Osprey messenger bag with outdoor appeal || Flap Jill Mini Review
Destination Southern fjords. Not Norway, not Iceland but Italy – the lakes in the northern part of that beautiful country where the mix of nature, art and excellent food is a travel awesome guarantee. In the back of the car our luggage, including two Osprey packs sent to me recently, the Sirrus 24 daypack and the Flap Jill Mini bag. Although I’ve used both, this post is about the messenger bag. The daypack will be reviewed later, after it has hit the trails in Scandinavia.
Getting ready and on the road to the southern fjords
All who travel a lot must be familiar with the interior of the vehicle turning into an inevitable mess. With four passengers and after almost a couple of thousand kilometers, the car is ready for a redo. Empty water bottles, scraps of snacks, two-days-old-but-still-tasty-homemade-sandwiches (reminds me of the peanut butter sandwich my daughter once had stashed somewhere, it came out half a year later, with a nice patina). And lots of fruits, gnawed at, peeled, eaten.
It was the stage for the non intended banana peel test. Because my almost brand new Flap Jill shoulder bag came out of the car smeared with the remnants of what had formerly been a banana. I hate it when something new gets the wears and tears immediately. On the other hand, here was a challenge to be met. It took hot water to clean, air to dry, repeated chores with soft detergent and yes! it all came off and the bag looked as if it never had been smashed into monkey food.
Features and functionality
We headed for Lake Garda, Italy. The journey through the Bavarian Alps was beautiful as ever, with fresh snow to welcome our overnight stay in the little town of Füssen. In summer this place is the crowded tourist trap due to the vicinity of two fairy tale castles – Neuschwanstein and Hogenschwangau. Now, in April, it was a friendly town, all neat and polished, waiting for the season. And a lot of those awesome official parking spots with even more parking meters, eating only coins (which we didn’t have, not enough anyway, nowhere to get any change either!).
Next day our destination was Lake Garda, one of the four subalpine lakes on the southside of the Alps. The surroundings are familiar to me but every time we drive down, making the last turns before the lake and the town of Riva are coming within sight, is special. The Nordic countries have the appeal of unspoiled and wild nature, snow and the long cold winters. This Mediterranean part of the world is a combination of culture, history, splendid natural surroundings and a friendly climate. Excellent food and wines, it goes without saying.
A new pack is like a new home
A new bag or pack is like a new home. It doesn’t have that familiar feeling, nor scent. You walk trough the empty space, inspecting rooms, thinking of what to put where and where to put who to sleep. With a new bag it’s the same. You hope the future will bring more than a strictly professional acquaintanceship. Becoming best friends always is a win-win situation…in such a case the equipment will be in use for a long time and the owner is a happy person.
The Flap Jill Mini is a small to medium sized messenger bag. It’s in Osprey’s ‘Every day and commute’ activity range, with backpacks, cycling and laptop packs, and is available in different sizes. The Micro ( 4 L ), Courier ( 17 L ), Mini ( 9 L ) and as as backpack too ( 19 L ) called simply the Pack. These are the women’s specific packs, for men Osprey has the Flap Jack Pack ( 21 L ) and the Courier ( 20 L ), this is the messenger/shoulder bag.
The Mini is not small
So, how about this one? Honestly, my first reaction after having unpacked the bag, was a mixed feeling. Used to a daypack for the daily commute (mostly biking), I wondered if everything would fit in. Compared to the much liked everyday companion, a Haglöfs Tight Small (15 L) that I’ve been using quite some time, the Osprey Flap Jill Mini (9 L) offered forty percent less volume. And to be honest I had my doubts because shoulder bags (messenger bags) may look great and more stylish but tend to slip off the shoulder and that’s absolutely annoying. But the Osprey smiled at me (it happens) and I started moving contents from daypack to messenger bag. The first thing to try was a tablet, followed by everything else (a lot). No problem at all, I will list the details.
I carried the Flap Jill to work, around the city, in the woods and a lot of places in between. There was a purpose in bringing this piece of equipment along on a journey that would include travelling by car and aircraft, city sightseeing and just some going around. Would it be an easy bag to handle, what about durability, could I carry a small daypack as well – at the same time (answer: yes!) – and how water proof was it? Let me list my findings.
Osprey messenger bag – what it has and how it behaves
Generally speaking, we use four different types of equipment for travels, hikes and going around town. Bags, daypacks, backpacks and travel packs/duffel bags. It all depends where you’re going, what you will be doing, how much stuff has to be hauled, and transportation.
Packing is organising – very easy with this one
The Osprey is your tutor in getting organised. There are multiple storage options. Under the flap is a (not heavily) padded compartment for a tablet. My Ipad with bumpercase fitted in without any struggle. The interior of the bag has a zippered stash area, good for wallet, car documents and more. The outer side has two zippered pockets under the flap, with enough space to hold (again) wallet, camera, keys – there’s also a keyholder which prevents the endless search. And a pen/pencil slot. Because these zippered areas are under the flap and the bag is closed with a clip, it’s a safe place to stash away what you need most of times.
What I really like, talking of travelling save, i.e., to prevent as much as possible your wallet will be gone in crowded places, is the extra Velcro access. In case anyone would try to open your bag (=unbuckle first), you certainly will hear the familiar sound of the Velcro as soon as it is loosened (=second). Someone is coming up the gravelled driveway notice, that sort of sound. In addition the bag has two exterior zippered pockets, one on the left and a small one under the (padded) carry handle. This one is very practical as it has enough space to hold your phone. As a bonus I found a hidden place to hold a water bottle (0,5 L). Actually you are getting a lot for €65.00.
The bag is functional. It certainly has enough space, has quite a bit compartments, is adjustable as well. Opting for a messenger bag means you want to have quick access to your stuff. This bag does the trick, also on airports. In spring a jacket has to come along and my lightweight down jacket fitted in, on top of all the other stuff. Now the shoulder strap, my feared hassle. In short, there isn’t any inconvenience or difficulty. The strap is long enough (1), it is easy adjustable (2), it doesn’t rotate (3) and it doesn’t slip off the shoulder (4) due to the padded shoulder strap. I have tested it while biking as well and the bag will hold its place. Note: no extra webbing hipbelt to add extra stability. I didn’t need it on my short distances only bike commute, also because I’m used to putting a bag in the bike basket. The bigger Courier has such a belt though.
Speaking of a bike, this mode of transportation means getting wet, at least in a country where it rains a lot of times. Heavy rainfall requires a 100 percent waterproof bag, I use the Ortlieb in such an occasion. For the off-and-on days the Osprey will do fine. The fabric is Polyspun which doesn’t have the awkward ‘plastic’ feel. It has the looks of a technical cotton fabric, or something alike. Not guaranteed waterproof but it is certainly water resistant.
Summing up, it wasn’t until now that I realised how much I actually like a messenger bag. Flaws I did not detect and I am not getting paid to say this. Obviously it is not designed for nor suitable for hitting the trails. But for all other kind of travels and going around I found it very useful. While it is not as big as a small-sized daypack, the Flap Jill holds all I need to take along. I suppose it must be the way you’re organising. Instead of putting all items in, on top of each other, this bag invites you to think ahead. Once you have a system, every single item has its own place and can be found without emptying the whole bag. In the end, I felt very pleased with the bag – and on account of this travel companion, a bit with myself. It is a clever design and what I like as well is the outdoorsy look. This item is a great add-on when you don’t look for the typical urban style.
It deserves another name…
There is something though I do not enjoy as much as I would and that is the name. Why it has to roam the streets with a deadly dull name like ‘Flap Jill’ (or ‘Flap Jack’)? This equipment deserves better, in spite of the hinting to a comedy. Why not use Courier for the whole range? And add the size? For it’s also the presentation of the size that puzzled me at the start. My bag is a Mini. But it’s not small at all. The Micro is the little sister. It would work better – for me – to create one product name, i.e., Courier. Obtainable in various sizes/volumes – Large, Medium, Small. And as a Pack. That’s all. Maybe add CityWild or something like that.
To conclude, considering everything, this is a well performing, nice looking bag. And very flexible in its use. A messenger bag with a backpack attitude, living up to the promise. We have become best friends.
- Looking for a messenger bag, read this article from Outdoorgearlab, How to Choose the Best Messenger Bag.
- Also from Outdoorgearlab: The best Messenger Bags Review.
- In general, opting for quality, durability and something you like does pay off, read: Getting started – 1pack2go
- More information on technicalities, visit the offical Osprey Europe website