Review: STM’s Velo 2 is an uncommon messenger bag
At a Glance
STM’s Velo 2 isn’t just a messenger bag—it’s a breath of fresh air. While it has all the standard signs of an exceptional messenger bag (durable materials, thoughtfully designed, plenty of padding), it also has some additional features that make it stand out from other bags. For example, this:
Now you’re thinking, “So what, a shoulder strap?” And my response is: Yes! But it’s a shoulder strap that is joined to the bag with a 360 degree swivel joint so it never gets tangled. If that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, you’ve obviously never spent time struggling with a strap only to have it snarl up again as soon as you’ve walked a few blocks. It’s a pretty good example of the intelligent bag design that you’ll find throughout the Velo 2.
Part of STM’s Velocity Collection, the Velo 2 comes in two sizes, small and large, to hold 13 or 15 inch laptops respectively. We tested the small, which measures 18.5 inches by 13.8 inches by 6.7 inches. It weighs 2.4 pounds (when empty) and has a capacity of 15 liters. My 13 inch ultrabook had plenty of room in the laptop compartment; if you're only carrying a tablet, even the small Velo 2 might be too large for you. The Velo 2 is made from 300 denier polyester on the exterior and a 200 denier water-resistant polyester on the interior. It comes in three colors: blue, grey, and black.
The Velo 2 is nicely organized—there is zero wasted space on this bag. The rear of the bag includes a mesh panel and a back slider pocket that unzips at the bottom so you can slide the entire bag over a luggage handle. The rear also features the stabilizing waist straps and a small loop near the top handle; the bottom of the bag also features a loop intended for bike lights, which is a nice touch.
Both side straps of the bag are actually long zippered compartments that expand slightly in order to hold umbrellas or water bottles. It was a clever touch—most bags include side pockets, but they’re rarely integrated into the shoulder straps to provide additional capacity. Behind the left shoulder strap you’ll notice a zipper and this is where the laptop compartment is tucked away. The laptop compartment is extremely well padded, lined with a soft fleece, and has a removable foam liner along the bottom. Again, most bags feature a dedicated laptop compartment, but having it in a somewhat hidden location is a bonus.
Underneath the handle, there’s a small easy access pocket lined with fleece. I found this ideal for sunglasses, but it would also work well for keys, smartphones, or other small items. Lifting the flap of the bag reveals a small front zippered pocket and the zipper to the main compartment—here it’s worth noting that the Velo 2 has a somewhat unusual shape for a messenger, as it’s wider along the bottom and the zipper to the main compartment lays somewhat in the middle of the bag, so that the zipper is more of a curvy “U” shape than a straight line.
This has both advantages and disadvantages: I found that the wider bottom of the bag made it easier to stow a large variety of gadgets, and made it more stable when set on the ground (there’s some padding on the bottom), but the zipper's odd shape made it occasionally awkward to zip. However, since the bottom-heavy form allowed me to carry cupcakes across town without them getting even slightly smashed, I figure it’s a fair trade off.
Inside the main compartment you’ll find a fleece lined tablet pouch, a full size pocket in front of that, a side pouch on the left interior wall, and two more pouches along the front. Meanwhile, remember that small zippered pouch underneath the front flap? Well, It provides you with one small easy access front pocket, and a larger front section which unzips to reveal a mesh zippered pocket, three more pockets, and some pen slots. Much like with the ECBC bags I’ve tested, I ran out of items to fill all the pockets in the Velo 2—which is my favorite “problem” to have with any bag.
However, there were a few small shortcomings: The shoulder strap with that lovely 360 degree swivel buckle still managed to get occasionally tangled—for which I place full blame on the shoulder padding which moved around constantly. While I’ll freely admit the epaulette buckles on my leather jacket did nothing to help the problem, I would give my kingdom for a bag with shoulder padding that can be fastened in place. (Please note that my kingdom is made of Legos). Likewise, I wasn’t overly impressed by the buckle adjustment on the shoulder strap, but I wasn’t particularly mad at it either.
That said, overall the Velo 2 was continually impressive with its carrying capacity, its organizational abilities, and its unique features. While the brighter colored options (blue, grey) may be a little more casual looking, you could likely still carry the black version into professional settings. Either way, it’s unlikely that you’d be disappointed with what the Velo 2 has to offer.