This is the last of three posts focusing on the Pacsafe Metrosafe 350 daypack, prompted by my use of this bag as my “personal item” during our recent trip to Italy and London.  You can see the other two posts here:  Quick Take – Pacsafe Metrosafe 350 & Long Term Test:  Pacsafe Metrosafe 350.  The sole reason for this follow-up is that I discovered a shortcoming inherent to the bag’s shoulder strap design during our trip, and thought I should post about it.

First things first:  my enthusiasm for the Metrosafe 350 remains largely intact.  The bag is small yet boasts reasonable capacity, plenty of security features, conservative good looks, and costs less than $80.

During our trip, however, something surfaced which hadn’t been much of a factor previously.  When sporting a relatively heavy load (think netbook, digital camera, iPod, iGo charger kit, guide book excerpts, a book, a couple of magazines, etc.) – and particularly when I had the bag slung over my right shoulder with just one strap – an issue with the design of the shoulder straps emerged.

Keep in mind that the bag’s straps are reinforced with stainless steel cables; as a result,  they’re about as flexible as Mel Gibson at an NAACP meeting.  On the top end, they’re anchored to the bag and the straps’ padded cushions.   In order for their length to be adjustable, they’re of course not fixed to the cushions’ opposite end.  The result?  Under (heavy) load, the padded cushions twist around the reinforced strap, and you end up feeling the strap more than the cushion.  Not good.

Here’s a picture of the bag (loaded with my ThinkPad and a bunch of paperwork) after I first slung it over my right shoulder:

After shifting around a bit, jostling the bag as I did so, the shoulder pad began twisting around on the (cable reinforced) strap:

The strap isn’t twisting – it’s the padded cushion.  When that happens, you of course lose most of the benefit the cushion is supposed to offer. You can click on the image immediately above for a close-up view, if you’d like.  An important note:  this doesn’t happen with lighter loads.  When you get 6 or 7+ pounds in the bag, it does.

Is there a solution?  Perhaps.  It’s a bit draconian, but if you could secure the strap to the cushion near the open end of the cushion, it should greatly reduce if not altogether eliminate the problem.  Why draconian?  Once you do this, you’ll never again be able to adjust the length of the strap.  If you’ve correctly determined what length the straps need to be, this shouldn’t be an issue.

I’ve tested this potential solution by locking the two components together with medium size binder clips, and it appeared to work.  I’d like to bring the bag to a shoe repair shop to see if they could bar tack the strap to the cushion in a couple of locations.  This is in theory a wonderful idea, but the strap does in fact sport small gauge stainless cables.  As we all know, stainless steel cables are to the cobbler’s sewing machine as Elin Nordegren’s attorneys are to Tiger Woods’ net worth.  I’ll consult a local guy and if I draw a blank there, I may resort to riveting the two together in a couple of spots.

Or perhaps one of my super smart, amazingly resourceful readers has an idea…   if you do, please comment.   I’ll add a follow-up to this post at some point, whether the issue is resolved or not.

The lesson here?  You really don’t know a product until you’ve lived with it for a reasonable period of time.

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7 Comments on 4 months, 12,000+ miles later: Pacsafe Metrosafe 350 update

  1. Buzz says:

    Is the strap pad moveable? If so, why not move it out of the way, and use something like the Tom Bihn Ultrasuede Strap Wrap:

    http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/ACC/TB0530

    You can always go back to the Pacsafe Strap Pad when using both straps as a full backpack.

    There are other strap pads available that slip on and off. Go to Amazon and type in “Strap Pad” and you’ll get a big selection.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Buzz,

    It’s not moveable; it and the reinforced strap are sewn together at the top of the bag.

    I’ll look into the other options you mentioned. Thanks!

    kc

    [Reply]

  2. Nora says:

    Does the twist happen if you wear it as a pack (using both straps)? I’m looking for a good day pack that I can use as my one carry-on for int’l air travel. Then later use instead of a purse for daytripping. I prefer a pack and would not use it in the single strap/sling configuration.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Nora,

    Thanks for the question. It is much, much more pronounced when you just use one strap. When worn as a pack, it’s really not an issue. Hope this helps!

    [Reply]

  3. Chris says:

    Great reviews, and great site Kevin!

    I’ve been looking for a small-ish day bag (like this or the Bihn Synapse), but considering their diminutive overall size, I’m concerned about the straps getting comfortably around my shoulders. How big of a guy would you guess this would for? A six-footer?

    Thanks again for all your insights!!!

    Chris

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Chris,

    I’m 5’9″ and it’s just about perfect; I can’t imagine a few extra inches of height and broader shoulders would make that much difference.

    If the security features are important to you, I’d go with the Pacsafe; if not, and you can afford the price of admission, the Synapse is a beautiful bag.

    [Reply]

  4. Chris says:

    Thanks Kevin!

    [Reply]

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