I’ve been on a waxed canvas kick lately and stumbled upon Bedouin Foundry, a small bag maker out of London. Bedouin produces unique bags that differ from many of the traditional waxed canvas designs. As it happens, they also make a perfectly sized messenger bag, the Barbarossa. I’ve been looking for a solid every day carry messenger for non-work days and the Barbarossa covered several of my requirements.  This is a quick look at the bag, with a few of my initial impressions. I hope to do a full review after using the bag for a few months.

Quick review

Pros

  • Beautiful Craftsmanship
  • Distinct Style
  • Comfortable to carry with most load outs
  • Perfect size for daily carry
  • Good organization

Cons

  • Attracts dust and hair in darker colors
  • Lack of padded shoulder strap could be uncomfortable with heavy loads
  • Not fully weather resistant

Aesthetics

The Barbarossa is a beautiful messenger bag. I chose the black on black version with black leather accents and black waxed canvas main body and cobra buckle closure. The quality of everything from the stitching to the canvas is apparent. The bag itself is lined in a very artful custom inner liner with everything from a clock to vines merged together. It is clear the team over at Bedouin puts care and thought into their craftsmanship.

Bedouin Foundry Barbarossa interior

One small quibble is the tendency of the bag to attract dirt and hair which had to be removed with a roller or brush. This is mostly due to the nature of waxed canvas and the level of hair and dirt it is exposed to. Something to keep in mind though.

Comfort

The bag carries nicely either crossbody or on the shoulder. I carry most messenger bags in crossbody style. The shoulder strap is a fairly wide cotton webbing. While not padded, I found it to be comfortable for extended usage due to the width. There may be a limit if you were to overload the bag, however.

Organization and Access

For its size and volume, the Barbarossa offers a decent number of pockets. There is a laptop or device pocket that can fit a 13-inch laptop or large tablet, one main interior pocket and 2 medium sized outer pockets that are protected by the main front flap. Also of note is that the entire interior is very generously padded. This bag could easily be used for photography gear or other sensitive technology equipment. The bag is advertised as a 15-liter pack and that measurement feels about right.

There is plenty of room in the main compartment for a smaller laptop or iPad, a few books, a water bottle and a few other odds and ends. The front two pouches can easily hold one or two tech pouches each and have their own external volume. My Macbook Pro charger fit neatly into one with room to spare. The front flap is secured with a very satisfying cobra buckle that is fully adjustable. Even packed out, the flap protected all of the compartments without any issue.

Bedouin Foundry Barbarossa Cobra buckle

Overall Impressions

So far, I am impressed with this bag. Perhaps most telling is the sheer beauty of the craftsmanship, materials and details. This is a piece that is truly a joy to touch and experience. I do wish it wasn’t such a dirt and hair magnet but I live in a house with a golden retriever, 2 cats, 2 kids and 2 long haired adults. We are a built-in hair stress test, so I carry a travel roller with me anyway.

I plan to follow up with a full review after having more time with the Barbarossa but the experience thus far has been top notch.