Home
Verdict: 
Beautifully made messenger bag that has enough charm to counter most criticism – but only if you can afford it
Weight: 
1,329g
Contact: 

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.

> Buy this online here

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.

Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag - logo.jpg

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 Wee Lug messenger bag - inside.jpg

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.

Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag - strap undoing clip.jpg

In use

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.

Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag 2.jpg

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.

Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag - clip.jpg

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.

Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag - strap clip.jpg

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.

Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag - side zip.jpg

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).

Trakke Wee Lug messenger bag - clip undone.jpg

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.

> Read more road.cc reviews of bags for cycling here

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.

> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best cycling rucksacks

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.

Verdict

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?

From Trakke:

Weight: 1.4kg

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

Webbing: Cotton

Hardware: Stainless Steel

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Really beautifully made but also practical and hardy.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Comfy on and off the bike. Easy to use. Rainproof to all intents and purposes. Just enough pockets.

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

Fantastically durable and comes with the promise that Trakke will fix any faults free of charge.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
5/10

Waxed cotton and steel fittings aren't light – considering the quality of its materials, the Wee Lug's weight is understandable.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10

Excellent – the shoulder strap is nice, wide and well padded.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

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

Its price!

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.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'0  Weight: 16 stone

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

6 comments

Avatar
geovout [16 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I cannot justify the high cost of any messenger bag. Especially when my Osprey 65lt mountaineering backpack is less expensive than this.

Avatar
ktache [2139 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Looks like a good bag, well made, but could be a bit wee for me.  Looking to replace my second TimBuk2, R.E.Load are currently edging it, TimBuk2 are just not cutting it any more for me, just not to the same standard as they used to be.  The cost is justifiable for me for hauling a variable amount of stuff every day for a decade.  Quality tends to cost a bit.  My first TimBuk2 was in waxed cotton and  that was just great, back then you could upgrade the bag to be almost indestructible, the waxed cotton eventually ripped and one day I will get it professionally sorted.

Avatar
John_S [96 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

A nice looking bag and everything is subjective in the eye of the beholder so if you like the look of it and have enough money then I'm sure it's a nice bag and go enjoy it.

It will however be out of reach price wise for many to justify.

Perhaps some other options from British companies could be the:-

Restrap Pack Messenger Bag at £60

https://restrap.co.uk/collections/messenger-bags/products/messenger-bag-black?variant=52033995859

Or the Millican Messenger bag at £95 for the 13L version and I think that they used to do a 17L version as well but I'm not sure if that's still available.  Plenty of colours to choose from though to suit personal choice.

https://www.homeofmillican.com/collections/shoulder-bags

 

 

Avatar
Freddy56 [431 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

looks like my 1979 school bag which was a repurposed caradice saddle bag

Avatar
RoubaixCube [118 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I won an auction on ebay for an older timbuk2 messenger bag about 2 years ago, It had seen some good use so was slightly worn and frayed in some places but there was no rips in it or anything, I bought it for just under £30 and even though i have used it extensively, still looks exactly the same as the day i bought it if not slightly grubbier given londons weather conditions.

 

For £220 I would much rather pay £70-80 for a used Chrome Citizen messenger off ebay. I was initially after one but I didnt want to fork out that much for a bag.

Avatar
slappop [80 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

"produced by a team of dedicated young craftspeople..."

I'd rather have something produced by old craftspeople with experience, so I'll pass on this one.