Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag

Updated March 3rd, 2021: A favorite of Daniel Craig’s for travel, the original Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag was made in Italy and retailed for approximately $395.00. The original is no longer available, although it does show up on Ebay from time to time, usually selling for way more than the original retail price.

Daniel Craig Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag

Belstaff does have a new version available: the Hand Waxed Leather Messenger Bag that retails for 695€. It’s beautiful. But not exactly the affordable alternative we’re looking for.

Belstaff Handwaxed Leather Messenger Bag

 

 

Features Wanted for the Belstaff 554

Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag

  • Vintage style satchel or dispatch bag (not really a briefcase shape)
  • Canvas body with leather straps, side pocket flaps, bottom corner reinforcements and accents
  • Main body flap cover with magnetic closures (buckles are mostly there for show)
  • Two front pockets with double snap closures and two side pockets with strap closures
  • Canvas and leather shoulder strap
  • Light tan/khaki color (the featured image shows the bag in brown; basically I couldn’t find a large enough image of the bag in the Panama color to use).

 

Some quick background …

Quick (and very non-Bond) story: When my son was ages 4 to around 8, I actually found myself missing the “baby days” when I had a diaper bag where I could also stash some of my own stuff: cell phone, sunglasses, car keys, checkbook, etc. I was still hauling around kid supplies during our day trips to the zoo or wherever, but if I wanted to leave my hands free, I ended up having to stuff my pockets with the cookies, water bottles and the odd toy. So I started looking for a bag to carry the kid’s stuff PLUS my own stuff. And – me being me – Daniel Craig and his Belstaff 554 bag were obvious sources of inspiration.

Daniel Craig Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag

Point of the story: I’ve done my research, ladies and gentlemen, and I’ve discovered a couple of interesting things.

 

What I learned …
  1. Because the 554 is such an iconic Belstaff design, very few “quality ” manufacturers (e.g. Frost River or Filson) want to copy it exactly. If you’re looking for a solid bag from a reputable brand that’s similar to the 554, definitely check them out. But if you’re looking for a Belstaff 554 replica, you’ll need to search elsewhere.
  2. Searching “elsewhere” basically means cheaper bags from Ebay, Amazon, etc. And almost all the bags I researched in the $25.00 to $80.00 price range seem to be virtually identical. As in they all came from the same one or two Asian manufacturers and the only way to tell them apart is by the logo stuck on the fabric.

For example, if someone can tell me the difference between this Berchirly Bag ($38.99) …

Daniel Craig Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag buget alternative

 

And this $49.99 Messenger Bag on Modern Man Bags …

Affordable alternative Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag

I would really love to know what they are.

In the end, I went with the HDE Vintage Canvas Messenger Field Bag from Amazon for $34.99 (which is no longer available). Not because it’s radically different than the other options. But basically because it had the 4.3 stars after 129 reviews and the order was fulfilled by Amazon, instead of being shipped from Asia. I am happy to say that after 4+ years of pretty regular use, it’s still working just fine.

 

Best Options for the Belstaff 554 Messenger Bag

If you want to search for yourself, check out any of the following:

Here are a couple of photos of the Sechunk (left) and the Jonon just to give you some reference.

Daniel Craig Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag buget alternative Daniel Craig Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag buget alternative

But, honestly, any of the ones listed above will get the job done. Your choice really comes down to the size you want (15″ or 17″ are the most common), some slight variations in the shade of khaki, and whether you want that psuedo-Belstaff branding patch on the front.

 

Higher Quality Alternatives for the Belstaff 554 

If you’re not married to Belstaff 554’s looks, then there are some nice options from higher end Daniel Craig (and Bond) approved brands. Just be prepared for a pretty serious jump in price!

 

Manhattan Portage Quick Release Messenger Bag in Navy: $89.00

Daniel Craig Manhattan Portage Messenger Bag

Coming to us from a Craig approved brand, Manhattan Portage’s aesthetic is definitely not the same as that of the Belstaff. But it’s still a very practical design and built to take a beating. Craig has their medium sized blue New York Minute bag, which is still available in black for $105.00. But if you’re more interested in the color, then the above Quick Release Messenger Bag in Navy probably comes closest in size. If you want something larger with the same style of over-the-top straps as the NY Minute, then try their New York Messenger Bag in Navy for $104.99. And last, the Trotter Messenger Bag Jr. in Navy is on sale for $85.25. It’s similar in volume to Craig’s bag and has the straps. But the design has more zippers, compartments and pockets.

 

J.Crew Abingdon Messenger Bag in Khaki: on sale for $157.99

J.Crew Abigndon Messenger Bag

Not only did J.Crew make the fan favorite suede Kenton boots Bond wore in SPECTRE. They also had one of their duffle bags show up the film. And Craig has been seen using his J.Crew duffle on his travels now and then. Their Abingdon Messenger Bag has more of a “briefcase” look than the Belstaff 554. The design is also much simpler and cleaner, which some of you may like. J.Crew has used a lighter weight waxed cotton canvas for the body and finished it off with genuine leather trim and brass finish hardware. It’s a definite upgrade from the generic Amazon models above. But it’s not quite what I’d call an “heirloom” bag.

NOTE: at the time of writing, J.Crew was running another sale that knocks another 50% off the already reduced price, bringing the bag in at just under eight bucks. Not sure how long that will last. But since the Abingdon is now on final sale (i.e. no returns) I’d expect it will be discounted like this fairly regularly.

 

Frost River Vintage Messenger Bag in Field Tan: $250.00

Fox River Vintage Messenger Bag Daniel Craig Style

If more rustic styling is your thing, this Frost River bag is a beauty. Handmade in Duluth, Minnesota from 18 oz waxed canvas, premium leather and brass hardware, the large measures a generous 10.25″ X 16″ X 4.75″. Big enough to carry just about anything you’d need to get you through the day. It’s also available in a smaller version for $220. Once again, we’re looking at a Daniel Craig used brand. He’s a fan of both Frost River’s duffle bags and daypacks.

 

Buffalo Jackson Dakota Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag: $299.95

Daniel Craig style Messenger Bag

The Dakota’s design probably comes closest to that of the Belstaff 554. As for materials, Buffalo Jackson has used a 15 oz. waxed cotton canvas, top grain vegetable tanned leather and solid metal hardware, with hammered rivets at all the stress points. In other words, it’s built to take abuse. There’s also plenty of compartments and pockets inside and out to make organizing your daily carry essentials a little easier. The bag is made in Mexico. But after twenty-eight 5 star reviews, I don’t think anyone’s complaining.

 

Filson Medium Rugged Twill Field Bag in Tan: $350.00

Daniel Craig style Messenger Bag

In case you didn’t know, Filson is sort of the king of rugged outdoor goods. There are literally fan clubs out there for their products. And once you’ve had a Filson bag (or Mackinaw) you start to understand why. Their stuff is built to be bombproof. And it can take ages to break in. For example, this bag uses waxed industrial strength cotton twill, full grain bridle leather for the straps and trim and heavy duty metal hardware. The seams are all bound and the bottom is reinforced for increased durability. Apparently all that attention to detail pays off. Take a look at the customer reviews on the product page and you’ll frequently read of people abusing their bags for 10 plus years with barely any signs of wear and tear.

 

Billy Kirk No. 486 15″ Schoolboy Satchel: $595.00

Daniel Craig style Messenger Bag

When I finally decided to upgrade from my forty dollar Amazon bag a couple of years, this is what I ended up choosing. It was a relatively big investment. But I knew I wanted a simple, clean design that would not only last a lifetime, but also show some real character over the years. And three years on, the full grain Latigo leather has already softened up and developed a richer coloring and patina from use. Mine is an earlier, more basic model than the current Schoolboy satchel (basically mine is missing the interior pockets). However, I can appreciate the slight changes Billy Kirk has made. Bonus points for it being made in the U.S.A. and coming from a Daniel Craig approved brand. If we define “affordable” as “cost per use” then the Schoolboy Satchel has been a bargain for me.

 

Have some options for the Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag you’d like to share? The comments are open below! And remember to check us out our Facebook page, Instagram account and Pinterest Boards for more James Bond style advice, inspiration and info on where to find the latest deals!

Images for this post were sourced from GQ.com. Featured Image sourced from Aaron Lam.

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12 thoughts on “Belstaff 554 Colonial Messenger Bag

  • June 4, 2020 at 6:22 pm
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    I’ve owned an original for many years – wonderful product. I was inspired by Batman Begins. But just noticed today that Belstaff has another black version that’s slightly updated on their site (Top handle now) . After years of being out of stock this is good news. Thanks for the content.

    Reply
    • August 10, 2019 at 5:48 am
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      Thanks Aaron! And my apologies for not giving you credit for the photo! That’s something I always try my best to do. When I first wrote the post back in March, 2016, I couldn’t find a product photo of the 554 in the right color that was hi-res enough to use as the featured image. An image search brought up your photo (I think it was on Pinterest?) but it didn’t link back to any website. But I’ll make sure to update the post with all the correct info. Thanks again!

      Reply
  • March 3, 2018 at 3:51 am
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    Thank you very much for this! Very helpful!!

    Reply
    • April 1, 2017 at 1:45 pm
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      I would have to say definitely not. That Belstaff 554 has been sold out everywhere for some time now. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  • December 28, 2016 at 9:13 am
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    Belstaff is actually selling a Colonial Messenger Bag. It looks very much like the original but they added a handle and the flaps on the sides were changed to actual pockets. For 395 Euros you can’t get closer to the original. Fortunately I am a lucky owner of an original older version of the Belstaff Colonial Bag. I just waterproofed mine by adding some wax to the canvas for more weather resistance. I use mine as a camera bag for my Fuji equipment.

    Reply
    • August 10, 2019 at 5:06 pm
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      All good. I’ve had those Belstaff posts up for over 10 years now. Always great to see fellow admirers of the classic Belstaff goods.

      Reply
  • April 21, 2016 at 12:03 pm
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    I’ve got the sulandy bag in coffee, I love it and paid around £30 shipped from Amazon UK, my review would be pretty much the same as yours, only I use my side pockets for my phone, and passports etc while in the airport, and car keys etc while out and about. Truly an excellent value man bag.

    Reply
    • April 21, 2016 at 1:29 pm
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      I tried using the side pockets for keys, phone, etc. but I just found the buckle closure to be too much of a hassle. I sort of expected that after reading the reviews, but I did think I would at least be able to get a water bottle in them if I left them undone. Like I said, other than that, I’m pretty happy with the purchase and I’m using it alot.

      Reply
      • December 28, 2016 at 9:16 am
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        I use mine (on the original by Belstaff) for a Fuji Instax Printer SP-2 and the other one for additional Instax Films. Before I used the bag as a camera bag I put an inkwell and additional business cards in there. I put everything that I don’t need frequently in those pockets.

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