Goal: Acquire a timeless leather bag that is stylish, quality, and extremely functional.
That’s the leather messenger bag in a nutshell. Seriously, think about it. When you picture a Roman courier needing to carry something from one place to another in a hurry, it’s in a leather messenger bag, right? Or maybe even a messenger boy from the Revolutionary War?
Anyway, you get the picture.
In this article we serve up tips on how to determine the quality of a messenger bag, as well as our top bag picks. Women buying for their boyfriends and husbands often have to decide between black or brown, matte or shiny, and so forth. Sometimes the quality can be so similar it’s virtually impossible to choose.
There are a few ways to spot what bag is best to buy for your money. Let us help you determine good quality with our list of handpicked best leather messenger bag picks.
Anatomy Of Leather Messenger Bags
As with any high-dollar purchase, it’s important to know your stuff before you shop online or at a brick and mortar store. Here are some things to look at when you’re choosing a bag:
Know Your Leather
Understanding the different types of leather is the most important thing to understand when choosing a messenger bag. Well, that is if you want a bag made from leather, of course!
If that’s the case, study up on your leather know-how stat. Here are the main terms you’ll come across:
- Full-Grain – You’re looking for a leather strong enough to take a beating and last. To get that, you’ll need to look for full-grain, cowhide leather. It’s the thickest of the types of leather, and not only does it last forever, it also gets more beautiful over time.
- Top-Grain – Top-grain leather isn’t too shabby either. It’s not as durable as full-grain, but it’ll still stand the test of time and stay beautiful.
- Genuine Leather – Just say no to those bags with the ubiquitous “genuine leather” tag. They’re leather, sure, but it’s basically a bunch of scrap leather glued together. There are plenty of lovely pieces made of genuine leather. However, if you’re in the market for a really rugged leather messenger bag, you won’t find it with this leather.
- Suede and Nubuck – Some other kinds of cowhide from which to choose are nubuck and suede. They’re beautiful but won’t endure rough weather and a lot of use as well. Best leave those for your sofa or blue shoes. Get it? Blue suede shoes – couldn’t help it!
There are plenty of varieties of leather besides cowhide to consider as well:
- Lambskin – Lambskin is pretty and very soft, but not as durable as cowhide. Really lovely for wallets and gloves, though.
- Exotic Hides – If you want to dabble in hides like crocodile, ostrich, or snakeskin, you’re a madman. While we admire your moxie, we’re not talking about bags made of exotic hides in this article.
- Faux Leather – If you don’t love the idea of wearing an animal on your shoulder, there are plenty of faux leather variations from which to choose. Some are pretty tough, some not so much.
All of those buckles, zippers, and clasps can make or break how easy it is to use your bag. Consider how many features the bag has.
Do you mind if it has multiple enclosures with snaps, buckles, and zippers?
You’ll also want to take a good look at how the hardware is stitched into the leather. If the workmanship seems subpar, you might consider moving on. Also, metal is always the best option. Plastic zippers and other closure methods don’t last as long.
Try on your bag if possible before purchasing to make sure the straps are easy to adjust.
Is the bag a good fit for your posture and height?
It’s also important to note how they are fastened to the bag. Many people say metal rivets are the only way to go, and hand-stitching just won’t hold up to lots of weight.
Consider padded straps, especially if you’ve got a lot of heavy stuff to lug or a long commute home that involves standing or walking. If you’re in and out of airport terminals a lot, the comfort comes in handy.
If your bag has top handles and a removable shoulder strap, congrats, you’ve got yourself a briefcase. Sometimes carrying a bag by its top handles seems a little less casual and can be a good option for more formal occasions – top secret spy meetings, job interviews, and the such.
Bells And Whistles
Once you’ve got a handle on the exterior features, it’s time to look at the inside. This is where it gets really personal. Here are some features you may need from your messenger bag:
- Laptop Enclosure – A built-in padded laptop sleeve is a must-have. Even if you’re not planning on carrying around your laptop, you’ll probably have a tablet or another electronic device to protect.
- Lining – A durable, protective lining is essential if you’re planning on keeping your bag for a long time. Canvas seems to be the best option for standing up to potential spills or other disasters that can happen inside your bag. It’s also sturdy enough not to tear easily.
Some bags also feature an RFID-protective lining to protect your passport and credit cards from skimming. Maybe not a bad idea if you’re on public transportation or work from public spaces a lot.
- Special Pockets For Your Stuff – It’s always exciting to get a new bag and discover that the cell phone pockets and business card slots are a perfect fit!
Test out all those bells and whistles in your bag. As long as they make your life easier and more organized, we’re all about it!
Top Leather Messenger Bags
Style is a big thing, obviously. How you present yourself to the world professionally is important. The good news is there’s a huge variety of bags on the market, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a color and style that’s right for you.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to give you a lesson in fashion or tell you to match your bag with your belt or your shoes or anything else. You do you. We’re just here to help you shop.
Here are some bags we really liked:
This bag is full-grain leather with a canvas lining. Its hardware is all brass, double-stitched, and super durable. It will go with you everywhere, take a beating, and still look fabulous.
It’s available in two sizes. The larger 18-inch bag carries a laptop up to 15.6” and has an interior cell-phone pocket. It also features an outer pocket for files, papers, etc. It has hand straps and a removable shoulder strap is removable, so you’ve got the option of carrying it as a briefcase or shoulder bag.Why I like it:
- Made of a sturdy, full-grain leather
- Has neat concealed locks under the straps to keep all your stuff zippered and secure inside
- Available in two sizes
We really love the accents paired with the sleek design of this bag. No buckles, no-frills, just a couple of concealed magnetic enclosures to keep it shut.
The main compartment has plenty of room, and the bag features four slip pockets, three zip pockets, and business card slots for up to thirty-three cards.Why I like it:
- Simple, clean style
- Spacious interior
- Lots of pockets for organization
Sometimes leather messenger bags can get bulky. We like that this one is slim yet still roomy enough for your files, a laptop or tablet, and whatever else you need to get the job done.Why I like it:
- Open, slip pocket on the back of the bag makes it easy to grab stuff you regularly need, like a wallet or cellphone
- Padded, adjustable shoulder strap extends up to 60 inches, perfect for any height
- Main compartment is nice and roomy and contains a full-length zipper pocket
Work In Style
A good, sturdy bag made from quality leather is a staple in any wardrobe. For work, school, or if you just need an everyday bag to carry your gear.
Taking time to pick the best option is essential. Be sure to do your homework (by reading articles like this!) and shop around before you commit. Remember, the goal is to find a reliable bag that you’ll love for life!
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