Taktonik, a messenger bag with lots of different

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I’m a backpack guy. Always have been, ever since my school days. Backpacks are super handy for carrying stuff, with no hands involved and giving an equal distribution of weight on the shoulders. It’s the perfect solution really to all your lugging stuff around needs. Yet here I am with a messenger bag, on the one hand wondering how this is going to work out, on the other chuffed to pieces by this precise messenger bag. To understand what’s going on, I’ll need to wind time back a year or more to when I first discovered Philipp and his one-man company Taktonik on Instagram.

The messenger bag background story

Instagram has the potential to open you up to new ideas and images on a scale unlike anything else in history, yet most of us are probably following people like ourselves, celebrities we say we despise yet secretly yearn to be and brands that make things we’d like to own. It’s rare to come across something that is totally different, but that was what I found when I stumbled across Taktonik. Philipp, the guy behind the name, is a retired soldier with a penchant for ex-military materials and details. He uses these to make the messenger bag and an unusual style of ex-Soviet army rucksack called a Veschmeschok.

What really drew me in was Philipps evidently nerdy fascination with army surplus fabrics and details. Camouflage jackets, vehicle tarps, shelters, parachutes, various harnesses and straps. The sum of all these sources comes together in the bags, very much in the vein of pacifist military designs, something I wholeheartedly approve of. So I followed him, enjoyed his long descriptions of obscure and arcane camouflage fabrics and got talking about him making me a bag. This pretty much took a year of occasional back and forth, before in a marathon Skype session we nailed it down.

The finished messenger bag by Taktonik.

The finished messenger bag by Taktonik.

The details of the messenger bag

And here it is. Rarely have I had something where so much thought has gone into the details. The starting point was the standard messenger bag that Philipp makes. This was made a bit larger, to accommodate the laptop computer I use for work, and the laptop section given extra padding. From there on out it was total customisation and has become the most complicated bag he’s made so far.

The primary outer fabric of this messenger bag is an olive green canvas salvaged from a vehicle tarpaulin from a vehicle used by the early Federal German army. It’s really solid! The tarp is the main fabric and includes details such as the holes to tie it down. Offset against this there are two camouflage fabrics, one vintage and one newer. The vintage one is from the Algerian war era and is “Camouflee de Leópard“ or “French Lizard Mod.
D“, taken from a French army shelter half, with some of the shelters features intact. The webbing camouflage is from a Level IV ballistic vest from Federal German army and their “Soldier of the Future” program, with the classic German “Flecktarn” or “Tarndruck, 5-farb” pattern. A contrast between classic and modern there.

The badge is from the weapons support system personnel in combat aircraft, which I thought kind of suitable, but really I’ll admit it was just a good-looking badge and made for a nice focal point.

While still on the outside, the main strap is an extra wide canvas piece that remarkably is NOS, new old stock, from a former supplier of material to the German Army. The fittings are taken from T-10 parachute harnesses and helicopter load-sling equipment. I think this should ensure my laptop, packed lunch and an exciting paperback should stay firmly in place. The two straps to keep the bag closed are salvaged tie-down straps from either German or Austrian army. There’s also a small outside pen pocket made form a Czechoslovakian duffle bag, with the leather patch intact.

Some more nerdy details

The main part of the inside is lined in rare camouflage US parachute fabric from WW2, a lining that feels kind of silky, but is also very strong. The lining under the lid is an authentic silk escape map over the part of Northern Norway where I grew up. Both an emotional choice, and also handy if I’m up there and need to find an escape route. Silk escape maps were used during WW2, as they could be sewn into the lining of clothing to avoid them being found. This exact map is Cold War era version printed on acetate, with the Murmansk area of Northern Russia on the reverse. Just in case. When has luggage ever taken this good care of you?

There is also an internal pocket that has been salvaged from a  Belgian Army Airborne smock from 1958 in Belgian Brushstroke pattern and the key-strap is a G3 rifle carrying sling. There is a large internal pocket that opens with the zipper from a CBU-13 G-suit, Starfighter pilot suit to you and me, of the German Air Force. The internal pocket is lined with black and white Soviet-era cold war photos that Philipp had specially printed onto a suitable fabric. A subversive Easter egg providing another link to a past many have already forgotten about. Again, mixing up the eras and influences.

There is also a large outside pocket on the rear, suitable for a magazine, held closed with wood toggles from a rare Czechoslovakian camouflaged shelter half. No option is left undecided here!

As part of the thoughtful creation that this is, Philipp also includes a swatch reference that includes a small sample of each fabric that has been used in making it. This can be seen fastened to the key strap.

 

How is the messenger bag in use?

So that was all the about the parts that have gone into making the messenger bag, now you’re most likely wondering how it is in use, right? Well, I don’t really know quite yet, as I’ve been so busy writing all about it that I’ve not had much of a chance to try it out yet, but I’ll give you more valuable feedback in a few weeks time when I’ve really used it. For now, all I can say is that it feels good hanging off my shoulder, it has all the space and features I might require, and it looks incredible.

Granted, it’s not lightweight. using hardware and straps rated for lifting cargo from a helicopter does add a certain payload to the proceedings. Still, it’s not unreasonably heavy, so I think it’s worth it just for the bragging rights alone. I know, totally shallow, but this is what the world has come to! Sizewise it did look surprisingly large when lying on the table inside, but with a laptop inside and hanging off my shoulder it looks just right. And this messenger bag was made a little larger than the usual models, as the laptop computer I use for work is sizeable.

The Taktonik messenger bag in use. And yes, my dear stylist insisted the bicycle clip added an edgy look. I don't think it will catch on.

The Taktonik messenger bag in use. And yes, my dear stylist insisted the bicycle clip added an edgy look. I don’t think it will catch on.

In summary

So, there you have it. A solidly crafted, custom messenger bag with a unique look and personal meaning, made from upcycled and demilitarised army surplus materials, and considering the amount of work and exotic components that’s gone into it, I think it’s a huge success and very affordable.

If you’d like to discuss your own Taktonik messenger bag with Philipp, you can find him on Instagram as _Taktonik_, on his shop on Etsy as Taktonic. His regular message bag starts at around 150 euros, custom made bags like this are more, depending on just how special you want it. The Veschmeschok rucksacks are about 50 euros. Also keep an eye out for the occasional special ideas, such as the Royal Mail fanny packs, the streetwear buzz this Summer.

The finished Taktonik messenger bag.

The finished Taktonik messenger bag.

2 Comments

  • ianB 22/06/2019 at 17:16

    With the amount of options / customisation, I would have thought choosing would take more longer than this bag would last (just short of forever) – The map looks ace.

    Reply
  • Daryl 23/06/2019 at 13:21

    I’ve been thinking about retirement for my old olive drab canvas messengers bag and this chap looks like the answer to a replacement.
    Your bag looks fantastic and being one of a kind makes it really lovely thing to own.

    Reply

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