There is no denying the rich history of a classic leather messenger bag.
Whether you are going on your first interview, doing a daily commute to work or class, the best leather messengers will not only demonstrate your sense of style (even when compared to a nice leather backpack), but will also last you for several years.
However, as you will quickly discover, not all messenger bags are created equally.
From the differing leather grades, number of compartments, and the overall design aesthetics, picking out the right leather messenger can be troublesome.
To help you find the perfect bag to meet your needs, we will not only compare the best bags available, but also share with you a few tips and considerations you will want to keep in mind when making your selection.
Table of Contents
Comparing The Best Leather Messenger Bags
To help compare all the men’s leather messenger bags, this table allows you to quickly find the following:
- Laptop Size: How big of a laptop the bag can hold.
- Shoulder Pad: If it has a shoulder pad for additional comfort.
- Colors: What color you can buy the bag in.
- Price Range: How much each bag costs. Indicated by the $ sign.
How To Buy A Leather Messenger Bag
When buying a leather messenger bag, keep the 8 following considerations in mind:
1. Leather Quality
The quality of leather is the most important factor when picking out a messenger bag. One made of bad leather will fall apart quickly. Here are the most common leather varieties available and how they differ from one another:
Top-Grain Leather: Made from the top of the cowhide, top-grain leather has been buffed and treated to remove all surface imperfections such as scars, natural weathering, etc. found originally on the cow. Considered to be among the best grades of leather, top-grain leather will last for years and develop a patina over time.
Full-Grain Leather: Full-grain leather is the thickest leather variant and is the most durable of any grade. Full-grain leather will last for years and will look better over time. Given that it’s thicker than top-grain leather, this hide will release oils as it ages and develops a beautiful patina. If you want the best quality leather messenger bag, go with one made from full-grain leather, you won’t be disappointed.
Nubuck Leather: Like suede, nubuck has been buffed and sanded to provide a velvet-like texture. However, unlike suede that relies on the underside of the skin, nubuck leather is from the top-grain of leather making it significantly more durable. Nubuck leather is often sourced from calfskin.
Genuine Leather: Made from the underside of leather, genuine leather is poor in quality and is found in many of the cheap leather messenger bags. While it will not last as long when compared to top-grain or full-grain leather, it can present well.
Bonded Leather: Avoid bonded leather at all costs. Made from bits of leftover leather, it is largely made of glue and will fall apart rather quickly.
Suede: Made from the underside of animal skin, suede has been treated to have a napped finish that is velvet-like (source). This leather variety must be specially treated with suede cleaners when it gets dirty.
While not as durable as cowhide leather, lambskin leather is soft to touch and can present well. Lambskin leather is great for business or professional settings.
This leather variety is great for those men that are vegan or animal friendly. Faux leather is made from synthetic materials that are intended to look like leather. A common type of faux leather used for messenger bags is PU leather, also known as polyurethane leather. PU leather is made from thermoplastic leather and is vegan.
2. Storage & Compartments
Here’s why you should take a moment to think about the two primary storage areas on your new messenger bag:
Main Compartment & Interior Pockets
Where the bulk of all your gear is stored, the main compartment can either be one large pouch or separated into several organizational pockets.
- Interior Pockets: Whether you are carrying a laptop, tablet, pens, phone, etc. a dedicated pocket for everything can prevent frustration when trying to quickly find an item. A messenger with a padded organizational insert will also provide better protection, especially for laptops.
- Large Compartment: A large inner compartment allows for more space to carry your gear. However, if you overload your bag, it may not be nearly as comfortable to carry for extended periods.
A messenger bag with side pockets allows you to get a few things without always having to open up the claps to the main compartment. Not only will this save you time, but if you find that you multitask often, the side pockets will be welcomed.
3. Buckles & Straps
Take a minute to see how the bag is intended to be carried and how it closes. While messenger bags always contain a shoulder strap, the addition of handles can provide versatility. Here are a few things to think about when looking at the hardware:
Shoulder Strap Design
- Padded Shoulder Straps: If you plan on carrying your bag for extended periods, padded shoulder straps make carrying your bag much more comfortable to carry by displacing weight and adding cushion.
- Adjustable Shoulder Strap: Whether you are short or tall, walking or riding a bike, having a messenger bag with an adjustable shoulder strap can help to make sure that the bag remains close to your body without getting in the way.
- Removable Strap: Some leather messenger bags have removable straps. This can make the bag suited for business formal settings when just a top handle is used. If you are carrying a substantial amount of weight, handles will oftentimes be more comfortable as well.
Throughout the bag’s lifetime, you will be opening and closing it thousands of times. Therefore, it only makes sense to buy a leather messenger bag with a closure system that won’t get in the way. Here are a few different varieties you will come across during your research:
- Single Clasp: A clasp keeps your gear secure while easily accessible. A clasp can be opened by simply pressing down on the button. You can also open a clasp with one hand should the other hand be occupied (i.e. on a phone call).
- Magnetic Snap: A simple pull of the outside flap on the messenger bag and a magnetic button will release. Magnetic snap closures are great for guys that like a more minimalist appearance. Just note that this closure isn’t as secure as a buckle or clasp design.
- Buckle: While its the most secure closure, a traditional buckle closure is also the most laborious to use. If you find yourself carrying valuable documents or devices, this closure will prevent theft – especially in dense urban areas and subways. Just know that this closure can become frustrating with heavy use.
4. Additional Features
Here are a few additional features men found important when buying a bag:
Padded Laptop Sleeve: A dedicated padded sleeve for your laptop provides additional protection for your computer from moderate impacts and short drops. If you plan on carrying your laptop regularly, a padded laptop sleeve is a requirement.
RFID Protection: RFID skimming is a source of concern for many. Some companies make an RFID leather messenger bag with a special lining to prevent financial theft. We only recommend that you consider this if you live in an area where you commute via mass transportation.
Card Slots: Perfect for business cards, accessible card slots are great for businessmen who find themselves networking regularly.
Durable Canvas Lining: To prevent leather rotting from the inside out, a thick duck canvas lining on the inside will contain spills from seeping through and damaging the leather exterior. Consider this canvas material only if you plan on storing drinks, sodas, etc. within your bag regularly.
Cell Phone Pocket: With smartphones continuing to get bigger, the pant pocket is no longer a good storage area. A bag with a dedicated cell phone pocket is a welcomed addition.
5. Durability & Craftsmanship
When buying a leather bag, you want to make sure that it can withstand the test of time. Not only will this mean going with the best leather, such as full-grain or top-grain cuts, but also make sure that the stitching is consistent. When your bag arrives inspect for any loose ends or crooked stitches. Ideally, the leather bag should have a thick thread, cut appropriately, and consistent leather grains used throughout.
6. Country of Origin
When considering leather goods, we strongly recommend that you go with a leather bag that has been made in the United States, Italy, England, France, and select South American countries such as Costa Rica and Argentina. Not only is the quality of the leather much better from these countries, but many of them adhere to quality standards or simply deliver a great product that is unmatched.
7. Leather Brands
During our research, we have found the following leather brands to be among the most popular and trusted among men:
- Buffalo Jackson
- Cole Haan
- Hugo Boss
- Kenneth Cole
- Rodd & Gunn
- Ted Baker
- Tom Ford
8. Price Range
The average price you pay for a messenger bag largely depends on the quality of the leather itself. If you want a good leather bag, then expect to pay several hundred dollars. If you like how leather bags look, yet want to save some money, then a genuine leather bag should be considered. These leather bags oftentimes cost under $100.
The 17 Best Leather Messenger Bags
What’s not to love about this messenger bag from Berchirly? With it being one of the best affordable leather messenger bags that we reviewed with a price tag well under $50 – this leather bag is an awesome pick for those on a budget. Not only is this bag incredibly affordable, but it also comes in a variety of colors that should suit any mans needs. While the black one is pictured above, Berchirly also makes this bag in both a brown and dark coffee variant.
The structure of the bag itself is also pretty impressive, especially given the price point. Along the back side of the bag you will find a zipper enclosure that should be able to safety store your essentials (think phone, keys, and wallet). Within the main compartment, which is enclosed by two magnetic buttons, will be all your gear. This bag should easily store your 14″ laptop along with the other key essentials.
One standout feature that men will love about this bag is that its incredibly thin at just under 4″ in depth. This allows for a much more compact design that shouldn’t seem too bulky or off-putting. If you travel frequently via bike or just simply walking, the smaller design of this bag should easily compliment your lifestyle.
This messenger bag is a thing of beauty, with its glazed Italian leather and superior craftsmanship. But what makes this bag so special is the sturdiness of it; the bag is made to be tough for every day wear, but still look good even after years of use.
You won’t see the usual wear like you would with a cloth or even a polyurethane bag, instead, over time, it ages gracefully like fine wine. It only becomes more distinguished as time goes on. The seams are expertly sewn, and in fact add to the overall shape of the brief-style piece.
The Dolce Messenger Bag has numerous pockets to store your keys and cellphone, including a slim pocket with a few pen holders under the flap to slide papers, pens, and other important items that need to be grabbed easily.
There is also a divider inside the main compartment for more options with organization. The main compartment is big enough for a small notebook and some papers, or even a book. There is plenty of space to keep your day all together, as its dimensions are 14 x 10 x 4 inches.
This smart looking leather messenger bag is everything you will need for your every-day bag. Made from genuine leather and available in black or chocolate brown, this bag is as stylish as it gets. It features silver metal hardware at the straps for a contrasting, rustic look, and the soft leather is pliable, able to stretch and mold to whatever is in your bag at the time. It’s lightweight but heavy-duty, and can stand up to your daily routine with ease. The stitching adds a lot to the overall look of the bag, giving it a little more design than just being a plain black bag.
The shoulder strap is adjustable, and the bag features a magnetic close for the foldover flap, securing your belongings without worry. As far as smaller item storage, the interior has two slip pockets and a laptop sleeve, as well as secure, zipped pocket in the wall lining for the little things you don’t want to lose to the bottom of your bag. Additionally, there is an exterior back slip pocket too, so you’re never lacking in compartments with this bag.
As for the price, it’s about what you would expect from a genuine leather handbag. It is more expensive than a polyurethane bag, but you also get the quality from having a leather bag as well. For great products, sometimes there is no compromise. Great bag, great quality, and will last you several years.
Fossil leather products are must-haves all year round because of their style, design, and quality manufacturing. This bag features a genuine leather exterior and a fabric lined interior to keep your articles safe. The open top and the buckled flap closure allow you to easily access your items without needing to fuzz with zippers or buttons. The two buckles hold the flap closed, and are easily undone in seconds, making filling and emptying your bag easy.
The strap on the bag is removable, though there are no other handles on the bag besides the shoulder strap. This strap can drop from the shoulder to a maximum of 25 inches, an impressive length that lets the bag hang comfortably at the hip. There are also numerous pockets and compartments for extra little things on the sides and inside the bag itself, meaning you can stay organized on the go.
In total, this handsome bag is 16 inches wide and 12 inches high, with a 4 inch depth to contain all of your books and papers. The pebbled cognac leather is a classic, but fits well with the modern metro scene, and wearing it downtown will be sure to turn some heads. Additionally, despite being made of genuine leather, it boasts a very reasonable price, even coming from a company who’s leatherwork is highly sought after for day to day living. Suit up and enjoy the Fossil Defender leather messenger bag, a prime choice for men on the go.
This bag by Frye definitely has some personality to it. The rich, textured leather adds an artistic flair without detracting from the nature of the leather, and gives it a more genuine look. The stitching is subtle, and encompasses the whole of the bag. There are some leather embellishments around the sides and back of the bag, but they do not take away from the fact that this bag is as simple and as handsome as they come. It is available in two colors: Antique Cognac, and Dark Brown.
This bag features a leather over the shoulder strap that can be adjusted, but not removed. This allows you the choice to carry it across your chest, or to rest it on one side and under your arm. However you want to carry it, the soft leather makes this bag incredibly comfortable and easy to wear. There are also very few pockets to speak of with this bag; a couple are present on the interior of the main compartment, which are useful for cellphone and keys, but otherwise, there aren’t too many options for organization. The internal lining goes very well with the underside of the flap, creating a seamless look both open and closed.
One thing to expect with this bag is that, because the strap is leather, you may see some wear and tear around the sliding brass hardware. This becomes more true if you are prone to changing the length frequently. Despite this, it should last for many years because of the quality that this bag is.
Much like the PL 18, this messenger bag from Handmadecart is crafted from 100% genuine goat leather. With its classic buckle strap design, this leather messenger bag is priced competitively that makes it a ideal bag for first time owners. Whether you are making your way across a college campus or are on your way to your very first interview for an internship, this bag is a great first purchase.
With its several exterior compartments, you should be able to safely store away your phone keys and wallet so you can look your absolute best en route without any bulges in your pocket.
The buckles of this bag are made from a quality brass that should withstand any falls or general wear and tear.
On the interior part of this messenger bag, its stacked with a ton of compartments that should be able to keep all your essentials in order. The roomy interior should be able to adequately store your laptop (up to about 15″), tablet, textbook and even the power adapter.
Overall this is a terrific leather messenger bag that is extremely affordable.
This leather messenger bag by Kattee has an incredibly distinct style that really defines ruggedness. With its scratch prone (in a good way) genuine leather shell this is a bag that will typically look better with age. In fact of all the bags that we have reviewed this is definitely one that has some of the most character to with (with perhaps the exception being the HandMadeCart leather bag).
The design of the bag is very similar to the higher priced Kenneth Cole or Samsonite bags with its front two buckle clasp design along with a reinforced hybrid leather/cloth strap and handle will make it extremely easy to carry and access when in transit.
Within the bag rests two main compartments for easy segregation of your gear by a zipper pouch in the middle. This will allow you to store important A4 standard sized documents. The Kattee Men’s bag should be able to sufficiently fit in not only a 14″ laptop, but also a tablet and power adapter if necessary.
Nearly identical to the Samsonite bag mentioned above, the Kenneth Cole Reaction leather messenger bag is a streamlined bag that comes in both a variety of colors and price point. While the standard tan leather bag is one of the more popular colors among men (pictured above), Kenneth Cole does also sell this same model in both black and brown leather.
The shoulder strap itself is crafted from a comfortable worn canvas that is further reinforced with a leather shoulder pad for additional comfort on longer journeys. If you find that the shoulder pad does get in the way or becomes a nusance in any way, you can simply unbuckle the strap and slide out the shoulder pad. Beyond the shoulder strap, this bag can also be used as a brief case for more formal settings given that the strap can be easily removed. It’s leather made handle will look incredibly sleek and professional when necessary.
A highly used compartment on this bag will be the thin back pocket that can easily store a standard sheet of paper or notes should you need easy access without having to worry about opening your bag every time. When accessing the inner compartments of the bag, all your gear is secured by the two outer clasps that can easily be opened with a push of the button. Within the bag there are several compartments for easy and organized storage. Lastly this bag should be able to fit nearly all standard laptop sizes up to 15.4 inches.
If you are looking for a potential leather messenger bag that has a minimalist attitude but something that you will likely own for life and potentially pass down to the next generation – then you simply can’t beat this leather bag by Visconti. With its sleek, yet incredibly classic looking antique design, this leather bag can work for just about any occasion. If you are biking to work or have an interview at a major bank this leather bag will keep all your valuables contained within its compartments.
First and foremost its important to call out an important factor on this bag – unlike some of the others we reviewed that have ample padding within the bag, this is simply a leather outer paired with a cloth lining on the interior. Therefore if you intend to use this as a bag to carry your laptop, then you may also want to use a sleeve in tandem for maximum protection.
Noticeably absent from the front of the bag is any bulky buckles or clasps. Instead the Visconti leather bag relies on strong magnets to keep the outer flap closed at all times – which can make access to your belongings effortless. On the back side of the bag there is a thin pocket that should also be able to store your essentials (i.e. docs, notes, etc) for easy access.
Overall this is a wonderfully crafted bag that features a incredible classic and minimalist design.
While most leather messenger bags are likely made in a factory in some obscure location overseas, the PL 18 is a hand made bag that is crafted from genuine goat leather. Immediately upon looking at this bag, it just simply bleeds a classic design. First and foremost, what many men may recognize is that this doesn’t rely on any newer technology in order to keep the bag shut through the use of clasps or magnets, instead it has an incredibly classy buckle design.
From top to bottom, this bag is crafted from genuine leather that should last you a lifetime. Within its relative bulky design, especially when compared to the Visconti messenger bag, you can store ample amount of gear within the bag. In fact you should be able to fit a full sized 17″ laptop within its main compartment.
The classic and antique design can go with most occasions. Whether you are in a completely casual office environment or dressed in a full suit for an interview, this bag will complement you nicely.e Leather Messenger Bag
The Rodd & Gunn Woodstock leather satchel is quite possibly the most handsome leather bag you will ever own. From the leather used to the way it is stitched, this bag has everything you will need and more to hold your every day items. The snap closures are easy to attach and detach, giving you full reign on your bag in an instant. Whether you want this bag for work or just for casual wear, this bag rises to any occasion, and will hold anything and everything stylishly.
The whole exterior is made of leather, from the flap to the strap, with no protruding pockets to speak of. While it does make the entire bag look completely seamless, save for the designer stitching around the bag, there are some sacrifices. For one, the strap cannot be adjusted at all; because the shoulder strap is made from a strip of leather, it does limit how far up or down this bag hangs. While it may be comfortable for some, it could be uncomfortable for others. The buckles are purely for design, as the bag is a snap closure. It’s not very secure, as the snaps come open, and the wide open top makes it so that should the top somehow come open, your items are exposed.
However, while this bag is expensive, it is well worth it for the quality and the function. Genuine leather combined with Italian craftsmanship ensures that this bag will last you for years.
This leather messenger bag by S-ZONE is an incredibly prestigious handcrafted leather messenger tote that emits both a rustic and vintage vibe. With its dual clasp design on the front of the bag, all your items should remain well secure while in transit. While also doubling as a briefcase with its top leather-reinforced handle, you can also carry this as a standard messenger across your chest.
Like other quality messenger bags that we reviewed, this bag by S-ZONE will allow you to easily remove the reinforced shoulder cushion pad by simply unbuckling either one of the straps on either side.
With its 3 external compartments matched by the 3 internal compartments, each and every single piece of your gear should be able to easily find its home in any one of the six compartments.
The zip-locked back compartment will not only do a terrific job of securing important documents, but also you should be able to store your phone (no matter the size) easily.
Within the main bag itself there are two compartments separated by a zipper pouch. Therefore you could easily store a laptop (up to 14″) on one side and a tablet on the other.
This messenger bag by S-ZONE is an extremely versatile bag that should work with several different occasions given its vintage yet rustic look.
This beautifully crafted leather messenger bag from Samsonite is an extraordinarily versatile bag that should fit just about any mans needs. Whether you are in a business or casual environment this bag can easily work in both instances. There are several features that are worth calling out on this particular bag. First and foremost, when it comes to carrying the bag, you have two primary options – either via a shoulder strap or by hand carrying it with the leather reinforced handle that is on the top.
When accessing the bag, all your gear is secured with the two buckles that lay on the front side. Underneath the leather straps you will find that you can easily open up the bag by simply pressing down on the clasp. Within the bag itself, there are a ton of compartments for both easy storage and even easier accessibility. This bag allows you to store up to a 15.6″ laptop which should serve the majority of men looking for a specific laptop bag in the market.
Being that this is constructed of genuine leather, its not particularly waterproof and you should experience scuffs and normal wear and tear with daily use. If you do need to clean this bag, we recommend taking it to a leather repair shop or gently washing it with your hands.
This messenger bag does come in a variety of colors including brown (pictured above), black, and espresso.
Generally this is a finely crafted leather bag that should last you for several years. Samsonite in general is known for their top quality materials and attention to detail – whether its for yourself or someone else this is a bag that will withstand the test of time.
This full laptop messenger bag by Leather Bags Now is an incredibly slick bag that has an extremely streamlined design that rivals the Visconti bag that we also reviewed. However, unlike the Visconti bag, this leather messenger bag rings up at just a fraction of the price. If you are looking for a no-nonsense leather bag that just simply carriers your gear then this should be perfect.
With the absent of a briefcase top handle or the reinforced should strap, this leather messenger bag is a bare bones design that should last you several years given its genuine goat leather design. To access the main compartment, the top flap is secured by two magnetic fittings that should stay secure in even relatively rough conditions.
Within the main compartment there are two pouches that should keep your laptop secure in one and your remaining accessories on the other side. Generally the cloth lining won’t be the best protection for your laptop, therefore we would recommend picking up a sleeve for your laptop if you don’t already have one.
Overall this is a great beginners leather bag that will get the job done.
The products that come out of Ted Baker London are always of the highest quality and style, so it makes sense that this faux leather messenger bag is no different. This bag uses polyurethane, a material that is made to look and wear like leather, so you do get a great deal compared to a bag made from genuine leather. The colored stripe across the front is a handsome contrast to the black material. It is incredibly stylish and easy to carry around, and goes with any outfit flawlessly.
This bag uses a flap closure, ensuring that you can easily access your items without needing to fuss or fight with additional clasps. There is a padded inner pocket for your laptop to protect it and separate it from the other contents within, and the lining itself is handsome red to contrast the dark exterior. The shoulder strap is adjustable, and sits comfortably over the chest and back as well as hanging by your side. You can adjust the strap all the way to a 25.5” strap drop across the body, or cinch it up to a mere 11”. It will feel perfect under your arm or at your hip.
At 16” wide and 13.5” high, this bag can hold many important items. From documents to books and more, there is no limit to what you can carry. The 4” depth is a little limiting, but for day to day wear, it should not pose too much of an issue.
Admittedly, this leather messenger bag doesn’t look like much. At first glance, it has a plain exterior with contrast stitching around the edges and the logo imprinted on the flap. While it certainly may not have the same artistic flair as other bags on the market, this bag does not disappoint on the functional aspects of a messenger bag. It features a convertible strap, interior pockets, and a roomy lined main compartment for a book, your papers, or whatever else you may need this bag for.
The silky lined interior is partitioned to have a slim zippered pocket on the side, and two slim pockets just under the flap for small, thin belongings. The main compartment can hold your tablet, phone, business papers, and more. There is also an open pocket on the back of this bag for items you may need direct, easy access to. The shape of the bag won’t be compromised with things you put inside this bag, ensuring that you have a great looking item for years.
This bag features an extendable shoulder strap that at full length is 60”. However, the shoulder strap cannot be removed, which is unfortunate. The front closures are snaps, which are not the most secure closures on the market, but they do hold the flap down in especially windy weather, and are handy for quickly opening and closing if you need to get something out in a hurry.
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