I recently purchased a Rush Delivery LIMA Messenger Style Bag by 5.11 Tactical. What do I think of it after three weeks? It’s almost perfect for what I need. Will it work for you?
What I Needed
I’d been looking for what I call a “go bag” for months. As a writer and budding journalist, I need to get in the habit of being prepared to write anywhere. That means carrying some sort of paper with me everywhere I go. But you can’t carry just a notepad these days. There’s your phone charger, your tablet, a spare notepad, spare pens and pencils, a digital recorder, and snacks to tote around with you. I have diabetes, so I have to carry my testing kit as well as emergency glucose.
I had alternated between three different bags for the last year, and none of them did what I wanted. My Jansport backpack was way too big, and poorly organized. While it has several outside pockets, the inside is just one big hole, so everything ends up at the bottom. I tried using my computer bag, but carrying it around meant lugging the laptop everywhere, or taking the time to unload it and its accessories. The last contender was an old children’s backpack, with a single outer pocket. It carried well on one (short, thin) strap, but like the Jansport was one big hole, and a single outer pocket.
Desperate for a better solution, I started listing my needs and wants in a bag. I wanted something that was semi-solid, meaning it could stand on its bottom without collapsing, and be carried by its strap without collapsing as well. I didn’t want something that looked heavily military or tactical, but it needed to be sturdy.
It also needed to carry a bunch of stuff. The children’s backpack was just too small to carry much more than a notepad, my tablet, and my testing gear.
Better internal organization was a must. My computer bag did that well. It had two big internal pockets, and one of those had a padded divider that protected my laptop.
I set a budget of about $100. When I first researched this purchase a year or so ago, I found several bags just under that price, and several way over with little in between. So while I could have spent more, I didn’t feel I could justify spending over $200 on a bag that would likely get used well, and maybe occasionally abused.
What I Got
Enter 5.11 Tactical. The company is well-known for its wide variety of sturdy, well-made tactical gear, from duty belts to clothing to a wide variety of bags and packs. Much of their product line looked heavily military and tactical, and that’s exactly what I didn’t want. Their Rush Delivery bags caught my attention though, especially the Rush Delivery Lima.
The line comes in three sizes, phonetically labelled Mike, Lima, and X-Ray. I spent half an hour reading the reviews for the bags. I also compared those reviews with other products like Hazard 4’s Defense Courier and Vanquest’s Envoy 3.0 Messenger Bag. The latter was beyond my price range, although I liked the orange interior. The former didn’t have any color choices I liked.
I ordered the bag in “Double-Tap” color on August 29th and paid extra for next-day shipping. I was leaving three days later for Ohio and intended to use this as a carry-on for the flight. Delivery was as advertised. Amazon lists Double-Tap (a dark gray) and OD Trail (a deep green) as the only two colors. The 5.11 website also shows a black and sandstone, or light tan. I chose the Double-Tap for the contrast between the gray bag and the black hook-and-loop panels and trim.
Amazon lists the bag dimensions as 11 inches high by 17 inches long by 4 inches deep for the main compartment. I haven’t checked those with a ruler, but they sound right.
The bag provides 16 compartments to cram all kinds of gear in. Accessible from the outside are two zippered pockets on the top flap and a zippered and hook-and-loop-fastened pocket on the body side, designed to accept a holster.
Open the flap and you gain access to the laptop storage and a second main pocket, separated by a foam divider with a two-pocket hook-and-loop-covered panel attached. The front of the bag has a full-width zippered compartment, another small pocket in front of that, and another pocket in front of that one, the outermost secured by more hook-and-loop tape.
There are also four small pockets for flashlights, pens and pencils, and so forth. The sides of the bag each have a pocket that easily holds a 24-ounce Contigo water bottle, or your favorite soft drink bottle.
The removable shoulder strap is nice and wide, about 2 inches or so, and the pad is about half an inch wider. I liked that the pad is easily moved to account for the strap adjusters, using three hook-and-loop straps. I’ve owned other bags where the pad is constrained by the adjusters, forcing you to carry the bag awkwardly.
The bag held a surprising amount of gear for my flight. For writing, I carried an 80-page 8 1/2 by 11 notepad; two 100-page 9 1/2 by 6 inch notebooks; my Samsung Galaxy Tab S at 10 by seven inches. I also included my 20,000 milliamp-hour portable charger, a regular wall-wart charger and cable, my blood testing kit and emergency supplies as well as my “drugstore” for my medications, and extra insulin for the four days I’d be gone. I threw about 50 business cards in one of the front pockets, and clipped a spare pen, pencil, and bulk eraser to the appropriate loops.
The bag carried all of this stuff all very well. I did notice when I was packing that I had to be careful to space things out across the full width of the bag. Otherwise it would bulge enough in the middle that the hook-and-loop panels for the flap wouldn’t hold it closed.
I really only have two things on the dislike side. The interior of the bag is black, and that makes it dark. Vanquest’s Envoy 3.0 has an orange interior. The Defense Courier bag seems to have a light-colored interior as well, although the pictures at Amazon aren’t clear on what the black bag has. The interiors of the Sandstone and OD Trail-colored 5.11 bags match the exterior color, and I wish they had done the same on the Double-Tap. It can be difficult to see into the bottom of the bag without decent lighting.
The other dislike will likely only affect a small set of users. The rear compartment is designed to hold a handgun holster. But it uses both a well-designed two-way zipper and a hook-and-loop panel to hold it closed. While I understand the desire for extra security in a firearm storage pocket, I also understand the need to be stealthy about drawing a firearm, and one can’t open hook-and-loop tape quietly. I think the zipper would have been secure enough. If you don’t want to deal with the noise, you can get panels to cover one side of the hook-and-loop. I probably won’t do that because I’m not a fan of off-body carry.
This is a rugged, durable bag that carries a bunch of gear. It’s comfortable on my shoulder, and there’s a second strap to go around my waist and keep the bag from swinging too much if I’m moving quickly. It doesn’t scream “tactical” either. I would have no problem carrying this into a business meeting. It won’t hold my 17-inch laptop, but I didn’t buy it for a computer bag. I’d guess it would carry a 15-inch computer easily.
The Rush Delivery LIMA Messenger Bag is a great bag, although maybe not perfect for everyone. But if you are looking for a reasonably-priced, durable bag that carries plenty of gear comfortably, this bag could be exactly what you’re looking for. Click this affiliate link for current pricing, and don’t forget to sign up for my quarterly-ish newsletter The Blur.