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Buyers Guide

Bellroy Slim Work Bag

The 25 Best Messenger Bags for Modern Professionals

by , October 20, 2017

Backpacks may be king when it comes to carry comfort, but messengers (or shoulder bags) take the crown for quick access. You could have slung a messenger round, retrieved a required item and have the bag back at your side or across your back in the same time it takes to simply remove a backpack before accessing interior gear.

This convenient access is definitely a plus when you’re a busy modern professional, on the go and frequently reaching for various work or EDC items throughout the day. But aesthetics also play a role here. A stylish shoulder bag generally looks more professional than a backpack. Get a shoulder bag that converts into briefcase mode when needed and you increase that air of professionalism even more, while enjoying the benefits of hands-free carry during the commute. Ultimately though, a work messenger should suit your specific work environment. Casual or smart-casual works in relaxed environments, but you’ll want to keep things looking sharp in formal settings.

Organization also needs to be considered too. Do you need tech protection for a laptop or tablet? Do you carry a lot of accessories and tools, in which case multiple pockets will be a real benefit? Or do you run with a minimalist setup that doesn’t require a host of options to keep gear tidy?

Whether you’re looking for sophisticated style or casual appeal, lots of organization or a blank canvas that lets you do your own thing, we’ve rounded up some of the best messenger bags out there for modern professionals.


Mystery Ranch One Up (US$ 99)

Mystery Ranch One Up

Bring together Mystery Ranch’s burly build reputation with convenient organization and versatile carry options and you get the tough and functional One Up Bag. Made with 500D Cordura and weatherproof YKK zippers, the One Up features a padded laptop sleeve along with multiple pockets for stashing your smaller work and EDC essentials. The bag includes top carry handles, a removable shoulder strap, as well as a stowable sling strap for across-the-back carry.

Arc’teryx Fyx 13 Messenger (US$ 149)

Arc'teryx Fyx 13

Looking for technical design with everyday functionality? The Arc’teryx Fyx 13 does it well, combining a highly water-resistant and durable build with sleek aesthetics that suit work and play. And with plenty of pockets for organizing tech, work tools and EDC items, you can easily get to gear without having to rummage.

Côte&Ciel Isarau Memory Tech Bag (US$ 150)

Côte&Ciel Isarau Memory Tech Bag

If you’re a fan of minimalist and elegant style and don’t need to carry a lot, the Côte&Ciel Isarau should be on your radar. Chic, compact and adaptable, the Isarau is inspired by Japanese breastplate armor and can be worn across the chest, back or by your side. The bag fits up to a 9.7″ tablet in the main compartment and includes an exterior pocket for storing quick-access items. Additionally, it comes in a choice of materials to suit your personal style.

Timbuk2 Closer Case (US$ 159)

Timbuk2 Closer Case

Timbuk2’s Closer Case packs plenty of features into its understated form, which comes in a choice of colors and fabrics. A dedicated padded laptop compartment with exterior access, a luggage passthrough sleeve that converts into a pocket, as well as a stabilizer strap for bike commutes make this a useful piece for daily and travel use. The bag also offers a range of pockets including an exterior water bottle pocket, an attachment point for a bike light, and both grab handle and shoulder strap carry options.

The Brown Buffalo Despatch Brief (US$ 180)

The Brown Buffalo Despatch Brief

Durable, functional and adaptable, the Despatch can be carried as a shoulder bag or briefcase and also includes a luggage strap for convenient portability during your travels. Useful interior organization keeps items such as a 15″ laptop, pens, notebooks, cables and more in order. Added bonus? A padded base that provides extra protection for your gear.

Bellroy Slim Work Bag (US$ 189)

Bellroy Slim Work Bag

Chic and minimalist, this stylish piece from Bellroy offers a slim, decluttered form that suits a variety of formal and casual environments alike. The Slim Work Bag fits up to a 15″ laptop in a dedicated pocket, with a choice of further interior pockets for smaller work tools and accessories, and exterior pockets for quick-access items. Additionally, the bag can be carried as a briefcase or with the removable shoulder strap depending on your needs.

Côte&Ciel Riss Memory Tech Messenger (US$ 205)

Côte&Ciel Riss Memory Tech Messenger

Taking inspiration from horseback archery quivers but primed for the modern-day minimalist, the Riss looks good in both formal and more relaxed environments. Designed to be worn across the back or over a shoulder, the Riss fits up to 13″ tech in the padded computer compartment. There’s also two exterior pockets to keep frequently used items at the ready. And with a variety of materials to choose from, you can pick and choose to match your tastes.

Mission Workshop The Monty – Advanced (US$ 205)

Mission Workshop The Monty - Advanced

The Monty – Advanced features Mission Workshop’s innovative Arkiv closure system and durable, abrasion-resistant HT500 fabric. The messenger can be used in rolltop or flap down format, with multiple pockets to hold your day-to-day and work gear, including space for a 13″ laptop and 15″ laptop. A stabilizer strap helps keep the bag secure while cycling, and the weatherproof build provides peace of mind when those storm clouds are threatening. Made in the USA, the Monty also comes with a lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and craftsmanship.

Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13″ (US$ 219.95)

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

The highly versatile Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13 is full of clever features to help you carry better, from expandability for larger loads, to customizable organization and one-handed magnetic closure. The bag offers dedicated storage for up to a 13″ tech device and expands from 6L to 14L. With its adaptable design and weatherproof build, this is a great option if you want a bag that can embrace work and play environments alike.

QWSTION Office Bag – Organic Jet Black (US$ 230)

QWSTION Office Bag

With its low-key Swiss style, multiple carry options and functional organization, QWSTION’s Office Bag is well suited to a range of work and travel environments. The bag fits up to a 17″ laptop in a dedicated padded compartment, while the main compartment opens wide for easy access and offers a variety of pockets to keep work and EDC items tidy on the go. Plus with the option to carry it as a shoulder bag, backpack or briefcase you can easily adapt to changing settings. In addition to Organic Jet Black, the bag also comes in further colors and materials to suit your personal tastes.

Tom Bihn Founder’s Briefcase (US$ 230)

Tom Bihn Founder's Briefcase

If access and organization are a priority, the Tom Bihn Founder’s Briefcase is a solid option. The clamshell briefcase opens wide for easy access throughout and offers a variety of organization options. The padded laptop compartment can double as a document holder, and internal pockets and webbing keep your smaller items secure and close to hand. The bag also comes with a removable shoulder strap and is backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Ally Capellino Froome Messenger (US$ 232.50)

Ally Capellino Froome Messenger

Casually refined and durable, the Ally Capellino Froome features a padded interior pocket for up to a 13″ tech device, along with further pockets for organizing smaller items. Made with water-resistant Cordura nylon and Italian leather, the Froome also features reflective detailing and bike light attachment points for the daily commute.

Crafted Goods Cité (US$ 235)

Crafted Goods Cité

Rugged enough for demanding use but low-key enough for urban environments, the Cité is crafted with 1050D Original Cordura Ballistic fabric and water-resistant YKK AquaGuard zippers. The bag includes a useful mix of interior and exterior pockets for organizing your day-to-day gear, including padded storage for a 13″ laptop. Additionally, a stabilizing cross strap helps keep the Cité secure if you’re commuting by bike.

HEAD PORTER Black Beauty Business Document Shoulder Bag (US$ 236.50)

HEAD PORTER Black Beauty Business Document Shoulder Bag

Slim, stylish and functional, this attractive piece from HEAD PORTER is a fine choice for business, travel and day-to-day needs when you just need to carry the essentials. The expertly crafted messenger offers a choice of interior and exterior pockets for easy access to items throughout the day, including a padded pocket for up to a 13″ device. Carry it with the shoulder strap for convenient portability, or opt for clutch mode in more formal settings by removing the strap.

Trakke Wee Lug Mk2 (~US$ 265)

Trakke Wee Lug Mk2

Trakke’s Wee Lug Mk2 thoughtfully merges form and function to create a great all-rounder for work and beyond. Stylishly relaxed aesthetics are complemented by durable handcrafted construction and quality materials. Caught in an unexpected rain shower? The weatherproof waxed cotton exterior will protect your gear from the elements, with additional protection and interior visibility courtesy of a bright waxed cotton lining. The bag fits a 15″ laptop and includes additional interior and exterior pockets for smaller items. The shoulder strap is both ambidextrous and quickly adjustable and features a tough AustriAlpin Cobra buckle for secure and easy usability.

Cambridge Satchel Bridge Closure Messenger (US$ 285)

Cambridge Satchel Bridge Closure Messenger

Handsome and hard-wearing, this messenger features a pared-back and durable leather construction with brass hardware. A slip pocket on the front keeps smaller items within easy reach, and the strap closure is simple and quick for convenient access on the go. A suave piece for the office and your downtime alike.

Filson Original Briefcase (US$ 325)

Filson Original Briefcase

Filson’s Original Briefcase teams rugged, US-made construction with a practical design for work, weekends and travel use. The bag is crafted with Filson’s hard-wearing Rugged Twill, durable Bridle leather detailing and a YKK zipper. Quick-access pockets and interior organization help keep your gear neat and tidy, with space for up to a 15″ laptop. There’s carry options too, with top grab handles and a removable shoulder strap.

Brooks England Crosby Coated Cotton-Canvas Messenger Bag (US$ 325)

Brooks England Crosby Coated Cotton-Canvas Messenger Bag

The Brooks England Crosby brings clean and classy carry to your work day, with a range of handy features. Water-resistant cotton canvas construction helps protect your gear from the elements, and the magnetic fastening makes it quick and easy to access the main compartment. Inside you’ll find a padded laptop pocket and a zipped pocket for smaller items, while an exterior zipped pocket under the flap is useful for quick-access items. Additionally a waist strap provides added stability while cycling.

Bedouin Foundry Barbarossa (~US$ 357)

Bedouin Foundry Barbarossa

The Barbarossa is a beauty of a bag, backed up with solid craftsmanship and premium materials. Handcrafted in England with weatherproof waxed canvas, top-grain vegetable-tanned leather and a handprinted lining, the bag includes a lifetime guarantee on workmanship and materials. The interior laptop sleeve fits up to a 13″ device, with two further front pockets for smaller items. All rounded off with a durable AustriAlpin Cobra buckle closure.

Mismo M/S Pastime Messenger (US$ 365)

Mismo M/S Pastime Messenger

This eye-catching piece from Mismo exudes understated charm and quality, with premium materials and construction and a versatile design that moves between work and play with ease. Well suited to those who don’t require a lot of organization, the M/S Pastime offers a quick-access exterior pocket and an interior pocket. Two carry options including a removable shoulder strap and removable carry handle let you alternate to suit changing needs.

Troubadour Messenger (US$ 375)

Troubadour Messenger

Timeless style and quality construction makes this Troubadour Messenger a fine choice if you’re after a bag that will serve you well for years to come. Inside is a padded pocket to keep your laptop safe and secure on the move, and the flap features a convenient magnetic closure for fuss-free access. Simple and uncluttered, this is an appealing piece for minimalist carry setups.

KILLSPENCER Briefcase 2.0 (from US$ 425)

KILLSPENCER Briefcase 2.0

The KILLSPENCER Briefcase 2.0 brings slim and luxurious style to your work day, with a choice of nylon or leather and quality hardware including Riri zippers and AustriAlpin Cobra buckles. The briefcase features an interior padded 15″ laptop sleeve, with additional smaller interior and external pockets for further organization. A shoulder strap is also included for easier carrying over longer distances.

Porter-Yoshida & Co. Tanker 3Way Brief Case (US$ 438)

Porter-Yoshida & Co. Tanker 3Way Brief Case

Meticulous craftsmanship, flexible portability and convenient access and organization make this bag a great addition to work and travel carry setups. Multiple interior and exterior pockets are on hand for organizing your daily essentials, and the clamshell opening makes it easy to pack and access your gear. As the name suggests, the bag offers three carry options including backpack, shoulder bag and briefcase modes.

WANT Les Essentiels Heathrow Commuter Bag (US$ 450) 

WANT Les Essentiels Heathrow Commuter Bag

Looking for understated luxury? Turn to the Heathrow Commuter Bag, which combines premium quality with a functional design that adapts to everyday use and business travel. The wraparound YKK zip allows the bag to open wide for easy access throughout the interior, where you’ll find a choice of pockets for storing work tools, documents and EDC essentials. The removable shoulder strap and top handles give you the flexibility to carry easily over longer distances or opt for a more professional briefcase-style mode in formal settings.

Stone Island Flap Messenger (US$ 487)

Stone Island Flap Messenger

Durable and adaptable, this Stone Island messenger keeps your essentials secure and organized with a range of internal and external pockets and protective weatherproof zippers. The bag can be carried over the shoulder or with the top grab handle, and a waist strap boosts stability when you’re getting more active. And with a considered blend of street style and clean design you can move smoothly from work to beyond with just one bag.

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