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products I use reviews: Pac Designs Street Scene Shoulder Bag

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:38 pm

I’ve been thinking that reviews of products that people have used for a while are better than ones where people just got the product and aren’t that familiar with it. This may be the first in a series of “products I use” reviews.

Some of you have probably seen me wearing my shoulder bag around. It’s a Street Scene “Small” bag by Pac Designs.

Background and overview: They’re a Canadian company started by a former Toronto bike messenger. I got the Street Scene Small last August (August 2004) and have been using it extensively since. The most use comes biking 2 miles each way too and from work. Other common uses are as a carry-on bag while traveling and walking to work. My usually load is a Powerbook 12″ laptop (with an InCase Sleeve, though now, I see, they have laptop inserts), a camera, a paperback book or two, two to five CDs in jewel cases, my lunch for the day and various miscellaneous items. I have the left swing blue bag with grey inset diamond and the radio holder option.

I heard about Pac bags from Indy, who has (and can maybe comment on) the Deluxe with a Custom Xiohazard flap.


  • Rock solid. I’ve had mine for over a year and I don’t see a single thread out of place. It looks basically brand new. I’ve taken this things all around the world (Mexico, London, South Africa, Tanzania, Boston, Pittsburgh) and it really seems like it has just been shipped to me. I have had two clips come off and got a prompt replacement on one; the other one I didn’t use much so I didn’t try to get a replacement.
  • Waterproof. A wave hit my bag on a beach while I had two cameras in there. No sign of moisture inside the bag. I’ve walked home in the rain. Similarly, no problems. I haven’t put my bag in the bathtub or anything, but it’s pretty good in my experience.
  • Good weight distrubution while cycling. Even with a fairly full load, I hardly feel it while I’m biking to work. This is what these bags were made for (these are messenger bags first and foremost), so it’s good they do this well. It sits nicely on the small of the back/ pelvis.
  • Anti-sway strap. I think a lot of shoulder bags have this now, but anti-sway straps are absolutely key if you want to bike with a bag.
  • Good for third world traveling. Backpacks are very easily to get pick-pocketed. This bag has two clips and some heavy velcro to open the flap, so it’s too noisy/ difficult to open for pick pockets. I felt a hand on my bag in Tanzania but they didn’t get past the clips even.
  • IPod fits in radio holder. I don’t use this as much as I thought I would, but my iPod fits nicely in the radio holder when the holder is fully tightened down. I can even get to the buttons to change volume or skip a track when I’m on the move.


  • Less than ideal weight distribution while walking. If I have a heavy bag and I’m walking around for hours (like sometimes is the case if I’m sight-seeing), it hurts. One thing I would like to note is that I find I walk with better posture than my normal slouch when I’m walking around wearing the bag.
  • X strap and suspension strapping not options for Street Scene. Pac has some neat features for better weight distribution but they are not options for their lower-cost street scene bags.

Overall, I’ve very happy with it. It was about $150 with all the options and whatnot. It’s well worth the price; it’ll last me a lifetime. The price/ use ratio is something to consider if you’re not going to use it for a while or if you aren’t going to use it very often.

One Response to “products I use reviews: Pac Designs Street Scene Shoulder Bag”

  1. agerone Says:

    thank you very much for this interesting review.
    helped me really.
    I’m going to look for the Large version of the Street Scene bags.

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