Review: SAG x MASH Backpack Nov 9, 2009


picture by Andrew Temkin

Back in July Mike Martin dropped off one of the SAG MASHSF backpacks to me. Since then, I’ve been toting it around daily through the NYC seasons on my commute and on weekend rides. It’s been tested thoroughly and the timing is perfect for a product review.


pictures by Andrew Temkin

I’ve ridden with a lot of backpacks and the biggest concern of mine is the way they sit on your back when you ride. I’m on my road bike or my track bike a lot during the week and a majority of backpacks I’ve used either slide forward when you’re in the drops or they sway from side to side when you pedal, throwing your weight off. The way the SAG MASH bag fits is ideal. It’s wide enough to stuff with everything you need and tall enough to rest on your back without blocking your vision when looking over your shoulder in traffic.

Sometimes you have to wear your bag into a store or a bar and when it gets cramped in those spaces, a big bulky bag can be a nuisance. With the proportions of the SAG MASH bag, it makes it easy to flatten it out and is barely noticeable. The sizing is perfect for day trips, flying and even grocery runs. I’ve fit a ton of things in it over these past few months. Sometimes It’s been so loaded down that I was sure it was going to rip, but it’s resilient to say the least.

More often than I’d like to admit, I forget my lights at home. The large super-graphic on the bottom is reflective as are the side panels. You can even add a blinking light to the clear pocket if you’re worried about people stealing your light off your bike. The panels on the side enable cars to see you from the side and the large graphic’s reflective material is visible from blocks away.


pictures by Andrew Temkin

The thick padding on the back is textured well enough to grab your shirt and keep from sliding around. These pads are attached by velcro, making them removable for cleaning. Accessibility is another concern. You want to be able to open the entire bag to see the contents when you’re looking for something specific. If one of the many zippered mesh pockets don’t do the job, there’s a separate padded pocket for important documents and even a laptop.


pictures by Andrew Temkin

Multiple pockets and hidden zippered pouches give everything you carry a specific niche. I’ll keep my ipod and headphones in the side pocket and pull one of the earbuds out while I’m riding. It’s also padded to keep it safe. If you carry a skateboard with you, the MASH guys devised a great flap that enables you to strap it to the bag. Along with the SAG-signature clear pocket to display stickers; which folds down to hold the deck’s tail, there are two straps to secure the board to your back. I’ve carried bike frames, wheels and architectural drawings home using the system, so it’s not specifically for skateboards.


pictures by Andrew Temkin

The deep body of the bag would make it difficult to pull it around and access while you’re at a stop light. That’s why they added two side-access zippers. Sometimes you have to grab your tool pouch and pump on the fly and rather than taking the bag off, you can just reach around and open the entire thing up, much like a messenger bag.


pictures by Andrew Temkin

My favorite feature of the bag is the cooler for two tall-boys. Whether it’s a Budweiser or an Arizona iced tea, this pocket will hold them and keep them cool for you while you ride to the next spot. In the first model, this pocket was lined with a thermal cooler material (pictured at top), which ripped after a few weeks (hey it was the summer and I drink a lot). I told Mike about the lining ripping and through some correspondence with SAG, they were able to fix the problem between production runs. The image on the bottom shows the newer material. Much more durable and it’s still insulated.


pictures by Andrew Temkin

It’s hard to find a cool bag that’s simply colored and ideal for urban riding. SAG and MASH really filled that demand in the market. The bag’s legit. It’s my favorite backpack to date. There are some concerns however, such as it not being 100% waterproof. With all the pickets, zippers and pouches, it’d be hard to create a 100% waterproof seal. Somehow it works damn well though!

The bag material itself is not waterproof. Most messenger bags are cordura with a water-proof and welded lining. Unfortunately, the SAG bags aren’t constructed as such. The material they chose for the bag is really durable though. It’s been hucked off my back 100’s of time and has yet to rip or tear. My dog even got ahold of it one night and chewed the shit out of it. To my surprise it had no damage.

That being said, it’s fine on my 20 minute commute, even in the pouring rain. I’ve never had anything ruined either. While it may not be ideal for a messenger bag, there are many other options for people interested in the large cubic inch and waterproof market.

Another issue is availability, which is why I’m writing the review now. MASH has a few in their online shop, so head over and pick one up if you’re interested. Not sure when they will be restocked again.

Price $220

Thanks again Mike and big thanks to Andrew Temkin for the pictures. If you want to see higher-resolution images, I’ve uploaded all of these to my Flickr account.

Previously:
Thanks Mike!