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Top Messenger bags Reviews and Buyer's Guide

Last updated July 2, 2019

Messenger bags seem to be everywhere, so it's no surprise that there are lots of different models to choose from.

First of all you have to consider the many different designs - and at the same time, you also have to consider the different sizes, features and qualities.

The Best Messenger Bag

Having checked thousands of messenger bag reviews, we can say that the Think Tank CityWalker is the best choice for most people.

The Think Tank CityWalker got a rating of 4.74 out of 5, while the average rating in the list below is just 4.06.

Think Tank CityWalker
This is the best reviewed messenger bag.
How we rate the bags

We have checked 109,233 messenger bag reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It's much simplier to find the best bags that way.

Also Great

If the Think Tank CityWalker isn't your style, you might also consider the Vanquest Envoy.

The Envoy is a close runner-up with a rating of 4.61 out of 5 - and it's usually cheaper than the CityWalker.

Vanquest Envoy
The second-best reviewed messenger bag.
Finally, you might consider the Osprey FlapJack.

The FlapJack is the third-best rated messenger bag with a rating of 4.42 - and it's usually cheaper than the CityWalker.

Below is the list of all top 53 best messenger bags. Great if none of the three bags above are your style.

The 53 Best Messenger Bags

PS: We have checked 109,233 reviews to make this top 53 list!

RankMessenger BagRating
1Think Tank CityWalkerThink Tank CityWalker
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
27 reviews
2Vanquest EnvoyVanquest Envoy
Available on Amazon
Check Deals
39 reviews
3Osprey FlapJackOsprey FlapJack
155 reviews
4Tenba CineluxeTenba Cineluxe
51 reviews
5Tenba DNATenba DNA
748 reviews
6ONA The BoweryONA The Bowery
782 reviews
7Timbuk2 CommandTimbuk2 Command
6,585 reviews
8Chrome CitizenChrome Citizen
165 reviews
9Hazard 4 TontoHazard 4 Tonto
53 reviews
10OGIO NewtOGIO Newt
252 reviews
11STM RadialSTM Radial
16 reviews
12Lug CarouselLug Carousel
89 reviews
13Chrome KadetChrome Kadet
69 reviews
14Michael Kors SelmaMichael Kors Selma
3,522 reviews
15Burton FlintBurton Flint
24 reviews
16Hazard 4 KatoHazard 4 Kato
73 reviews
17Ruggard LegionRuggard Legion
12 reviews
18Sherpani MilliSherpani Milli
75 reviews
19Timbuk2 ClassicTimbuk2 Classic
14,224 reviews
20LowePro PassportLowePro Passport
1,872 reviews
21Vanguard AltaVanguard Alta
5,254 reviews
22Brenthaven CollinsBrenthaven Collins
215 reviews
23High Sierra TankHigh Sierra Tank
1,683 reviews
24Kelty VersantKelty Versant
56 reviews
25Peak Design EverydayPeak Design Everyday
744 reviews
26Timbuk2 SnoopTimbuk2 Snoop
440 reviews
27Fossil BucknerFossil Buckner
110 reviews
28Ortlieb VelocityOrtlieb Velocity
113 reviews
29OGIO BrooklynOGIO Brooklyn
6,078 reviews
30Timbuk2 CommuteTimbuk2 Commute
2,611 reviews
31Manhattan Portage DJManhattan Portage DJ
3,536 reviews
32Timbuk2 AceTimbuk2 Ace
234 reviews
33Chrome SomaChrome Soma
11 reviews
34Wildkin MajesticWildkin Majestic
2,209 reviews
35Vanguard The HeralderVanguard The Heralder
816 reviews
36Mountainsmith AdventureMountainsmith Adventure
75 reviews
37Timbuk2 EspecialTimbuk2 Especial
570 reviews
38Timbuk2 StarkTimbuk2 Stark
16 reviews
39Outdoor Research RangefinderOutdoor Research Rangefinder
34 reviews
40ONA The BrixtonONA The Brixton
154 reviews
41Case Logic ReflexionCase Logic Reflexion
413 reviews
42Kenneth Cole Reaction ColombianKenneth Cole Reaction Colombian
6,125 reviews
43Alienware VindicatorAlienware Vindicator
1,447 reviews
44Timbuk2 SunsetTimbuk2 Sunset
213 reviews
45Timbuk2 CatapultTimbuk2 Catapult
198 reviews
46Timbuk2 DeltaTimbuk2 Delta
11 reviews
47Frye LoganFrye Logan
239 reviews
48Timbuk2 ProofTimbuk2 Proof
67 reviews
49Sherpani DispatchSherpani Dispatch
25 reviews
50High Sierra XBTHigh Sierra XBT
1,333 reviews
51David King & Co DistressedDavid King & Co Distressed
19 reviews
52ONA The Union StreetONA The Union Street
78 reviews
53OGIO PagodaOGIO Pagoda
16 reviews

Buyers Guide to Messenger Bags

[toc] 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.

8 More Messenger Bags

Classic messenger bags and models that haven't yet got enough reviews to be ranked.

RankMessenger BagRating
1Chrome MetropolisChrome Metropolis
12 reviews
2Travelon Anti-Theft ClassicTravelon Anti-Theft Classic
45,032 reviews
3Maxpedition TestudoMaxpedition Testudo
66 reviews
4Timi & Leslie MetroTimi & Leslie Metro
126 reviews
Arcteryx FYXArcteryx FYX
Chrome BuranChrome Buran
Gucci SupremeGucci Supreme
Nike DepartureNike Departure

List ID 26. Images from Amazon Product Advertising API and shop datafeeds.

Amazon deals/prices updated daily (last 2019-10-14).

Last updated on July 02, 2019