What You Need to Know about the Best Messenger Bags for Men and Women

If you are looking for a bag that is great for all environments or one that you won’t outgrow, then the messenger bag should be your top choice. This type of bag truly is incredibly versatile. So, whether you are a bike messenger, college student, or business professional, you will not have to look any further than this bag.

While it may be clear that a messenger bag is the ideal carrier for you, what might be less apparent is which one you should choose. After all, there are numerous designs, features, and styles to choose from. To make it simpler for you to narrow down your search, we have come up with some criteria that you can turn to.

Learn How to Find the Best Messenger Bag for You

Everyone needs that one bag that you can really on in day to day life. While a backpack may typically fill this role, this type of bag isn’t especially suitable for certain environments. A messenger bag, however, is the best of both worlds. On the one hand, it is just as useful as a traditional backpack. On the other, it looks chic (and age appropriate) enough to suit practically any adult.

The buying practice for a messenger bag, however, may be less clear-cut than you imagined. While the carrier may appear to be quite simplistic, it does have more than a few features that require careful consideration. So, to make sure that you actually need, here is a compilation of the important facts and details:

What Type of Messenger Bag Do You Need?

There is no denying that messenger bags tend to look alike. As such, it may be surprising to learn that there are different types available on the market. Before you decide on one, though, you first need to determine what you require your messenger bag for.

Considering that these are actually referred to as messenger bags, it would stand to reason that these bags are quite beloved by cyclists. While this is the main purpose of this type of bag, you will need to remember that not all of these carriers are designed to be ideal for cycling. If this is what you need your bag for, look for one that has a malleable back so that it can mold to the shape of your back. Not to mention, you should be able to tightly secure the bag to your back.

Students and business people often like to carry their digital devices in their bag. If this is something that you want to do as well, then you need a laptop messenger bag. Perhaps one of the most important things with such a bag is to make sure that the laptop remains protected. So, you will need to look for a padded area where your laptop can be stored and preferably secured with a strap. Of course, you will need to check that the compartment is just the right size for the device.

If you are looking for a messenger bag that you can use every day, including when you are headed out hiking or camping, then you need something that is quite durable. In this situation, you will find that a tactical or military messenger bag will come in quite handy. This type of bag is made from very tough material and also has numerous pockets so that you can store a greater amount of gear.

Some people prefer to travel with their messenger bags. The only thing to look for with a travel messenger bag is a shorter strap and perhaps, a more compact design. Since you will be walking around quite a bit, the bag will need to sit higher up on your torso and not be too bulky.

Women’s vs. Men’s Messenger Bags

Messenger bags, on average, tend to be just as popular among women as men. Most men find a messenger bag to be a nice alternative to both a backpack as well as a briefcase. So, when shopping around for this type of bag, are there any male-specific or female-specific features to watch out for?

The only discernible variation between messenger bags for men and for women is the style. Men’s bags tend to have a more defined structure and are typically available in neutral colors. On the other hand, there is usually more variety among women’s bags. They have more choices in color, pattern, and even shape. Not to mention, the messenger bags for women often have a softer design and can also double as handbags as well.

Messenger Bags Material

The most common materials used to make messenger bags are nylon, canvas, and leather. Let’s take a look at what each of these fabrics has to offer:

A canvas messenger bag is ideal for anyone who is looking for a bag that they can use day in and day out. It is strong and tough, which makes it unlikely to succumb to rips or tears. Also, it is excellent for carrying loads. These bags are usually better suited to more casual environments. The one downside of this material is that it can be a little heavy. Also, should it get wet, the bag would increase in weight even further.

Nylon is used in more affordable messenger bags. The fabric is durable, strong, and relatively lightweight as well. There are different types of nylon messenger bags, depending on what you require. If you want a bag that is truly heavy duty, you should search for one that is made from ripstop or ballistic nylon.

Last but not least, there is the leather messenger bag. This is often favored by businesspeople or those who want a stylish bag. There is no denying that this type of bag looks incredibly professional. Here, it is important to choose a higher grade material. So, you will need to keep an eye out for full grain leather, top grain leather, or genuine leather. The benefit of these higher end fabrics is that they look a bit better as they age.

Messenger Bag Capacity and Size

Messenger bags often range from small to medium in size. Due to having just one strap as well as the structure of the bag, this isn’t a bag that works well with too much weight or heft. So, these are the capacities that you are most likely to come across:

  • 5 – 10 liters: these bags are best for cyclists. They are large enough to carry small electronic devices, stationary, and some food and water.
  • 11 – 20 liters: bags of this size work well for students. They contain enough space to carry a laptop, books, and a few other supplies.
  • 21 – 35 liters: this range of size is best for travelers. In addition to laptop space, there is also room for clothing items and other essential supplies for short trips.

As previously mentioned, size is also something that you should think about when choosing a messenger bag. Most cyclists will benefit from carrying smaller bags as these will be less likely to move around while they are cycling.

With travelers, though, it is more of a personal choice. If you will only be using your messenger bag as a means of carrying your belongings then it doesn’t matter if you get a bigger one. However, if you are planning on trekking around with the bag, you may want to look for something a bit more compact.

Carrying System

Now, having just one strap does make the messenger bag a bit more versatile while carrying it. You can choose to sling it across your torso so that the bag hangs in the front or the bag. Or, you can hang it from one shoulder so that it sits by your side.

At the same time, there are a few disadvantages associated with this carrying system. For one thing, it means that all of the tension of the bag is carried on just one strap. This means that, often, messenger bags can feel heavier to carry. This is what makes that one strap on the bag quite so important.

First, look for a strap that is a bit wider. This will allow the weight to be distributed a little bit and will stop the strap from cutting into your flesh. Also, you may want to get a strap that has a padded strip, where the bag rests against your shoulder. This, too, will help to spread the weight around.

Security Features

One of the downsides of messenger bags is that you typically have to choose between user ease and security. Most of the messenger bags have a main flap that protects the internal compartments. These flaps are usually fastened to the bag with the help of plastic buckles, Velcro, or hooks.

The thing with plastic buckles that they are easy to separate even while you are wearing your bag. Unfortunately, others, including pickpockets, will find it just as simple to get into your bag. Now, hooks put up a bit of a challenge – for both you and potential thieves. However, you will need to choose one that is incredibly strong and secure for it to work.

If you are going to be commuting all that far, you will probably stick with Velcro strips like most people. Since they are easy to open, it is a good idea to carry your bag in the front when in crowded areas. Now, Velcro does have an annoying habit of making a ripping noise when you are trying to appear nondescript. To avoid this, you can look for Velcro silencer strips.

Additional Features

Now let’s take a look at some of the extra features that you may want to consider:

Water Resistant Features

Most materials like nylon and canvas aren’t naturally water resistant. So, if this is a feature that you are interested in, you will require fabrics that have a special coating on top of them. With nylon, this is usually polyurethane while with canvas a more popular coating is polyvinylchloride. These external layers prevent the moisture from being absorbed into the material.

Reflective Strips

If you cycle or walk around at night, it is important for you to be visible to both cyclists as well as motorists. This is why you should look for a messenger strap that is luminescent in poor light. It will keep you a lot safer.

So, there it is – all that you need to know to find the best messenger bag for yourself.

Top 10 Best Messenger Bags

1 – Chrome Kadet

Chrome BG-196-BK Black One Size Kadet Sling Messenger Bag
  • Quick release seatbelt buckle and shoulder strap connection with daisy chain mounting
  • Loops to attach additional accessories
  • Abrasion resistant 1050 denier nylon
  • Padded rear U-lock holster
  • YKK zippers

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Chrome Kadet:

Reviewers like these things about the Chrome Kadet

  • Users have noted that the Chrome Kadet bag is built with robust nylon materials to ensure durability.
  • Several users said that it is designed in a belt pack style for cross-body wear.
  • Many of the reviewers indicated that it was designed well to provide comfort to the users.
  • Other reviewers noted the presence of a seatbelt aluminum buckle that could be released quickly.
  • Reviewers said that it has a shoulder strap connection.
  • Testers noted that its daisy chain mounting loops could allow users to attach additional accessories.
  • Other testers said that it had padded rear U-lock holster.
  • They also noted that the pack was well-balanced and fully functional.
  • Testers recommended the use of the bag for travel or everyday use.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer found that it is quite small.
  • Another reviewer had issues with the strap of the bag.

2 – Vanquest Envoy 3.0

Vanquest ENVOY 3.0 Messenger Bag (Wolf Gray)
  • Interior Size: 10" (H) x 16" (W) x 6" (D) | Exterior Size: 11" (H) x 17" (W) x 7" (D)
  • 22 organizing compartments & slots | Padded main compartment w/ sleeve for tablets / laptops (up to 15")
  • Two Collapsible side pockets with elastic cord retention for 1-Liter (32 oz) Nalgene Bottles
  • Hi-Viz 210-D Ripstop nylon interior & Spacious compartments for CCW holsters and accessories
  • Made from 1,000-D Military-grade Cordura fabric, coated with Dupont Teflon water repellant

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Vanquest Envoy 3.0:

Reviewers like these things about the Vanquest Envoy 3.0

  • A reviewer thought that the Vanquest Envoy bag is very well constructed and has a lot of smart features.
  • Users mentioned that a lot of thought and engineering has gone into the development of this bag.
  • Reviewers pointed out that its zippered top is very convenient, allowing them to get to most everything without having to open up the entire bag.
  • According to some reviewers, its sticking is very well done.
  • Other reviewers thought that it has great quality and tough build.
  • They felt that the internal organization is impressive.
  • They also noticed that its side pockets indeed would stretch to hold a standard 32 oz, Nalgene bottle or equivalent.
  • Some users pointed out that it is just wide enough for a 15-inch laptop.
  • Testers noted that it is simple and useful.
  • Several reviewers indicated that bag construction is exceptional, same with the materials and design.
  • A user took notice of its lockable pockets and smooth zippers.
  • Another user recommended the use of the pack for everyday use.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the shoulder strap may be considered over-engineered.
  • A few other reviewers noted that it had no organizer pocket for more small items.

3 – Thule Crossover TCMB-115

Thule Crossover TCMB-115 15.4-Inch Macbook/Pro/Air or PC Messenger Bag (Black)
  • Security friendly laptop compartment fits up to a 15" MacBook Pro or PC.
  • Security friendly: Designed in compliance with TSA guidelines.
  • Heat-molded, crush proof SafeZone compartment protects your iPhone, sunglasses and other fragile gear.
  • Pass-through luggage sleeve securely attaches messenger to most rolling luggage.
  • Lightweight, durable fabric is also water-resistant.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Thule Crossover TCMB-115:

Reviewers like these things about the Thule Crossover TCMB-115

  • Most of the testers said that is an awesome pack with smart design and perfect for daily commuting and hiking.
  • Some testers also mentioned that the pack is lightweight and well constructed.
  • More testers said that the pack is roomy and can pack up with more gears and clothes for travelling over the weekend.
  • Some of the reviewers have said that the pack has lots of pockets to keep things organized for daily travel.
  • Few of the reviewers also said that the shoulder straps are well padded to provide more comfort for long carry.
  • A few travellers have also complimented the sturdy zippers of the pack.
  • Some travellers also mentioned that the cross strap in the front are quiet adjustable for provide extra comfort while travelling.
  • Most of the reviewers have said that it is the best functional and stylish pack they have used.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Many reviewers have complained that the pack is not water resistant and all their stuffs got soaked in light rain.
  • A few of the buyers said that the pack is a little expensive compared to other in the same range.

4 – Kelty Versant

Kelty Versant Messenger Bag, Smoke
  • Outdoor meets career with form and function in this versatile bag - it's definitely more than your typical messenger
  • Kelty's historic function & performance, whether a road trip or the daily 9-5, this collection is built for wherever the day's trail takes you
  • Features: laptop sleeve w/ external access, large zip front access pocket, stretch pocket, front organization pocket, blinking light attachment
  • Features: tech compatible, thoughtful access and organization, ventilating back panel and sholder straps, water resistant fabric, reflective logos
  • Dimensions: Size (L x W x D) 18 x 13 x 5 in, Weight 1 lbs 13 oz, Volume 17 L

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Kelty Versant:

Reviewers like these things about the Kelty Versant

  • A lot of users deemed that the Kelty Versant pack is very lightweight.
  • Users recommend the bag for everyday use.
  • Other users noted that the fabric looks kind of like canvas but has a texture, feel and weight that is more like parachute material.
  • Many of those who have tried the pack noted that the flap has a large zipper pocket with a key ring hook that could be found inside.
  • Several users observed that its strap is adjustable and can be quite long if needed.
  • Reviewers have felt that it has a sleek minimalistic look.
  • Many wrote that the bag’s inside is high visibility.
  • Another user said that the pack is an attractive, understated bag, that when fill does bulk out weirdly but still is comfortable to wear.
  • Testers noted that the organizational pocket at the front is a nice touch.
  • Reviewers raved about the padding in the back that will be great when the weather is warm.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user remarked that the straps that hold the flap down have hooks instead of buckles; the hooks tend to come loose rather easily and this leads to the flap being loose and not strapped down half of the time.
  • Another user thought that the bag’s pockets on the main interior are hard to access when the bag is full though.

5 – Osprey Flapjack Courier

Osprey Men's FlapJack Courier Day Pack, Burnt Orange
  • Zippered top slash pocket provides extra storage for items that need to be accessible
  • Reflective graphics and blinker light attachment come in handy for commuting at night
  • A pleated fabric side pocket is perfect for carrying may different types and sizes of water bottles to stay hydrated
  • Zippered pocket provides extra storage in addition to the pack's main compartment perfect for quick access to phone and laptop power cords
  • Internal laptop, tablet sleeve, front pocket for small items and multiple other zippered stash pockets make this pack a dream for daily organization

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Osprey Flapjack Courier:

Reviewers like these things about the Osprey Flapjack Courier

  • Reviewers agree that the Osprey FlapJack backpack provides comfort to the user of the pack.
  • Reviewers also noted that it has enough zippered pockets to secure and store essential items and equipment.
  • Users thought that the bag could be visible at nighttime due to its bike safety light loop.
  • Other reviewers felt that its removable hip belt adjusts well to the load of the bag.
  • Users noted that water bottles could fit securely on its pleated fabric side pocket.
  • Laptop users lauded the presence of a padded sleeve dedicated to keeping their gadgets safe and secure.
  • Gadget savvies likewise praised the sleeve devoted to their tablets.
  • Reviewers found that the pack can be grabbed or carried quickly due to its low profile top carry handle.
  • Reviewers noted that its compartments are easy to access.
  • Other reviewers said that it is equipped with a padded panel to protect and support heavy loads.
  • Users thought that the bag is large enough to carry necessary equipment.
  • They have also mentioned that the bag may be used for travel, commute, or everyday use.
  • Testers have noted that its heavy-duty nylon material can withstand unintentional abuse and abrasions.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user thought that the backpack lacks clips on either corner of its flap.
  • Another user noted that zippers are fragile.
  • A reviewer said that the pack is a little harsh when carrying a small load.

6 – Pacsafe Metrosafe LS250

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS250 12 Liter Anti Theft Shoulder Bag - Fits 11 inch Laptop, Lightweight (1.46 lbs) with RFID Blocking Pocket and Lockable Zippers (Black)
  • Sturdy, roomy shoulder bag with anti-theft technologies and organizational options; ideal for adventures abroad or your daily commute
  • Lightweight, hidden eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded into fabric helps protect against slash-and-run theft
  • Lockabout Security Clip and smart zipper security provide multiple layers of protection and lockdown points for zippers to help prevent pickpockets
  • RFIDsafe blocking material built into a pocket in the main compartment helps protect IDs and credit cards from hacker scanning
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 13.8 x 10.2 x 4.3 in / 35 x 26 x 11 cm

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS250:

Reviewers like these things about the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS250

  • Most reviewers mentioned that the Pacsafe Metrosafe backpack is durable due to its fabric and construction.
  • Many of those who have tried the pack have commented that it is a spacious pack with several organizational options.
  • Others praised its anti-theft technologies which keep their things safe from being stolen.
  • A lot of reviewers thought that that bag is lightweight yet versatile.
  • Users highlighted on the hidden stainless steel wire mesh that embedded into the fabric. This helps protect the bag against slash-and-run theft.
  • Several of those who have used the pack also said that it is equipped with a smart zipper security system which provides multiple layers of protection.
  • Many testers praised its lockdown points for zippers that help prevent pickpockets.
  • Users have noted that the blocking material that is built into a pocket in the main compartment helps protect credit cards and IDS from hacker scanning.
  • Other users thought that it is handy and compact.
  • Reviewers recommend the product for daily use.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user found that the seams are coming apart.
  • Another user noted that the strap is a little too rigid.

7 – Timbuk2 Classic

Timbuk2 116-4-2000 Classic Messenger Bag
  • Pockets: 5 interior slip, 2 interior zip
  • Fits 9 inches laptop
  • Pockets: 3 interior slip, 2 interior zip

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Timbuk2 Classic:

Reviewers like these things about the Timbuk2 Classic

  • A disabled user who walks with a cane thought this bag was perfect for carrying things and still having a free hand.
  • Many users thought the materials used are made for long term durability.
  • It is the perfect size for carrying all they need to bring every day without having to carry a big office/classroom briefcase.
  • One user was so pleased with how it was able to fit his macbook and musical scores with tons of room to spare.
  • A reviewer said that the great quality and built of this bag speaks for itself.
  • A user particularly finds its silent velcro excellent.
  • A reviewer was happy that it’s got lot more room than anticipated and comfortable to wear.
  • Many users find the pockets very useful in holding small items and keeping them organized.
  • Other users loved how the air pockets make carrying a heavy bag extremely easy and comfortable.
  • Some chose the bag for its cool looks and amazing straps.
  • Others enjoy the smooth-to-touch feature of the fabric.
  • Others praised the presence of the removable cross-strap.
  • Internal waterbottle pocket,internal stash pocket, corner flaps and grab handle were dubbed as ‘clever extras’ of the bag.
  • Compression straps is also one of the favorite feature of the bag.
  • Other users said they were drawn to this bag because of the color.
  • A number of users liked how the velcro, buckles, and waist strap make it rather secured.
  • One user was pleased with its excellent style and attention to detail.
  • One owner exclaimed that the bag was better than she imagined it to be.
  • well-made,plenty of pockets,stylish and well designed.
  • A reviewer said it’s got perfect size choices for your individual needs.
  • One user described it as light but tough, designed to last a lifetime.
  • Many find the extra strap an awesome addition as it keeps the bag from shifting up and down while riding.
  • A lot of users agree that it’s a well-designed bag with a good amount of space, toughness, and extra bells and whistles that help them enjoy their rides more.
  • One user exclaimed that this thing looks absolutely and ridiculously astonishing, the color combo is exceptional.
  • too good, pure genius.
  • Some thought it’s a great bag for dads who travel.
  • Other users like how the outer clips are tucked under the flap for additional security.
  • One user dubbed it as a nicely constructed bag with thoughtful upgrades.
  • Overall, users recommend this bag for its durability,versatility,comfort,style,functionality and storage capacity.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Other users find the bag huge and bulky.
  • One reviewer said it’s almost too roomy with no padding.

8 – Chrome Citizen

Chrome Unisex Night Series Citizen Messenger
  • Like a trusty friend, the Chrome Citizen Messenger will be your "go-to" bag for your daily commute.

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Chrome Citizen:

Reviewers like these things about the Chrome Citizen

  • Many reviewers noted that the Chrome Industries Citizen backpack is comfortable to carry.
  • Other reviewers pointed out that the bag is visible at nighttime due to its reflective straps.
  • Testers also noted that it is easy to attach carabineer and other gears due to its daisy chain mounting loops.
  • Laptop users lauded the presence of a sleeve dedicated to keeping their gadgets safe and secure.
  • Many users found that it is equipped with strong hooks and loops.
  • Several reviewers found out that the pack is also equipped with an iconic quick-release buckle.
  • Many of the users thought that the cross-chest strap keeps the bag stable.
  • Users noted that the bag has specified bags designed for males or females.
  • They pointed out that the bag is durable due to its 1050d nylon material.
  • Several testers also felt that its fabric is resistant to abrasion.
  • Other users pointed out that it was accessible to grab items from its pockets.
  • Due to the protection of bag, several users thought that the bag is weatherproof.
  • Reviewers also noted that it is easy to load gears on its large compartments.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the bag does not have enough pockets.
  • Another user thought that the bag is difficult to adjust.
  • A reviewer said that it might be a little small to fit a lot of items.

9 – Arcteryx Lunara 10

Arc'teryx Unisex Lunara 10
  • Made in USA or Imported

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Arcteryx Lunara 10:

Reviewers like these things about the Arcteryx Lunara 10

  • A lot of users have mentioned that the Arcteryx Lunara bag is comfortable to use.
  • Others thought that it the pack is durable due to its N400r-AC2 fabric.
  • Several reviewers thought that the inner white coating of the fabric reflects light, making it easier to see the things inside of the pack.
  • Users found that its seamed are taped well, making it resistant to bad weather conditions.
  • According to some users, its separate front pockets add storage and organization of the bag.
  • Users lauded the presence of an internal elastic strap dedicated to keeping their laptops and documents safe and secure.
  • Another reviewer thought that it has sufficient pockets which provide make it easy to organize things.
  • Testers found that the bag is waterproof.
  • Other testers noted that it is lightweight.
  • Many wrote that its waist belt keeps the bag from bouncing around.
  • They also said that its shoulder strap could be adjusted based on personal preference.
  • Several of those who have tried the bag noted that its waistbelt could be removed when not needed.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the material of the bag is a little too thin.
  • Another user found that it is a bit pricey.

10 – Fossil Buckner

Fossil Men's Buckner Leather Trim Messenger Bag, Brown
  • Measurements: 16" L x 3.25" W x 12" H
  • 28" Strap When Fully Extended
  • Exterior Pockets: 1 Back Slide Pocket
  • Interior Pockets: 1 Padded Laptop Pocket, 2 Media Pockets, 1 Zipper Pocket, 4 Elastic Loops and 1 Key Ring
  • 16x3.25x12

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Fossil Buckner:

Reviewers like these things about the Fossil Buckner

  • Most users liked the fact that the bag comes in different colors.
  • There are a lot of space and pockets in the bag as mentioned by the reviewers.
  • Majority of the users find the quality of the bag satisfying.
  • The adjustable strap of the bag has got positive reviews from many buyers.
  • Some users said that the fastening mechanism of the buckle of the bag is quite nice.
  • Buyers praised the inside lining of the bag.
  • Most of the buyers recommend the bag for daily use.
  • Few users said that the buckle of the bag is decorative and looks very neat.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Many users find the shoulder strap of the bag uncomfortable.
  • The stitching quality of the bag is not good as stated by few buyers.

Selected reviews

Bike Radar reviewed the Timbuk2 Classic

True to its name – a messenger bag classic and a practical size.

Posted 3 July 2007 by Cass Gilbert – Read full review

About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.

Last update on 2018-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *