Repurposed tarpaulin gives the FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O a plucky and improvised vibe that’s rough around the edges but tough enough for everyday use.

Our Verdict

7.6 /10
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  • Simple construction maximizes roominess
  • Very comfortable carry thanks to small size and wide strap
  • Tarp material’s general toughness makes it ideal for everyday use


  • Has a rather strong chemical smell out of the box
  • Hook-and-loop closure feels too clingy to open at its lowest position
  • Strap buckle can disengage if you pull the loop hard enough

Technical Details

100 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 145/145 Airlines

35 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (oz)

    16.2 oz (459.3 g)

  • Dimensions

    6.7 in x 11.8 in x 3.5 in (17 x 30 x 8.9 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Tarpaulin, Recycled Polyester, PVC, Polyamide, Polyester, Rubber

  • Manufacturing Country


    Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Tunisia

  • Warranty Information

    FREITAG Repair Information

Full Review

Brands usually have a “thing” that makes them unique and separates them from the rest of the crowd. Whether it’s an eye-catching design, in-your-face logo placement, or a low-cost barrier to entry, you do what you gotta do to stand out. For the folks over at FREITAG, it’s the creative use of otherwise leftover material, like tarps and truck seat belts.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | It’s a plucky little messenger bag.

Counterintuitively, their prices are relatively high. At the time of review, the F41 HAWAII FIVE-O is priced rather steeply at around $175. So, how much of a messenger bag are you getting for that much dough? Despite its humble ingredients, it’s much more compelling than you might think—read on to find out more.

External Components

We’ll start by looking at the F41’s construction, a core part of this bag’s selling point. The fabric comes from leftover truck tarpaulin—specifically polyester PVC. If you’ve ever pulled up at gas stations where a lot of those haulers hang out, you may see them draped over the truck bed. It’s a very versatile and ubiquitous material, so it’s no stretch to imagine how many of these are lying around, just waiting to be repurposed.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | You’ll want to pronounce their name right.

Tarpaulin is an interesting choice for the main material of a messenger bag, to say the least. First, its high water resistance means it can shrug off the occasional spilled glass of water and rainfall. Strictly speaking, the F41 isn’t a waterproof bag, but having some form of weather protection is reassuring. Second, it does have decent abrasion resistance, though nowhere near the likes of ballistic nylon. In fact, we find it relatively easy to scratch, based on our experience with WANDRD’s PRVKE lineup, which also extensively uses tarpaulin.

To be fair, the F41 kept its pristine condition quite well, even after two weeks of testing. We don’t have much in the way of scratches, let alone compromising tears. Most of the bag’s blemishes came with the F41 out of the box. There are stress marks at the corners due to being folded and creased at sharp angles. Then, there are the strange black marks on the fabric itself. These appear very faded, but it’s a permanent form of patina, just so you know.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | The stain is just part of the tarp.

All in all, the F41—and most of FREITAG’s gear, for that matter—have a very plucky vibe we can’t help but dig. Yes, you get a retro look with the dual-tone colorway, but the idea of a messenger made of repurposed materials has an appeal all on its own. We can speculate as to FREITAG’s scale of operations and the production pipeline to get a rough estimate of their bags’ cost. However, it’ll still be up to you if the vibe we’ve just described is enough to justify the $175 price tag.

Things are a bit thin in terms of external features, though. Other than the logo and the strap, there’s nothing worth noting. There are no attachment loops or accessory straps to speak of. Unlike some messenger bags, there isn’t even an external water bottle pocket. There is, however, that large loop sticking out like a tongue at the side.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | There are blemishes like these, but they don’t compromise the overall build.

This loop is a byproduct of the F41’s strap design. But first things first, we have to discuss what the strap itself is like. Like the tarpaulin fabric, it’s also repurposed: this time from a seat belt. We’ve encountered lots of seat belt-like straps before, noting how these straps feel very slick and smooth. The F41’s strap is the same, yet we can definitely feel that it used to be an actual seat belt.

Intentionally or not, FREITAG doubles down on this seatbelt origin story with the strap’s buckled design. On the right side is a rather large buckle, which, latched down, locks the strap length adjustment in place. It’s an interesting design choice in lieu of using plastic adjusters from Duraflex or Woojin. Despite the large buckle, we can still disengage it with a forceful enough tug at the loop.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | The buckle is pretty large, but not all that secure in some cases.

On that note, the loop itself is the strap’s slack. In other words, how large it is depends on how tightly you adjust the strap. Having a loop can be handy in a practical sense since you can hang various accessories on it. That said, its conspicuous size can be a bit distracting.

Fit Notes

Left: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm) | Right: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm)

Yes, the F41 may be a messenger, but it’s on the smaller side of the spectrum. In fact, we wouldn’t necessarily oppose anyone calling it an upsized sling. Semantics aside, its petite size is greatly offset by how wide the strap is. The F41 never feels heavy enough to saturate the strap’s ability to distribute the weight evenly on the shoulder. Thus, it doesn’t dig in badly.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | It’s comfortable to wear.

The only comfort-related con we can think of is the loop’s conspicuousness. It doesn’t graze us in any way. However, it did take us quite a while to be confident that it wouldn’t snag or get caught on everyday fixtures like doorknobs or hand brakes—and so far, it hasn’t, so we hope it never does.

Inside The Messenger

The F41 features one large flap you fold over to access both its main compartment and a secondary zippered pocket. This alone means you don’t have much in the way of quick-access storage for gear you might use frequently, like wireless earbuds, a wallet, or your smartphone. You might think that undoing one flap shouldn’t be much of a fuss, and you’d be right.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | The size of the hook-and-loop patch feels a bit intense.

However, you can see that the hook-and-loop patch is quite lengthy, meaning it’s very clingy and tricky to open sometimes. Two strips of loop-side patches above allow you to close the flap higher if g you need more space for gear inside. In turn, this makes it easier to open the flap, which is strange because you’d ideally want a tighter closure when you’re carrying more gear—not the other way around.

In terms of space, the zippered front pocket has a modest amount of room. It’s wide enough to fit an iPhone 13 sideways, but horizontal depth is lacking for truly bulky items like a set of keys because it’ll bulge and rob space from the main compartment.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | The iPhone 13 can fit sideways, don’t worry.

You may notice that the bare interior is only the underside of the tarpaulin fabric. This is okay for the most part, especially since it’s a very light color that makes finding gear very easy. On the other hand, it had a strong chemical smell when we first got it. FREITAG explicitly mentions that they clean all the materials before putting them into production, but just take note if you’re sensitive to these sorts of smells.

The main compartment has no other closure like a zipper; it’s just the flap covering it. Inside, you have two liner pockets on the front side for organizing gear but nothing else. These liner pockets are useful for small charging adapters and pouches, but they are too shallow to stand up an iPhone 13.

FREITAG F41 HAWAII FIVE-O | Lots of space, though not many pockets.

Otherwise, you’re free to utilize most of the interior space as you wish. On the one hand, this is good if you carry a lot of bulky gear, like an 18 oz insulated travel bottle or a high-capacity power bank. Take note that while you can fit a water bottle of that size horizontally, that will obscure items beneath it, so packing strategically is a must. Additionally, you might want to use pouches if you’re packing tiny items like adapters, dongles, and memory cards.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Small size but roomy main compartment
  • Like that there’s an external zippered pocket for small items
  • Velcro closure is a little intense—lots of places to attach the lid
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Capacity feels just right for everyday carry if you bring a few more items than a sling can handle
  • Incredibly comfortable to carry; the seatbelt-style strap is comfortable and wide enough to handle the weight
  • The tarp smell has faded, but it’s still noticeable
By Lauren Maternowski
Created December 18, 2023 • Updated December 18, 2023
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