Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag Review

The Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag is just that, a messenger bag. And what a messenger bag it is, too. A collaboration between Brenthaven, a high quality bag company, and Kona, a company who makes great bicycles. Perfect combination for a bag intended for use while cycling? I think so.

As many of you will know from my previous articles, I’m a very avid cyclist; both onroad and offroad. This has let me get a really good feel of the bag over some really rough terrain that even the most rural messenger probably wouldn’t experience on an average day.

The Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag’s Internals

The Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag’s internals are the most impressive I’ve seen thus far in my experience with bags; the pockets are aplenty but somehow I can find a use for them all.

On the flap that lifts up on the bag is a long and shallow pocket, I use this to store my mini bicycle pump for any flats I may get. The zip that closes this pocket also seems to be watertight, keeping the rain out.

On the main body of The Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag, underneath the flap, are two pockets of different sizes. The uppermost is long enough and deep enough to keep some hefty spanners in and other longer tools. The pocket below is similar, but shorter and a little bit less deep, I’m currently storing my multi-tool and a pair of gloves in here.

It’s really cute that inside of each pocket, there are little line drawings of what you could put in there.

Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag pocket

Into the depths of the main storage compartment of the messenger bag, there are several more pockets; three mesh pockets that are secured by zips and hook and loop, and an expandable pocket that is the perfect size for my Moleskin notebook that I use for jotting down my notions while I’m out cycling. There’s a key chain with a hefty ring on the end too, this is buckled on thus removable. The ring is so big that it doesn’t actually fit any of my keys, so it’ll need a normal sized one to clip on. I’d much rather it was just the right size to begin with.

But, the most impressive of its innards is for sure the built in dry bag. I already have an unnatural love for bags and anything waterproof, but a dry bag IN a bag? It’s my lucky day. This dry bag accommodates laptops, or anything laptop shaped, up to 16” across. This fits a 15” MacBook Pro perfectly and 13” models also feel secure.

The dry bag isn’t as thin and light as most, but most of them aren’t actually completely waterproof but rather water resistant. According to Brenthaven’s website, the dry bag inside of the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag is 100% waterproof. This is something I put to the test later on in the review.

The Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag’s Externals and Comfort

Externally the messenger bag is rugged looking and really quite pretty, not to mention comfortable. It is available in two colour combinations, black with orange metal, and blue with silver metal. Its flap, which is held down with a large amount of very strong hook and loop, also has a lovely print of a front ring bike cog with ‘Kona’ through the middle of it on the internal side of the flap.

On the top of the messenger bag is a nicely sized handle that feels very solid and comfortable, this is really useful because wearing the bag on your back isn’t amazingly comfortable when you’re on your feet.

The Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag’s strap has an integrated phone pocket that fits my iPhone 3GS perfectly, and by my measurements would also fit the iPhone 5. This is closed by hook and loop.

Integrated in the strap is a magic device that helps solve the problem of it just being a bit too hard to take off your bag when you arrive at your destination; a quick release buckle. With one angled tug of the metal handle the adjustable strap loosens and it’s much easier to take it off; much like releasing a parachute. In terms of the strap’s comfort, it is padded and not noticeable unless you are thinking of it, it also feels very strong as with the rest of the bag.

On the sides of the bag there are small flaps that have magnets in them, they stick to the main body of the bag and stop any water from getting inside via the sides and are patent pending. This is something that is overlooked in a vast majority of messenger bags, and a welcomed feature for sure.

The ‘footprint’ of the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag, in other words the size of the bottom thus capacity, is adjustable. The way in which this is done is rather fascinating; on the bottom of the bag there are two adjustable straps which are also linked to two hooks. These hooks hook into a couple of loops on the bag’s flap securing the size.

Some would say that the bag is too big. And sure, it is huge; almost a parachute on my relatively small body. But too big? No. You can fit more or less everything that you could ever want to take on your bicycle into its 1300 cubic inches, and I love it.

Visibility is something the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag Does Amazingly Well

The Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag makes you more visible to cars, making you less likely to be involved in an accident with another vehicle. The messenger bag has a reflective high visibility strip running across the flap what glistens in headlights and streetlights. This is almost impossible to not notice, but as if that isn’t enough; on the front of the bag, there is a matted transparent pocket that comes with a red light inside it. The light has two modes, flashing and solid. In terms of brightness, it isn’t the brightest light but it’ll sure get the attention of other road users along with the reflective strips. The light’s battery is even replaceable making it cheaper to run and more environmentally friendly by reducing waste.

Construction of the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag

As you’d hope for a messenger bag made for hauling ass around, the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag is built like an Olympic weightlifter. Constructed primarily from Ballistic Nylon, the material that was used in World War 2 in flak jackets to protect pilots from flying debris, the messenger bag is just that. The nylon is backed with a coating of Polyurethane to keep water out. As far as the quality of construction goes, it has no visible errors or quirks. Its strap is very reminiscent of a car safety belt. The bag is made and tested to withstand up to an incredible 250lbs of pressure.

While wearing the Kona Project 2, I was involved in a nasty accident that involved me coming off of my bike (hit the pavement while my attention was turned) while on a quiet, early morning road. I landed on my chin and cheek before rolling over and skidding several feet then came to a stop. This left me concussed and with a scar on my chin which I still have long after all of my wounds have healed. But most amazingly, the Kona Project 2 and my Macbook, iPad andother valuables amazingly survived bearing no more than slight fraying. I really do love you, Ballistic Nylon.

Environment

Brenthaven care about the environment, and this is evidenced in the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag, as with all their products. Because it is so damn strong, you may never need to replace it; and if you do, it won’t be often, which reduces waste. All Brenthaven products are also completely free from PVC, which can be damaging to the environment in manufacture and disposal. The product’s tags and packaging is completely recyclable and the inks used are also soy-based.

Testing

As always, I’ve really used and abused this product as a form of testing. So how did the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag hold up? Amazingly. As I mentioned earlier, it has survived skidding across a road for several feet with me on top of it. Besides usual wear and tear I’ve also conducted a few tests on how it performs in rain. After all, a 100% waterproof dry bag that you’re going to be putting hundreds if not thousands of pounds of gear in is quite a claim to make; although I interpreted this as weatherproof because saying it is 100% waterproof implies that it can be submersed.

Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag Wet

To test the weatherproof capabilities, I put sheets of scrunched up kitchen roll in all the pockets and compartments of the messenger bag, and wrapped a MacBook sized cardboard structure in even more kitchen roll and put it in the dry bag. I then wetted it using my garden hose on a setting best described as violent rain, which is when it rains more than 50 millimeters per hour.

It went better than I expected, after 10 minutes and 7cm of artificial rain inside was still bone dry, and this was when it was getting directly hit. Of course, when you are riding in conditions like this it will be behind you and will get a lot less wet. Good show.

Conclusion

Weatherproof, comfortable, secure and adjustable. It’s going to be hard to find a messenger bag that is better than the Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag. I’ve really enjoyed the huge storage capacity of it too, it’s amazing what you can fit into 1300 cubic inches of space. The 100% lifetime guarantee is also a huge bonus. $150 seems expensive at first, but considering it’ll last a life time, that’s only $5 per year if you wear it for 30 years. Not much at all. Love this as much as I do? Check it out and purchase it on their site here.

 

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