A tale of a man and his Junkmonkey… by Pepijn aka Cooper.

A big thank you to a new fan in the Netherlands for having spent the time to pen a really long one. And if you’ve seen any of my ConcreteJungle podcast interviews, you know I hate to edit anything. I always believe that editing is a horrible way to discount a person’s hard work or achievements… so no edits. Since the review was posted on his personal Facebook account, I’ve taken the liberty to host it on our blog. So, here it is…

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A tale of a man and his Junkmonkey…

As I’m fairly new to this reviewing game, I’ll start off with a little introduction. Just so you get to know me a little and have a bit of an idea of why i look for certain features in a bag. Ok Here we go…

(You can skip this bit if you want :))

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Hi, my name is Pepijn and I’m a bag-a-holic… Well, according to my wife I am, as I spend more money on bags than she does. As the name Pepijn is pretty much impossible to pronounce for people who do not speak dutch, I also respond to “Coop” (As in Cooper, the classic Mini Cooper, the car I used to drive when I was younger. No relation whatsoever to Chicken Coops or Cooperative gaming…).
I have ADD, which basicly means my brain is wired a little differently. Some might call it a disease or a handicap, but to me it’s not really a problem. It’s like having an octacore processor while the rest of the world is still on singlecore (men) and dualcore (women) processors. Unfortunately they messed up the threading control, so while the processing power is there, the bits & bytes get mangled up now and then. The only times it really affects me in a negative way is when compatibility issues with the world outside my brain occur. Luckily I’m blessed with a very understanding wife and an employer who has ADD as well. It might affect my reviewing style a little here and there though. My writing style might seem a little disorganised at times, so you might have to read some stuff two or three times before deciding that it really makes no freaking sense at all .
In daily life, I earn a living as a Mobile Telecoms engineer. This means that I get to go to all kinds of places that “regular” people never really get to go to. 80% of the time I’ll be sitting at a desk in an office, but the next moment I could be mucking about in a hospital basement or climbing to the top of a 28M high industrial installation. And no matter where my work takes me, I usually need to take at least a laptop and some basic tools with me.
When I’m not working, I usually just kick back around the house, but I like to go places with my wife and son as well. As my kid is only 3 years old, daytrips do require taking along some extra stuff like a change of clothes, drinks and snacks. So some carry capacity is required here as well.
And then there is music. No matter if I’m at work or at home, I need to have access to my music at all times. I love music, I wouldn’t want to live in a world without it. And it helps me calm my brain, which is a really good thing when the aforementioned ADD related outside-world-compatibility-issues start to show. So I carry portable audio gear wherever I go. I’m also someone who really enjoys quality, so just carrying a smartphone or iPod and factory stock earbuds isn’t really an option for me. Usually I have at least a high quality media player with me, at least one set of over ear headphones and probably a headphone amplifier and/or D/A converter.
All in all, I lug all sorts of crap around on a daily basis and quite a lot of it. So a good bag is a must have for me. But I don’t like having a bag on me that is much bigger than it needs to be, so I ended up with different bags for different applications. At the moment, there are 3 messenger bags and 2 backpacks that see regular use. While this review is about my Junkmonkey, I might compare it to the others at times, so here’s a little list so you know what I’m talking about:

Messenger bags
Fjallraven Vintage Shoulderbag
A small messenger/satchel which is my go-to choice when I need to travel light (as in “without a laptop”).

STM Bags Scout 2 small
Got replaced by Junkmonkey. Didn’t fit full-size headphones.

Junkmonkey Gamechanger
Medium sized messenger, mostly used in my free time when I need to take my laptop along, but I can see it getting much more use in the future as I really like this bag.

TAD Gear Dispatch bag
A large medium (or smallish large) Messenger. Freaking bombproof, I use this for work as it can withstand the abuse of a telecom engineers workday.

Some old Samsonite messenger
Collecting dust under my bed, mostly used when one of the others needs to be cleaned (like after the great yoghurt explosion of 2009).

Backpacks
Haglofs Mach Medium
18 Liters, lightweight, vented back. If it weren’t so damn ugly, it’d be the perfect daypack. Used for daytrips, going to the gym and occasionally for work.

TAD Gear FAST Pack EDC
Used for work when a messenger just isn’t practical or when I need to carry heavy spareparts. Or on daytrips where I need to carry all the stuff the family decides to drag along.

Ok, that is a lot of text without really saying anything about the subject of this review, The Greenroom 136 Junkmonkey Gamechanger. So let’s get started (finally…)

(This is where it’s supposed to get interesting)

Over a year ago, I had started my quest for the perfect messenger bag. None of the usual manufacturers offered a bag that met my requirements. I wanted a messenger that had a padded compartment for my laptop, but didn’t have a lot of excess space around computer (my laptop is an awkward size, to this proved problematic). Yet it had to offer enough space in the main compartment to hold a set of full sized headphones. The choices seemed either horribly oversized for my laptop or way too tiny for the headphones. A sense of desperation was coming over me, my quest seemed to go nowhere but complete and utter failure.

I was getting ready to accept the fact that I would never find the bag I was looking for. At least, not without plunking down a serious wad of cash and having a bag custom made. But then it happened, I stumbled across a website called Greenroom136.com.
The clouds parted, a bright light shone down and a choir of angels guided me to my holy grail…

Now all of a sudden, there were multiple bags that suited my needs, the Junkmonkey, the Bootstrap, the W?ldcard. I was in heaven… And also in doubt. After looking for a bag for so long, it was hard to pick the right one. Go custom with the W?ldcard? Take the no-nonsense approach with the Bootstrap? They all looked so good. I decided to leave the judgement of what features I needed other than the ones I had on my list with the professionals and narrowed it down to the Bootstrap or the Junkmonkey. After careful consideration I went with the Junkmonkey. The padded back and the replacable strap were features I like, but in the end, who can resist a bag named Junkmonkey?

I was ready to order, but then… $#*&^%@!!!! No shipping to the Netherlands. Disillusioned, I cried myself to sleep that night. So close to, and yet so far from completing my quest. A million thoughts raged through my mind, should I save up for a plane ticket and go get the bag from Malaysia myself? Should I get one of my friends from asia to go there and pick one up for me? Should I leave my family, put on my walkingboots and go on a 110 day (one way) hike to Malaysia? Before doing anything drastic, I decided to drop the friendly folks at Greenroom 136 a message. And guess what? Less than 4 hours later I could select multiple shipping methods to the Netherlands in the Greenroom webstore. I could finally order…

Or maybe not… I tried to order again, but this time it was Paypal that was standing between me and my Junkmonkey. It would only accept creditcard payment, while there were more than enough funds in my Paypal account itself. And I didn’t have a creditcard hooked up to my account. I was about to go mental (well, even more mental than usual that is…). But I wasn’t going to back down. I n eeded this bag, and by now it was getting personal. I was ready to polish my walking boots for the trip, when the voice of reason (well, the voice of my wife actually) talked some sense into me and let me use her creditcard (thanks honey!). Then it all became clear to me, it was all destined to be like this. As all the delay with shipping options and payment methods had taken up so much time, that now that I was finally set to place my order, a discount was given due to the Chinese New year celebration. I’m dutch, us dutchies are known to be cheap, I love discounts… But I also don’t mind paying for a good product, so instead of paying less, I added a Scribblebook Journal notebook cover to my order.

Then, that final click, the bleep of an incoming email confirmation, it was finally happening. Now the wait could begin. The camping at the mailbox, the obsessive checking of the online track & trace. The mailman getting ready to file for a restraining order against the fat bearded bastard that was creeping him out with the puppy-dog-eyes whenever he came near my house…

With the Chinese New Year celebrations, it did take a little longer to be shipped, but as I had been searching for this bag for such a long time, a couple of days more wouldn’t hurt. But 3 weeks 6 days 48 minutes and 27 seconds later (I actually calculated that from order confirmation and track & trace delivery timestamps), it finally arrived. And it was perfect…

(See how easily I’m distracted? That’s over 1660 words typed before this sentence and I haven’t even gotten to the actual review part. Hell, I even changed the title from “Junkmonkey review” to “A tale of a man and his Junkmonkey”. Yay for that ADD thing!).

Sigh, I guess I really should get started on the actual review part now…

The bag
The Greenroom 136 Junkmonkey Gamechanger, even though it is labelled as size “M”, is currently the smallest bag in the Junkmonkey line-up. Measuring (W x H x D) 35 x 25 x 16 cm or 13.8 x 9.8 x 6.3 inches, it is small for a messenger, but it is larger than it looks capacity wise.
The bag has enough pockets and compartments to keep your stuff organized:

– 1 large main compartment
– 1 document pocket in the back of the main compartment (easily fits an A4 notepad or a small binder)
– 1 laptop compartment dividing the main and document compartments (perfect fit for my 13″ ultrabook)
– 1 internal organizer with a zippered pocket, 3 pen slots and a general use pocket
– 2 outer side pockets
– 1 central outer pocket
– 1 zippered side-entry outer pocket (can be accessed without opening the flap)

The bag has an extended inner shell which does a good job of keeping unwanted elements out of the bag when the flap is closed. I had my doubts about this at first, I expected it to get in the way in daily use, but it hardly does. Now I think it is a great feature, really a quite simple but very effective solution to a common problem with messenger style bags.

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This morning when I left for work, I packed it with the following:

– Samsung Series 9 13″ Ultrabook in the laptop compartment
– PSU for the Ultrabook in a Lowepro Rezo case in the main compartment
– Powercable in the left outer pocket
– Compact mouse in the internal organizer pocket
– BTO U-BOOK 14CL16 laptop in the rear document compartment
– PSU for the Ultrabook in the main compartment
– Fullsize ergonomic mouse in the main compartment
– 2.5″ external HDD in a Caselogic case in the main compartment
– Rhodia Webnotebook A5 and a fountain pen in the Greenroom 136 Scribblebook Journal in the main
compartment
– Fiio X3 Mediaplayer in a Tuffluv faux leather flipcase in the main compartment
– Fiio E12 headphone amplifier in the main compartment
– V-Moda Crossfade M-100 headphones in their supplied case in the main compartment
– 4Sevens Preon 2AAA flashlight in the internal organizer pocket
– A set of Snowpeak Titanium travel cutlery (spoon, fork, knife and spork) in the internal organizer
pocket
– Can of deodorant in the main compartment
– Pack of tissues in the main compartment
– A fold up shopping bag in the right outer pocket
– A pack of licorice in the main compartment
– A .5 liter bottle of soda in the right outer pocket
– Miscellaneous cables all over the bag

Everything was nice and organized and there was some room to spare.

The strap
This was quite a heavy load, but the seatbelt material and buckles of the generously cut, replacable shoulderstrap held up very well. The shoulderpad did an excellent job in spreading the load and adding comfort. Shoulder straps are often problematic for me, I’m a big dude (not really, I’m just fat ;)) and straps that are too short for comfortable use are something I’ve experienced on multiple occasions. But not with the Junkmonkey, this strap is long enough, if anything it is maybe even too long, as there is quite a bit of excess strap when tightening the quick adjust for a true messenger style high on the back carry. This really is my only gripe with the strap, and it can easily de fixed, as seatbelt material is easy to find and the strap is replacable.

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The shoulder pad is great as well, it is quite a bit longer than what you see on most bags nowadays. This is a good thing, a very good thing. With many of the (too) short pads that are commonly used these days, you have to choose between the strap cutting into your neck in order to spread the load on your shoulder or the load on the strap digging into your shoulder to make sure your not choked to death or get decapitated by your bag. Not with the excellent pad on the Junkmonkey. The padding is right on the mark when it comes to the balance between comfort and bulk. Also, the velcro fastening flap of the pad runs the full length of the pad, which adds comfort and reduces awkward twists in the strap like I get with the 3-small-flap-fastening on the shoulderpad of my TAD Gear Dispatch bag.
The stabilizer strap is a nice detail and once properly adjusted, works really well. When carrying the bag high up your back, the stabilizer strap gives the bag a near-backpack-stability.

Materials and finish
The bag is made of durable 1000D Cordura, with a 420 denier Ripstop inner shell. The zippers used are YKK brand. I couldn’t find much info on the plastic buckles used, but they look well made and feel solid. The padding on the back of the bag is covered with a nice mesh fabric, allowing for increased breathability (which is a big plus in my book, as I sweat quite a lot).
The bag I chose has a black exterior and a light grey inner, this makes it much easier to find stuff in the bag under low light conditions. The other
“When something seems too good to be true, it usually is”. I’m a natural sceptic and whenever I come across a good deal, I get both excited and cautious. Imagine how i felt when I found the Junkmonkey, after a year of searching, when I was just about to give up. Especially when I saw that Greenroom 136 bags are “Handmade in Malaysia”. Handmade is one of those terms that really can go both ways. But I’m really glad I decided to buy a Greenroom 136 bag.
The finish and workmanship is top notch. So far I haven’t found a single loose thread or any stitch out of place. I’m impressed, and that means something coming from a guy who is used to TAD Gear quality levels. It might not be as overbuilt as TAD, but there is not a single doubt in my mind that this bag will stand up to at least 90% of the abuse my Dispatch bag can handle, while it is only half the price.
Also, the addition of a little leather tag with my name on it stitched into the bag was a nice little surprise. It gives the bag a personal touch. It’s also a good indication of how much a small company like Greenroom 136 cares for their customers. And when I was wondering if there was any other Greenroom 136 goodness in my neck of the woods, they promptly responded that I was the first and so far only person with one of these great bags in my country. And while it is pretty darn cool to have something unique, it just seems wrong. A product this good should be more known to the world, so ever since receiving my Junkmonkey, I’ve been preaching the gospel of the Greenroom.
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Conclusion
The Junkmonkey Gamechanger has very, very quickly become my favorite messenger bag. It has it all, a well thought out design, quality materials, good looks, excellent workmanship and all that coming from a company that really cares about both its products and its customers.
All in all I am very happy and very impressed with my Greenroom 136 Junkmonkey Gamechanger. I’m glad I found this company, I’m glad I set aside my doubts and chose this bag, I’m glad I pressed on when encountering shipping and payment issues in the webshop.
This has been such a refreshing customer experience that I’m even considering buying a custom small W?ldcard as a birthdaypresent to myself next month.

That’s it, that’s my review. Please excuse me now as I have to go hug my Junkmonkey…

Pepijn a.k.a. Coop

One Response to A tale of a man and his Junkmonkey… by Pepijn aka Cooper.

  1. A Yasir says:

    Hi! Yasir from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia here. I am proud to say I’m one of the earliest W?ldcard bag owner from Greenroom136. Like you, I was in the same boat as wel, looking high and low for a nice bag. Mine is still holding up very well! the color choice…hhmmm that you have to ask Pat of Greenroom136. :)

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