Recommended for frequent travelers, road warriors, commuters, bike messengers, international travelers, and anyone who would rather carry a messenger bag than a backpack
We review the Greenroom136 Junkmonkey Heretic large-size messenger bag (Updated 04/01)
Company/Manufacturer: Greenroom136 – Offers a wide array of high-quality handmade bags, backpacks and custom bags
Product(s): Junkmonkey Messenger Bag offered in 13″ Gamechanger and 15″ Heretic (reviewed here)
Cost: $138 (450RM) Gamechanger and $153 (500RM) Heretic – Secure online store accepts Paypal, etc.
Our Travel Gear rating: ***** (Five stars out of five) Highly recommended.
The particular bag reviewed in this article is called a “wildcard” due to custom options/features and colored panels.
The bag arrived from Malaysia quickly and well-packaged. Communication with Patrick in Malaysia was smooth and very helpful in verifying the look and features desired before giving our purchase information. The bag arrived heavily packaged in plastic, inside the bag was a brown paper bag liner with our address as well. Inside that brown paper was another plastic bag with cilica packets and inside that another brown paper/butcher paper wrapped Junkmonkey Heretic bag!
The bag itself was ordered with two colors – Brown/black waterproof 1000 Cordura fabric and with the 3″ extra padded quick release carry strap also color coordinated to match the bag. Greenroom136 offers a wide array of color and panel options to create a bag to fit your individual style at http://greenroom136.com/custom.
Greenroom136 also has two slightly different messenger bags depending on your needs. The Junkmonkey and the Bootstrap. They are described and compared at http://greenroom136.com/junkmonkey-or-bootstrap.
The bag features side access pockets front and back (hidden behind the “stay-dry” back pad-as an add-on feature). The front side access zipper is meant to be able to access items inside the bag while still on your shoulder/back such as wallet, phone or plane tickets. (Note that this zipper does not access the main compartment but a front pocket approx. 7.5″x12″) The back hidden pocket we especially like to stash away cash, passport, tickets and other important documents as it is hidden and alongside your body therefore a great safe “hideaway’ pocket. It is approx. 7.5″ x 13” but the zipper causes the opening to be smaller than the size of the pocket.
Under the flap (which can be held down via heavy duty velcro or one-handed clips or both) there is one large deep pocket plus two water bottle pockets which also fit a laptop powerbrick or mouse or hard drives.
The main compartment features a corduroy lined laptop sleeve (with velcro “stay-put” strap), a back pocket that can hold two magazines upright side-by-side, and another document pocket in front of the laptop sleeve. Rounding out the inside of the bag are four pen pockets (two widths – the larger of which will hold an iPhone or 2.5: hard drive enclosure) and a zipped larger pocket to keep gear from sliding around inside your bag. we like that the inside of the bag is a light grey rip-proof fabric that allows you to easily spot items deep inside the bag.
The Greenroom136 bags all feature their uniquely designed ripstop waterproof “sock” that is about 6″ taller than the bag. The purpose for this is that once the bag flap is folded down, nothing can fall out, even small items from the edges, even if carried semi-vertically on your back hands-free, messenger-style. It also seals out rain and weather similar to some roll-top bags you’ll see out there on the market.
Greenroom136 also supplies a sewn-in keyring in the inner main compartment, but we have honestly never had much use for a keyring deep within our bags.
The carry handle on the top center back of the bag is very sturdy and well-padded, and even though we love the extra padding and custom color (matching the rest of the bag), it is almost a bit too tight (with the extra quarter-inch padded handle) making it difficult to grab easily as we swing it off our back. Esp. if you use the quick release shoulder strap, this could get a little dangerous!
Greenroom136 has two options for this bag in regards to straps. They have an ambidexterous 2″ wide safety belt cam buckle strap that comes standard and has a padded shoulder rest, and they also have a 3″ wide extra comfort, extra padded version especially for messengers. We have to admit, we love the look and comfort of the 3″ wide custom belt. It’s a bit more expensive – but worth it. However: If you usually carry your messenger bag on one shoulder (rather than cross carry on your back) as we do, skip the 3″ wide belt. Since the padding is fixed/sewn to accommodate diagonal cross-body carry, it doesn’t work for a should strap when carried over one shoulder. This is unfortunate but either belt can easily and quickly be exchanged in cases of longer trips versus your daily commute. (UPDATED 04/01: See below) We suggest buying both if you are unsure. Videos on the www.greenroom136.com website and on YouTube.com demonstrate how to change to either left hand/right hand carry and how to switch between belts.
This is one well-made bag holding up to a 15″ laptop (not sure about 17″ models), plus a ton of gear without feeling bulky. It’s light, tough, and can hold a ton. We’ve made a load-out video to demonstrate how much it holds. It also holds everything we packed in it VERY SECURELY, even when tilted on it’s side and shaken. I can’t think of another bag that held everything we carry as well without shifting. At about $200. shipped (with custom options) it’s not the most expensive bag out there, and although it costs more than some, we feel it’s a bargain for a handmade bag, very well-designed and with quality materials. Especially when you realize that you can choose from many customizable features and options, including a wide range of color choices using the “w?ldcard” custom-build option.
Greenroom also has a lifetime guarantee on their products although I’m not sure how that would work since they are in Malaysia. For all that, we expect to easily get 10+ years of daily use from this bag and recommend Greenroom136 as a company, and the Junkmonkey Heretic bag: ***** (five stars out of five) rating. You simply can’t go wrong buying a Greenroom136 product.
See our unboxing and “first’look” review below: Parts 1 and 2 and please share if you found this article and the accompanying videos useful.
We also have a load-out/packing video showing how much a Junkmonkey Heretic bag can hold here: https://www.overseastripinsurance.com/news-and-helpful-links/video-much-can-greenroom136-messenger-bag-hold/ and a blog article explaining why we have chosen Greenroom136 as one of the two best bag manufacturers in the market today.
UPDATE: I emailed Pat at Greenroom136 today about the 3″ strap and about purchasing the regular cambuckle belt due to my daily single over-shoulder carry when I’m not traveling or biking to work. He emailed me back within hours with this response:
“I understand that it (the 3″ shoulder strap) may not seem like it’s good for daily use but trust me when I say that it is. There will be some slight change in how you carry your bag daily…To use the 3″ comfortably, you need to tighten the harness, then hang it on your right shoulder, like you are carrying a backpack on one strap. It’s not as heavy as hanging the bag lower on your body since it’s now up higher on your upper body. Hope this explanation makes sense. If you need it on your left shoulder, you can change the harness configuration to be left handed. Give it a go and see how you like it.” – Pat
I have followed Pat’s advice and you know what?! – It works just like he said! It seems funny to carry a messenger bag sideways (vertically), but it is as comfortable as any backpack and nothing feels like it’s shifting inside. It is also much easier to grab the handle when I need to access something inside or to set it down. Thanks Pat for the advice!