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The Best Messenger Bag

Last updated on September 21, 2022

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

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Our Picks For The Top Messenger Bags

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

NEWHEY Leather & Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval


Leather & Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

With nine pockets to hold everything from business cards to electronics, this messenger bag will be an extra useful addition to your daily routine. The material is crazy horse cowhide leather and water-resistant canvas, with distressed aesthetics to give it a vintage look. The shoulder strap is adjustable and can be detached if you'd rather use onl...

Overall Take

Durable BuildGet years of reliable use out of this messenger bag, which is made from superior cowhide leather and water-resistant canvas.

 Runner Up

RAVUO Water-Resistant Canvas Messenger Bag


Water-Resistant Canvas Messenger Bag

You'll get an adjustable strap with this messenger bag that lets you wear it as a crossbody or shoulder bag. Durable cotton canvas provides both durability and water resistance while also keeping the build lightweight. It includes more than 14 pockets, including one zipper pocket on the flap and two external pockets, as well as multiple inner pocke...

Overall Take

Versatile OptionYou can use this bag as a laptop or book bag, as well as wearing it as a crossbody, shoulder bag or carrying case.

 We Also Like

Sechunk Military Style Cotton Canvas Messenger Bag


Military Style Cotton Canvas Messenger Bag

The material of this bag is high-quality cotton canvas with leather accents. You'll get six total pockets, including two zippered pockets for securing your valuables. It comes in a variety of colors and can hold up to a 17-inch laptop.

Overall Take

Multiple Color OptionsChoose from a variety of colors with this messenger bag, which comes in standard browns as well as black and blue options.

 Also Great

Leaper Sling Style Canvas & PU Leather Messenger Bag


Sling Style Canvas & PU Leather Messenger Bag

The body of this backpack is canvas for a durable, water-resistant option, while the trim is polyurethane leather. The interior of the backpack is softer to ensure your belongings are well cushioned. The interior pocket can fit smaller laptops with a capacity of 13 inches without a laptop sleeve.

Overall Take

Unique DesignThis compact but unique backpack comes in a variety of colors to help you customize your look.

Buying Guide

Getting from one place to another can be hard on the body, particularly if you’re loaded down with belongings. The laptops everyone carries around typically weigh several pounds or more, and when combined with books, tablets and other belongings, your body can be tasked with quite a load.

Students are particularly challenged in this area. If you’re taking even one class, you have a textbook to carry around, in addition to either your laptop or a notebook for jotting things down. Shoulder and handheld bags have long been used to make carrying items easier, but they tend to shift the body in an unusual position. A backpack worn on both shoulders to distribute the load evenly can help with this, as can front-centered totes like crossbody bags.

When looking for a bag for carrying your heavier items, it can help to pay close attention to your posture while you’re carrying it. If you aren’t standing up straight or one side of your body is bearing the majority of the load, you might be causing damage, especially if you tend to fill your bags with heavier items.

In recent years, messenger bags have become a great alternative to handheld cases and backpacks. A messenger bag is larger than a tote bag, making it a great option for carrying big items like laptops.

One of the biggest defining characteristics of a messenger bag is the long strap, which is usually adjustable. This allows many modern messenger bags to be worn as a shoulder bag or in crossbody style, which simply means the weight of your item is on the opposite hip from the shoulder the strap hangs from. This helps more evenly distribute the weight so you aren’t taxing one area of your body more than others.

What to Look For

  • Look at the pockets of any messenger bag you’re considering. If you plan to carry a laptop or tablet, you’ll want a cushioned pocket that holds it in place even if your bag is jostled during your travels.
  • Leather is a great material, but it doesn’t hold up very well with exposure to water. You’ll need to try to keep it out of the rain and away from sinks and bathtubs if you go with leather. Canvas and polyurethane are better options for messenger bags if you’re looking for a water-resistant option.
  • Even if you go with a water-resistant messenger bag, consider that sensitive electronics inside might not be protective. Water can make its way into openings in your bag.
  • For messenger bags with carrying straps, look for adjustability. This will allow you to find the exact length that works for you. One that’s detachable can also come in handy if you think sometimes you’ll want to carry the bag by the handle.
  • For external pockets, look for zipper protection. You’ll want to ensure your belongings are secure inside.
  • Brown is a color that’s associated with messenger bags, but you can find them in other colors. Canvas messenger bags even come in bright, vivid colors.
  • If you’re planning to carry a laptop or tablet in your messenger bag, pay close attention to the pocket size. Often messenger bags have a maximum laptop size they can accommodate. Pockets for tablets and phones will also be limited in the electronics sizes they can hold.
  • If you typically keep your laptop in a sleeve or other protective case, you might not be able to squeeze it into the pocket of your messenger bag. Consider removing it when you’re storing it in your messenger bag.

More to Explore

Although messenger bags seem to be everywhere on college campuses today, they actually got their start in the workplace. The first messenger bag was designed in the 1950s to be used by line workers. The format was perfect for holding all the tools they needed to do the job. The original design was canvas with a waterproof inner lining to keep paperwork like invoices dry.

Messenger bags were so useful, they made their way to bicycle messengers, who used them in the 1960s to hold their deliveries. This is where the bag got its name, and as the 60s progressed to the 70s and 80s, the bags became so popular, companies began requesting them in different colors. The colors allowed people to connect messengers to the companies employing them.

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