The Alchemy Goods Pike is a good-looking small messenger bag with an even smaller environmental impact. Used bicycle tubes and seatbelts contribute to the bag's 67% upcycled content- the greatest of any bag review here. Its construction is simple, too. A 15 Liter main compartment holds your lunch, a sweater, and a small computer. Our testers found the Pike to be great for small trips around town.
Those looking for a go everywhere, do everything bag will want something larger. Our eight testers found the Pike to be too small for everyday mobile use, not supportive enough to protect documents, and without proper storage options such as a sufficient number of slots for pens and pencils. We also found the seatbelt strap to be slippery and insufficiently padded for carrying heavy loads. In sum, this is a great bag for light trips. Think iPad, water bottle, lunch and a light layer.
Our favorite large, fully featured messenger bag is the Mission Workshop Rummy ($170), a spacious, super durable, and luxuriously comfortable bag that excels at biking and providing you with near instantaneous access to the bag's contents. Those who commute directly to and from work can't beat the Rickshaw Commuter 2.0 ($160), a office-oriented laptop and document taxi.
Alchemy Goods Pike ReviewPrice: $138 List | $132.37 at Amazon Pros: High upcycled content, easy access external pocket.
Cons: Rubber can turn clothes black, too small for everyday use, no laptop padding, not comfortable when fully loaded, not comfortable when biking.
Dimensions (in.): 14.5 x 9 x 4.5
Weight (lb.): 2
Manufacturer: Alchemy Goods
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Alchemy Goods Pike is a small, simple, sustainably made messenger bag best suited for small trips around town or to and from the office. The bag's best attribute is its low impact design and manufacturing. The Pike is made of 67% upcycled materials (used bicycle tubes) and assembled in a small Seattle facility. This is the main reason to buy the Pike- you're getting a functional bag that has minimal impact upon the environment.
Behind the Pike's bike tube exterior lie a ripstop nylon liner, two medium sized open pockets, and a thin nylon sleeve for a laptop sleeve. Our eight testers agreed that the Pike's best feature is the external zipper pocket (the bag's only zipper pocket) that lies on the outside of the main flap. (The Patagonia Half Mass also shares this feature.)
Our main complaint with the Pike is its size, which our eight testers found to be too small for everyday mobile life. You can neither go grocery shopping nor carry documents with this bag. (There's no structure or support to prevent papers from crumpling.) It's much better for quick trips around town, as a purse substitute, or basic commutes to and from the office with a lunch and a small computer. The Pike also lacks adequate storage for pens and pencil (there aren't any slots for them), and the seatbelt strap, also recycled, is not comfortable when the bag is loaded. Of the eight messenger bags tested here the Pike is the least comfortable for biking, especially when carrying a laptop. "When I had it packed to capacity it was like a giant fishing weight that made my back ache after prolonged use." Said one tester. This is because the seatbelt strap is slippery and there's no sternum strap; the bag frequently slides off your back and around to the side, an annoying experience that can throw you off balance.
While biking home from work on a hot, sunny day the Pike's bike tubes turned one of our tester's white t-shirt black. Although this only happened to one of or testers and only once, it's quite disheartening. Luke from Alchemy to me that this has happens infrequently when people get sweaty while walking or biking. They believe that combination of salt and water break down the rubber. Whether it be a coating or an alternative recycled material on the back, Alchemy is working to fix this.
Although we appreciate Alchemy's responsible sourcing and local manufacturing, the consensus from our eight testers (who each used the bag for a week) was that the Pike did not perform as well as other messenger bags.
Small trips around town or to and from the office.
You're paying for a high quality bag that's made by hand in America. (So you're paying a lot.) Other bags offer greater performance for the dollar, but none match the Pike's environmental record.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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