The 10 Best Messenger Bags

Updated May 15, 2018 by Melissa Harr

10 Best Messenger Bags
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. The way you choose to carry your stuff around can make or break your day no matter what you’re up to, whether traveling to work, traversing a college campus, or heading out for a day of leisure. That’s what makes the messenger bags on this list so great: they provide you with a comfortable, yet sophisticated, way to get your computer, tablet, and other crucial gear from here to there. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best messenger bag on Amazon.

10. 5.11 Rush Delivery Lima

A resilient tactical option, the 5.11 Rush Delivery Lima has Molle-compatibility, a quick-access admin panel, a robust luggage handle, and YKK zippers. It’ll protect your sensitive electronics with a padded inner sleeve and keep you hydrated with two bottle pockets.
  • good for righties or lefties
  • tough nylon construction
  • maybe over-equipped for everyday use
Brand 5.11 Outdoor
Model 5-56177-26-1 SZ
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Ibagbar Canvas

The Ibagbar Canvas is a great unisex model that is made of durable, high-density, washed cotton canvas. It's available in several neutral colors and doesn’t have a lot of loud or flashy accents, so it pairs well with a variety of outfits.
  • large enough to hold textbooks
  • zippers open and close smoothly
  • strap could be stronger
Brand Ibagbar
Model BC31544
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. G4Free Tactical

Take your bag along no matter what your activities with the G4Free Tactical. Hunters, campers, and fishermen will appreciate its plethora of pockets and easily adjustable, ergonomic shoulder strap that makes maneuvering in the woods or on a busy city street no problem.
  • water-repellent fabric
  • concealed back compartment
  • no padding for delicate gear
Brand G4Free
Model pending
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. High Sierra Tank

If you’re on a budget but still want the features of a premium-priced bag, then you might take a look at the High Sierra Tank. It’s got a mesh beverage pocket, key fob, padded back panel, and even a loop to place your LED bike light.
  • available in playful prints
  • reflective accents for safety
  • exceedingly large
Brand High Sierra
Model 5438-0
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. S-Zone Vintage

Antique lovers might appreciate the S-Zone Vintage. Instead of a sleek appearance, it features crazy horse leather, which has been treated in such a way that it gains a beaten-up, well-loved look. You'll need to keep it away from water, though.
  • wide shoulder strap
  • dual exterior snap-close pockets
  • smaller than it appears in pictures
Brand S-ZONE
Model S-ZONE D04V193A
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Travelon Anti-Theft

The Travelon Anti-Theft isn't terribly stylish, but that's OK. It's designed more for function than form since it features a slash-proof construction and a cable-reinforced, cut-proof shoulder strap. The RFID-blocking pockets will keep your passport info safe, too.
  • locking zippers
  • slots for travel documents
  • not large enough for laptops
Brand Travelon
Model 42242 360
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

4. Samsonite Colombian Flap-Over

Ideal for the busy professional, the Samsonite Colombian Flap-Over is made from minimally-treated leather, which equals a unique look for each and every one. It’s also versatile, since it can be carried by the adjustable shoulder strap or briefcase-style handle.
  • embossed logo on front
  • plenty of organizational slots
  • not that long-lasting for the price
Brand Samsonite
Model 45798
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Mobile Edge Eco

From a company committed to a small carbon footprint, the Mobile Edge Eco is an earth-friendly option crafted from all-natural cotton. It’s got quick-release buckle closures that keep the contents secure but allow you to access anything you need within seconds.
  • removable id holder
  • padded computer compartment
  • multiple pen slots
Brand Mobile Edge
Model MECME9
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. CaseCrown Canvas Campus

This CaseCrown Canvas Campus offers simple, unadorned styling with a padded compartment to keep your computer protected. The large size will accommodate up to a 15-inch laptop and lots of gear, so if you're the type to bring the kitchen sink, it's a good choice.
  • unobtrusive front pocket
  • lightweight when empty
  • sturdy metal zipper pulls
Brand CaseCrown
Model 3803723
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Timbuk2 Classic

A longtime favorite of cyclists, the Timbuk2 Classic comes in four sizes and a wide range of fun and fashionable color options. Use it for work, school, or the gym, thanks to its weatherproofing, comfortable and adjustable strap, and internal organizer.
  • airmesh strap pad
  • waterproof tpu liner
  • partially-concealed flap buckles
Brand Timbuk2
Model 116-6-2000-Parent
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Brief History Of Messenger Bags

Messenger bags were originally designed for carrying mail and other postal dispatches. They generally feature a long strap, so they can be worn over the shoulder or crossbody, and come in a range of materials.

Over time they have been known by a number of names, including courier bags and carryalls. In America, members of the Pony Express were some of the first to carry messenger bags. They were followed by bike couriers as methods of transportation evolved. Members of the military also used a type of messenger bag for carrying maps.

In more modern times, utility linemen of the 1950s wore messenger bags to carry their tools. The De Martini Global Canvas Company designed a bag, which allowed them to keep their tools close at hand, yet conveniently out of the way, when climbing utility polls for repair work. These messenger bags were made from cotton and lined with a waterproof fabric. They had internal pockets to hold invoices and a double strap closure system to keep everything secure.

The De Martini messenger bags also became standard issue for many messenger companies in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. At the time, they weren't available in stores and were given to messengers by their employer. It was easy to tell which company a particular messenger worked for just by looking at the color of their bag.

Messenger bags started to become a fashion accessory in 1984, when John Peters redesigned the De Martini bag. He remade it out of nylon, instead of the original cotton, and added attractive buckles, reflective strips, and accent binding.

Benefits Of A Messenger Bag Over Backpacks

It can be difficult to find a backpack that gives off the same stylish vibe as a great messenger bag. Many people also feel that messenger bags are more trendy in today's fashion climate than a traditional backpack. In addition to being a more convenient way to carry a range of items, messenger bags can make a nice fashion accessory, which perfectly compliments your personal style. There are even a number of messenger bags specifically designed with the business professional in mind, and a high-quality leather or suede model wouldn't look out of place on the shoulder of a person wearing a blazer or suit.

Messenger bags are also more functional than backpacks. The average backpack has one larger compartment that you toss all of your items into, with just a few exterior pockets for small items. Many messenger bags come with a divided interior, allowing you to keep folders on one side and a laptop or tablet on the other. Messenger bags are better for those who often need quick access to a pen or other item they like to carry in a bag. Backpacks require one to take the pack completely off the back to access the interior, whereas a messenger bag can just be swung around to the front without having to be removed.

For those who often commute on busy subway trains or walk through crowded areas, security can be a top concern. Because of a backpack's design, a nefarious person can easily reach into one of the pockets, or even get at the main compartment, without the wearer ever noticing. A messenger bag sits safely at your side or can be swung to the front, where you can see if someone tries to reach into it. Most also feature a top flap that adds another layer of security.

Types Of Messenger Bags

For professional use, satchels and briefcase messenger bags are best. Satchels closely resemble traditional briefcases, but are softsided instead of hardsided. They feature two vertical straps with either snaps or buckles to keep them securely closed and are often made from some type of leather or suede. They will feature a top handle, and most have removable shoulder straps. Briefcase messenger bags are thicker than other styles and can stand up on their own. They are usually made from leather, as well, have a large number of organizational pockets, internal and external, and feature a similar closure system to satchels.

Vertical messenger bags, often called murses, have a longer height than width and come in a range of fabrics. They can come in any of the styles as other messenger bags, but there is some debate in the fashion world over whether or not men should carry them.

If going for that rugged look, consider a military messenger bag. These are most often made from canvas, are very durable, and inspired by previous military designs. Many have leather straps or other elements and may feature a replica military badge or patch. Some also have military lettering. The interior may or may not be divided.

Saddle bags are identified by their rounded front flap. Other than having a rounded frontal flap, they can feature the design elements of any of the other messenger bags, but commonly have a bare look with minimal, or no, external pockets.

Inspired by the original messenger bags of the utility linemen, organizers feature a number of pockets for those who need organization in their life. With a lot of easily accessed external pockets, they are great for fishermen, hunters, anybody who carries a lot of little items. They are most often made from canvas, cotton, or a synthetic fiber. Another bag for the practical-minded is the camera messenger bag. These will come with an internal compartmentalized, and often padded, divider designed to contain a range of different camera components and accessories. The majority of their pockets will be on the inside, with just one or two external pockets for most-used accessories.

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Last updated on May 15, 2018 by Melissa Harr

Melissa is a writer, editor, and EFL educator from the U.S. She's worked in the field since earning her B.A. in 2012, during which time she's judged fiction contests, taught English in Asia, and authored e-courses about arts and crafts. In her free time, she likes to make stuff out of sticks and string.

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