A good messenger bag is stylish, versatile and durable.
It’s large enough to carry all of your stuff while remaining comfortable when slung over your shoulder.
It also complements your style and looks good with whatever you are wearing.
These are our top 15 best messenger bags for men and women based on style, comfort, durability, storage space and plenty of customer reviews.
Gootium Leather Cross Body Laptop Messenger Shoulder bag
Gootium’s Leather Messenger Bag is a popular item on Amazon.com.
This bag is made with genuine leather with pearl sail canvas lining that allows the bag to remain extremely durable.
It features a laptop compartment space that easily fit a 11.6 inch Mac Book Air or you can fit a 13 inch laptop into its main pocket.
Check out Gootium’s Messenger Bag here available on amazon
Rapid Dominance Classic Military Messenger Bags
Rapid Dominance’s Classic Military Messenger Bag is a stylish bag that comes in a variety of attractive colors such as black, olive and khaki.
It is made with 100% cotton canvas material and polyester lining.
The bag itself measures 19″W x 14.5″ H x 7″D utilizing military specs.
It comes with 7 pockets including a main compartment, an inside zippered pocket, 2 front zippered pockets, 2 side pockets that feature button closures and an outside back pocket, which offers tons of storage space.
The full specs and details of this bag is accessible here available on amazon
High Sierra Tank Messenger Bag
High Sierra’s Tank Messenger Bag is a quality polyester made messenger bag that features an adjustable flap with quick release buckles.
It contains a large main compartment, zippered accessory pocket lid, side mesh beverage compartment and cell phone pocket.
The messenger bag offers versatile carrying methods with a handle and over-the-shoulder carrying strap so you can manage the bag in whatever way you like.
Measurements for the bag are 18 x 13.5 x 7 inches and it comes in a plethora of both solid colors and patterned styles.
Additional details on this messenger bag can be found here available on amazon
Jam_closet Men’s Italian Style Messenger Bag
Offering a dual leather strap design with adjustable buckles in a vintage package is Jam Closet’s Italian Messenger Bag.
This bag features a prewashed 2 tone blend made with cotton canvas material and a single flap closure.
It has two outer front pockets and two side pockets with strap/buckle quick snaps.
The bag comes in several colors including coffee, military green and navy blue.
You can check this bag out here available on amazon
J World New York Thomas Messenger Bag
J World’s New York Thomas Messenger Bag is a sturdy designer bag that is made with 100% polyester material and comes in a wide variety of colors and designs to match your style.
It features a 19″ shoulder drop and measures 13″ high by 14″ wide.
The bag comes with several storage spaces including a padded laptop compartment, three large exterior pockets and two additional small exterior pockets with a push lock closure to keep all of your items safe.
You can find out more information about this bag here available on amazon
Kenneth Cole Risky Business Messenger Bag
Kenneth Cole’s Risky Business Messenger Bag brings style and function together with its 100% leather messenger bag.
This bag is designed with fashion in mind as can be seen with the beautiful contrast stitching and fully lined interior.
The lengthy 22.5″ shoulder drop ensures a comfortable fit while the flapover closure provides quick and easy accessibility to your stuff.
It comes in black, dark brown and tan variations, and can carry a 15.4″ widescreen display.
If you like the look of this bag you can see more here available on amazon
Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag
Tumbuk2’s Classic Messenger Bag comes in both small and medium variations and is made using fabric/nylon materials, which feature a ballistic nylon exterior and waterproof TPU liner.
It has a front organizer panel, internal slash pocket and Napoleon side entry pocket.
The true fit cam buckle on Timbuk2’s messenger bag allows for quick and easy single-handed strap adjustments.
The messenger also comes with a lifetime warranty and comes in a variety of solid/mixed colors.
For more information regarding sizes and price you can find it here available on amazon
Original Heavyweight Classic Messenger Bag
The Original Heavyweight Classic Messenger Bag from Army Universe is a classic army style bag that’s made with heavyweight cotton canvas material.
The bag contains a large main compartment for easy storage along with an inside zipper pouch, and additional two outside and inside pockets.
It has an adjustable 40″ long x 2″ wide shoulder strap to accommodate your carrying needs and the bags dimensions are 15″ x 11″ x 6″.
This bag is designed for individuals who need a durable, heavy duty bag with a spacious interior.
You can learn more about this classic army bag here available on amazon
17.3-Inch Eco-Friendly Canvas Messenger Bag
Mobile Edge offers a nice rugged Eco-Friendly Messenger Bag that’s designed to provide plenty of laptop storage space.
In fact this messenger bag can fit a laptop that measures up to 17.3 inches within its laptop compartment.
The full dimensions of the bag are 16.8 x 2 x 11 while the contemporary flap over (which is secured by two custom molden fasteners) allows for a slightly larger laptop to fit into the bag.
The padded back panel and padded swiveling shoulder strap help ensure a comfortable carrying experience and a removable ID holder makes it easy to identify your bag.
Mobile Edge’s messenger bag is available here available on amazon
Samsonite Classic Two Gusset 17″ Toploader
As the name suggests Samsonite’s Classic Top-loader Messenger Bag offers an easy top load design.
The bag itself is crafted from rugged ballistic nylon for strong durability and it can fit a laptop that measures up to 17″.
It features a large main compartment, easy-access front pocket and secondary quick stash pocket for added storage.
The bag can either be carried very a padded adjuster shoulder strap (which is easily removable) or with its upright wrapped bale handles.
This classy messenger bag comes in black and is available for purchase here available on amazon
Baggallini Messenger Bag
Baggallini’s Messenger Bag is simple and modern, yet highly functional.
Measuring in at 9″ W x 12″ T x 4″ D it’s a bit smaller than some of the other messenger bags, however it is perfect organizer bag for those who only need to carry a few essential items.
It has a number of organizational compartment spaces that allow you to quickly and easily store/access everything you need quickly.
If you’d like to learn more about this modern messenger bag be sure to check it out here available on amazon
Vera Bradley Messsenger
Vera Bradley is known for their great line of fashionable bags that are also practical and utilitarian.
The Vera Bradley Messenger Bag is both attractive and functional with a wide variety of stylish colors/patterns packed in a moderate 15″ x 11 ½” x 4 ¼” size.
This bag comes with a decent main compartment that can store books, folders and a tablet, several interior organization pockets and an adjustable cross-body shoulder strap with a quilted strap pad.
If you’e a fan of Vera Bradley or just like this bag you can find it here available on amazon
Rothco Camo Canvas Ammo Shoulder Bag
Another trendy bag from Rothco is their Camo Canvas Ammo Shoulder Bag, which is comprised of heavy weight cotton canvas material and features two exterior hook and loop closure pockets.
The front flap has a stylish metal fold over buckle and the shoulder straps are highly adjustable based on your needs.
The bag measures 10 W x 8 H x 3.5 D and comes in several earthy colors.
For more information on Rothco’s messenger bag check it out here available on amazon
Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag
Travelon’s Anti-Theft Messenger Bag features an RFIDblocking card and passport slots along with a cut-proof chain link construction and adjustable cut-proof shoulder strap for added protection.
The bag is made with a durable nylon material and can be attached to a chair to prevent it from easily being grabbed or snatched.
As far as storage goes the bag measures 18″W x 4.5″ H and has roomy main compartment with a locking zipper and pockets for storing items and keeping them protected.
If this sounds like the right bag for you then you can check it out here available on amazon
Vintage Classic Army Messenger Heavy Weight Shoulder Bag
Rothco is known for making a number of excellent messenger bags and their Vintage Classic Army Messenger Bag is no exception.
This bag is made using heavy cotton canvas material and comes in a variety of colors including black, khaki, olive drab green, pink, blue and several others.
The bag itself measures 15″ x 11″ 6″ and is extremely durable sturdy.
As far as storage goes it has a main compartment, an inside zipper pouch, 3 outside pockets and an adjustable shoulder strap for easy carrying.
More information on Rothco’s Vintage Messenger bag is obtainable here available on amazon
Why buy a messenger bag?
A messenger bag, also sometimes referred to as a side bag, courier bag, shoulder bag, laptop bag, carryall, sling bag, crossbody bag or travel bag (among other popular names) is a bag that is commonly worn slung over the shoulder to provide users with easy access to all of their important items.
Messenger bags are often preferred over backpacks when it comes to carrying light items that the user wants to access quickly and keep within arms length as a messenger bag doesn’t need to be taken off of the users shoulder when reaching for various items.
Depending on the bag and design messenger bags may be worn on or near the back and moved to the side or front of the user when needed and may come with handles as well for those who prefer to carry their messenger bag in a briefcase manner.
Many messenger bags come in slim and utilitarian options, making the carrying experience feel less bulky and uncomfortable when compared to larger bags or backpacks, and can be worn on the side or near the front of the user to help protect items from being accessed by others.
As far as who these bags are for messenger bags are commonly used by bicycle riders, entrepreneurs, healthcare specialists, students, business men/women and couriers among others.
Those who are into fashion also tend to prefer messenger bags as it can provide a sleeker look than a traditional backpack.
If you’re looking for a bag to suit your particular style or needs you’ll be happy to know that messenger bags can serve many different functions and are designed to accommodate a variety of needs such as being used as a:
- Camera / DSLR bag
- Diaper bag
- School / collage shoulder bag
- Laptop / Tablet bag
- Travel bag
- Fashion bag
- Daily carry bag
- Briefcase alternative
If you have a need for a bag that can carry your belongings, but don’t want the inconvenience, look or bulkiness of a backpack consider choosing a messenger bag that fits your use case.
Messenger bag vs backpack
So what separates a backpack from a messenger bag anyway?
Well that can vary depending on the backpack and messenger bag you’re comparing as some backpacks / messenger bags may resemble one another closer than others both in terms of form and function, however there are some difference you can observe when deciding whether a messenger bag or backpack is right for you.
For starters messenger bags are commonly designed to be slung over the shoulder so that they can be moved from back to front easily making your items readily accessible when needed, whereas backpacks are often worn directly on the back using two should straps. Because most backpacks have a dual shoulder strap design it may make carrying heavier items more comfortable, however this may be at the inconvenience of easy accessibility as many backpacks need to be taken off of the back for the contained items to become accessible and in reach of the user.
Many messenger bags are also lighter than backpacks and designed for specific use cases, such as carrying a laptop, diapers, cameras, books or paperwork, which allow for a more efficient use of storage space and ultimately requiring less of the bags capacity to be wasted.
For those concerned with security or carrying expensive items such as a laptop or tablet, some prefer using messenger bags as they can wear the bag over one shoulder while covering the bag with their opposite arm / hand, or they can hold their messenger bag in front of them as it provides a better sense of security and doesn’t leave the bag exposed behind their back.
It is important to point out that there is no way to guarantee absolute protection of any bag, but if you are carrying light items and prefer to have easy access to them while also keeping them within arms reach and eye view then a messenger bag may offer you what you’re looking for.
Lastly, as stated earlier messenger bags can be designed in numerous aesthetically pleasing styles for those who are fashion minded and want something that looks good with their outfit or personality. This is one area where messenger bags can truly shine as their form, function and design come in many different flavors to accommodate all types of styles without requiring too much compromise in a specific area.
Both backpacks and messenger bags have their benefits, so it is important to decide what your use-case is when choosing whether to buy a backpack or messenger bag.
If you’re looking for maximum space, weight capacity and stability than you may want a backpack, however if you’re items aren’t too heavy and you prefer to have a bag that is designed for style, accessibility and efficient use of space then you might just want to check out the many options offered among the messenger bag line.
How to choose the best messenger bag
When it comes to choosing a messenger bag there are a variety of things to think about.
Does the bag serve your particular needs, what size should it be, is the bags material important to you and are you going for a certain look or style?
Here’s what to you should think about before purchasing a bags to help you get the best out of your decision:
- Utility / Functionality
Utility / Functionality
Use-case and functionality is one of the first things you should think about when buying a messenger bag.
Messenger bags can be designed to work well with specific needs or requirements.
For example a messenger bag designed for cameras may have compartment spaces designed to comfortably house the camera, lenses, batteries and accessories needed for photography. A messenger bag designed for office or school work on the other hand may have compartments to house a laptop, notebooks, writing utensils and other work items.
A diaper messenger bag on the other-hand will be designed with a diaper compartment, baby wipe storage and other baby care slots for packing everything needed to take care of a young growing baby. Another example is a heavy duty messenger bag which is designed for storing lightweight tools such as a hammer, screw drivers, wire cutters, utility knife and tape among other repair items.
As you can see understanding the functional needs of your messenger bag prior to making a choice can go a long way towards helping you decide which bag is right for you.
The design of the bag is a little different than its style. When deciding what bag you want you should look for the design of the shoulder strap.
Is it designed to be worn like a single strap backpack, worn over the shoulder and held to the side like a common messenger bag or designed with handles to be carried like a traditional briefcase.
How often you will need to wear the messenger bag and how heavy your items are can help you consider which design is best for you.
Also make sure the compartment space of the bag is adequate for your needs. If you want a messenger bag that can accommodate a 15.6″ laptop then you’ll want to be careful not to order one that can only accommodate a 14″ laptop. The same goes with cameras, diapers and tools among other necessary items. Your messenger bag should be designed to fit your needs.
Messenger bags can be made using many different types of materials and fabrics such as canvas, leather, synthetics, hemp, ballistic, nylon, vinyl and cotton among other durable materials.
Choosing a material that works best for you can go a long way towards finding a bag that suits your needs.
Depending on factors such as what you’re carrying, whether or not you need waterproofing and how heavy / sharp your items are you may want to go with a material that suits your requirements best and provides the best durability over an extended amount of use.
If you carry your lunch around in your bag and you work in a warm climate then you may want to go with a cool breathable fabric to help your food stay as cool as possible. If however you’re carrying a laptop or other sensitive items then you may opt for one that is sturdier and offers good water-protection to keep it from getting damaged.
The style of your bag is something you choose for yourself depending on your clothing, work situation or personal style.
As mentioned earlier there are many styles to choose from and if you search around you’ll probably be able to find something that works well with your taste.
Some of these styles may include designer messenger bags, military style, utilitarian, urban, solid colors and patterned designs.
You may even be able to find messenger bag companies that will allow you to add some custom style choices to your bag for an additional cost.
Reviews, trusted brands & personal opinions
When all else fails ask any friends, family members or coworkers you know that own a messenger bag what they think of their bag.
What do they like and dislike about their bag. And most importantly what do they use it for and do they think it would serve your particular needs.
Another great way to find a quality messenger bag is to check out the online reviews on websites such as Amazon.com. Websites such as these often have personal reviews from customers that have purchased the item and tried it out.
You can learn a lot from these reviews and gain insights into aspects of the product that you may not have thought of, but are applicable to your needs. When reading reviews from customers look for verified customer purchases or symbols that show the individual paid for and used the product, rather than a review that was left without any verification or proof of purchase.
Lastly, a good way to find a quality messenger bag is to go with a brand you trust and/or have used in the past with good results. It’s not always easy to know what you’re going to receive until it ends up in your hands and you try it out, but you can minimize your risk by going with a brand that you like and feel you’ll get your money’s worth.
How much do messenger bags cost?
Messenger bags can vary greatly in price depending on the material, brand, utility and design of the bag.
A quality messenger bag can cost anywhere from $50 – $500 or more.
Prior to deciding what bag you would like to purchase it is a good idea to determine your budget, needs and personal tastes.
Most individuals can purchase a decent messenger bag for under $100 for basic use such as for carrying a laptop, paperwork, books or light materials.
Messenger bags made of high end materials such as leather or those that serve special purpose such a diaper bag, tool bag or special utility messenger bag can increase the price.
Where can I buy a messenger bag?
Messenger bags can be found sold at many retail stores such as Walmart, Target, Kohls and Macy’s, high end retailers like Louis Vuitton and Coach, the Mall and Shopping outlets.
These bags can also be found online through eCommerce sites such as Amazon.com, Overstock.com and direct sellers from the brands that design and sell them.
There are pros and cons to shopping either in a store or online.
When shopping in a store you have the opportunity to look at and try on each bag before you buy it. Shopping in a store also makes it more convenient to return as you can always go back to where you purchased it and ask for a refund, as long as it’s within the stores policy.
The downside to shopping in a store is that it requires you to leave your home and drive out to a retail store that may or may not have the bag you’re looking for. This takes additional time out of your day and costs you fuel. If you don’t like doing a lot of retail shopping or feel like it’s inconvenient to leave your house and shop for a bag then consider shopping online.
Shopping online often provides shoppers with a much greater variety of bags to choose from. Shoppers can look for deals that my save them additional money and there are tons of reviews that can help the buyer refine their choice and find the proper bag for their needs.
As with shopping at the store there are downsides to shopping online as well. If you want an immediate refund, don’t want to deal with shipping products back and forth, need a messenger bag immediately or are uncomfortable with ordering items that you can’t try on first then you may prefer to shop locally.
Fortunately websites such as Amazon.com offer fast two day and even next day delivery on many of their items. Additionally websites such as these thrive to maintain good customer service and are often very responsive to your needs. High end brands also try to provide great online service to give their customers a great experience, however quality can and does vary from website to website, just as it does from one physical store to the next.
Before deciding whether to shop in a store or online determine whether you prefer to take your time, compare bags and prices from different sellers and read reviews to gain insights into what bag may work best for you, or if you prefer to see the bags in person, try them on and have a physical point of return should you be dissatisfied with your purchase.
Asking yourself these questions will make it much easier for you to choose the method that works for you, however when all else fails try doing both and compare your experience. You just might surprise yourself.
While messenger bags are designed to make carrying your items/gear easier and more convenient it is important to understand that improper use of your messenger bag can lead to shoulder and back pain, or even injuries.
As with using any bag proper steps should be taken to minimize risk and avoid injury.
Most commonly injuries occur due to either wearing the bag the wrong way, using bad posture, wearing the bag for an extended period of time or loading the bag with items that are heavier than its intended use.
In many cases several things are going on at once that can contribute to an individual being in pain or getting injured.
For instance an individual stuffs their bag with several heavy items and does so with the shoulder strap placed too low, which causes the wearer to walk around with bad posture place the strap in an inappropriate position.
Over time all of these issues contribute to back/shoulder pain and make it difficult to use the bag continuously.
One of the best ways to avoid shoulder/back pain is to pack the bag with a few essential lightweight items. Never overload the bag as lightness is key to saving yourself from injuries.
Also be sure to wear the bag properly and use proper form. Look for the instruction manual that comes with your messenger bag as it may provide you with information on proper carrying techniques and how to adjust the shoulder strap for a proper fit.
If you’re still confused or can’t find a manual you can search online for tips on properly wearing and securing your messenger bag to minimize injuries.
For those that have shoulder pain or received an injury due to wearing a messenger bag take a break from wearing the bag until your shoulder/back feels better. If the pain continues for an abnormal amount of time consider seeking a professional to make sure you aren’t dealing with a more serious issue.
Preexisting injuries may resurface when using a messenger bag (or any type of bag) even if you are doing everything appropriately.
Follow these tips to help you get the most out of wearing your messenger bag:
- Avoid wearing the messenger bag inappropriately (i.e. around the neck or improperly on the shoulder)
- Use proper posture while carrying the bag
- Alternate carrying side to avoid consistent pressure to one shoulder over an extended period of time
- Adjust the shoulder strap for comfort (make sure the strap isn’t too tight or hanging too low)
- Use the handles to relieve the shoulders from time to time
- Consider a shoulder pad if the pain occurs where the strap meets the shoulder
- Consider using a cross strap to balance out the weight of the messenger bag and improve its secure fit
- If you use your messenger bag for more than one thing consider buying an additional bag and only carrying what you need for each task in a separate bag to minimize weight and stress on the back/shoulder
Remember: Don’t overload the messenger bag with heavy materials – lightweight is key (not all messenger bags are designed to carry heavy materials and those that can aren’t usually designed to be worn for long periods of time over the shoulder)
If you must carry heavy items consider using a backpack instead, but make sure it is designed for heavy use and follow proper lifting/carrying procedures when wearing your backpack to minimize injury risks. Even better some backpacks offer wheels and an extendable handle that allow you to travel without putting any significant stress on your back.
Messenger bag accessories
Messenger bags come with plenty of accessories to help owners customize, protect and add functionality to their bags.
Some of these accessories may include cross straps for better stability, RFID blockers to prevent credit card swiping, locks, bottle holders and additional removable organizers.
If you bag doesn’t come with these accessories there are many third party sellers that offer plenty of accessory options to assist you with customizing the look and functionality of your bag.
Here are some accessories to look for when buying additional items for your bag:
- Replacement strap
- Cross straps
- Key straps
- Bottle holder
- RFID blocker
Replacement straps are additional straps that you can purchase in case your original strap breaks or becomes worn out. You can also purchase straps that offer additional functions or provide extra support beyond your original strap
Cross straps are straps that you attach to your original strap or point of connection to provide you with additional support and help keep your bag in place, so that it doesn’t fall off or put stress on your shoulder/back due to bad positioning.
Key straps are smaller straps with key rings that you can attach to your messenger for easy access to your keys.
Keep in mind that you may be leaving your keys exposed, so if you aren’t comfortable with key straps just secure your keys the way you feel most comfortable.
There are a variety of different organizers you can purchases for you messenger bag from plastic pouches and writing supply holders to insert organizers and miniature travel packs.
The great thing about organizers is they allow you to easily store and access exactly what you need without having to dig through tons of loose items hanging around in your bag.
Bottle holders can come in different sizes and provide a clip on attachment that allow you to clip it on your messenger bag or backpack, so you can easily store and carry a drink with you.
Some messenger bags come with an RFID slot that provide your bag with an additional layer of security. These blockers make it difficult for thieves to scan your credit card through your bag and steal valuable credit card information.
If your bag does not come with an RFID slot you can purchase one separately and store your cards in it to provide yourself with extra protection.
If you are concerned about someone unzipping your bag and stealing your items you can purchase a travel lock for your messenger bag, which typically requires either a combination code or key to unlock.
Lastly, decals provide a fun way to add additional style to your bag and depending on the decal it may be placed on the bag as a sticker, sewn on or ironed on. If you have a plain messenger bag and the decal is designed to work well with the bags material then adding some decals to it might give your bag a little life.