New Photo Messenger Bag Handmade from Stinging Nettles Arrives from Scotland’s Premium Bagmaker

With the exception of a birthday cake or sand castle, few Americans have the opportunity to own something that is handmade. The new Bannoch photo messenger bag from Glasgow-based Trakke Ltd combines style, functionality and handcraftsmanship to create a true luxury experience. Keep this on your radar for Mother’s Day (13-May this year), Father’s Day and June Grads. If you want to present a gift that will last a lifetime, think stinging nettles.

I confess that although being part Scottish (Clan Campbell) I know Scotland mainly through her single malts, my hyper-social West Highland White Terrier and Mike Myers’ SNL skits. Bannoch is a mountain in Scotland that rises nearly 8,000 feet. It’s the namesake of this photo messenger bag. The gentle folks at Trakke name all of their bags after places they have visited that are significant to them.

The Trakke Bannoch measures 15 x 11 x 6 inches (38 x 28 x 15 cm) and weighs a chubby 4.6-pounds (2.1 kg) in the “Photographer’s Bundle” configuration. In comparison, the Peak Designs Everyday Messenger, which is larger (17 x 12 x 7), weighs just 2.5-pounds (1.2 kg). The additional weight of the Bannoch is not objectionable, but it is noticeable, and due in part to the substantial nature of the materials used—which is a story unto itself. 

Stinging Nettles
The exterior fabric is a woven blend that was originally designed for the Swiss Army during the Second World War. Cotton fiber is blended with the fiber of stinging nettles at a 45% to 55% ratio, and densely woven to create a durable, water-resistant outer skin that is richly textured. Available in black or olive tweed pattern, the bag is strikingly unique in appearance.

At first glance the buckles appear difficult to manipulate, but they open and close quite easily—and securely.

The outside of the messenger bag is sleek and clean with a large front flap that is secured by a pair of unique metal buckles. At first glance the buckles suggest that they might be difficult to manipulate, but they open and close quite easily—and securely. Under the main front flap is a second flap that covers two deep, wide pouches, each large enough to stow a flash or lens.

On either end there is a pouch that’s just slightly too small to comfortably fit a 16-ounce water bottle. There is no backstrap or provision to secure the bag on a luggage trolley (wheelies) and that will be missed by some. On top you’ll find an unpadded grab handle.

Inside color is bright pumpkin orange. A large computer (15-inch max) pouch is separated from the main interior by a nicely padded section that is covered with useful pockets and pouches.

Photographer’s Bundle
Configured as the Photographer’s Bundle, the Bannoch messenger bag ships with padded camera strap and a pull-out camera module that is the same orange color and has its own strap and haul handles. For additional protection, the module has an integral flap cover that is secured on one long edge by hook-and-loop fasteners. The inside of the camera module and the included repositionable dividers are a plush material that is black in color.


Sewing Bannoch. All Trakke bags are painstakingly made by hand in their Glasgow, Scotland, factory.

Trakke suggests that the Bannoch messenger bag will readily carry a pair of mirrorless camera bodies along with three spare lenses. As I examine the bag now by stuffing my Fujifilm X-series system into it, I find their estimate way, way too conservative. Everyone packs differently, but I can fit a pair of cameras with lenses attached plus five additional lenses.

“Our customers spend a lot of time outdoors, surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery in the world,” Alec Farmer, founder of Trakke Ltd told us. “We’ve noticed that more and more people are investing in camera equipment that help to capture these amazing landscapes. So we felt that it was about time we built a camera bag that could withstand the worst of the Scottish weather, while looking good and lasting a long time. The fact that it’s more sustainable than most camera bags is a huge bonus because when you spend so much time outdoors you want to protect it.”


The Trakke Ltd crew (from left to right): Rowan, Katy, Cory, Madeleine, Alec, Darryl, Giedra.

The Trakke Bannoch Messenger Bag is currently available only from Trakke’s newly refreshed website. Darryl Mills, who handles the marketing for Trakke, explained to us that their lack of presence at retail locations stems from the fact that they manufacture everything in house and don’t have the capacity to begin exporting to large scale retailers. They are, however, constantly looking for smaller upscale boutique stores that share their values—so they may yet have a retailer in the US at some point. Until then, they ship worldwide from the UK. Price of the messenger bag Photographer’s Bundle, including the camera module and camera strap, is £304, currently around US$419.

—Jon Sienkiewicz