Runnur Bag Review: A Bandolier for a Sadly Select Few


The Runnur is a bandolier. Instead of carrying a full-sized bag or backpack around town, goes their thinking, why not tote a little sling with just a few pockets?

Because it's not very useful, is why.

I've had the Runnur in my closet for something like six months—far too long. I don't like presenting a review without using something, but I couldn't ever muster up the gumption to wear the Runnur in public.

I'm not afraid of wearing something that is perhaps a bit on the dorky side if I like its utility. (Remember I'm a proud advocate of iPad purses.)

But as I wore the Runnur around town today, I could never get over the fact that I probably looked a little bit like an asshole. At the FedEx office in downtown Eugene, where half the customers are wearing Pacific Northwest casual—Columbia gear with the occasional Carhartt to give the impression of being a wrencher—and the other half are wearing post-post-hippie doll rags, I still felt like I was getting looks. Not good looks. Not looks of universal yoga-fueled acceptance. Just looks.

Runnur Bag Review: A Bandolier for a Sadly Select Few

From the front, the Runnur looks like any other over-the-shoulder sling—a bike messenger bag without the bag. But from the back, it gives off the distinct whiff of mall ninja. I'm not averse to pseudo-military gear—I think it's rad that riding a motorcycle gives me an excuse to walk around town in nylon armor—but the Runnur is supposed to be an everyday, every-outfit accessory. Instead, I felt like the winner of the Miss Shuriken pageant.

Then I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some oil for the motorcycle.

I have a secret: I kind of love Wal-Mart. It's impossible for someone who grew up in the Ozarks to have a complete animosity towards a store that smells like home. I know Wal-Mart has devastated small businesses across the nation; that it pays its employees barely enough to afford new flip-flops for Easter Sunday; that its products take advantage of the sort of capitalism that leaves giant American companies on their knees with foreign manufacturers working unpaid overtime to make pink plastic knee pads.

But it's Wal-Mart! For a hillbilly, a Wal-Mart is an embassy. White trash clerks with bad bleach tips are cultural liaisons. The woman attendant at the bank counter stands as proudly as an ambassador. No matter where I might be in the U.S., a visit to Wal-Mart provides comforting uniformity. I may not choose to buy ten Giant Size candy bars for $5, but I could. And that is enough. Plus, they're the only people in town who sell the oil I need for my bike.

So I'm striding through this Wal-Mart with all the superiority of a prodigal son returned from the exotic east and I still feel like a dickweed wearing the Runnur. It doesn't help that when I walk in, past the McDonalds tempting me with bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuits, I realize that the Runnur has flipped itself all the way upside down so that its 45° seam at the bottom is standing up off one shoulder like an Squeenix epaulet. I find myself doing that a lot—wondering which pocket I've stashed my keys or my phone, then sliding the Runnur around in a circle until I find it. Some might find such a hunt to be kind of fun, but I just start putting things back in my pockets like usual.

Worse, the Runnur doesn't actually, you know, hold all that much stuff. I keep my To Do lists on these big pieces of charcoal paper that I fold into pocket-sized squares (that I can unfurl if I need a bunch of room to draw or diagram). Most of the zippered pockets on the Runnur are too flush, too tight to allow me to even stick my folded piece of paper inside. We're not talking inches-thick here—less wide than most small notebooks like Moleskines, for instance. There's another pocket for a water bottle, but it's so tight that only the smallest fit.

The Runnur is a clever idea—I could easily imagine having the same idea myself—but it's refined its mission so much as to become broadly useless. A fanny pack would be more versatile—and less conspicuous.

So I'm sorry, Person-Who-Invented-The-Runnur-Then-Excitedly-Sent-Me-One. It's not working for me. It's put together well, which just makes it worse: I think this is exactly what you wanted to design. [GoRunnur.com]

Unrelated closing thought: As I got up to put my coffee cup away at the coffee shop this old burnout stopped me. "You know, as I watched you [typing on that iPad], I just thought: Man, that's just so far away from reality." I wanted to respond "You need to update your model of reality, man," but I didn't think of that until I was driving away. That's one of the great things about Eugene, Oregon. It's 11 o'clock in the morning and people are already so, so high.