Boundary Supply Rennen Shoulder Bag Review
Access to the Boundary Supply Rennen Shoulder Bag's main compartment is a bit slow, though the gains in weather resistance are worth the tradeoff.
- Back panel converts from a luggage pass-through to a compartment
- Weather-resistant design
- Fabric is 100% recycled and durable
- Covering bulky gear can be tricky
- Access relatively slow to main compartment
- Pet hair sticks to the fabric
1.57 lb (0.7 kg)
11.4 in x 15 in x 2 in (29 x 38.1 x 5.1 cm)
Recycled Polyester, Ripstop Nylon, rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate), Felt, YKK Zippers, Woojin Hardware
Laptop Compartment Size
Fans of messenger bags can agree on one thing: they have great accessibility. They hang from one shoulder, sit on your side, and are always within arm’s reach. So, the question is, is that the case for Boundary Supply’s Rennen Shoulder Bag? On the face of it, it’s one sleek-looking bag, but don’t let the all-black colorway fool you; the brand’s packed it with features just hiding in plain sight.
The usual caveat of most messenger bags still applies here: it doesn’t mix well with super bulky gear. Packing flat items like notebooks, slim pouches, and a laptop is no problem. However, the bag’s shape and the way its opening folds does makes the available space feel a little squeezed in. In turn, accessibility also takes a hit, making day-to-day use slightly less convenient. The tradeoff? You get a more secure bag with impressive weather resistance.
Arguably the most distinguishing factor of a Rennen-series bag from Boundary Supply is the fabric. In the case of the Rennen Shoulder Bag we’re sampling in this review, that would be RE-3 600-denier CORDURA Eco Fabric. RE-3 materials (including the liner, mesh, webbing, etc.) are developed exclusively for the Rennen series. Our experience with it is mostly positive. Not only is the fabric tough and durable, but it’s also 100% recycled, meaning it’s environmentally friendly.
However, things take a turn for the worse with the Rennen Shoulder Bag. We found the fabric to be a huge magnet for pet hair, and it’s super noticeable on the black colorway—something a lighter colorway hides better. Fortunately, Boundary Supply also offers the Rennen Shoulder Bag in a gray colorway. We usually gravitate towards darker colorways, but this will have to be an exception.
If you have pets and go for the black colorway anyway, we suggest keeping a lint roller by the door and using it just before you go out—and then pack one if you plan to pet any more furry friends along the way.
You get two carry handles, one on the left and one at the top. The top one is great for whenever we need to carry the bag briefcase-style (i.e., moving the bag across the room). On the other hand, we used the left handle more for hanging the bag beside our desk. You can use either handle to hang the bag, but using the left handle orients it vertically, making it less likely to get kneed.
The Rennen Shoulder Bag comes with a dedicated back panel. It’s padded and also acts as a rear sleeve pocket primarily for stowing the shoulder strap.
There are three thoughtful details we appreciate in Boundary Supply’s back panel design. Firstly, the liner is bright, so even relatively small gear won’t be too hard to find inside when using it as a pocket instead of strap storage space. Secondly, the snap fastener is mounted on a strip of nylon that you can push up with your finger, making fastening easier. Lastly, the bottom can be opened via a self-locking YKK zipper, turning the sleeve into a luggage pass-through for when you want to sit the bag on rolling luggage. Bonus points for going with a self-locking zipper, by the way. With one, there’s no worry of the zipper gradually being pried open over time.
A clever feature of the Rennen Shoulder Bag is how the knapsack-style straps also serve as a way to haul bulky gear like a yoga mat. Instead of having a separate pair of bottom-mounted straps, the straps attached to the top cover start from the back, thread into a pair of loops along the bottom front, then clip to the top cover. Adjust the length with the side-release clips.
The feature is simple yet cleverly done. There is a downside, though: unbuckling loosens the straps—which is a pain when you’re carrying muddy shoes or a dirty yoga mat and want to get something from the main compartment.
Before we forget, both straps do come with strap keepers. The slack is already minimal right out of the box, but we still appreciate the inclusion.
The shoulder strap on the Rennen Shoulder Bag is quite simple, though it may be too thin-looking at first glance. A single adjuster takes care of length adjustment—and that’s about it. We’ll see how comfortable it is to wear in the next section. For now, let’s talk about the mounting system..
See those little gatekeeper clips poking from the edges of the back panel? We can use those to mount the Rennen Shoulder bag to the Rennen Tote or Recycled Daypack. We’ve seen other brands implement this type of system in one form or another, too. It’s a neat way to add modularity to a lineup, though this could come at the cost of carrying comfort.
Once we de-fuzz our Rennen Shoulder Bag, its sharp aesthetics shine. The all-black color scheme makes the messenger look professional; none of the many exterior features we’ve mentioned previously stick out. We’ve generally liked Boundary Supply’s restrained yet tasteful approach to the Rennen line’s styling, and we’re glad the Rennen Shoulder Bag is no exception.
The fit is reasonably comfortable, given the rather barebones shoulder strap. Adjusting the length is easy, and you can swing the bag to your front and back just like you can on most messenger-style bags. The lack of a shoulder pad is noticeable when the bag’s fully packed out, causing the strap to dig in over time. But for the most part, carrying the Rennen Shoulder Bag is a comfortable experience.
Inside The Messenger
We’ll start with the top pocket. An AquaGuard-style reverse-coil zipper protects the opening and gives it added weather resistance. Meanwhile, the inside is lined with a soft fabric to protect fragile items, like smartphones and sunglasses, from getting scratched. We’re glad the liner is gray rather than black to let you easily fish out smaller gear if you decide to use this as a quick-grab pocket.
Next up, there’s another secondary pocket just under the cover. This front pocket is protected by a similar reverse-coil zipper, though access is not as fast. The zipper operates smoothly, but removing the cover slows the process each time we use it. That’s why we use the top pocket for all our quick-grab items, not just our sunglasses.
That sort of defeats the purpose of dedicating the soft top pocket to sunglasses only. Having our keys, thumb drives, and other gear in there means our sunglasses jostle around with items that can scratch them.
Now that we’re here, let’s talk about the actual pocket itself. Inside are two liner pockets, with a pen silo in between. A loop on the right side is compatible with Boundary Supply’s HT Key Clip or HT Key Dock. However, it is just a loop, with no included clip or other hardware. For our testing, we used our Nite Ize S-Biner Microlock, which works just as well due to its small size.
We really wish this pocket was easier to access because it has a nice balance of organization and space. That said, there is a positive tradeoff to this slow accessibility.
The main compartment opens through the cover, which is, in turn, secured by two straps and a loop and hook patch for good measure. The opening itself is reinforced and folds over, so no rain and dirt can get in. So yes, while access to anything under the cover is relatively slow, it’s also quite secure—a worthy tradeoff depending on who you ask.
Inside the main compartment, you get a somewhat squared-off interior that’s easy to pack. Although it’s only a 10-liter messenger bag, the space is enough for everyday use, and it’s within what we’d expect from that capacity. The only organizational feature is a laptop sleeve towards the back rated for a 14-inch laptop; it’s mostly empty space that you’re free to delegate however you want.
There are issues, though. First, a packed-out front pocket bulges into the main compartment’s space, partially obscuring access to the compartment’s floor area, which compounds the slow accessibility we’ve been mentioning. Second, anything that’s not flat, like a bulky food container, must go inside. However, once you start occupying space near the opening, the cover may not fold over as cleanly as you wish.
To be fair, the shape of most messenger bags (i.e., low-profile rectangles) doesn’t usually lend itself to bulky, oddly-shaped items. With that in mind, the Rennen Shoulder Bag performs well as a messenger bag, and it plays to its strengths: it has a clean design, secure openings, and subtle features that show the brand’s close attention to detail.
- Large quick-access pocket for easy access to gear
- Stowaway shoulder strap doubles as luggage pass-through—a clever design
- One loose thread on the front zippered pocket
- Pet hair magnet!
- Access is a little slow, but the weatherproofing is hard to beat
- Packing bulky gear inside can make it tough to actually close the main compartment effectively
- Top pocket is great for all quick-grab items, though inconvenient if you want to put your sunglasses and keys in the same space