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Burley Transit Review

An affordable, durable, and water-resistant messenger bag for bike commuting tech professionals, with three padded laptop pockets, and ample features
Burley Transit
Photo: Burley
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Price:  $120 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, durable, three padded laptop pockets, ample features
Cons:  Average comfort, tricky closure system, uncomfortable cross-body strap
Manufacturer:   Burley
By Mary Witlacil ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 16, 2021
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Packing & Organization - 25% 8
  • Electronics - 15% 7
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Wear & Tear - 10% 7
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 10% 6

Our Verdict

If you're looking for an affordable messenger bag designed for bike commuting to work, the Burley Transit is a decent option to consider. It boasts just enough pockets and features to keep your gear well-organized, and has three different padded laptop sleeves for multiple computers, or to keep your organization options open. It is not the most comfortable bag in our review - namely because the shoulder strap offers minimal padding, and the cross-body strap is not in an ideal (or easy to use) position. What it lacks in comfort, it makes up for in versatility - as it is compatible with the Burley Travoy Trailer as well as wheeled luggage. With an understated look it can easily move between your bike commute and the office. If you're looking for a tech-savvy and affordable bag for your daily bike commute to work, this could be the one.

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Burley Transit
This Product
Burley Transit
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$62.99 at Amazon
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Pros Inexpensive, durable, three padded laptop pockets, ample featuresSpacious, savvy pocket configuration, easy on/off, comfortable, weatherproofAffordable, durable, weather-resistant, simple but functional organization features, customizableComfortable, compact, intuitive design, easy on/off, reflective panel for higher visibility at nightHigh quality leather, attractive, good price point
Cons Average comfort, tricky closure system, uncomfortable cross-body strapHeavy, spendy, laptop zipper not waterproofLeft-shoulder carry only, minimal protection for laptop, shoulder strap is somewhat finickyHeavy for the volume, not ideal for carrying a laptop, could use more storage slots in front pocketHeavy, poorly designed shoulder strap, flimsy and baggy inner liner
Bottom Line An affordable, durable, and water-resistant messenger bag for bike commuting tech professionals, with three padded laptop pockets, and ample featuresThis tech-savvy, spacious, weatherproof, and comfortable messenger bag features ample pockets and can accommodate up to a 17" laptopThis durable, weather-resistant, and simple bag is thoughtfully designed with great pockets and reasonable comfort, all at an affordable priceA compact and comfortable bag for carrying your daily essentials, featuring a seatbelt buckle for easy on and off and a reflective panel for increased visibilityThis attractive leather bag is affordable and easy to use, but it has some limitations
Rating Categories Burley Transit Chrome Buran III Timbuk2 Classic Chrome Kadet Sling Komal C Buffalo Hunter
Comfort (25%)
5.0
10.0
7.0
9.0
4.0
Packing & Organization (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Electronics (15%)
7.0
9.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
6.0
9.0
6.0
9.0
7.0
Wear & Tear (10%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Volume To Weight Ratio (10%)
6.0
8.0
10.0
5.0
3.0
Specs Burley Transit Chrome Buran III Timbuk2 Classic Chrome Kadet Sling Komal C Buffalo Hunter
Measured Weight 1.85 lbs 2.71 lbs 2.02 lbs 1.20 lbs 2.73 lbs
Measured Volume (purported volume) 13L (12L) 22L (24L) 18L (21L) 7L (9L) 12L
OGL Volume/Weight Ratio (bigger is better) 7.03 8.12 8.91 5.83 4.40
Dimensions 19 x 13 x 3 in 21.25 x 12.25 x 7 in 14.6 x 12.2 x 7.1 in 17 x 8 x 4 in 16 x 12 x 4 in
Shoulder Preference Either Either Left Left Either
Number of Compartments 3 2 2 1 2
Number of Large Pockets 2 1 2 1 2
Number of Small Pockets (i.e. sleeves for pens, thin items) 5 8 5 3 3
Number of Zipper Pockets 3 4 3 2 1
Key Clip? Yes No Yes Yes No
Reflective Material? Yes Yes, on bottom straps Yes, on bottom straps Yes No
External Side Pocket Yes Yes No Yes No
Sleeve For Laptop? Yes - 15" Yes - 17" Yes - 15" Yes - Tablet Only Yes - 15"
Stabilizing Cross Strap Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Available Sizes One size One size XS, S, M, L One size One Size
Size Tested One size One size Medium One size One Size

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Burly Transit offers minimal but adept features for bike commuting to work. The style of the bag is understated enough for professional settings but well-equipped and rugged enough for riding a bicycle or travel.

Performance Comparison


For bike commuting to and from work, this bag offers many of the...
For bike commuting to and from work, this bag offers many of the features you need, even if it isn't the most comfortable.
Photo: Jared Ross

Comfort


The Transit has a small padded shoulder-protector, which offers minimal protection and comfort — especially when the bag is heavily weighted. However, given the minimal structure of the bag, it does conform to the body slightly better than some other bags in this review. Still, we found it to be one of the least comfortable bags overall.

The padded shoulder protector is short and among the least comfy in...
The padded shoulder protector is short and among the least comfy in our review. We also found the cross-body strap to be pretty uncomfortable for cycling because it is meant to go around your waist.
Photo: Jared Ross

Packing & Organization


The Transit provides intuitive packing and organizational features that make it rank among the best in our review. We appreciate the easily accessible zippered pockets on the outer flap and the sideways oriented zippered pocket under the flap. These pockets are great for your phone, wallet, keys, bike light, or passport — in other words, for everything you may need to access quickly and regularly.

We love the proliferation of sleeves, compartments, and pockets in...
We love the proliferation of sleeves, compartments, and pockets in this bag. It has just enough storage features, without being over-the-top.
Photo: Jared Ross

The inner compartment of this bag features a large storage area for things like clothes, as well as sleeves for pens, a book, and other essential sundries. The large zippered front and rear pockets allow for versatility in deciding where to store your laptop and are spacious enough to accommodate whatever you may need to throw at them. Then, on both sides, there are four-way stretch fabric holsters for a coffee mug or narrower water bottle.

The front zippered pocket is great for easy access.
The front zippered pocket is great for easy access.
Photo: Jared RossJared Ross

Electronics


We love the versatility of electronics storage in the Transit, which is why it performed favorably in this category. Given the proliferation of large padded pockets, you can store a 15" laptop in three different places — in a padded zippered pocket up front, a padded zippered pocket in the back on the outside, or on the inside back position of the bag, if you're concerned about weather.

There are three options for carrying a 15" laptop in this bag - here...
There are three options for carrying a 15" laptop in this bag - here we use the inner back sleeve, best if you are concerned about rain.
Photo: Jared Ross

In the back electronics pocket, there is also a padded sleeve for carrying your tablet in addition to your laptop.

You can also store your laptop in the exterior back zippered pocket...
You can also store your laptop in the exterior back zippered pocket, where there is a sleeve for your tablet as well.
Photo: Jared Ross

Ease of Use


The features on the Transit are — for the most part — pretty intuitive to use. The only reason it didn't earn more points in this metric is that the closure system takes some getting used to, and it is such a soft bag that it can be slightly more difficult to pack and unpack than some of the more rigid bags in our review. The latch system releases with the press of a button, but the button is hidden in a fabric keeper, which makes it slightly trickier to use (though, to be fair, is good for the sake of security). The webbing on the latches also doesn't cinch down or release as easily as we would prefer, but this will likely break in with use.

We appreciate that this bag comes with two removable attachment straps that make it compatible with the Burley Travoy trailer. There is also a luggage pass-through sleeve on the back of the pack, for mounting it on the plastic trolley handle of your wheeled luggage while traveling. Finally, this bag has the easiest system for switching the position of the straps between your left and right shoulders.

In addition to being made for cycling, it is great for travel too...
In addition to being made for cycling, it is great for travel too. The bag has a slot in the back for mounting to the trolley handle of your wheeled luggage.
Photo: Jared Ross

Wear & Tear


The Transit has water-resistant, and seemingly abrasion-resistant fabric and a tarpaulin bottom, as well as beefy zippers for ensuring it will last for years to come.

Volume to Weight Ratio


To determine this ratio, we don't just take the manufacturer's word for anything. We weigh each bag as soon as we receive it and determine the actual usable volume by filling ziplock bags with 1-3 liters of water and seeing how many will fit in each bag. The Transit weighs 1.85 pounds, and the measured volume was 13 liters (one more than advertised). This positions it in the middle of our tested bags. This means there are other bags in our review with greater capacity for the weight, but there are several others with less capacity for the weight as well.

With an average volume to weight ratio, this bag isn't setting any...
With an average volume to weight ratio, this bag isn't setting any records, but we found it carried enough gear for the weight all while keeping things well organized.
Photo: Jared Ross

Value


The Transit is among the more affordable messenger bags in our review. While it wasn't our favorite, it does have a number of features and a great deal of flexibility that make it ideal for the right bike commuting professional.

Conclusion


The Burley Transit is a thoughtful messenger bag designed by and for cyclists, offering the essential features for commuting to and from work. While it isn't the most comfortable, it makes up for this in affordability and sensible features and it is compatible with the Burley Travoy trailer.

Just enough features for bike commuting to work, and all at an...
Just enough features for bike commuting to work, and all at an affordable price.
Photo: Jared Ross

Mary Witlacil