Review: Greenroom136 Bootstrap

Malaysian manufacturer Greenroom136 has been in the urban carry game since 2011 making some really hardwearing 1000D backpacks, messengers, and travel accessories. While they’ve been busy refining their style over the last six years, my first hands-on experience with the brand was just recently when I got to test drive one of their small Bootstrap bags.

The Bootstrap is a classic and clean city messenger dialed for the active urban lifestyle. It’s worked well for me while running errands, working between meetings at the coffee shop, and while on the go—this has really proven to be a functional EDC messenger bag. If you’re in the market for value-rich, city carry, and want something a little more unique than what Timbuk2 and Chrome are offering this season, the Bootstrap and the Metro Monger from Greenroom136 are some slick choices.

It’s a pretty straight forward bag, so let’s get right into it.

Dimensions: 14x5x9+”
Material: Cordura Brand 1000D exterior, 420D Ripstop interior, industrial grade 2” safety belt main strap
Features: Laptop Sleeve 13x8x1″, quick release cam-buckle, lifetime warranty
Pockets: 2 side 8.5 x 4.5, 2 front 5.5×5″, 1 notebook 8.5 x 10.5″, 2 document 8.5x 13.5″ , 1 zippered interior

Day to day, I found myself toting the Bootstrap around while crossing off my errands and running to meetings. One of the first things I noticed about the bag was how easy it is to transport and transition with.  Most days the Bootstrap rode shotgun with me, and I was surprised how easy it was to get in and out of the car with it compared to a similarly sized backpack.

Normally, I’m a backpack guy, and I’ll stash it on the floor in front of or behind the passenger’s seat depending on what I’m carrying. Retrieving a backpack while sitting in the driver’s seat of the car is not the easiest thing, but it’s manageable. With the bootstrap, it’s a fluid motion into the car, off the shoulder, and onto the passenger’s seat. Getting out is more or less the same process in reverse: throw the strap on cross body and get out of the car. No hang-ups at all.

Similarly, while on public transit, the size and cam-buckle make the Bootstrap really easy to manipulate in crowded inconvenient locations. On one occasion, we visited an art exhibit and being able to swing the pack to my front, side, or back at variable heights while negotiating the crowd without pause was a welcome change of pace compared to a backpack of similar size.

What’s good?
The quick release cam-buckle is a simple answer to the issues that come with cross body carry.  Chrome famously uses a quick release buckle that makes getting their messengers on and off much easier; however, when the buckle is disengaged, the bag is totally free to drop. If you’re not careful, the bag could crash to the ground with all your goods.

With the cam-buckle, the bag is never free to drop to the ground. Timbuk2’s CAM Buckle performs the same function, but most of their comparable products are slightly more expensive.

The lay out of this is also really user friendly. There’s a ceremonial “changing of the pack” I perform whenever I get a new bag for review where I unload my EDC into whatever new bag I’m testing. In the Bootstrap’s case, it was a seamless transition. All my EDC goods found their new home without issue. As a matter of fact, when I pared it with the Scribble Book, I had way more organizational options–a welcome reinforcement of my OCD tendencies.

What else is good?
The grab handles are in line with bag’s center of mass. I can’t tell you how many times this gets screwed up. Handles are only as good as their placement, and the Bootstrap’s are right where they should be.

The attention to detail is nice. I feel like most people would overlook things like the extension collar, corduroy lined laptop sleeve, generously padded sliding, and triple lined bottom panel.  These bags are handmade and it shows. Greenroom136 stand by their work too, so every bag comes with a lifetime warranty.

What’s not so good?
The side pockets are smart—they just aren’t quite big enough. Even at 2cm wider, they’d be better. I’m barely squeezing in an enamel coated (read low friction) 20oz Kleen Kanteen. When I do, it eats up the internal volume and crowds my laptop sleeve a bit.

The hook panels on the inside of the front flap are too high.  They’re abrading the smaller front pockets’ closure flap. Over time I suspect this will become more evident.

Nit picking
The front face pockets are too small. I’d combine them into a single larger pocket, or pleat them in a way that gives you more space.  In their current layout, if you put anything in there, the hook panel barely reaches the loop panel.

I’d like to see the cam-buckle length adjustment system more fully developed. In its current state it is totally functional, but there’s a better way to tackle the issue.

I’d also like to see a pair of straps on the bottom of the pack for an extra layer, tripod, etc.  That’s an easy fix and can be accomplished by changing where the speed release buckle strap gets sewn in. Move it from the front of the bottom panel to the back, and maybe add a retainer band to where it is currently stitched in.

How does this improve my experience?
The quick release cam-buckle and the carry handles give this an ease of use that I haven’t experienced in other messenger style bags. My TNF Basecamp Messenger’s handles were in the wrong spot, and the ladder locks used to adjust the length of the strap were a real pain to use. In and out of vehicles, on the bike, wherever—the Bootstrap is easy to live with and manipulate. The quality of this is too is worry free. These are really built to last.

I also like that Greenroom136’s accessories are all designed to play nicely with each other. Give the Scribble Book a look while your shopping.

Disclaimer: Greenroom136 sent me the Bootstrap and Scribble book in exchange for this review.

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