It’s surprising what you can fit in one of these messenger bags.

FIRST OF ALL, purses shouldn’t count. I mean, maybe one of those bizarre Gucci-Prada-whatever purses that look like giant shiny diaper bags qualifies as a single carry-on item. But a small bag with a phone, documents, and some cash? No.

I flew to Belize in March and New York in April. Both times, I took a backpack, laptop, purse, and camera bag with extra lens, all as two carry-ons. It probably wouldn’t have worked without the complimentary messenger bag I received from ETHNOTEK.

It’s the TARDIS of laptop bags — so much bigger on the inside than the outside. It swallowed my MacBook and plug, along with two books for the flight. (I don’t own an iPad, but if I did, it would’ve fit perfectly in the separate sleeve.) My iPhone went in one of the front pockets, a small notebook next to it. Pens, pencils, and sonic screwdrivers also found their own slots.

I threw in a sketchpad with a dozen charcoal pencils. (I don’t draw, but hey — I could start, right?) The empty section at the front of the bag yawned at me, so I crammed my purse in.

When I added a large BPA-free water bottle and a small bag with toiletries, the bag finally started to feel full. Sort of. Clothes and camera bag went into the backpack, and I had my two carry-ons.

Photo courtesy of ETHNOTEK

Like my ETHNOTEK backpack, the messenger bag gets a lot of compliments. There are eight types of interchangeable (and beautiful) THREADS available for the messenger bags (I went with the Vietnam 2), although all designs are limited edition and may change depending on what fabrics are available from the tribes ETHNOTEK sources from.

Each bag comes with a removable padded shoulder strap, luggage trolley handle pass-through on the back, and buckle webbing straps on the bottom. The padded laptop compartment has removable bumper inserts — without, it fits 15″ laptops; with, 13″ laptops won’t slide around.

ETHNOTEK messenger bags with one THREAD range from $129-$149; additional THREADS start at $29. The company is currently offering free domestic shipping on all bag orders, and guarantees all international orders will arrive two days after shipping.

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