Best Messenger Bags for Busy Professionals on the Move

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Credit: Pexels, Fancycrave

Gone are the days when we expected business professionals to dress in suits and carry briefcases.

In many cases, employers have allowed the pendulum to swing to an opposite extreme. Some startup companies and other relaxed environments have few ties to traditional office environments. Sandals and backpacks have become more common than wingtips and attachés. But that level of casualness is not for everybody. In many cases, professionals want to look, for lack of a better term, like adults. While backpacks are undeniably useful and convenient, they can appear juvenile. On the other hand, briefcases are passe and could make you look out of touch. Rather, the best messenger bags provide the perfect balance.

These versatile bags have the ease of use found with backpacks. They are also available in more professional looks for those seeking something more formal. You no longer have to settle for either style or substance. Check out some of the best messenger bags currently on the market in our list below.

The best messenger bags are so much more than an oversized purse.

When these bags first began appearing in workplaces, they were sometimes met with derision. Along with tote bags and other carryalls, people have often dismissed these bags as 'man purses.'

After years of evolution, however, many folks have changed their opinion. Sure, they're still not for everybody. But the varying styles, quality and materials have created a new market. Guys who might have never considered one of the best messenger bags 10 years ago are now softening their stance. And there's good reason for the shifting sentiment. The best messenger bags offer great versatility and durability. Plus, they just look cool. 

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Credit: Pixabay, Pexels

Why carry a messenger bag?

As we've already discussed, there are several options available to carry your belongings to work. But there must be something special to make messenger bags so popular. In addition to the fact that they are simply good at toting supplies, there are other factors. Most notably might be the generally clean design that appeals to a wide range of guys. They bear no real resemblance to typical ladies' handbags. There usually are no exterior pockets or pouches to clutter up the appearance.

But inside, there will be plenty of room for your laptop or any other essentials. And designers spend plenty of time considering how customers will carry their bags. The cross body strap gives you a secure grasp even if you need to get active during the day. Plus, there is the added benefit of options. Since messenger bags have been around for a while, designers are getting adventurous. Maybe you're looking for professionalism to rival your grandfather's briefcase. Or you might want something funky for your laid back work environment. Either way, there's a stylish and functional messenger back to suit your needs.

What is the difference between a messenger and other bags?

It's pretty easy to tell the difference between a messenger and, for instance, a duffel bag. You can separate most types of bags by the way they are worn or carried. Some, like a briefcase, you will carry directly in your hand. Then there is the backpack, which you wear as its name suggests, of course. You can carry a duffel with a shoulder strap on the same side on which you carry the bag.

Then there is the messenger bag. These are typically worn over the chest. You wear the bag itself against your lower back. When you need something, simply shift it to the front to reveal the opening flap. These were initially common among bike messengers, hence the name. Even today, professionals in a variety of industries find them more comfortable than other options. 

Who are messenger bags for?

Even the best messenger bags are often undersold as merely a glorified sack. To be sure, there are some on the bottom end of the spectrum that might deserve that title. But when properly designed and manufactured, these are ideal for many professionals. And even though they're typically associated with men, they are not gender specific. Anybody in need of a practical way to carry a lot of stuff in any situation should consider one.

Messenger bags offer uniqueness in their appearance and versatility. Like any satchel, they tend toward a more casual appearance than some professional bags. But in our modern workforce, they are generally acceptable even in executive offices. They can be dressed up or down, depending on your style and the circumstances.

Where can you carry a messenger bag?

Maybe the biggest selling point of the best messenger bags is their functionality. We've already covered their roots among bike couriers. So it's clear they are designed to be worn close and securely in a variety of circumstances. Most have buckles or latches meant to lock whatever is inside where you put it.

The features and storage capabilities vary, but they're all made to be worn snugly. That means they won't be cumbersome if your journey becomes more rugged than planned. Sure, they won't hold as much as a big duffel bag, yet that's hardly the point. These are an excellent alternative to less practical but more formal briefcases. And if you don't want to give up the freedom a backpack provides, don't judge too quickly. The way the best messenger bags are worn, you'll have all the movement you need.


The Best Messenger Bags for Busy Professionals:

Clearly there is something to be said for the best messenger bags. Between their spacious capacity, streamlined look, and functional practicality, these bags are not only useful, but also stylish. See for yourself!

1. Frye Oliver Leather Messenger Bag

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Credit: The Frye Company

We'll start with a beautiful dark leather bag by the Frye Company. This one will pair perfectly with almost any suit. It also dresses up more casual outfits without looking mismatched.

Depending on your perspective, you might find it too conservative. But a classic leather messenger bag is a great addition. It is an all around solid choice for almost any occasion. The high quality construction will give you assurance your possessions will be safe.

There is secure storage inside and a stunning exterior that announces its opulence. Its straps are designed intuitively to fit your specific body perfectly. Every element is expertly crafted. All of the pockets are sized right and make sense. If you're limited to one bag for all occasions, this one belongs on your short list.

2. Barbour Wax Leather Tarras Bag

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Credit: J. Barbour & Sons

This entry from Barbour is a bit more casual than the leather bag above. That does not mean it's any less worthy of consideration. Similarly, it is a timeless design that matches nearly anything in a typical guy's closet.

There is great storage and organizational tools designed into the bag's interior. And the waxed leather outer will provide worry-free durability. A strap provides comfort and practicality in a great design. This is one bag that can be worn anywhere and still withstand the test of time!

This option comes together with impeccable details. Pay attention to antique brass fittings that reveal the craftsmanship behind this product. Trims throughout the bag are finished in high quality leather. It appears rugged yet domesticated, earning it entry in any type of environment. The Barbour Wax Leather Tarras Bag ranks among the best messenger bags on the market. If it suits your style, it is sure to suit your needs.

3. Briggs & Riley Verb Dispatch Messenger Bag

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Credit: Briggs and Riley

The Briggs and Riley Verb Dispatch is a stellar messenger bag. It's durable construction and thoughtful interior layout make it supremely user friendly. You'll find plenty of room for a standard laptop and much more. Organize all of your stuff with logically placed pockets and dividers.

This is such an intuitive bag -- you might want to use it for more than your daily office commute. It could make a great addition to your luggage, at least for overnight or short business trips. A clear style upgrade from your old backpack, this is a great choice for many guys. Classic black styling and zippered pouches will never go out of style. And a solid feel gives you security in its construction and durability. Take this bag with you wherever you go to make sure you never get caught unprepared.

4. Timbuk2 Especial Primo Messenger

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Credit: Timbuk2

It's clear Timbuk2 is going after a different clientele than some of the more trendy designs. This and other offerings from the brand are aimed at those who need a rugged and reliable satchel. The Especial Cycling Messenger is one of the best messenger bags we've reviewed based primarily on its value. It is not for everyone, but for the very active professionals, it is worth a look.

Not only is it virtually impervious to the elements, it is lightweight and sturdy. Rely on this bag to keep your stuff safe no matter what your commute looks like. If you bike to work through muddy alleys, don't worry. Just wipe off your bag when you get where you're going. Trust your papers are clean and safe inside. And if you're tasked with delivering important paperwork throughout the day, this is a solid option. Use it day in and day out for a comfortable fit. It's a bag you can trust for a price that won't break the budget. 

5. Cote & Ciel Riss Suede Memory Messenger Bag

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Credit: Cote & Ciel

Here is perhaps the best messenger bag for those who want to integrate high fashion. This is a beautiful French design based on the quivers of a horseback archer. It is worn in a manner reminiscent of that storied history. The utter modernization of the design is apparent in its finish and look.

This is a stunning bag with incredible craftsmanship. Pay special attention to the unique Suede Memory fabrication. It is a polyester blend unlike anything you've seen. The material is formulated to wear into a soft, luxurious suede substitute. It is unique in that the beautiful bag will only grow more lush over time.

A suede appearance is accented by a high quality buckle keeping everything in place. And zippered pockets provide some additional storage. Your smartphone and other gadgets can find a safe home inside this messenger bag. 

The downside for all of this opulence, however, is decreased functionality. If you only have a tablet or a Macbook Air, though, it might be sufficient. And if it is, you've cleared just about the only hurdle between you and a stylish satchel. 

6. Hard Graft Flat Pack Messenger Bag

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Credit: Hard Graft

Hard Graft has created an impressive work of art with this offering. One reason we've selected it as one of the best messenger bags is its exclusivity. But all of this company's products are produced in limited runs, so there's definitely more to it. It is elegant, simple and beautiful. Crafted of this highest quality materials, this is every bit as impressive as the nicest briefcase.

A unique 'X' marks one side of the bag for a very recognizable design element. There are no exterior pockets on this design, so there is some limited access. But that does add to the security that its contents are safe inside.

Regardless of how beautiful the bag is, practicality is often the deciding factor. The Flat Pack Messenger Bag might not be the most intuitive, but it should give you what you need. It's available in two sizes, so you can decide how much space you need. With acute attention to detail, down to the sturdy strap buckles, prepare to get some compliments.

7. Ernest Alexander Walker Charcoal Messenger Bag

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Credit: Ernest Alexander

This messenger bag proves once and for all that casual and luxury are not mutually exclusive terms. Ernest Alexander set out several years ago to improve the messenger bag. Find the results of that effort in this design.

You'll immediately notice this is not the posh leather bags on this list. It is made to be carried rough, tossed around and survive to tote another day. But at the same time, it is designed to attract attention. The wax cotton canvas is not in itself opulent, but it is undeniable quality. Like some of the other materials on this list, it only grows more attractive over time. And the way it is stitched together creates a truly useful and impressive messenger bag.

The design elements play out in functionality, too. Multiple zippered pouches and pocket fit a variety of necessities. Leather straps are made to be used during actual physical activity and resist wear. When you get where you're going, rest assured your stuff will be safe inside.

8. Brooks England Barbican Shoulder Bag

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Credit: Brooks England

Brooks England deserves a slot on the list of best messenger bags because its founder basically invented the segment. More than a century ago, John Boultbee Brooks obtained two patents to improve existing satchels. His company has revolutionized cycling over the years.

It has done the same for cycling bags. This Barbican bag continues that tradition with expert functionality and comfort. Intuitive features like a waist strap give you added stability when you need it. Each bag is hand crafted with vegetable tanned leather. It's the same material used in Brooks saddles and it is made to last.


Pick up one of the best messenger bags for a fashionable and functional daily accessory.

You think nothing of seeing someone walking around a city with a backpack. You don't know where that person is going, and you really don't think twice. It's just a functional bag used to tote whatever its owner needs to carry. If you find yourself in that camp but want to give your wardrobe an upgrade, this list might help.

We hope you enjoyed our recommendations. With several solid options to go on, you can now make an informed decision about your next bag. If you have a favorite messenger bag, let us know in the comments section below. And if you learned something useful, share this list with the fashionable professionals in your life.

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