Cocotte Equipement Fred Messenger Bag Review
It has been thirty days since Zac Lindsey began using the Cocotte Equipement Fred Messenger Bag for his daily commute. We followed up with Zac Lindsey of Tulsa, Oklahoma to find out exactly how the beautiful bag that we had outstanding initial impressions of.
Thirty days in with the Cocotte Fred Messenger bag
I have been carrying the Cocotte Equipement Fred Messenger bag for over a month. I have to say that I am very pleased with the way the Fred has held up and how it has dovetailed nicely with my daily commute. I walk or ride to work every day and the Cocotte Fred is often packed full of files, documents and other accouterments. The construction quality of the Cocotte Fred Messenger Bag is nothing shy of pure excellence! The Fred has some unexpected features that definitely deserve a serious and more in-depth look, so I will run down all the pros and cons in full. We know nothing is perfect, but the Cocotte Fred is a messenger bag that is pretty close.
Cocotte Fred Messenger Bag Usuage
I work in an office and often take paper files home to fool myself into thinking that I am getting out of the office. I live close enough to walk to work, so I don’t always need to commute using my bike. All of the file folders are legal sized, so that means I need to have a bag that will handle approximately 20 files that are filled with paper documents and still have space for keys, maybe an umbrella, and other miscellany.
As you can see from the photos, this is a sharp-looking messenger bag. We received the green and gray Cocotte Fred Messenger Bag for our review. Not too flashy and yet not too plain. The Cocotte Equipement logo on the strap is definitely prominently placed and because it is in yellow; you cannot miss seeing it! Can not get down on Cocotte for branding their bags. Also, I really like the pine cone badge on the top flap, right above the light loop. Nice job on the look!
On the durability side, the Fred bag is bombproof. Given the overall size of the bag, the seam stitching seems to be a bit overkill, but if you’re planning on toting around gold ingots or lead weights in the Fred — you’re covered. The ambidextrous shoulder strap is almost half-an-inch thick with padding. It’s secured to the steel (yes, steel) rings on the bag via thick carabiner-style plastic duraflex clips that swivel.
Along with the redundant stitching; the brilliantly developed bottom flap doubles the Fred’s bottom surface area and allows for one large external pocket. Think of the outer fold of a burrito. The buckles that snap the top flap shut are also very tough. They are made by National Molding in Farmingdale, New York. I have had no complaints, but really, it’s a buckle. As long as they snap open and shut quickly and don’t pop open under strain, they do their job.
The lining and interior stash pockets are made of water-resistant ripstop nylon. I would have no qualms taking this puppy out in a shower, but would probably have more reservations in heavy winds and rain because there is no zipper to seal anything absolutely. Again, this is one tough little bag. Everything is reinforced to a level that makes you absolutely confident it’s not going to bonk out on you when you’re carrying a full load and roll over a pothole or hop a curb at speed.
Looking toward the design, Cocotte definitely favors simplicity and durability over detailed creature comforts. As far as ease of use of the quick-release strap clincher, I couldn’t ask for more. I’m loving this one-handed adjustment that I never become accustomed to with previous packs. It just plain works. Unlike some messenger bags I’ve seen, the pull-strap end never reroutes back through the buckle when I release it under load. If you’ve ever had this happen, you know how much of a pain it is.
Also, the strap can be set up for righties or southpaws. Same goes for the sternum strap that connects on the bottom of the bag and clips in on the strap. The other nice design feature of the sternum strap is that it’s removable. This is great for me since I usually walk with the bag, often on one shoulder. Since I wear a suit every day, I try to go for a clean look, and having a strap dangling off would be annoying. The over-sized top flap of the Cocotte Fred is a real benefit because, even though legal-size folders are longer than the base of the bag, the top shuts over them to cover nicely.
Lastly, there is a pocket with a slab of EVA foam inserted for cushioning your back. It could also double as a magazine pouch…maybe.
Yes, I do have a few cons…
The design for usage other than the basic job of being a cloth bucket to carry stuff leaves this reviewer wanting. Here are my pet peeves. One, there is no clip for keys. I thought this was standard issue in bags of all types, but this one is key keeperless. I can see myself using this bag on airplanes and other types of travel where boarding passes, subway passes and train tickets will need to be in a ready-access location and car/house keys will be an afterthought.
It would be nice to know that they are with me, but not just jangling loosely in the outside pocket. True, this could be a theft issue, but my guess is that you would hear the loud rip of the hook-and-loop closure and snap of the buckles before someone was all up in your bag to get your…keys? Another nag is that there is no zippered closure inside the bag. There is a lineup of three pen sleeves and three (two deep, one less deep) open-topped pockets, but nowhere to put anything like tokens, coins, jewelry, etc. that you don’t want sloshing around if the bag gets turned upside down. There is also, as mentioned before, a huge flap pocket on the exterior front that does in fact close with hook-and-loop, but it’s kinda large for smaller items you don’t want to fish out.
The bag does come with a high-quality, padded laptop sleeve that has small pockets on the exterior. It’s not a complete enclosure, just the three sides, and it only holds a smaller notebook. My 12″ PowerbookG4 fits with over an inch of slop, while my 15.4″ laptop can’t even suck in it’s gut to make it work. Really, the 15.4″ computer is almost out-sized for the bag in general. My guess is that a 14.1″ PC would be snug and a 13″ Mac would fit perfectly. One minor, minor harp is that there is no soft-lined pocket for your shineys like phone or portable music player. Again, very, very minor and more of a personal preference.
Overall, I am more than impressed with this bag. The craftsmanship is second to none, and the attention paid to insure reliability is worth the price alone. Sure, it would benefit from minor redesigns like a clip for keys and a zippered pocket, but the ease of use and durability may make those less noticeable. For me, the key clip is major, but I can see why it wouldn’t be missed by others.
Compared to previous bags I have tried, this Cocotte Fred Messenger bag deserves to be my daily driver. The collapsibility that occurs naturally when you cinch the closure straps is effortless, it looks like a hip bag without being toolish, and it just feels great on your back. Add that to the fair price tag for a handmade bag, and you’ve got me hooked.
Go get yourself a Cocotte Equipement Fred Messenger Bag
If you are interested in picking up a Cocotte Equipement Fred Messenger bag, visit Cocotte Equipement‘s website at cocotte-equip.com and swipe that credit card! The bag retails for $114.96 CAD and is definitely worth the spend. It’s only credit right? When you purchase your bag, let them know you saw the review and you never know what will happen. Please let us know about your experiences of Cocotte-Equipement and especially the Cocotte-Equipement Fred Messenger!
Manhattan Portage Bags Delivered for Review
The kind folks over at Manhattan Portage shipped us three pieces of gear to review. They were kind enough to allow us to pick out three of their bags that we felt would be good trials for our requirements. We decided to go with their signature messenger style bag, a ballistic laptop tote, and their popular “J” bag. Each of the three bags have their own specific purpose, but we definitely wanted to see if we could stretch the limitations of the bags and give them some serious feedback!
A Glimpse Into Manhattan Portage
Manhattan Portage is pretty old (est. 1983), but definitely not out-dated by any sense of the statement. We could go on and on about how the company was a pleasure to speak to and all that jazz, however their company information page says much more than we could ever come up with from our small brains:
There was a simple philosophy that Manhattan Portage set out to achieve back in 1983, “A Bag For Everyone.” Twenty Five years later it is certainly ringing true. From Montreal to Melbourne, Osaka to Oslo, and Stockholm to San Francisco, Manhattan Portage’s line of bags are indeed everywhere and carried by everyone.
Let’s break down the quality of our simple discussions. We spoke with “Linda” and she was a serious pleasure to work with. She assisted Robb and I in deciding which bags would be best suited for our review purposes and the type of materials and functions that our viewers would appreciate in a bag. We then worked with her to make sure the bags arrived and that everything promised was delivered. In fact, they have been very patient with us on our review process.
As I mentioned above, we received three bags from Manhattan Portage:
I removed the bags from their packaging and immediately plopped them out for some initial review notes. The bags seem very durable and stable, in terms of materials used during manufacturing. Each bag has a very unique sense of usefulness and the materials used in each bag is represented by its “classification,” per se.
I decided to pull out some gallons of water and stuff them in the New York Style Manhattan Portage Messenger Bag to see what exactly it would hold. We all can read the technical specifications, but what does 1800 Cubic Inches really mean to an end-user? It means that the bag has the ability to hold more than two gallons of water and room for plenty more, like my notebook and a clean t-shirt.
The New York messenger bag that Manhattan Portage sent over was definitely a piece of eye candy to look at. The dark black exterior contrasted against the water proofed interior in bright yellow was a nice touch. Their logo and patch on the front of the bag looks very clean against the black bag. In fact, all three bags had the logos prominently placed, however they did not make the bag an eye sore.
A brief break down of thoughts
Apologies, I get a little too wordy at times with these reviews. But I am super excited to be reviewing gear from big names in the commuting industry. Manhattan Portage has been around for more than twenty years and their customers keep coming back, I am sure its because they manufacture some sick bags that are sure to get some attention.
We intend to really gives these bags some thorough reviews and to give you an update, the Manhattan Portage New York Messenger Bag is being reviewed by a local here in Tulsa, Oklahoma named Aaron. He commutes 100% by bicycle and is a wonderful addition to our reviewing staff. He has been using the bag for everything from his daily commute to work, to picking up groceries. The J-Bag just arrived back in the states from a two week stint of travel, biking and hiking through India. Heather decided to give it the ultimate review while traveling and hiking in the Himalayan mountains during the first few weeks of March.
I, myself, am giving the Ballistic Laptop Tote from Manhattan Portage a great trial run as my commute takes me six miles to and from the office, now through snow, rain, and tormenting wind. Thus far, the bag is holding up well and we will have full reviews of each bag in the coming weeks.
A few photographs of the bags
We definitely have more photographs of each bag, but want to give you a quick teaser of what to expect to see! For more views, check out each bag on the Manhattan Portage website.
Manhattan Portage Ballistic Laptop Tote
Manhattan Portage New York Messenger Bag
Manhattan Portage J Bag
Ballistic Laptop Tote Interior View
New York Messenger Bag
Manhattan Portage J Bag
Technical Specifications of Each Bag
We ripped these specifications from the Manhattan Portage website:
New York Style Messenger Bag
Size: 22 x 12.5 x 8.5 inches (56 x 32 x 20.5 cm) (WxHxD)
Weight: 1.2 lbs (0.60 kg)
Volume: 1800 cubic inches
Fabric: High-Quality CORDURA® Plus Nylon, by Invista
- One zippered pocket on the front flap (good for keys, small change or metro card)
- Two zippered pockets and one open pocket (with attached clip and key ring) underneath the flap
- Large roomy interior compartment for books, folders, laptop, or clothing
- Additional small zippered pocket inside the main compartment
- One open pocket on the back for magazine and newspaper
- Both Velcro and buckle closures
- Double reinforcement on the corners for durability
- Water resistant coating
- Soft shoulder strap and handle on the top for carrying it by hand or across the shoulder
Size: 16.5 x 21 x 7 inches(42 x 53.5 x 18 cm) (WxHxD)
Weight: 0.80 lbs (0.40 kg)
Volume: 800 cubic inches
Fabric: High-Quality CORDURA® Plus Nylon, by Invista
- Zippered pocket on the front for your smaller items.
- Large main zippered compartment
- Wear over your left over your right shoulder
- Padded shoulder strap for your comfort
- Ergonomic design that distributes weight evenly across back
- Water-resistant coating
Ballistic Laptop Tote
Size: 13 x 16 x 5 inches(33 x 40.5 x 13 cm) (WxHxD)
Built-in padded-sleeve: 11 x 14 x 1.5 inches (28 x 35.5 x 4.5 cm) (WxHxD)
Weight: 1.0 lbs (0.50 kg)
Volume: 1000 cubic inches
Fabric: 1680D (14 oz) Ballistic Nylon
- Free shoulder pad on the strap
- Total of four pockets to help with your organization
- Sleek side pockets for your cell or water bottle
- Two more zippered pockets on the front and back of the bag
- Interior padded laptop sleeve
- Key ring attached to exterior, so you will never be locked out again!
- Main compartment has tons of space, and also includes a mesh bottle holder
Manhattan Portage Details
110 Greene Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel (212) 925-1085
Fax (212) 925-1057