Navali - Boatswain Waxed Canvas and Leather Messenger Bag

"It was a bag that looked the part and served my intended purpose - throwing it around on hospital floors."
- /u/Micrafone_AssAssin

Be sure to check out /u/Micrafone_AssAssin on Reddit!

Budget Alternative Available Here Original Available Here


I was using a black leather mainstay bag from Navali that I purchased during a ‘sale’ they were having for a damaged shipment. It was around $40 shipped (down from ~$100) so I figured, 'why not?' I needed a beater bag for work anyways. The brown was sold out so I had to settle for a black one. Functionally, it has served its purpose well. With regards to style though, I had trouble getting behind a messenger bag. Suddenly I knew what I wanted, and I suddenly had my eyes set on this briefcase.

Some time later, Navali had a sale on their olive waxed briefcase for $35 shipped, it was a fair price for a bag that looked the part and served my intended purpose - throwing it around on hospital floors. Long story short, after 9 hard months with the original black messenger bag... well, I haven't touched it since. Now I use the waxed canvas briefcase seen here - not that there's anything wrong with the black leather mainstay, I guess I just prefer having handles instead of a shoulder strap.

Editor's Disclosure

Not intending to mislead anyone, we should mention that /u/Micrafone_assassin is actually talking about the (currently) 345 dollar offering from Navali. No idea how he managed to get it for only 35 dollars, but we digress. The photos you see are of the (currently) 30 dollar offering from Navali - ya know, the one that was in our review budget. The article has been carefully reviewed so that all commentary still applies to Navali's budget offerings as well. All photographs are of the budget offering, so what you see is what 30 dollars gets!

handle-body connections
It's the kind of leather that shows every scuff in the best way possible.

The Good

Some of the notable features of this bag include a soft pair of leather handles. Unfortunately, there is some mildly unsightly pull-up (the fine wrinkling on a leather) but that's unavoidable in this price range and I'd rather have a little pull-up than that pleather junk. The bag has leather trim pockets, pull tabs, and zipper stops all boasting the same supple budget-leather. All this is accompanied by nicely finished brass hardware.

handle-body connections
Not-too-obnoxiously branded.

Every outer pocket boasts more pockets hidden within, while the inner compartment features a laptop slot, three organizer pockets, and an inner zip pocket. Besides the zippers and handles, my favorite part of the bag is the leather bottom. I suspect it was added in order to absorb all the scuffs, scrapes, and skids that would quickly become grungy with a fabric bottom.

handle-body connections
The second example of external branding can be removed in a few seconds with a seam ripper, if you're so inclined.

The Bad

The downsides to this bag are few, but must be mentioned to give a fair review. The 14 ounce waxed canvas, lined with an unwaxed canvas, has a decent weight, but unfortunately, it doesn't display that nice waxed characteristic. A scratch will lighten the fabric akin to most waxed fabrics, but other than that it doesn't seem to be anything special. The handles are anchored with folded over canvas that is sewn into the bag and underneath the top of a pocket. This is both secure and functional, but I wished it was leather for the sake of consistency. However, at this price point these aspects are more than understandable and practically unavoidable.

handle-body connections
The zippers aren't top-notch, but any budgeteer needs to know how to manage this kind of easy fix.

Most importantly, a couple of the leather pull tabs on zippers have come undone at the rivets. They aren't breaking per say, but the rivets can't always hold up to the typical grip required to unzip a pocket. An email to their CS with a response in under 15 minutes resulted in a full set of new pull tabs plus a sweet monkey fist keychain. Though I supposed a little bit of super glue would have been an easy fix to this problem. But I got a monkey fist. Way better than DIY.


I think the overall best part about this bag is that it was 35 dollars shipped. I'm not 100% certain if that exact deal is still up, but keep an eye on Navali on their website and Amazon - they often have random deals not featured on the site to the tune of 75%+ off. There is no better canvas briefcase you can get for this price, and be sure to check out some of their other offerings including the waxed messenger or weekender bags!

Budget Alternative Available Here Original Available Here