacity of 25 litres and weighed just over 600g on the road.cc Scales of Truth.
The opening at the top is a simple zip, with the top then rolling down to be fastened by straps with hooks that attach to a daisy chain. They're easy to use and effective, keeping the bag secured at its most compact size for any given volume of contents.
There's plenty of space inside for a day's clothing, notebooks and so on, as well as a laptop.
A zipped interior pocket takes care of smaller bits and bobs, while a generous padded zip pocket at the rear of the bag (where it's best protected from any heavy rain) is designed to take up to a 15in laptop.
There's another panel pocket (open at the top) at the front, which doubles as a reflective panel and also features a tab for a light to clip on, with light tabs on either end of the bag too.
As it's a messenger bag, the Altura Grid is designed to be slung over one shoulder – in this case, the left – which makes it easy to glance over the right shoulder in traffic when riding on the left.
I found the bag sat securely across the back diagonally, but did require some fidgeting to get it to feel central and balanced, especially when really full. The padding on the main strap is comfortable, albeit relatively lightweight, but the security strap that clips on to it is disappointingly short, even at full extension. The more heavily laden the bag, the higher up the body the security strap sits, with a tendency to sit uncomfortably across the bust, so most women won't appreciate it.
Once adjusted, there was no real issue with movement of the bag and it sat securely, no matter the size of load. It is quite a wide bag, so more slightly built riders might find it cumbersome.
Thanks to the roll top and DWR treatment the bag is decently water repellent in heavy showers, but I'd be inclined to keep that topped up, particularly for regular foul weather use, since the fabric isn't inherently waterproof and the seams aren't taped.
The large reflective front panel and three LED light tabs make it easily visible under headlights and street lights, which helps balance out the bag's muted dark brown colour scheme.
In terms of value for money, the Grid is reasonably priced for the size, features and functionality on offer. It is significantly cheaper than some we've tested – £75 less than the Manhattan Portage NY Messenger Bag MD (now £135), £100 less than the Chrome Welterweight Citizen Messenger Bag at £160, and £70 less than the Carradice City Classics Kelbrook Satchel at £130.
All of these alternatives are high-end options from premium brands with a seriously hardwearing pedigree, but if you're looking for a cost-effective option the Altura Grid is a decent choice. Yes, there are some niggles with the straps and getting it to sit comfortably, but overall it's a well-featured and nicely put together bag, and decent value for money.
Cost-effective and stable, but getting it to sit comfortably when full is tricky, and the security strap is too short
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Grid Messenger Bag
Size tested: 25 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?
Altura says, 'Chargers, cables, gadgets and laptops. Whatever you carry, the Grid Messenger Bag serves the needs of the modern commuter. With a place for everything it includes a padded laptop sleeve and internal organiser behind the back panel.
'Designed for versatility and ease of use, it comes with a roll-top closure. Also included is a grab handle and a light attachment loop allowing you to clip on optional extras'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Laptop sleeve and internal organiser, fits 15" laptop
LED light attachment loops x 3
Roll-top closure with full length zip
Zipped internal pockets
Hook and daisy chain strap closure
Nicely made, from lightweight but durable fabrics. The reflective pocket across the front is a useful feature.
Takes a bit of shuffling to get the bag to sit just right when full, and the security strap is on the short side. Otherwise it performs well. It has plenty of space, is stable once on and adjusted, and offers a good blend of low weight but protection for commuter kit.
A good balance of rugged materials that are still lightweight. A regular top-up with a DWR product should help prolong the weatherproofing.
Very light for its load carrying capacity and ruggedness.
Very comfortable when partially loaded. With a bit of shuffling and wriggling it's also comfy when more fully laden but it could definitely do with a longer security strap. This is particularly a problem for women as the strap crosses the bust.
Compared with many boutique brands that come in at around twice the price, if not more, the Altura is good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight, well featured, cost effective, roomy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A bit fiddly to adjust to get it to sit just right when more fully laden.
The security strap could do with being longer.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Reasonably priced for the size, features and functionality on offer. It is significantly cheaper than some we've tested – £75 less than the Manhattan Portage NY Messenger Bag MD (now £135), £100 less than the Chrome Welterweight Citizen Messenger Bag at £160, and £70 less than the Carradice City Classics Kelbrook Satchel at £130.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes – once I'd got the fit right.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were looking for a cost-effective commuter bag.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, this is a decent value, well-featured and nicely put together bag, but there are some niggles with the security strap being a bit too short and the fit being somewhat fiddly to make as comfortable as possible.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.