Updated: June 2014 - With so many options to choose from, and prices anywhere from $50 to over $500, selecting the perfect messenger bag can be an overwhelming task. We’ve helped hundreds of people select messenger bags they use everyday, and we’ll help you sort through the options to find the best one for you.
First, take a quick look at our current most popular recommendations:
Best for Men
Best for Women
Best for Travel
Best for Biking
Messenger Bag Buying Guide
2013 Bag Reviews
Every year, we see messenger bags become popular simply because of good marketing. But sometimes bags rise to the top because they’re truly superior messenger bags. We’ve weeded out the bags that aren’t worth your money, and come up with a list of what we feel are the very best of the best when it comes to messenger bags.
Best Messenger Bags for Men
Besides being a vintage and classic beauty, the Leyden & Sons Original Messenger Bag is very sturdy with neat stitching and bolts. As one Amazon reviewer puts it, “this is the kind of bag I will still have 30 years from now.”
It has a very roomy interior which can easily accommodate a laptop and books. Its strap can be re-positioned so that the bag can be used as a backpack too. Unfortunately, you’re not going to find this bag cheaper than about $400, but with 26 five-star customer reviews, it’s well worth the investment and is our #1 recommendation for men. Read More –>
The Risky Business is a favorite among our visitors and an Amazon Bestseller because of its high-quality leather and current discounts on Amazon. Many men use it as their everyday work back, but its also classy enough for formal use.
It’s quite roomy and can carry a laptop, some textbooks and notebooks without looking like it’ll burst. The only real drawback is that its magnetic closure is a little weak. As many of us don’t have $300 to shell out on a bag, the current discount on the Risky Business makes it a great buy for men. Read more –>
3. Visconti Leather Distressed Messenger Bag Review
The Visconti Leather Distressed Messenger Bag is sleek, stylish and comfortable to use. Constructed from premium oiled leather, the Visconti Messenger Bag delivers a soft, supple feel with plenty of compartments for storing paperwork, books, and electronic accessories. The sliding shoulder grip provides a great deal of comfort, even when toting heavy items. The Visconti is available in mocha, oil black, oil brown, and our favorite, oil tan.
The Visconti Messenger Bag gets superb customer reviews, with some owners touting that this bag is the perfect messenger bag.
The design of this bag is also very versatile just like the Kenneth Cole Messenger Bag, but its leather is higher quality. It’s made with calf leather which means two things: One, it is very lightweight, and second, it ages very well.
It’s casual enough for town and sleek enough for business. It’s fairly large which is just right if you need to carry lots of stuff on a daily basis, but its probably not the best option if you’re on airplanes more often than not. To top it off, Cenzo customer service has an outstanding reputation. Read More –>
Top Messenger Bags for Women
1. Vera Bradley Messenger Bag
I use this bag for weekend travel with my students, and it easily holds my tablet, file folders of tournament information and papers to grade, as well as wallet and phone and chargers and basic “purse stuff.”
Vera Bradley bags are all the rage right now for women. From small clutches to large totes, Vera Bradley offers a wide variety of styles to suit your needs. The Vera Bradley Messenger Bag is available in a ton of chic patterns that we adore. This messenger bag features a comfortable 52 inch shoulder strap, and measures 11.5 inches in height by 4.25 inches in width. It’s big enough to pack full of items from everyday necessities to books or even a laptop. The plastic push-lock closure opens to reveal two zipper pockets under the flap.
Our favorite feature of the Vera Bradley Messenger Bag is that it’s machine washable so keeping this beautiful bag clean is an easy task.
With such a small price tag, this model is a almost an obvious choice to add to your bag collection. It has roomy pockets and slim shape that stops it from bobbing around awkwardly. It also comes with a superior strap that is not prone to twisting.
The main drawback is that many people complain of its shiny nylon material being a little cheap looking for more formal occasions. Read More –>
This bag has roomy and easily accessible pockets and is big enough to carry all the essentials without looking bulky. One of its most well liked features is its back pocket with magnetic closure that makes accessing things easy without having to deal with zippers. It also comes in very interesting colors as well.
According to many reviewers, the main con of this model, however, is that credit cards and pens slip easily from its pockets. Read More –>
Best Messenger Bag for Travel
1. Timbuk2 Command TSA-Friendly Messenger Bag Review
The Timbuk2 Command is easily the #1 messenger bag for travel in 2014. It features a nifty way of unzipping so you don’t have to take your laptop out as you whizz through airport security. It’s also water resistant, which is an essential feature if you travel anywhere that where it rains a lot.
Reviewers have almost endless good things to say about the Timbuk2 Command, as well as, of course, the whole Timbuk2 messenger bag company. The Command bag has spent many months now in the top 5 best-rated list on Amazon.
This messenger bag is perfect for travel because it makes organization very easy with its perfectly placed pockets.
Its front strap, for example, has small pockets which allow owners to easily access their essentials without needing to open the bag’s interior compartment. It is also made of tough nylon which protects its contents from rain and dust. Read More –>
3. Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag
Finding the perfect bag for traveling can be a daunting task. No one wants to lug around a heavy bag that can weigh them down and get in the way of having a good time. We’ve found a great messenger bag for traveling that’s compact yet roomy, and best of all, inexpensive.
The Travelon Anti-Theft Messenger Bag features locking zippers to prevent theft or loss. While that’s a great feature, we love that the Travelon is less than $60, and delivers a roomy main compartment with plenty of pockets for organization and easy access. This messenger bag is available in black and stone, and is made of durable nylon material.
Top Messenger Bags for Biking
This messenger bag is perfect for biking purposes because of its very roomy interior and the comfort that it provides to its users.
It has well padded straps that are deigned in such a way that the bag’s weight is well distributed. Therefore, the rider won’t have any problems carrying it even when biking. Read More –>
2. Urban Sport Messenger Cross-Body Outdoor Biking Backpack
Nice padding on the back, with plenty of pockets have made it my most frequently used bag on day to day basis.
The Urban Sport Messenger Cross Body Outdoor Biking Backpack is a great option that comes in under $20. We absolutely love the price, but this bag delivers a ton of great features too. The Urban Sport Messenger Bag is available in your choice of black, blue, and red bags. It features a roomy main compartment with dual zippers and a rain flap to keep your items safe and dry. There are a ton of pockets in this bad boy, including a front accessory pocket, a mesh water bottle pocket, and an elastic cell phone holder. Made from polyester materials, the Urban Sport is easy to maintain, and provides a padded back panel and an adjustable padded shoulder strap for added comfort.
This messenger bag is designed to have roomy and well-positioned pockets that makes it easy for the owner to access things.
A lot of people particularly like its two front pockets, which are perfect for storing items like a flashlight and music players which are very common to bikers. It also has pockets for a water bottle and an umbrella as well. Read More –>
How to Choose the Perfect Messenger Bag
Everyone is different, and has varying wants and needs, as well as personal tastes. However, there are few key things to consider before making your purchase.
- Purpose is the first thing to consider before purchasing a messenger bag. If you’re a student, chances are that you’ll need a bag that can comfortably carry books, electronic devices, as well as your personal items. If not, you may not need a larger bag, and can opt for a smaller, lighter version.
- Durability is another important factor to consider, because these bags are sure to take a good beating from time to time, and you want yours to last and hold up, without losing any of its good looks. If your messenger bag looks great but doesn’t last, in the end purchasing it was a waste of money.
- Comfort is extremely crucial, especially if you will be carrying heavy loads in your bag. Finding a bag that doesn’t leave your back or shoulders aching is an essential function of a superior messenger bag.
- Style is an additional consideration, as messenger bags function as an accessory and can add to or take away from your overall look.
- Finally, price is one of the most vital factors to think about before making your purchase. Determine your budget for your bag before looking around to keep yourself in check, and avoid making an impulsive purchase that you can’t really afford.
Now that you know what to consider, you may be feeling overwhelmed about this process. It may seem doubtful that you can find a messenger bag that ticks all of these boxes. We’ve made the job a little easier for you, and selected some of the absolute best bags currently on the market according to the key factors listed above.
Extra Considerations for Women Buying Messenger Bags
- Design Just because women are more active nowadays doesn’t mean that they have to carry along bags that look mannish and unappealing. A bag’s design and look not be that important for some men but there are women who consider this as a very important element. Messenger bags in interesting colors and in good shapes are best for this use. Women don’t need to sacrifice their fashion sense just because you’re looking for an efficient tote.
- Shoulder Strap One of the most common complaints of users of messenger bags is the strain that they suffer on their shoulders by walking around with it for long periods of time. Women should look for bags that won’t put too much strain on their shoulders. Bags with wide straps and in the proper length is very important because their frames are much sensitive than men.
- Number of Pockets Generally, the top bags should have the right number of pockets that come in the right size and placed in the right locations. For women, however, the importance of these elements is much more pronounced because they carry different things than men. Sure, both genders need pockets for their keys, and cards, and pens. But women have to stuff other things on their bags that men usually don’t need to such as cosmetics and a hairbrush. The best bags for women, therefore, should have pockets that can accommodate these.
Your Perfect Bag Awaits!
And there you have it, an easy guide that can help jump start your search for the best messenger bag for you. These may not be ultimate answers to your shopping dilemma but browsing through them can sure help you decide on what you really want to get for yourself. In essence, the best messenger bag of your choice should all have these three factors: functional, easy to carry, yet still fashionable looking. Now good luck on your search!
Messenger Bag Recommendations from 2013
Not finding the bag you were hoping for in the reviews above? Try some of our other recommendations, most of which were in the top lists for 2013 and previous years. (Hint: Look for a lightly used version of these bags on Amazon to get the bag for a discount.)
Timbuk2 Minnie Rae Women’s Shoulder Bag
This bag is lightweight and compact, and falls perfectly into the body shape so it’s easy to carry. Like the eBag, however, some people don’t like the plastic-like sheen of its material.
We have this bag on the list because it makes a nice combo between a messenger bag and a purse. It can be ideal for occasions when you need less than a messenger bag and more than a purse. I’ve added it to my collection and I recommend it to my friends all the time.
One of the strongest points of the Timbuk2 is that it is made of a highly durable nylon that is perfect for the rough use associated with biking.
It also has a very roomy interior and well thought out pockets that saves the owner a lot of time when looking for things. Read More –>