Best Messenger Bags
Messenger bags have been a part of our history since the start of the 1900s. We’ve all seen old-fashioned pictures of postmen, couriers, and various messengers and businesses people utilizing them for decades. Now, they are back in fashion, and many professionals and outdoorsmen use them for a variety of different things.
The modern-day messenger bag uses a shoulder strap that lets the bag sit at the hip, and also lets the person place the bag over their shoulder. Most messenger bags on the market now come in a variety of materials, shapes, colors, and sizes. There are many options to pick from, so we’ll help provide you with a guide that focuses on some of the best options available for your lifestyle.
Our Top 3 Picks
10 Best Messenger Bags
Samsonite Columbian Leather Flap-Over Bag
This Samsonite messenger bag is built for all-purpose use. It’s got several adjustable features, and the size to fit a laptop of up to 15.6 inches. The shoulder strap is both padded and easy-to-adjust, so you can remove it if you don’t plan on using it. Also, the fold-over flaps of the bag include adjustable buckle straps, so you can ensure the bag can be adjusted to easily fit your items.
The Samsonite Columbian Leather Flap-Over Bag’s exterior is made up of all Columbian Leather. The cowhide used to produce the leather has been minimally treated, giving each bag its own unique appearance and color variation. The bag is also made up of a fabric lining. The bag includes an organizer under the front flap, which is great for holding small items. There is also a back pocket on the bag which can fit a wide variety of other items.
- Nice appearance
- Very adjustable
- Made up of several pockets and an organizer, giving plenty of room
- Not as affordable as competitors’ options
- Leather material is not waterproof
- Metal hooks can ware out, but the company is known to replace them
Kenneth Cole Risky Business Messenger Bag
The Kenneth Cole Risky Business Messenger Bag certainly looks good. It’s both classy and casual and includes the Kenneth Cole emblem on the front of it. It’s made with a fabric shoulder strap for comfort, and has a wide variety of pockets on the inside to help you organize your items. The bag is also highly durable and long-lasting.
If you’re a fan of leather, then you’ll probably love this bag and understand why it costs a big more. The bag itself is matte brown leather, and includes contrasted stitching. The flap closure is also magnetic, ensuring the bag will stay shut if you encounter any nasty weather conditions.
- Nice appearance with attractive leather material
- Comfortable shoulder strap
- Built to last
- A bit pricy compared to other high-quality messenger bags offering similar options.
- Not waterproof
Outdoor Research Rangefinder Messenger Bag
The materials that compose the Outdoor Research Rangefinder Messenger Bag are both durable and waterproof. This messenger bag is made to withstand whatever elements the outdoor weather decides to expose it to, and it works well for the everyday professional that works in difficult climates, or the outdoor enthusiast who needs a strong, all-purpose bag. It’s also a large, roomy bag that can be easily adjusted to whatever size you need.
The Outdoor Research Rangefinder Messenger Bag is made up of 100% polyester, which helps it to repel water and keep the important objects in your bag safe. It’s got welded seams and is also made with weather-ready zippers, so you know your objects will be safe inside this bag no matter what obstacles you may face. It also includes three interior pockets to make organization efficient.
- Waterproof and weatherproof
- Large, roomy bag
- Easy adjusted
- Bag is not as easy-to-use as some competitors.
- Drawstring opening tends to wear out.
Osprey Flapjack Courier Bag
The Osprey Flapjack Courier Bag comes with several features that specifically benefit the outdoor enthusiast, including a blinker light attachment for night activity and reflective graphics. It’s roomy enough to not hold everything you might need, but also has pockets for water bottles to keep you hydrated as you complete your daily commute or outdoor activities.
The Osprey Flapjack Courier Bag is composed of poly spun fabric, which makes it both durable and long-lasting. It’s also got a zippered top pocket for extra storage and easy access to things you might need to grab right out of your bag. The bag also has several electronic-specific features including a laptop or tablet sleeve, a front pocket for those items you need to grab quickly, and several other internal pockets to help you stay organized.
- Very comfortable
- Great organization features
- Not great for biking
- Could be more stylish
Berchirly Vintage Military Canvas Messenger Bag
Berchirly’s Vintage Military Canvas Messenger Bag is both retro and eco-friendly. This messenger bag is machine washable and made up of several compartments to help you stay organized while you are on the go. Even better, the canvas material that makes up most of the bag is highly waterproof, so it will protect anything you keep inside, no matter what the weather is like outside. The bag’s designed to present a vintage look that is eye-catching.
The Berchirly Vintage Military Canvas Messenger Bag is made up of 90% high-quality canvas and 10% cow leather. This combination of materials makes the bag very durable and long-lasting. The bag also offers several features for organization. This Berchirly messenger bag has several pockets, including the large main compartment, one interior bag area, and four exterior pockets.
- Affordable option for a waterproof bag
- Machine-washable in cold water
- Attractive vintage style
- Handle seems off-center
- Magnets on bag can come off
- Liner can wear out easily.
Gootium Retro Vintage Canvas Leather
The front of the Gootium Retro Vintage Canvas Leather Trim Messenger Bag includes combo magnetic and zipper closure, which is a nice feature because it seals your important items safely into your bag, making sure you don’t lose anything important during your daily travels. Aside from the main pocket in the bag, this bag also includes three more smaller pockets inside, and two of them zip to help keep your items in place so you stay organized. There is also one external pocket, which zips as well. The bag is also made with adjustable straps so you can ensure the bag always feels comfortable.
The Gootium Retro Vintage Canvas Leather Trim Messenger Bag is made up mostly of canvas, and includes leather trim around the bag. The bag is also designed to be roomy, and can fit a fourteen-inch laptop as well as folders, papers, and other small items you may need.
- The main compartment of the bag has a zipper closure as well as a flap that closes magnetically.
- Shoulder strap is detachable.
- Affordable price
- Several zipped pockets for organization
- Great appearance
- Not as long-lasting as some of its competitors.
- Magnetic buttons on front flap tend to fall off.
Patagonia Black Hole 24L Messenger Bag
The Patagnoia Black Hole 24L Messenger Bag’s materials make it a durable bag that’s both waterproof and weatherproof, so you know that your items will remain safe from the elements throughout the day. It’s also very versatile and can be packed for a wide variety of occasions. Plus, this Patagonia messenger bag is very lightweight, making it comfortable to carry. And although it’s lightweight, it’s made to carry heavy loads while still remaining comfortable.
The Patagonia Black Hole 24L Messenger Bag is made up of a special polyester that’s combined with a weatherproof thermoplastic urethane laminate, making it extremely waterproof. The pockets designed in the bag are very roomy, and you can hold a wide variety of items in them. The Patagonia messenger bag is designed with a padded sleeve that can hold a 15-inch laptop, two mesh pockets, and an organizer that can hold your cell phone and other smaller items.
- Unique, attractive design
- Very waterproof and weatherproof
- Comfortable and padded
- Lightweight but still durable and can carry heavy loads.
- Not optimized for bike usage
- Pricier than some competitor options
Sweetbriar Classic Messenger Bag
The Sweetbriar Classic Messenger Bag is super roomy, and has several open pockets for you to utilize so you always stay organized. There is a large main pocket, front pockets, and side pockets you can use for your cell phone or water bottle. The style of this bag is also a plus, since it is designed to appear retro military and matches just about anything.
The Sweetbriar Classic Messenger Bag is made up of a strong cotton canvas that includes metal on the bag. The front flap on the bag uses a Velcro closure. However, this bag doesn’t come with any extra padding or any other supportive help that would make it easy-to-carry on your shoulder. It does include a handle on top, but that’s about the bag’s only easy-carry feature.
- Durable material.
- Excellent style.
- No padding or extra support.
- Not waterproof
Timbuk 2 Classic Messenger Bag
The Timbuk 2 Classic Messenger Bag comes packed with an internal organizer which will let you keep all of your small items in place so you know where to find them. There’s even an internal water bottle pocket to help you stay hydrated as you go about your day. The cross strap is totally adjustable and includes an air mesh strap pad for excellent comfort on the go.
The Timbuk 2 Classic Messenger Bag is made up of polyethylene, making it sturdy. It also includes a waterproof TPU liner and flap corners that hold in place, making the bag an excellent way to protect everything inside of it no matter what weather you may face. There are flap buckles and bottom compression straps to keep the bag closed no matter what’s going on outside.
- Not a lot of space for electronics.
- Smaller size options might limit your ability to carry everything.
Life Boost Vintage Canvas Satchel
The Life Boost Vintage Canvas Messenger Bag comes with a lot of pockets so that you can stay organized. There are one exterior zipped pocket and two open exterior pockets in the front of the bag. The interior of the bag contains one main compartment and two drop case areas for cards and phones. Also, the shoulder straps are both detachable and adjustable, so you can easily maintain comfort while you carry your bag with you. It’s also easy to keep clean, since you can throw it in the washer. However, when using your washing machine, make sure to wash the bag in cold water and avoid alkaline detergent, and hang the bag to dry.
Life Boost’s Vintage Canvas Messenger Bag is made up of high-quality canvas and leather on the exterior. The combination of these two materials makes the bag very waterproof, so it can withstand any weather conditions. For the bag’s low price, the waterproof option is a nice surprise. Also, the interior of the bag is made of cotton cloth to help protect the belongings you pack.
- Roomy with several pockets
- Machine washable
- Bag doesn’t have enough padding for you to pack a laptop or tablet with as much safety as competitors’ options.
- Bag doesn’t seem to have a strong frame to it.
- Handles wear out sometimes after a few months of use.
Criteria for Evaluation
If you plan to carry your laptop or tablet inside of your bag as a regular occasion, then make sure the bag you buy has plenty of protection and padding in the laptop/tablet compartment. One of the things you’ll want to make sure your bag has for your laptop or tablet is good, strong, thick padding to protect your electronics in case the bag falls or you drop it with your laptop or tablet inside of it. Also, laptop/tablet compartments that are strongly connected to a durable back panel are made to hold your electronics securely in place, further protecting them from any potential damage or exposure.
Water and Weather Resistant Features
You’ll find that several companies that produce messenger bags describe them as water resistant, and not necessarily waterproof, but the concept is generally the same. Since most messenger bag manufacturers can’t promise that the bag is 100% waterproof, they use the terms water resistant or weather resistant to describe how well the bag holds up in adverse weather conditions. It’s not difficult to make bags waterproof since all messenger bag manufacturers need to do is make sure the flap covering the bag’s fabric includes waterproof material. If the flap is waterproof, then it’ll do the trick, and the only areas you might ever notice water collecting in your bag is at the fold or within the flap itself. Not all of the bags in this review are waterproof, so you do need to consider what type of weather conditions you might face when you use your bag, and a lot of that depends on the area in which you reside.
To get a good, water resistant bag, look for fabrics that are traditionally waterproof, and bags that have large corner folds to cover areas where water might trickle through. When these types of bags are closed up correctly, it will be nearly impossible for rain to get inside the bag. So, if you know you live in an area where you need something waterproof, make sure to check the corner folds of the bag. Also, many of these bags come with external water features. If only your bag’s flap is water resistant, your external bag areas may not be. So, remember to be careful when you place items in that area of the bag.
Stabilizing straps are going to be very important to all of you outdoor enthusiasts planning to use your bags while you’re active and on-the-go. Good stabilizing straps are made to hold your bag in place towards your back area to help you keep your balance no matter what activity you decide to partake in. Bags with low-quality stabilizing straps are much more likely to move around while you move, making both balance and activity level more difficult. Stabilizing straps usually lay across your hips or tummy area to help hold the messenger bag in place, and aren’t typically used by people that just use their messenger bags while walking. The most comfortable messenger bag stabilizing straps are usually horizontal to help remove stress from your shoulder area. However, for those of you that plan to use your messenger bag while riding your bike, having a strap across the tummy area might seem constricting. Bike riders might be more comfortable opting for messenger bags with T-strap designs.
If you plan to use your bag on a daily basis either for your work, or for outdoor activities, and you know you’ll be carrying the bag around for long periods of time, then taking a close look at the shoulder strap becomes critical. If you fit this scenario, then the type of padding, the amount of it, and the design of the padding all become necessities to consider for your comfort level. Aside from ensuring you’ve got decent padding, you also want to make sure the straps are adjustable and easy-to-use, especially when you’re in the middle of something. Some straps are not easy to adjust during activities, while others are. When considering your comfort level, it’s always better to have straps you can easily adjust at any time, so that you can adjust your bag, especially if you decide to switch shoulders.
The top flap of your messenger bag is an important feature to consider because the operation of the top flap determines how well, and how securely, the bag closes. A lot of messenger bags try to offer increased security to customers by using a two-part closure system, which is usually made up of a clip and Velcro. However, others use plastic buckles because they are more efficient and easy-to-use. However, plastic buckles are a bit difficult to unclip when you’re accessing your bag with only one hand while it’s still sitting on your shoulder. Also, plastic buckles are very easy for others to open with their two available hands, and make these types of messenger bags targets for people who want to steal your electronics. Hooks are also easy-to-use, and can sometimes entice thieves to target your precious electronics. However, some hooks are made to be a bit more difficult to unclip to ward off thieves.
Since many messenger bags also have Velcro strips, it can be handy sometimes, when you aren’t going very far, to simply use the Velcro to close up your bag. However, the idea of combining Velcro with a hook is supposed to help keep the bag closed and your items safe. Some of these bags also include Velcro silencing strips so that you won’t create a lot of noise or notice when you open your bag.
For those outdoor enthusiasts who plan to be active outside when it’s night time, or even early morning before the sun rises, you’ll want to make sure you have protection against moving vehicles. So, you want to make sure you are obvious to passing motorists and easy-to-see. Some outdoor messenger bags offer reflective features. For those of you that know you will be out and about before the sun rises or after the sun sets, then you’ll want to purchase a messenger bag that offers both reflective patches and light attachments. Unfortunately, messenger bags with reflective strips aren’t always as attractive, but they are much more useful and safe for your plans.
Different styles of messenger bags offer a wide variety of varying pocket and organizational features. Some only have one main compartment, while others have a variety of pockets and organizers. The type of pocket features you will need is going to depend on exactly how you plan to utilize your bag. Some messenger bags come with pockets for water bottles and can even carry your shoes, which are options that benefit the outdoor enthusiast. If you plan on carrying a lot of small items and electronics, opting for a variety of pockets for organization is probably the best option.
While appearance is not always going to be your most important feature, since functionality is really a key with most messenger bags, it does matter to a lot of people. You don’t want to get stuck with a bag you find hideous, because you’ll never want to use it. Most messenger bags come in a few colors and options, so you should be able to find something you think is stylish. While you’ll want a messenger bag that matches your usage needs, finding something you like is really critical to your overall enjoyment of the bag, so it’s still important to consider.
Thinking about the materials your messenger bag is made up of is another item to think about. If you’re going to be using the bag for a lot of outdoor activities, then you’ll want to make sure the bag is long-lasting and made up of durable materials. If you’re opting for appearance, leather is always fantastic, and it is also durable. However, most leather messenger bags aren’t very water resistant. So, you need to weigh out exactly how you plan to use the bag and how durable and weather resistant you need the bag to be. Once you’ve thought those things out, you can select materials that are water resistant, like nylon or polyester bags, or opt for a leather bag if you don’t live in an area where you encounter much rain.
Q: Why Do I Need a Messenger Bag?
A: Most people love their stuff, especially if it’s electronic. We’ve been carrying the things we love around in bags ever since we figured out exactly how to make bags out of animal pelts. Nowadays, of course, you have so many material options when it comes to picking out a bag, it can be difficult to select a bag unless you know what types of materials you might need to consider when you are also reviewing exactly how you are going to use the bag. Of course, messenger bags aren’t the only options out there when you’re taking a look at bag options. So, considering all of the other choices you have to consider when it comes to carrying your things around, why would you pick a messenger bag?
The answer to this question lies in the many benefits messenger bags offer you when comparing them to other bags. First, messenger bags are usually made to help you easily organize all of the items you want to bring with you, from large to small. Most messenger bags come with a wide variety of pockets, compartments, and organizers. Another nice benefit of utilizing a messenger bag is that messenger bags provide you with easy access to your items because of their multiple pockets and organizing capabilities. Furthermore, messenger bags are designed to be durable, portable, and many of them also offer water resistant and weather resistant options.
In comparison to backpacks, however, messenger bags typically aren’t as comfortable or roomy. Messenger bags are also usually pricier when compared to an average laptop bag, and most of them are heavier than a traditional purse. Even with these comparative facts, messenger bags still offer better durability, more organization, and higher-quality materials that are made to withstand the elements than any other bag option—whether it’s a backpack, purse, or laptop.
Most people decide upon messenger bags because of their capacity to hold electronic items while protecting them with both padding and weather resistant options, their increased capacity for organization, and their durability. Plus, there are so many options to pick from when it comes to the style and material of messenger bags, you’ll be able to find something you think is eye-catching.
For the avid outdoor enthusiast, messenger bags are often the better option because of their durability, their ease-of-access while on the go, their ability to carry many items including water bottles, and their ability to withstand the weather. Plus, since some messenger bags also come with reflective strips and clip-on lights for night time use, they also help to make the outdoor enthusiast much easier to see during the early morning or late-night hours.
Q: What are my messenger bag style options?
A: Most people see messenger bags as large purses that contain a cross-body strap. While that it an appropriate and simplified definition for a messenger bag’s style, there are usually two standard style options to pick from when searching for a messenger bag. When it comes to messenger bag style options, you’ll notice that most messenger bags are either offered as a standard messenger bag, or a briefcase messenger bag.
Depending on how you plan to use your messenger bag, you’ll want to consider the two style options you’ll run into when searching for your messenger bag. First, the standard messenger bag style is the better option for all of you outdoor enthusiasts primarily because of how these bags are designed to sit and balance on your body. Standard messenger bags are designed to rest higher up on the back, and are made with more comfortable, adjustable straps. Also, standard messenger bag styles can hold a wide variety of items although they don’t typically offer as many pockets as briefcase style messenger bags. The standard messenger bag style also includes quick release buckles and easy-access areas to make the bag efficient while you are on-the-go. With the standard messenger bag, you can usually access your items more quickly and also adjust the bag more easily. Most bikers, hikers, and outdoor sports enthusiasts prefer the standard messenger bag style because of the way the bag sits on the body, making it easier to perform typical outdoor activities, and because of their better efficiency when both accessing items or adjusting straps on-the-go.
On the other hand, briefcase style messenger bags are designed more for the everyday professional who will probably be performing more daily walking. The strap design on briefcase style messenger bags makes them easier to handle while walking since they sit lower on the back than standard messenger bag styles. Also, briefcase style messenger bags usually have stronger back panels to better hold and protect laptops and tablets, laptop or tablet sleeves, and top handles. Briefcase style messenger bags are also usually made with style options at the forefront of the design rather than durability or weather resistant concepts.
For some people, it can be difficult to tell the two options apart. Depending on how you plan to use your messenger bag, you’ll want to be able to select the right style type for your needs. One way to differentiate the two messenger bag style options is to take a close look at the strap. If the messenger bag has a vertical strap that can be removed, then the bag is a briefcase style messenger bag that’s better to use while walking. On the other hand, if the messenger bag seems to fit you more like a purse and tends to sit high on the back, then you’re looking at a standard messenger bag style.
To break down your two options, most people that plan to use their messenger bags strictly for business and need something to carry while walking will want a briefcase style messenger back. However, if you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for a durable bag option to take with you while you hike, bike ride, or complete any other outdoor hobby that requires a high activity level, then you’ll want to purchase a standard messenger bag style.
Q: How Might I Use My Messenger Bag?
A: There are typically five different ways people generally use messenger bags. First, a lot of people use the messenger bag to make their electronics and other important items easy to bring with them. People that travel often or work remotely and need to bring their items often from one place to another often use messenger bags since it’s very easy to keep your items organized in these bags. The extra organization makes your items easier to find. Messenger bags allow people of all kinds to bring their offices anywhere.
Other people enjoy using messenger bags when riding bikes, especially those working professionals who prefer to commute on their bikes to squeeze in a bit of daily exercise both to and from work. Since many messenger bags are made to be comfortable and are designed to accommodate those that ride bikes either to and from work or simply for fun, most messenger bags work well in this capacity. Of course, bike riders want to use messenger bags that can be easily adjusted and include an excellent stabilization strap.
Next, some people travel often for work, hauling items to the airport on a regular basis. Since flights allow you to carry-on a personal item bag, many people choose to utilize messenger bags as their carry-on since they can bring their laptops or tablets with them, and know that their electronic items are protected and padded in case they fall. Also, the extra pockets and organizational features typically found in messenger bags let people work easily while flying from place to place.
Fourth, many students who have to carry around many books choose messenger bags. Messenger bags are not only more comfortable for most students that lug around several books, but also offer features that let students bring their tablets and laptops along to class. Organization also helps when you need to find something quickly in college, like a paper or a highlighter. Also, since many messenger bags are water resistant, they’re perfect for students who walk from class to class when it’s raining.
Last, a lot of professionals utilize messenger bags every day. Not only are they stylish when working in the professional world, their capacity to keep you organized and on top of things helps you when you’re focused on your career. Messenger bags allow professionals to carry around everything they need while protecting their electronics if they are dropped while in the bag, or from other possible accidents that can occur in the office.
Messenger bags offer several benefits to both professionals and outdoor enthusiasts. Not only do they help to keep you organized while you are on-the-go, they also protect your electronic items from drops and accidents. Some messenger bags are also designed to be weather resistant, so that rain is not an issue. With the amount of items you can organize, carry, and protect in your messenger bag, you’ll be glad you’re using one whenever you need to easily grab something from your bag, or whenever you need increased protection for your electronics.