UTG Tactical Messenger Bag Review
A messenger bag can make a good Get Home Bag option for those working in a city; these bags allow you to pack your gear conveniently and discreetly in a wide variety of urban settings. One such model from UTG caught my eye, and looked like it would be a good introduction for me to this style of bag.
After using a Maxpedition Fatty organizer for my EDC Kit and being very impressed, I wanted to try one of their every day carry bags; however, the $70+ price tag caused me to look for a more affordable option. I found that UTG made a messenger bag that was popular and appeared to be of a similar style to some of the higher end models I was looking at; and it was also available at a more budget friendly price of around $35. After doing some online research, and going over the list of features, I decided to give a UTG Multi-Functional Tactical Messenger Bag a try.
One of the main reasons I choose this UTG bag was because it features a concealed weapon compartment. At the back of this bag nearest your hip, there is a large and relatively flat pouch designed for carrying a handgun; the inside of the pouch contains two large horizontal strips of Velcro for attaching certain handgun holsters. I liked the idea of having the handgun oriented the same every time, so I ordered a Maxpedition Universal CCW holster. This holster attached easily to the two large strips of Velcro, and now holds my Kahr CW40 securely in place with the grip presented at a comfortable angle.
An external bottle holder is also another feature of this pack that caught my eye; this bottle holder can also be collapsed when not in use to make the pack smaller. Having your water bottle on the outside not only allows for easy access but keeps you bags content safe from accidental spills. The holder itself has both drawstrings and a Velcro strap that can be adjusted to securely fit a wide variety of water bottles. I tested the bottle holder out with numerous different style bottles up to and including a 32oz Nalgene bottle, and was able to get the holder to adjust properly to all of them.
The main compartment of this pack is also accessed by releasing the buckle and lifting the flap which reveals the top of the compartment. The storage part of this compartment is equipped with a pull out liner with draw string that can be closed tight, or it can be folded inward if you do not want to utilize it. Keeping the liner out and drawstrings pulled tight gives added insurance that your gear will keep dry and that nobody can see what you have inside when the main flap is lifted up. I generally use the main compartment to store larger items like my poncho, first aid kit, pepper spray, emergency blanket, and gloves.
Opening the large buckle and lifting the outside flap of this messenger bag reveals what I call the side pocket. The inside of this pocket features a flat mesh panel on the backside along with a key holder at the top left side. This is a good place to store flat or small items to keep them from mixing with other contents in the pocket. I have been using this pocket to carry my Maxpedition Fatty Organizer which fits perfectly into this zippered pocket. This works well as the outer flap protects this pocket from the elements but still allows me easy access to my EDC kit without revealing the contents of the main compartment.
The front of the pack has a small pocket that when opened features a small flat pouch at the rear with the main area of the pocket being just large enough to carry a small radio; an Ambient Weather WR-111b will fit in there it is a very tight fit and not easy to get in and out of the pocket. However, I discovered that when removing the antenna from my Baofeng UV-5RA, I can easily fit it in this pocket and slide its small stock antenna in the small pouch at the rear of the pocket. The outside of this small pocket also features a few webbing like attachment points but I have thus far left them unused.
The Flap Pockets
The flap of this unit that covers the main compartment and side pocket features a flat zippered pocket on the side, and a long narrow but slightly deeper zippered pocket on the top. The flat zippered pocket is good for carrying small flat items that you might need access to such as a map; while the pouch on top is more suitable for longer items that are thicker. I currently carry a spare magazine and beanie in the top pocket; this compartment unzips toward the user and would also be a good place to keep a small fixed blade survival knife or a folding knife.
There is a lot to like about this pack but probably my favorite is the concealed carry pouch, which allows you to quickly access your gun in a natural position. This means that if something doesn't look or feel right you could unzip this compartment and have your hand on the grip without creating alarm. Next, this pack seems to be well thought out, with lots of small pockets and pouches for all sizes and shapes of items that can be used to keep everything organized and readily accessible. Finally, while all black, the pack doesn't scream tactical and blends in nicely in most urban settings.
The shoulder strap buckle was very difficult to release (almost impossible) and the flap buckle didn't want to securely lock (click shut) and could be pulled apart with some force. However, keeping the shoulder strap locked was fine with me, and since the flap buckle isn't under pressure that buckle stayed closed without completely locking. So despite working for me; I realize the dumb luck of the situation, and had the placement of buckles been reversed and the shoulder strap not locked and the main flap not unlocked the pack would have been basically useless. Finally, there are a lot of large metal zipper pulls which make a lot of noise banging against the zippers as the pack is moved around.
This UTG Messenger Bag has a lot of features, holds a lot of gear, keeps things well organized, and is affordable. The CCW pocket works very well and the side pocket being just the right size for my EDC kit made my day. However, as mentioned above the fortunate placement of what appears to be two faulty buckles could have easily made this pack inoperable if it weren't for their fortunate placement. So despite liking this messenger bag and it working well for me, I'm hesitant to recommend it as the two primary buckles didn't operate as they should. Note, since the pack worked just fine for me anyway, I made no attempt to return the bag or contact the manufacture.