The best messenger bag

Adam Reeder

Messenger bags might appear to be all about utility, but don't underestimate their value as a fashion accessory. A messenger bag is a sturdy alternative to a briefcase. Messenger bags usually incorporate a large flap that covers the main compartment and additional sleeves and pockets for smaller items. They can carry everything from your lunch to your laptop.

If you want to buy yourself a messenger bag, look no further. Our buying guide can give you advice on choosing the right model. We even offer reviews of a few favorites, including Samsonite's Colombian Leather Flap-Over Messenger, which gives you the durability you need in a luxurious package.

Considerations when choosing messenger bags


Messenger bags are streamlined and easy to carry -- you can throw the strap over your shoulder and you're off. Even while walking, you can open your messenger bag and grab anything you might need. Many messenger bags have a removable shoulder strap so you can carry the bag like a briefcase if it has a top handle.


Messenger bags are comfortable to carry because most have a broad shoulder strap that can either be carried over one shoulder or slung across the chest. Because they lie flat against your body, they're not too bulky and allow you to stay mobile when you need to.


Messenger bags can convey a young trendy style or a worldly professorial vibe. The bag you choose and the way you wear it can convey whatever message you want it to.

Personal needs

Professionals use messenger bags for anything from important documents to laptops. Solid colors on a messenger bag are the most professional-looking option. If you plan to carry a laptop in your bag, be sure to measure the size of your laptop and get a messenger bag that's large enough to accommodate it.

Students sometimes choose a messenger bag over the ubiquitous backpack because it offers easier access to their items. While students use their bag for a laptop like professionals, they usually also need to fit books in it. Make sure to find one with a solid base that can sit on its own when placed on the floor in a classroom.

Cyclists find messenger bags extremely useful because of their low-profile styling; these bags don't get in the way on a bike. Cyclists should choose a weather-proof material for their bag. Extra padding on the strap is also a good idea.

Casual users have the most freedom when choosing their messenger bag. So long as the bag is large enough to fit your items, you can choose any colors, styles, or features you desire.


Genuine leather is the best option if you want to get the most durable messenger bag. Other materials such as thick canvas can last a long time as well. The most important thing to pay attention to is the quality of your bag's seams. These are usually the weakest points -- seams that aren't double-stitched or reinforced may rip under heavy stress.



Messenger bags come equipped with a variety of different compartment options. Many include padded laptop sleeves. Consider the things you might carry in your bag most often (keys, cell phone, books, etc.) and determine which bag has the best compartments to handle those items.

Straps and handles

Some messenger bags have top handles that allow the bag to be carried like a briefcase. Shoulder straps come in different sizes, styles, and quality levels, so don't ignore this central component when choosing your messenger bag. It may end up being one of the most important aspects of the bag's usability.

Clasps and buckles

While some messenger bags have a basic flap that lays flat on itself, others include clasps and buckles for securing the bag. These are most important for those who are very mobile, such as cyclists. It's usually a good idea to have some sort of closure mechanism on any bag.


Most messenger bags cost between $15 and $200. A $15 messenger bag is likely made of waterproof nylon with plastic clasps. If you spend $75, you can get a high-quality thick canvas bag with metal clasps and enough room for a laptop. For $200, you should be able to find a genuine leather messenger bag with a padded laptop compartment and detachable leather shoulder strap.


Q. How should I clean a leather messenger bag?

A. The best technique is to wipe your bag down with a damp cloth. This should remove most scuffs and other marks from daily use. Leave it to air-dry. Do not use dish soap or any other type of cleaning product unless specified in the bag's instructions.

Q. Should I condition the leather on my messenger bag so it will last longer?

A. Yes. As with all leather goods, conditioning your messenger bag is important to avoid drying and cracking of the leather. Wipe it with a leather moisturizing cream as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Messenger bags we recommend

Best of the best: Samsonite's Colombian Leather Flap-Over Messenger Bag

Our take: Exquisite leather bag offering exceptional durability and convenience.

What we like: Leather zipper tassels and genuine cowhide give this bag an air of luxury.

What we dislike: The metal hooks eventually wear out, but only after years of use.

Best bang for your buck: Berchirly's Vintage Military Canvas Messenger Bag

Our take: Friendly to the environment and to your bank account.

What we like: Roomy interior and eco-friendly canvas material make this the model of practicality.

What we dislike: Some reported the handle seemed to be set slightly off-center.

Choice 3: Sweetbriar's Classic Messenger Bag

Our take: Basic bag that gives the casual user exactly what they need.

What we like: Solid canvas and metal accents create the perfect style balance between traditional and modern.

What we dislike: No interior laptop padding.

Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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