Archival Review: Cycling Musettes

Classic Rivendell Musettes

I’ve been using cycling musettes on and off the bike for over decade. Musettes were originally designed as feed bags for cyclists during road races. If you search for musettes online, you’ll also find references to WWII canvas, military fieldbags (“musette bags”) and other types of canvas shoulder bags.

Foremost, I love the cycling style musette’s low-volume, low profile carrying capacity. A good musette design should have a purse-like essence without excess hardware or trim. I prefer versions made out of lightweight cotton or waxed cotton that can easily be stowed when not in use. A musette should always be rectangular in shape.
Everybody’s favorite musette seems to be the one sold by Rivendell Bicycle Works during the early days of the company. The Riv version came in both waxed cotton and untreated canvas (some were made out of Filson fabrics, I believe). The Riv musette had a main cargo pocket and two front divided pockets. Since the bag was designed for cycling, it came with a secondary sway or waist strap to prevent the bag from sliding around while riding (I always removed this strap).

Two traditional musettes
Here’s a quick visual inventory of bags w/musette-like profiles:

Barbour Creel Bag (courtesy Reference Library)

Gilles Berthoud Musette
Gas Mask Bag

Chapman field bag

Brady carry-all (strap free)

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