Let’s face it: You’ve grown out of your backpack. You’re not dropping off your stuff in your locker anymore. You’re an adult man, with an adult job—so you need an adult way to carry around your wallet, work items, laptop and other everyday essentials. Enter the best messenger bags for men. A messenger bag is the cool, tough guy’s version of the purse: a bag that you sling over your shoulder or across your body that comes in different sizes and styles to accommodate your needs.

The right messenger bag for you depends on what you plan to carry around (a laptop, iPad, book, gym clothes?) and where you’re heading (to work or a coffee shop?). Ahead, we did the research on the styles and materials for different use case scenarios. Here’s what made our list of the best messenger bags for guys, including our top pick, Chrome’s Citizen, and a budget-friendly alternative from Timbuk2.

Chrome Citizen Messenger Satchel Bag Seat Belt Buckle 26 Liter Black

Materials: Nylon | Closure: Buckle | Colors: 8 total, including Black and Amber Tritone

Simple, durable, and undeniably elegant, Chrome’s Citizen is a bestseller from the brand known for messenger bags. Their bags are designed for bike messengers traversing the rough, rugged (and sometimes, wet) streets of the world’s biggest cities so you know they’re tough. Made from military-grade nylon—you know it’ll stand up to the elements—and with an easy-release buckle closure, it’s a travel-ready messenger bag that always looks great and has multiple compartments to organize your things, including a main pocket with separate wet and dry compartments and space for a 15-inch laptop. You might not want to head into a boardroom with it, though—the tough exterior doesn’t really work in high-end business settings. 

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

Materials: Recycled polyester | Closure: Buckle | Colors: 3 total, including Eco Black and Eco Army Pop

For an entry level messenger, you can’t beat Timbuk2’s. It’s made from an incredibly durable tech canvas derived from eco-friendly recycled polyester—so you can feel good about your buy—plus a water-resistant exterior to keep your laptop, books and whatever else you have in there dry. The interior capacity is only medium sized, however; we wouldn’t recommend buying if you need to haul around a lot of stuff.


Shinola Computer Brief

Materials: Leather | Closure: Zip | Colors: Brown Leather

If you’re ready to take the dive into a more sophisticated style—and the price that comes with it—Shinola’s messenger bag is made with luxurious leather infused with oils for a rich patina that only gets better with wear. Plus, you can carry it crossbody or as a briefcase with the removable, adjustable strap. Inside, there’s three open interior pockets and a larger interior zip compartment that can hold a 15-inch laptop. While it doesn’t have room for your gym clothes, it’s an excellent choice for something more high-end.

Materials: Leather | Closure: Front flap | Colors: 3 total, including Black Onyx and Brown

Looking for great style, but not willing to take out a loan? Leatherology’s messenger bag is made from full-grain leather and has more than enough room to carry everything you need—including a main compartment with four interior pockets, three pen loops and an interior computer sleeve. Also nice: You can monogram the exterior. If you’re a big guy, however, you may want to think twice: The shoulder strap is slightly shorter so it sits higher on your body.

Ted Baker Strole Rubberized Satchel

Materials: Polyester/PVC | Closure: Buckle | Colors: Black 

If you need something a little tougher than your standard fare, Ted Baker’s messenger bag has a durable, rubberized exterior that works to keep rain, sleet and snow out. A removable, adjustable shoulder strap lets you carry the bag by the top handle or over the shoulder, and there’s enough space in here to carry your gym clothes. While it looks fairly expandable, it’s only medium sized, though, so you’ll need to pack lightly.

Filson Dryden Ballistic Nylon Briefcase

Materials: Nylon, leather | Closure: Zip | Colors: 3 total, including Otter Green and Dark Navy

There aren’t many tougher messenger bags out there than those from Filson—trust us, we’ve checked. The body on this bag is made from a water-repellent, abrasion-resistant nylon that won’t wear out quickly or tear and a double-layer bottom for extra durability. Inside and outside, there are multiple pockets for organization; just keep in mind that the interior is fairly dark, however, so you may have trouble finding your goods in low lighting.

Bellory Via Work Bag

Materials: Recycled fabric | Closure: Zip | Colors: 3 total, including Black and Navy

If you take your work on the go, you need a messenger bag that keeps up. This no-effort, ultra-sleek bag from Bellroy has a padded laptop sleeve for machines up to 16 inches, as well as a separate main compartment, internal mesh zip pocket and all sorts of slots. Plus, it’s easy on the eyes with a smooth, leather-free construction. It only comes in neutral colors, though. If you want something with a little more pop, look elsewhere.

Materials: Vegetable-tanned leather | Closure: Snap | Colors: Chestnut, Waxed Canvas

You can’t beat a classic, all-leather messenger when it comes to great style. Nisolo’s combines timeless leather construction with plenty of room for storing everything you need smartly and the price is reasonable for the quality. A padded strap keeps you comfortable on the go, and a snap closure prevents your essentials from falling out. Because it’s all-leather, though, the exterior is prone to scratches and wear but that’s part of the charm and character.

Materials: Nylon, recycled polyester | Closure: Zip | Colors: Ocean, Black

Travel worry-free with this impenetrable messenger bag that works as your personal Fort Knox. Made entirely from recycled materials and containing a laptop sleeve with plenty of pockets, Pacsafe’s messenger stands out for its security features, including lockable zips, RFID-blocking pockets and a durable anchor strap that refuses to rip. It does have more of a knapsack-like body, however, so if you want a sleeker messenger bag, this might not be it.

Chrome Doubletrack Handlebar Sling Bag

Materials: Nylon, tarp, polyester | Closure: Buckle | Colors: Black

If you’re moving through the city on a bike, the last thing you need is your stuff flying all over the place on a tight turn. Enter Chrome’s messenger bag that easily mounts to the handlebar so you can navigate like a pro. With five liters of capacity, it’ll hold the essentials (your wallet, phone, food, water) but not extra bulk.

Materials: Recycled polyester | Closure: Zip | Colors: Navy, Atomic Celery

This light, stretchy polyester bag is built for the daily commute. It has plenty of room in the main compartment for a laptop or books and inner zip pockets to stash everything else you need—and it all comes in a sleek, simple design that’s office-ready. It’s not meant to be a fancy tote, though, so keep that in mind if you want a higher-end option.

Materials: Canvas, nylon, polyester, leather | Closure: Zip | Colors: 4 toatl, including Canvas Dark Grey and New Black

Not sure whether to get a backpack or a messenger bag? Why not both? This bag from Coolbell is lightweight with nice storage, but has not one but three carrying styles: as a backpack, shoulder bag or messenger bag. So no matter where you’re off to, you can adjust the look. It’s not constructed with the most high-end materials, though, so you may experience jiggling zips and the occasional abrasion.

The North Face Base Camp Voyager Sling

Materials: Polyester| Closure: Zip | Colors: 5 total, including Lunar Slate and Black

If you’re a gym rat, you’ll need more room for your gear than your average messenger bag. The North Face’s Voyager has space for your shoes, shorts and blender bottle in an easy sling form. It’s made from recycled, durable, lightweight materials as well, so you know it won’t weigh you down on the go. It’s fairly large, so it’s really is for holding your gym clothes, though; expect a great carrying experience but not an ultra-compact one.

What To Consider When Buying A Men’s Messenger Bag

What You’ll Put In It

Not all messenger bags are created equally so before investing in one just because it looks cool, spend some time thinking about what you’ll actually carry. Will you be stashing lots of small items like headphones, caribeners or keys that require lots of pockets? Do you need at least one or some of those pockets to be located on the outside of the bag for easy access? Is a button pocket sufficient or would small keys or coins be more secure in a zipped pocket?

Even if there’s space to throw your laptop into the main compartment, it may be easier to keep your bag organized (and find what you need) if there’s a separate laptop sleeve. Will you carry this bag in all weather? If so, you may want to consider a water-resistant or waterproof bag.

How You’ll Use It

Some of the best men’s messenger bags are multipurpose, so they’ll work well for a quick meeting at the coffee shop, a full-day at the office or even a post-work gym run. However, other men’s messenger bags are better suited for one particular purpose. For instance, while our top overall pick, the Chrome Citizen Messenger Bag, is great for a variety of needs, the brand specializes in hardcord bags for bike messengers. As such, the style and aesthetic of this bag isn’t especially well-suited to the boardroom. Similarly, while the Pacsafe Metrosafe Anti-Theft Bag has a comfortable sling that makes it a nice travel bag, the strap wasn’t designed for biking so it wouldn’t fit comfortably around your torso while riding.

How You’ll Wear It

You might really love one particular way of wearing your messenger bag—say, slung over your shoulder, hung down by your hip or over your upper back like a backpack. However, if you’re the type of person who likes to switch things up, you may appreciate a messenger bag that can be worn, held or carried multiple ways. Keep in mind that even if you usually sling a bag over your shoulder, it may be convenient to have an extended strap to wear it over your hip and also have a carrying handle for travel. A supportive chest strap may also make the bag more comfortable if you’ll be wearing it over long periods.

Your Body Type

If you have especially broad shoulders and want to sling your messenger bag across your body, you’re going to want to make sure the strap is long enough that you can do so comfortably without struggling to get your head and arm through. Similarly, if the messenger bag has a front strap that you’d like to attach for support, you’ll want to make sure that it’s wide enough for your chest since some run on the shorter side.

What’s The Difference Between A Messenger And Briefcase-Style Bag?

Although both are often referred to as messenger bags, they’re actually two styles that serve different purposes. Essentially, both messenger-style and briefcase-style “messenger bags” are a manly version of a purse, or an oversized bag with a single, cross-body strap.

The main differences are in the details like the design of the back panel, clasps and pockets. Messenger bags tend to sit high on the back (as opposed to lower on the hip) so they can be worn on a bike for long periods of time, and tend to fit a large amount of items, including bulky things. For that reason, messenger-style bags prioritize comfort, stability and streamlined pockets. Messenger-style bags also have quick-release buckles instead of finicky buttons, clasps or straps so you can access items quickly on the go.

On the other hand, briefcase-style bags tend to have more rigid back panels, built-in laptop sleeves, more storage compartments for small items and top-grab handles that are useful when walking with the bag. These straps are designed for walking (not biking) and they are most comfortable resting lower on the back or hip.

Does A Messenger Bag Need To Be Waterproof?

If you’re using your messenger bag like an actual messenger, then, yes, it needs to be waterproof since you may find yourself riding in the rain. Or, even if you’ll only be walking with your messenger bag but you tend to walk a lot (say, you live in a commuter-friendly area like New York City or Chicago) and you need to ensure your laptop, headphones, wallet and other important items stay dry, then you’ll want to invest in a waterproof bag.

While many briefcase-style messenger bags are high-quality and well-designed, because they are more intended for casual or office use and have more of an emphasis on style and fashion, they are less likely to be waterproof. If you think you may find yourself in light rain for brief periods, a water-resistant messenger bag would probably be sufficient but it would not be suitable in a downpour. If you usually just walk from your house to your driveway then from your car into the office, water-resistance may not even be an issue.

What Bag Features Are Most Important?

Well, that depends how you’re going to use it. Many proper bike messenger bags come with bike-friendly features like reflective straps, which are essential if you’re biking through the street but may not be necessary if you usually drive.

Similarly, stabilizing and chest-support straps are not always included in messenger bags but help distribute the weight if you tend to carry a heavy bag or if you suffer from neck, shoulder or back pain. Messenger bas don’t typically come with waist support straps but if that’s the sort of support you need, you may want to prioritize finding a bag with one, even if it means getting a proper backpack instead.

Why Trust Forbes Vetted

As writers and researchers, the Forbes Vetted team has tested and published many men’s fashion articles on everything from the best wallets to the most comfortable dress shoes to the best suits. As consumers, we have high standards about what we buy and how we shop, and we like to think our readers benefit from our pickiness and obsessive tendencies.

Based on our knowledge of the fashion space, which includes testing out many trusted brands and top products, we pinpointed the best messenger bags for men, depending on a variety of different needs in terms of sizes, materials and styles. This story is regularly updated for accuracy and was last edited in June 2023.

How We Choose The Best Messenger Bags For Men

To select the messenger bags on this list, we looked at dozens of firsthand customer reviews, checked out prices and considered how each model would comfortable store and organize one’s belongings to ultimately determine which bags were the best investments.

Durability was also a top priority; you want to hold onto a messenger bag for a few years, so we prioritized high-quality materials, such as leather and waterproof PVC polyester, and also checked for resilient hardware, including buckles and adjustable straps. Price was another consideration; you shouldn’t have to overspend to find a sophisticated, stylish messenger bag. Instead, we located a range of options that work with all budgets (small or large), from the affordable Timbuk2 Classic Messenger to the higher-end Shinola Computer Brief. Finally, we made sure all of the bags were available from trusted retailers with good return policies, so you can try out these messenger bags risk-free in order to make the best purchase for your needs.

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