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Since the leather messenger bag has gained as much recent popularity as any these days, we decided to prepare this guide for you and review some of the best leather messenger bags for men you can get.
Upon doing our search, we found three bags to be among our favorites: Viosi Mens RFID Leather Messenger Bag is our top rated, Samsonite Colombian Leather Flap-Over Laptop Messenger Bag is a close second, and Lifewit Leather Vintage Canvas Laptop Bag is a nice leather canvas/leather hybrid with a low price point.
While we will review many bags later on, before moving forward, one must dwell into the details of this influential bag.
What is a messenger bag?
The term “messenger bag” relates to it being styled after ones that bicycle messengers have long carried. It typically features a shoulder strap so it be worn on one should then run across the body to the opposite hip.
These bags are typically rectangular in shape so that they can carry anything from large envelopes, to magazines, to laptops. The bag closes, usually, with a large front flap that has a buckle, magnet, velcro, or fastener. Normally, they are made from a variety of materials from waterproof materials like nylon or pvc to canvas to the more current, higher quality leather bags.
Where did the messenger bag come from?
While similar shaped and styled bags were used by the military before, the bicycle messenger bag, most refer to as the messenger bag today, came from New York City in the 1950s. The legend, or the story most agree on, states that Globe Canvas, a company owned by the late, great Frank Demartini, made the decision to make a heavy-duty canvas shoulder bag for telephone workers or linemen. These bags were customized so that the worker could easily get to his tools and supplies while being high up on a telephone pole.
Not until the late 1970s did bicycle messengers begin to implement using these bags from Globe Canvas into their daily delivery routine. At this point in history, congestion caused by large amounts of vehicle traffic in quickly growing cities resulted in a boom in bicycle messengers. These bicycle messengers had a negative reputation with many of the population because they seemed apathetic toward other motor vehicles and functioned as if traffic control signals were not for them. This, like many fringe groups, resulted in a subculture.
By 1980, small, unique messenger bag manufacturers began to pop up in cities to meet the need of the growing bike messenger profession and people who liked to identify with the careless attitude of this group. This segment of the population as grown and, over time, the messenger bag has crossed over to become a staple of mainstream fashion.
Why has the the messenger bag continued to increase in popularity?
It is simply the versatility of it. It gives one the ability to look casual or professional, yet also trendy. It allows one the ability to look nice while holding a bag that is, both, functional and comfortable. In addition to that, messenger bags are often like a fine wine; they get better with age. The older and more beaten they become, often, the more people like them. Functionally, these bags are usually large enough to carry anything needed throughout the day. In basic terms, they look cool and work well.
How does one choose a messenger bag?
While there are many different types of messenger bags and similar, for sake of this article, moving forward, we’ll maintain our focus on leather messenger bags only. These tend to be classic and professional and can be used for work and everyday functions. They can carry a laptop or serve as a carry case for longer trips.
Choosing one of these bag is not as easy as one would think. So here are a few things to consider before getting one:
Price is the first criteria to consider since that will determine the rest of the features of your favorite leather messenger bag.
While there are extremely high end bags, one does not need to pay a fortune for one. With that being said, it is very rare to find a quality leather bag for under $50-70. They are made to last and if one is poorly made, another purchase will have to be made in a few years.
A good rule of thumb is that a quality affordable bag ranges anywhere between $100-$200. For more premium options, the starting point would be around$500.
Style and Design
If you want to buy a bag that will last, it’s important to try and stay away from overly trendy bags that maybe out of style in another year or two. Vintage-styles and designs are classic and will remain as such for many years.
Make sure to get a color that will work with most occasions such as brown or black. If originality is a huge factor for you, look for those that are handmade and limited edition rather than choosing a color that will limit the use in the future.
Remember that the inside of the bag is equally important as the outside. It should have a number of compartments that fit what is needed to carry. That could be compartments and pockets for laptop, smartphone, wires and cables, and possibly a wallet.
Look for a bag that fits either a 13”, 14”, 15”, or 17” laptop case based on what one has. A common mistake is buying a bag that is either too big or too small for a particular laptop. If it is too big, the laptop can slide around and be damaged, if it is too small, it will be carried under the arm in addition to the bag because there is no way to make it fit. Now, if you’re planning on using the bag to work on the go, meaning that you place it down in public places, it is a good idea to consider security in its design. There should be enough paddling, clasps or buckles to stop another from taking the contents without permission.
That’s really the whole point of paying something extra for your leather messenger bag.
One does not want to spend good money on a bag for it to tear apart after little use. Odds are it will be rubbed on the ground, placed in the car, or used in rough weather. It needs to be built to last. While leather is notoriously strong, pay extra attention to the stitching and ensure that it is strong enough to withstand rough situations and heavy weight-loads.
Here is a brief checklist, for all user types.
- Professional – look for fine, smooth leather. Go with solid black or dark brown. Seek a design that is minimalist with very little flashiness. Look for metal, sleek finishes on the hardware.
- Students – look for durability in the leather and stitching. Color should be based on personal preference but stay away from anything too drastic. It should have plenty of compartments to carry the laptop, notebooks, pencils, etc. It should come with basic, high functioning hardware.
- Outdoor, Rugged – look for a thick leather. Go for a bag that has earthy tones and colors. Seek out heavy duty (but comfortable) straps, buckles, and well done, heavy stitching. A weathered, distressed hardware is good because it shows very little wear.
- Flashy, Eccentric – look for smooth leather. Allow the accents to be on the straps and buckles and keep the overall color dark and elegant. Look for interesting details and features. Allow the metal hardware to make a statement and be striking.
Time to review some of the most popular leather and leather accented messenger bags to buy.
Best Leather Messenger Bags for Men
A bag that comes in at a low price point largely due to its canvas and leather hybrid design. This bag can be bought in a variety of colors that include: Khaki, Army Green, Grey, and Black. It is made with a top of genuine cowhide crazy horse leather and a base of oil wax canvas. The leather top flap has some wrinkles and scratches in it to give it the vintage, rugged feel. The oil wax canvas is durable and rugged washed for long lasting use. As a result to the treatment and quality of the materials, this bag is waterproof.
It has pockets on both sides of the bag for carrying small cylinder things such as a water-bottle or umbrella. This keeps things that could be wet away from the delicate inner contents like laptops and books. It contains a large back pocket and two open front pockets for small items. The leather flip top has two magnetic buckles and secures items with double security. It has classic bronze buckles and comes with a strap with a leather connection point and a leather handle for carrying options
Inside the bag is a main compartment that will fit a laptop, tablet, folder, or book up to 14 inches. Additionally, there are two interior pockets designed to carry cards and cell phones. It has a inner wall zipper pocket for added security as well.
This well priced, quality bag comes in at 14.2 x 4.9 x 10.6 inches and weighs around 3 lbs. It is well designed and holds up. It is a little too distressed for the professional user but would work well for the student or outdoor type individual.
One beautifully crafted bag that comes in at a fair price point. It could be considered a high end bag with a moderate price point. It is made from genuine grain drum dyed buffalo leather and while it has a few minor scratches and wrinkles, as much leather does, it looks very classy and professional. It, also, has a unique distinction of offering RFID protection which means it protects valuable information from those that scan for credit card info and other confidential material. It comes with a 30 day money back guarantee, so if one doesn’t like it they can get a complete refund.
This bag comes with two large front pockets which are 4.50” and 3.50” respectively. These pockets contain a space for three pen holders. It, also, has a large 11” x 8” zipper pocket on the back. Its strap is an adjustable 60” and leather fronted and double padded on the contact point. It locks with antique brass locks or buckles for quality protection.
Inside the bag has two additional pen holders, and three pockets. One of these is zippered. In addition to that it has a padded laptop holder with a velcro strap that fits up to a 16” laptop.
This well designed bag comes in at 16” x 12” x 3” and weighs 5 lbs. Included with this bag is a RFID money clip that adds the same level of protection for cards, license, etc. that the bag does in easy to carry form.
Another leather bag that is made from minimally treated natural Colombian cowhide. Its timeless look has the minor “character” of all leather but looks sleek. It comes from a long trusted brand in the luggage world in Samsonite. The particular product comes with a three year warranty.
It has a handy front pocket that comes with multiple organizing features to keep business and school essentials. This includes pen, cell phone, and ID holders. It comes with a large zippered rear pocket for large files and notebooks. The strap is a canvas with a soft comfortable leather connect point. It has bronzed hardware for a classic look.
Internally, it has tablet pockets and a padded laptop compartment that fits a 15.6” laptop. The entire inside pocket zips so that none of its contents are evacuated regardless of position carried or placed down.
It is a good bag from a quality brand that does all that it should. It is a little thicker at 16.5” x 12” x 5.5” and it weighs 3.9 lbs. It’s beautiful and it’s built to last.
An aged bag made from 100% pure lightweight goat leather. No harmful, nasty chemicals were used to tan this bag so it won’t cause a reaction in those with sensitive skin. This is a product that darkens over time providing a darker long lasting tone after a few uses. It is nicely priced for a high quality, no frills bag.
It contains rust proof brass polished buckles. It wears a little stiffer than other bags with an adjustable strap with little cushioning. It contains two external front pockets to store smaller item and a leather handle so it can function as a briefcase if needed as well. I has a large full sized zipper pocket on the back of it.
It has a heavy duty olive green canvas lining. Inside are 3 internal compartments and 2 full length zippered pockets on the inner walls of the bag. It can, with a little work, hold a 15” laptop but works best with a 13” laptop or tablet. It doesn’t have a ton of added features but looks nice and the contrast of the tanned leather and bright green inside will appeal to some buyers.
This product comes in at 14” x 11” x 3” and weight a very low weight of 1.8 lbs. It is good for the student or artist that doesn’t want tons of features just a quality, really light weight bag.
For a product that performs while being crafted by a company that prides itself of making very little impact on the environment, this may be the product for you. It is handmade by desert people in India. It is made from mostly goat, with a little buffalo leather, with 100% eco-friendly methods. It is tanned with vegetable tanning to retain its durability and flexibility. It is made with really well done stitching with high-quality thread, buckles, and zippers. It has a nice, not overbearing, vintage look.
This product, too, has no added features. It contains a leather strap and one external zippered pocket. Inside it has green canvas lining with two zippered pockets on the walls of the bags and two more compartments for carrying necessities. This product is well made but lacks some of the added features of other messenger bags. It will hold a 14” laptop comfortably.
The bag is 15” x 11” x 4” and weighs only 2.5 lbs. It is built to last and time and care is put into this product. It has a nice stylish look and works well for those that care more about the built quality rather than the offered features and compartments.
A bag for the trendy male. It come with two color options” grey and coffee. It is made of superior cowhide crazy horse leather that is a compliment to the durable and rugged wash canvas fabric. It is lightweight and very durable regardless of use and weather. Works well for those looking for a bag with leather parts but not completely leather.
This bag contains a leather snap that reveals two decent sized pockets to hold smaller items. It is padded throughout with a bottom foam padding that protects the computer or tablet from hitting the ground. It’s got a handle made of the same quality leather and it has well made brass snaps to close it well. The back has a snap pocket to carry notebooks and folders and comes with a wide shoulder strap that makes it more comfortable to carry. That said, the strap can be removed when not needed.
Inside it has a main storage compartment that will hold a 14” laptop. It has a zippered pocket for smaller important items like wallets and ID and two inner wall pockets for cellphone, chargers, and glasses.
It is a nice looking bag that is a little taller but slimmer than many bags at 16.4” x 12.7” x 1.8”. It weigh only 2.2 lbs for a nice carrying weight. It is easy to clean and is built to last. Good for the student or everyday use.
These bags are made from the best Hunter buffalo leather and lined with a durable canvas. It is handcrafted by artisans. Due to its handmade nature, each bag looks slightly unique in a good way. This comes from the popular brand Komal by Komal Chaudhari. KomalC serves as a newer luxury yet affordable brand made with high end leather.
The messenger bag has a nice weather appearance and comes with two low profile brass buckles. Underneath the buckle is a large pocket for carrying slim products like folder and notebooks. The back has a large zipper pocket and the strap has a nice padded leather accent for shoulder comfort.
A padded laptop slot fits up to a 15” laptop that closes with a velcro, canvas strap (word of warning the padding is only on one side. It has additional slots for smaller items. It does not contain an internally zipper.
This bag is made from great material and it’s fairly compact with dimensions of 16.4” x 12.7” x 1.8” and weighs 2.2 lbs.
This bag, like its closely related brother above, is made from the best Hunter buffalo leather and lined with durable canvas. Where it differs from the bag above is with the style and features. This bag simply looks more original based on its design. It has nice rustic vintage look and added pockets.
The bag closes with concealed snap closures for easy, quick access to its contents. It has an adjustable shoulder strap with a leather cushion for the shoulder. It has two big front pockets to carry items like cellphones, wallets, and small tablets and books. It contains a large zippered pocket on the back for files and folders.
Inside the bag has a padded laptop compartment that fits a 15” laptop. It has slots for pens, pencils, and cards. The largest compartment is divided into the laptop section and another large section.
A bag close to the bag above in terms of quality. It looks nice and functions well band if one is looking for a stylish bag, that won’t break the bank, to be treated gently and not carry much weight this is more than a decent option. It is slightly smaller than the bag above at 15.5” x 11” x 4” and weighs about a pound more at 3.8 lbs. This is due to the leather pockets on the front.
Another product made from real goat leather for lightweight and durability. It contains a few unique qualities that made it appear very different than the average leather messenger bag. For one, it contains a handy cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap. It, also, contains a card, pen, and phone holder inside the bag.
It has a nice look with a ton of small pockets. It has a small pocket on each side that snaps closed. It has a larger but not too big pocket on the front that closes as well. It has a large zipper pocket on the back for notebooks and folders. The strap is leather and a little narrow. The buckles are brass and low profile.
Inside it has that green canvas that several other bags have had but this bag has the distinction of having key additions the others don’t. It has holders for pens, cards, and smaller items. It also has a padded laptop slot that others did not have, fits 14” laptop or smaller. It is not the best in terms of features but is an improvement from those with similar styles. Due to the pockets, this does have a little more flair to it.
This is nice and affordable bag for those looking for something under $100. This bag comes in at 15” x 11” x 5” and 2.2 lbs. Although this isn’t a top-notch quality if you’re looking for something that is decently priced with great style, this could be your next leather messenger bag.
A bag that comes in at a low price point for a 100% genuine leather bag. It has a nice smooth brown finish that leans a little more vintage, rugged than professional. It is made of naturally treated goat leather and has a strong canvas lining inside it.
It comes with a single, closable pocket on the front that works well for cellphones and keys. It has an adjustable leather strap that contains no additional padding. The interior consists of three huge compartments with two zipper pockets on the walls. It is a nice looking, pretty basic, bag that suits well for those with a tight budget. Just keep in mind not to put very heavy things it this bag.
This bag’s dimensions are 15 x 11 x 4 and because of the goat leather in has a light weight of 2.2 lbs.
For the man needing a nice professional leather messenger bag, this is a good option. It is made from vintage crazy horse leather. It is well crafted with a dark brown color and nice twin antique brass buckles that push button close. It gives this product a nice clean finish and appearance.
It has a comfortable strap with a leather padded connect point. The back has a larger zipper pocket that, due to the leather being firm, can safely carry a tablet or IPad. Inside is a compartment that is big enough to comfortably carry a 15” laptop. This pocket zips to keep all items secure and safe.
Many professionals are looking for a sleek, low profile bag and this is a great option. It comes in at 15.2” x 13.3” x 3.3” and weighs 3.6 lbs. It holds up and can handle weight. The one complain about this bag is that it needs to be left out in the sun after purchasing it. It was most likely recently stained and if it isn’t allowed to fully dry, it will stain clothes. Other than that inconvenience, this bag performs nicely.
This bag comes in a varieties of brown and a black. It has tan, basic brown, dark brown, and cognac options. It is made from full grain cowhide leather and it’s backed by a manufacturer’s lifetime limited warranty.
The front contains two gusset pockets that have organizer features such as a cell phone pocket. It has an adjustable and nicely padded shoulder strap. It comes with a luggage tag as a bonus. This strap is adjustable from 20 to 24 inches. Inside it has a zipper pocket on the back wall and one large nice pocket for up to a 16” laptop. The inside is made of a quality polyester lining.
Kenneth Cole is a brand that many people are familiar with. It is 15” x 11” x 3” and weighs 2.2 lbs. An overall nice looking bag that looks professional and with more than decent built quality.
Like many Kenneth Cole products, this bag comes with color choices (the standard black and two shades of brown and a nice looking navy). It is made from rich, full grain cowhide leather with a single flapover design. The bag closes with a magnetic snap closure.
The bag has a full length open pocket with a magnetic snap on the back. It contains an adjustable strap and leather handle. As the bag is opened, under the flap there are two open top pockets for small items. One of these pockets has a cell phone holder and the other has pen loops and credit card slots. The main compartment has nice features such as a padded computer pocket that fits up to a 15.6” laptop, a padded iPad pocket, and a full length zipper pocket.
This is a very nice looking which also comes at a very good price. Unless you carry a lot of weight in your bag, this will last you for a good number of years even for everyday use. The bag is 16” x 12” x 3” and comes in at a nice 2.4 lbs weight.
A few closing thoughts
As most know by now, the messenger bag has become a staple in most households. It looks great for most occasions and, if a quality product is bought, it will last for a long time.
We hope that our recommendations will help you make a well informed decision on your next messenger bag purchase. Since a messenger bag gets more refined and interesting with time, we hope you found our guide useful when looking for one that will last and best suits your personal style.
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