Years ago Alchemy Goods founder, Eli Reich, after losing his messenger bag to a thief, sewed himself a bag from a material abundant in any serious cyclist’s home, used inner tubes. Soon after Reich’s friends demanded their own bags, and soon local bike shops took notice. Alchemy Goods was born soon after, and is now sold far and wide, including national retailers such as REI.
We received two bags for review some months back, the Jefferson messenger bag, and the Brooklyn backpack.
Jefferson Messenger Bag – $156
Alchemy lists the upcycled material content of each of its products, and the Jefferson weighs in at 52 percent reused content. The rubber inner tube exterior is matched with a cordura back that doubles as an external document pocket, and a nylon interior with a padded sleeve that fits up to a 15-inch laptop. A few smaller interior pockets keep pens, cords and electronics organized and easily accessible. The unpadded shoulder strap has a simple metal bucket to adjust for length. Since the bag isn’t that large, I never missed a padded strap.
As a bag for riding, I would recommend this to more casual cyclists riding shorter distances. Without a cross-body stabilizing strap the Jefferson could easily twist off my back. But for everyday use on short rides and in the car, the Jefferson is a fine companion. In fact, on days I drove into work, this was a first choice, even over my favorite backpack.
Brooklyn Backpack – $148
This bag is 45 percent upcycled, with a similar padded sleeve for a 15-inch laptop. Two zippered exterior pockets are big enough for a small tablet, power supplies, and other bigger things. An organizing panel on the inside keeps smaller items close at hand.
Basic padded straps are well matched to the size of the bag, but when loaded down on the bike, I wished for a sternum strap to take some of the load off my shoulders. Much like the Jefferson, this bag strikes me as fine everyday bag that works on the bike, rather than a bag designed specifically for cycling. My son took a particular shine to this bag, and has been happily using it at school, where it is the only type of its kind in his homeroom.
Construction of both bags is top notch, and pricing is inline with similar U.S.A. made bags using upcycled materials. For those looking for a more bike specific bag, Alchemy offers the Dravus messenger bag, with a padded strap, quick adjust buckle, and reflective material on the front flap. In addition, Alchemy Goods offers a range of bags and other goods, from inner tube belts and wallets, to billboards refashioned into tote bags.