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The 16 Best Messenger Bags for Men & Women [2023]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

790 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury


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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Messenger bags offer a comfortable and convenient way to carry laptops, folders, work files, and so much more. With the ability to sling the bag across your body, they can evenly distribute the weight of your belongings, and the close-fit design allows you to keep your gear in front of you where you can see it at all times.

Stylish, modern, and incredibly practical, messengers bags are an excellent choice for men and women on the move.

Things To Consider With Messenger Bags

Before you invest in a messenger bag, consider the following:

Size and Capacity

Messenger Bag Size
Messenger bags come in various sizes. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Your messenger bag should be spacious enough to carry all of your gear without being so big that it weighs you down.

Most messenger bags are large enough to house up to 17-inch laptops while still being able to offer lots of additional storage space. If you are using your messenger bag for work, school, or college, you should definitely look for one that is wide enough to comfortably fit paperwork and folders.

Hot Tip: The bigger the bag is, the bulkier it will be when full. To prevent back and shoulder pain, look for a messenger bag that is just big enough to carry all of your essentials without offering loads of extra space for filling with unnecessary weight.

Material and Durability

Messenger Bag Material
Canvas is a popular material for messenger bags. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Messenger bags are made from durable materials that are strong enough to withstand the rigors of everyday use. The most common messenger bag materials include:

  • Real Leather — High-end messenger bags are often made from genuine cowhide leather, and users can enjoy soft, supple exteriors and smooth, lined interiors. Designed to offer many years of use, these bags have an upscale look and feel.
  • PU Leather — Cheaper to produce and more affordable to buy, faux leather messenger bags may not be as soft or luxurious as their real hide counterparts, but they are still strong and easy to clean.
  • Nylon — Super tough and resistant to rips and tears, nylon and oxford fabrics are often used in sleek-looking messenger bags that are made for men and women who want an understated look and lots of practical storage space.
  • Canvas — Often used in conjunction with leather accents, canvas bags are incredibly strong but may lack the water-resistant capabilities that nylon or leather bags offer.


Messenger Bag Pockets
Messenger bags have compartments for laptops and tablets. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Most modern-day messenger bags come complete with a padded laptop compartment to help protect your device from knocks and bumps along the way. They also feature a multitude of additional compartments and pockets to keep all of your gear neatly organized.

For easy access to your most used items, look for a messenger bag that comes with sealable front pockets so you can reach for your passport or travel ticket without having to open the whole bag. Internal zipper pockets are also a plus as they allow you to store valuable items safely without the worry of them falling out or being accessed by pickpockets as you travel.


Messenger Bag Comfort
Messenger bags often have adjustable straps. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

Your messenger bag should feel comfortable when slung across your body, even when it is full. With this in mind, these bags are designed to help evenly distribute your bag’s weight and offer increased stability.

Thick adjustable straps allow you to find the length that suits your height, and extra padding on the shoulder area will prevent it from digging into your skin. The wider the strap, the more help it will offer to spread the load for a more comfortable carry all day long.

Top carry handles are also useful as they allow you to use the bag like a traditional briefcase and are invaluable when you need to lift the bag in and out of the trunk of your car or set it down in transit.

Security Features

Messenger Bag Size Security
Messenger bags have hidden back pockets to protect valuable items. Image Credit: Amar Hussain

If you are concerned about carrying your bag in crowded areas or on public transport, you may want to look for a bag that offers additional security features.

Many messenger bags offer hidden back zipper pockets that rest flat against your body, making them virtually impossible for pickpockets to reach. Internal zipper pockets are also an excellent space in which to store your wallet, cards, and cell phone if you have concerns while you are commuting.

Full-size flaps on the front of the bag are also a good deterrent for would-be thieves, and some bags even come complete with slash-proof straps and fabric.

Bottom Line: Stay reassured that your laptop will be safe in transit with a messenger bag that has a strap or even a zipper across the top of the laptop compartment to ensure that it won’t slip out when you put the bag down.

Water Resistance

If the weather looks like rain, you will want to know that your laptop and other possessions are protected for the duration of your journey. While very few messenger bags can claim to be completely waterproof, many out there offer a level of protection against rain and damp conditions.

Leather bags are naturally resistant to water, but the leather can become stiff and hard as it dries if it becomes too soaked. Synthetic materials such as nylon often include a layer of waterproof coating on the outside, and faux leather lets the water roll off without worrying about it becoming damaged along the way.

You should also consider the design and construction of the bag. Tightly joined or welded seams will stop drops of rain from getting in, and strong and sturdy zippers are also a bonus. Bags with large flap covers add an extra layer of protection for the contents of your bag.

The 8 Best Messenger Bags for Men

With enough room for your laptop, electronic devices, and other essentials, these messenger bags offer the right proportions for men on the move.

1. Best for Retro Styling

Men’s Vintage Genuine Leather Messenger Bag

Made from soft and supple superior crazy horse cowhide leather and water-resistant canvas, this messenger bag has vintage good looks and plenty of useful interior space. With a larger main compartment and plenty of extra pockets, this is a brilliant choice for the discerning gentleman.

On the inside, the padded laptop sleeve has enough room to comfortably carry a 15.6-inch laptop, and the extra-secure seal will ensure that your device stays safely tucked away. With 5 outer pockets and 4 inner pockets, this messenger bag will keep your wallet, cell phone, cash, keys, notebook, and other personal items well-organized as you go.

With an adjustable, padded shoulder strap, this bag makes for a comfortable carry, even when full, and the leather grab handle makes it easy to pick up and put down in an instant. Fully-lined and beautiful to look at, this is a vintage messenger bag for the modern-day traveler.

What We Like

  • Durable and water-resistant

What We Don’t Like

  • Side pockets are very narrow

2. Best 2-in-1 Backpack and Messenger Bag Combo

Check on Sears

CoolBELL Convertible Backpack Messenger Bag

Lightweight and easy to carry, this messenger bag offers plenty of practical storage space for your everyday essentials. Made from strong and durable oxford cloth with genuine leather accents and a waterproof polyester lining, this bag comes complete with a well-padded laptop compartment for devices measuring up to 15.6 inches.

With 4 outside pockets, you can keep all of your most essential items close at hand, and the large internal compartments are spacious enough to easily house your notebooks, work documents, and even extra clothing when traveling. Designed to offer lots of useful interior storage space, this is the perfect messenger bag for overnight stays or short trips away.

Carry this bag any way you want to with the top handle for easy grab-and-go lifting, the hidden backpack straps that can be used to carry the bag on your back, and the adjustable shoulder strap that is long enough to carry across your body to keep your belongings supersafe.

What We Like

  • Can be carried as a messenger bag, backpack, or briefcase

What We Don’t Like

  • No exterior water bottle pocket

3. Most Water-resistant Choice for Bad Weather

TIMBUK2 Classic Messenger Bag

Water-resistant and incredibly durable, this laptop messenger bag has been built to last. Made from rugged 150D poly-tweed material with an easy-to-wipe TPU liner, this bag is perfect for everyday use when commuting.

The internal organizer has plenty of space to keep your laptop, pens, cell phone, and other items safe, and the slash pocket provides padded protection for your important files and documents.

With a further Napoleon-style side-entry pocket, you can reach in and grab your wallet without opening the main bag, and the internal water bottle pocket will ensure that you stay well-hydrated as you travel.

With a low-profile grab handle for easy lifting and a long, adjustable shoulder strap, this bag is designed to evenly distribute the weight of your belongings, and the length of the strap makes it easy to carry across your body.

With additional upscale features, including partially-concealed flap buckles with bottom compression straps and smart hooks, and loop placement for easy closure, this is a safe and secure messenger bag for carrying your most essential items every day.

What We Like

  • Easy-to-clean interior

What We Don’t Like

  • The shoulder strap is not detachable

4. Best Satchel-style Messenger Bag

RAVUO Messenger Bag for Men

This stunning satchel-style messenger bag is made from soft and durable cotton canvas that offers heavy-duty protection for your belongings, as well as excellent resistance to rain. This bag has subtle yet stylish good looks and acres of internal storage space available in a choice of stunning muted colorways.

With a padded laptop compartment that can house devices measuring up to 15.6 inches, you can use this bag for work, and the 14 extra pockets include front flap pockets for easy access to your essentials, pen sleeves, an external zipper pocket, 8 card slots, and lots of additional compartments to help you stay well-organized.

The wide and thick shoulder strap is fully adjustable and long enough to be worn across your body, while the canvas, padded top handle allows you to use the bag as a briefcase when you need to.

What We Like

  • 14 pockets to stay organized

What We Don’t Like

  • The shoulder strap can loosen over time after being adjusted

5. Military-style Messenger Bag

GES Tactical 17-Inch Men’s Military Laptop Messenger Bag

Made from water-resistant nylon, this sleek-looking messenger bag has reinforced seams for extra durability and SBS zippers to ensure long-lasting performance.

With a laptop pocket that comes with an anti-collision isolation pad to protect devices measuring up to 17 inches in size, this bag will keep your laptop safe from shocks and impact along the way. With a further dedicated file section and multiple accessory pockets, this bag allows you to create your own desk area while you travel.

Large deep pockets are useful for keeping water bottles, umbrellas, and other essentials close at hand, while the loops on the side pocket provide useful extra space for hanging sunglasses, tennis rackets, and so much more.

With further front pockets for cell phones, chargers, earphones, pens, and all of your other day-to-day essentials, this bag offers an incredible amount of storage space. The wide adjustable shoulder strap is easy to detach should you not need to use it, and the length allows you to wear it across your body.

Sturdy and simple in design, this tactical messenger bag is perfect for commuters, freelancers, and anyone who likes to work on the move.

What We Like

  • Padded compartment for a 17-inch laptop

What We Don’t Like

  • Zippers can be a little fragile

6. A Slim and Compact Vintage Messenger Bag

Check on Modoker

Modoker Messenger Bag for Men

With a slim silhouette, this discreet messenger bag has vintage styling and on-trend good looks. Perfect for school, work, or college, this simple bag offers practical storage for everyday use.

Spacious on the inside, this bag can comfortably house a 13-inch laptop while still offering more than enough space for your books, notepads, pens, wallet, and electronic devices. With a back zipper pocket that offers excellent protection from thieves, this is also a supersafe choice for use when commuting.

Made from high-quality canvas, this bag is strong and durable, and the adjustable shoulder strap lets you wear it over your shoulder like a tote bag or across your body to help distribute the weight of your belongings evenly, no matter how full the bag is.

What We Like

  • Has a side pocket for a water bottle

What We Don’t Like

  • Quite small for a messenger bag

7. Genuine Leather Messenger Bag

Clifton Heritage Leather Locking Messenger Bag

Made from 100% genuine cowhide leather, this gorgeous messenger bag is designed to be durable and long-lasting. Perfect for use at work, school, or college, it has been masterfully crafted for an upscale look and feel with a patina that gets more impressive with age.

With a padded laptop compartment that has space to hold a 15.6-inch laptop, this bag also has plenty of room for your other essential items.

With a mobile phone holder pouch, you can easily reach your cell phone when it rings, and the wallet holder will keep your cash safely tucked away. The 2 small magnetic pockets on the front let you easily access your cards, tickets, and other much-needed items in transit.

The adjustable and removable should strap is made of leather and canvas to ensure ongoing durability, and the longer length makes it comfortable to carry across your body to keep your belongings close to you on your daily commute.

What We Like

  • Stylish and sturdy

What We Don’t Like

  • No top handle to grab quickly

8. Classic Canvas Messenger Bag

Waterproof Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

Made from beautiful waterproof waxed canvas and genuine leather, this expensive-looking laptop messenger bag is the perfect choice for fashionable commuters. Available in a selection of muted colors, this messenger bag features superior quality bronze hardware, and the solid and durable design has been built to last.

With a padded laptop compartment that has enough room to carry your 15-inch MacBook Pro or other 14-inch laptops, this bag is practical enough for everyday use, and the 2 inner slip pockets and further inner zip pockets offer discreet storage for your smaller items.

The 2 main compartments are divided by padded cloth to keep all of your electronics well-protected while easily offering enough room to carry papers, books, and folders.

The adjustable shoulder strap makes light work of heavy loads, and the longer length allows you to wear it over your shoulder like a tote bag or across your body. Perfect for use on our daily commute, for work, travel, school, or college, this is an awesome messenger bag for everyday use.

What We Like

  • Several different pockets for keeping organized

What We Don’t Like

  • The bottle pockets are quite small, especially with a full bag

Hot Tip: Looking for a portable bag? Check out our guides to the best daypacks, laptop backpacks, and fanny packs and waist packs.

The 8 Best Messenger Bags for Women

With designer good looks and attractive features, these messenger bags let you carry your most important items with you in style.

1. Best for Fashionable Commuters

Kamlui Laptop Bag 15.6 Inch for Women

With fashionable good looks and practical interior storage, this eye-catching lady’s messenger back is perfect for everyday use. Made from PU leather that is water-resistant and easy to clean, this bag comes in a variety of colorways and a contrasting stripe design. With gold-tone hardware and contrasting accents, this stylish messenger bag is perfect for work, school, or college.

With a built-in, softly-padded laptop compartment that has enough room to safely house your 15.6-inch laptop, as well as a big pocket that is just the right size for your mouse or charger, this is a stylish way to carry your work gear around with you. With enough additional space for your cell phone, pens, earphones, wallet, books, and other essentials, this bag is solid and sturdy with delicate features.

The padded and adjustable shoulder strap is suitable for most heights, and you can wear it over your shoulder as a tote bag or across your body for a more secure fit.

What We Like

  • Can be carried as a briefcase or messenger bag

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficult to close with any bulky items inside

2. Eco-Friendly Leather Messenger Bag

EaseGave Briefcase for Women

This stylish laptop briefcase is finely crafted from vintage purple Saffiano eco-leather and finished with a beautiful and eye-catching logo.

The padded soft foam laptop section is large enough to house a 15.6-inch laptop, and the Velcro strap will ensure that your device stays safe and secure in transit. With 3 further compartments, 2 slip pockets, and 1 zippered fastening pocket, there is plenty of room for your cell phone, wallet, keys, books, and other everyday essentials for use at work, school, or college.

Understated and incredibly chic, this bag has a coffee-colored nylon interior, and it can be carried like a briefcase using the strong and durable top handle, or over your shoulder or across the body using the fully detachable and adjustable shoulder strap.

Offering a wide range of storage spaces, the structured interior of this EaseGave briefcase has all the organizational compartments you need to keep your everyday essentials close at hand.

What We Like

  • Available in a range of stylish colors

What We Don’t Like

  • The zipper is a little fragile

3. Best Bag for Use in Wet Weather

OIWAS Messenger Bag for Women

Available in a choice of 4 bright colors, this fashionable crossbody bag is made from waterproof 600D material that is strong and durable enough to keep all of your gear safe. With a 17.8-liter capacity, it is spacious and capable, and the classic design will evenly distribute the weight, even when full.

On the inside, the padded laptop compartment can hold devices measuring up to 15.6 inches and will keep them safe from scratches and bumps in transit. With further multiple compartments, you can keep your cell phone, wallet, books, notepads, and work files, as well as other essentials, well-organized for work, school, or college.

The adjustable shoulder strap is well-padded to sit comfortably on your shoulder or across your body, and the reflective strip ensures that you can be seen even as the light fades.

What We Like

  • Waterproof to keep your gear safe

What We Don’t Like

  • Padding in the laptop compartment could be thicker

4. Retro-style Satchel Bag

Vintage Canvas Satchel Messenger Bag

This unisex messenger bag is made from scratch-resistant canvas with genuine leather accents and pull tabs available in a choice of fashionable colorways. Spacious enough for all of your belongings, this bag would be suitable for both men and women.

On the inside, the bag is large enough to carry laptops up to 13 inches, as well as documents and folders. With 2 open pockets in the front, a large main compartment, and a zipper pocket, you can comfortably carry your cell phone, wallet, keys, chargers, and other accessories with you on your way to work, school, or college.

With an adjustable shoulder strap, this bag can be worn over your shoulder or across the body, and the upright zipper pocket on the front is just right for keeping your most used items like travel passes and tickets close at hand.

What We Like

  • Lots of pockets to locate your items quickly

What We Don’t Like

  • No padding on the shoulder strap

5. Messenger Bag for Discerning Travelers

ECOSUSI Vintage Crossbody Messenger Bag

Beautiful to look at, this messenger bag offers vintage good looks and a practical interior. Made from PU leather with rugged gold hardware, this messenger bag is available in a choice of coffee, brown, or red colorways, with both being as eye-catching as each other.

On the inside, the main zipper compartment is large enough to carry your iPad, cell phone, charger, wallet, cosmetics, and other essentials.

While not quite wide enough to carry documents or folders, this case still offers lots of internal storage space. With an open pocket and further zippered pockets for your keys, cards, and other smaller items, this is an excellent messenger bag for everyday use.

With a decorative bow on the front of the bag, this beautiful piece has a strong top handle that allows you to carry it like a briefcase. It also comes complete with a PU leather shoulder strap that can be adjusted to be long enough to fit across your body.

What We Like

  • The shoulder strap is removable as well as being adjustable

What We Don’t Like

  • The material is quite stiff

6. Most Unique-looking Messenger Bag

Check on Ecosusi

ECOSUSI Women Briefcase PU Leather Laptop Bag

With a unique and attractive feminine design, this stunning vegan leather laptop bag is available in a choice of brown, red, black, and coffee colors. The oversized bow on the front offers a fashionable twist, and the bow can be detached if you need it to look more professional.

Suitable for school, college, work, and even business trips, this beautiful briefcase messenger bag has a padded laptop pocket that can comfortably carry devices measuring up to 15.6 inches. There are also 2 further small slip pockets, 1 small zipper pocket, and 2 exterior pockets hidden under the outside flap for quick access to your most-used items.

This bag comes complete with a top handle that can be used to carry the bag and a removable and adjustable shoulder strap that can be carried over your shoulder or across your body to help distribute the weight more evenly.

What We Like

  • Made from vegan leather

What We Don’t Like

  • Quite large and bulky

7. Best Big Messenger Bag

BAOSHA Laptop Messenger Bag

Available in a selection of bright and beautiful patterns, this messenger bag is large enough to fit a 17-inch laptop, and with a large capacity interior, it is sizable enough to use for school, work, or college.

With a padded laptop sleeve, you can slip your device in the bag with ease, and the main compartment still has plenty of space to hold your books, folders, cell phone, wallet, and other day-to-day travel essentials. With a further tablet sleeve with stud closures, 2 flap front pockets, and a hidden zipper pocket on the back of the bag, you can easily organize all of your gear.

With a detachable and adjustable webbing shoulder strap that can extend up to 50 inches to fit across the body, this bag can also be carried by the top handles and used as a briefcase or carry bag.

What We Like

  • Fits up to a 17-inch laptop

What We Don’t Like

  • The front pocket magnetic snaps can sometimes open unexpectedly

8. Designer Messenger Bag

Karl Lagerfeld Paris Cara Flap Messenger Bag

This beautiful messenger bag has a slim silhouette and high-end features available in a wide range of designer colors and designs. Offering a wide zippered opening, you can easily reach your gear, and the sleek shape sits nicely against the body.

On the inside, the wipe-clean lining is of excellent quality, and the zippered pocket is large enough to keep your most valuable items neatly tucked out of sight. With a deep main compartment, you can easily carry your cell phone, wallet, cosmetics, and other essentials, and the front pockets, rear slip pocket, and further side zipper pockets offer easy access for smaller items.

With an adjustable shoulder strap, you can wear this bag like a designer tote bag or adjust it to its full length and sling it across your body. With a stunning Karl Lagerfeld logo and iconic KL designs, this is a beautiful designer messenger bag that is perfect for everyday use.

What We Like

  • Comes in lots of cool designs

What We Don’t Like

  • The strap could be sturdier to accommodate more weight

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose a discreet, slimline messenger bag for business trips and commuting or a bright and fashionable bag for school or college, these messenger bags offer all the space you need.

With padded laptop compartments, spacious pockets, and wide padded shoulder straps, messenger bags allow you to keep your most important items close to you while evenly distributing the weight of your belongings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a messenger bag used for?

Messenger bags have a similar use to backpacks and are perfect for carrying everyday essentials and bigger items like laptops, files, and tablets.

Is a messenger bag better than a backpack?

It can be argued that backpacks are better than messenger bags as they make it easier to carry heavier loads due to the straps. On the other hand, messenger bags give you quicker access and can be more stylish.

Why is it called a messenger bag?

Messenger bags have been around for decades and were originally used by messengers, letter carriers, and couriers to carry mail.

Are messenger bags bad for you?

Messenger bags can be bad for your back and shoulders if they are too heavy as all of the weight is carried on 1 side. If you experience neck, back, or shoulder pain, consider removing items from your bag or switch to a backpack.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.


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