By Todd Bernhard updated on 02/07/2012
Two distinct messenger style bags arrived this week, and they presented a nice contrast. The Trench Runner from M-Edge is a retro, army surplus-inspired satchel with several compartments for cables, chargers, and, of course, an iPad. The Narwhal from GreenSmart is an eco-friendly messenger bag (backpacks and duffels are available as well) with a strong emphasis on recycling.
The Trench Runner is made of durable canvas and is available in U.S. Army drab olive green or German gray. Magnets and rugged snaps are used to keep the compartments closed. There is an included strap which you cause or leave behind and use the handle instead. The Trench Runner is just the right size for an iPad, even if it's in a case. Naturally, M-Edge would recommend one of their cases!
The Trench Runner looks like the real deal. It even has a couple of army stripes on the sides, just like a Corporal's uniform. I used to have an authentic messenger bag like the Trench Runner, back in the 1980’s, when Banana Republic used to sell products more in line with their name. The retro / military look is big right now, so the Trench Runner could be just your style.
By comparison, the GreenSmart line of products really have an eye on the future. The fabric is made from thread created by recycling tons of plastic bottles. The messenger bag was made from 25 such bottles. I know this because each product has a medallion that proudly states how many bottles were used to make that item. The product tag was made from recycled material and printed with soy ink.
None of these design decisions seem like a compromise. Indeed the fabric is high quality, luminescent (almost reflective), and available in distinctive colors. Separate, spacious compartments mean you can carry a small laptop as well as an iPad, plus the various cables and chargers, business cards, etc. There is a handle and a shoulder strap, but the strap is not removable. There is a stiff base, but I would recommend keeping your iPad or laptop inside a sleeve of its own, and then putting that in the case for extra padding. There are nice touches, like magnets for the flap and rubberized zipper pulls.