Backpacks are a popular way to carry things for many people these days. But there's a catch!
If you are here, it's because want to have a more sophisticated and professional look right? You'd like to find something practical to carry your day to day stuff while staying stylish.
A look that you will hardly find in a casual canvas backpack. Trust me, have you ever seen someone in a suit wearing a backpack? Nope.
Don't get me wrong, backpacks are perfect accessories to, but messenger bags and shoulder bags are a must when it comes to style.
In this article, we'll dig out the history of these great items and see why messenger bags have a more mature look, coming in many refined and elegant styles, helping you to sort out from the crowd.
- 1. The History of Messenger Bags
- 2. Features of Messenger Bags
- 3. The Top 5 Best Messenger Bags
The History of Messenger Bags 👜
What is a Messenger Bag?
This simple day-to-day luggage with one strap going over the shoulder has existed for a long time. In fact, it is difficult to identify exactly when the first messenger bag was made.
What is certain, it is that its name comes from the postmen, who called it "messenger bag" because of the utility of the latter to carry the mail.
We know that this type of bag has been used by men in the Roman legion, indicating its impressive staying power.
Messenger bags then took a turn in the middle of the 19th century, when the Pony Express flourished in the American West.
Renowned riders such as Buffalo Bill or Jack Keetley, roamed the American countryside for hundreds or even thousands of miles to deliver mail, parcels or government letters.
To do this, it was necessary to have lightweight, practical and mobile bags, able to be attached to the horse's saddle or to be carried over the shoulder if the horsemen had to walk.
© Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images
After that, Army medics, letter carriers, utility repairmen, and others used shoulder bags for carrying around the tools and items they needed for work. Similarly, professionals, today use messenger bags to tote around what they need.
The modern messenger bag was brought into the limelight by the De Martini Globe Canvas Company in the 1950s. The original intention for these bags was for them to be used by linemen working on telephone poles.
The waterproof cotton canvas material made it easy for these workers to grab tools out of their bags to work on the power poles.
Courier bags had a resurgence in popularity again in the 1980s. With many bicycle-powered messenger businesses around during that time, messengers saw this bag as the ideal way to carry around messages.
Each company would customize the bags by slapping on their own logo. They would sometimes add reflective tape on the straps so that cars could see the bike couriers.
The saddlebags were then mainly made of cotton canvas and lined with a waterproof material and closed with two straps, most often made of leather.
The advent of professional messenger bags occurred in 1984, when John Peters introduced the latter to the world of fashion by creating the Manhattan Portage company, adding new features (buckles) and changing materials (nylon).
As time went on, the general public started getting into the look and style of professional messenger bags. College and university students because especially fond of them since they made it easy to carry around a few textbooks.
Once laptops because popular, they replaced the books that were previously being toted to classes.
How to wear a Messenger Bag properly?
Of course, there is no obligation and you can carry your messenger bag as you please. However, we can give you some precious advice depending on the style you want to adopt, because we don't joke about the look!
Indeed, while saddlebags were created with the sole purpose of satisfying a need, they have now become a real fashion accessory, available in several colours, sizes and designs.
This profusion now allows a diversity of looks, and ways to wear them...
The golden rule of the vintage messenger bag is to wear it close to the body, the strap firmly pulling, avoiding your bag (and the objects it contains) to sway in all directions.
You can carry the bag on your shoulder (in case of heat, it avoids annoying sweating marks) or on your back, by passing the strap around your neck (practical if you are on a bike or motorcycle)...
...Let's review the different looks you can adopt with your saddlebag (and what diversity!)
- The professional look: In our society, appearance plays (unfortunately) an essential role, and first impressions are always important. Maintaining a professional look is therefore essential, and the way you carry your satchel is not free of it. As a professional, you probably wear stylish and well-ironed clothes. We, therefore, advise you to wear it by hand, it avoids wrinkles and it is elegant. It is interesting to note that a handbag is a more than suitable alternative to a boring computer pouch. We recommend a leather case, which is rather thin and light in sober and dark tones and has a dedicated compartment for computers.
The urban look: We completely change category and therefore style, but we stay in a similar environment. We suggest you to be sober, with a simple design and rather neutral colours. Choose a handbag that will go well with a relaxed shirt and sneakers for a style that will be worn on the shoulder. This style if adapted for travels for instance. Traveling is good for your health so you choose consider it!
The sporty look: Saddlebags are a great ally for athletes (who don't need large accessories to practice their sports - a.k.a. a kayak or skis). They are a practical and much more elegant alternative to classic sports bags, which are often not very stylish. We advise you to choose a bag that combines comfort and utility. In addition, it seems appropriate to choose breathable materials that will allow your dirty belongings (and the odours that go with it) to dry.
- The casual look: This is definitely our favorite look. For a casual look, we recommend a light and elegant cotton courier bag. Choose a bag that has many storage spaces and pockets to store all your accessories during your Sunday outings. If you are a Rayban bezel and denim jacket style, then you can let yourself be tempted by a leather bag that will bring a retro and vintage look to your silhouette.
Messenger Bag or Backpack for Everyday Use?
Many of you may be wondering what is the best way to transport your everyday belongings?
The answer will depend on your lifestyle and your needs! Everyone is different and has specific needs...
The backpack is a must-have. Look around you on the street and you will see them on almost everyone (especially in train stations and airports). Why do you need a backpack?
Because a leather backpack is extremely practical for carrying relatively heavy loads. Its comparative advantage is undoubtedly comfort, thanks in particular to the two straps that allow the weight of the backpack to be evenly distributed over the body.
Therefore, it is the perfect ally for people who like to spend weekends in the countryside, enjoy camping outings, or people who like to carry a lot of stuff with them while travelling or commuting.
On the other hand, the messenger bag is more adapted to the specific needs of students, workers (storage for computers) and dynamic people on the go.
It can be easily carried on a bicycle for example, and is easy to access, allowing you to have all your belongings close at hand, which makes it a very functional item!
Moreover, it does not take up much space on the back and avoids sweating, especially on summer days. It is a perfect accessory for daily outings, allowing you to take the essentials with you, no more. Also it's a casual and functional bag if you enjoy taking pictures during autumn. Colors and environment are so beautiful at that time of the year and so many destination are incredible.
So you will have understood, each type of bag has a particular function, they are complementary. If you want to go to the countryside with a set of clothes, opt for a bulky backpack.
If you have to join your colleague for an important meeting, take your bag with you!
Features of Messenger Bags 📣
Messenger bags are most prized for their versatile nature. There are many styles it can come in and they include several options.
The modern popular messenger bag offers a timeless combination of function and fashion that cannot be beaten. Here are some of the best features of messenger bags.
Versatility is perhaps the most prized feature of a popular messenger bag. Professionals in decades past have resorted to lugging around briefcases.
These were stiff and annoying to carry around in your hand. Besides, they felt old-fashioned. On the other end of the spectrum, you have backpacks. These lack that classy look you get with sophisticated shoulder bags.
If you want to raise the elegance even more on retro canvas handbag, you can get them in leather instead of canvas.
Most lightweight messenger bags weigh under two pounds. This makes it easy on your shoulders when you want to carry and transport something.
Backpacks and briefcases can weight more than lightweight messenger bags, which causes unnecessary strain on your body.
The lightweight design of shoulder bags is especially nice when you just want to make a quick trip somewhere with a few things.
Messenger bags are lightweight and thin. They can flatten out really well and will not cause significant strain on your body.
Backpacks can be bulky and heavy. They also make it difficult to organize your things once placed inside of them.
Most messenger bags have multiple pockets and sleeves, which provides carrying capacity for the day-to-day transporting of what you need. Throw the bag's sling over your shoulder in one movement and be on your way.
An incredibly helpful feature of shoulder bags is their ability to organize your things. There are usually several pockets and sleeves that help partition items to their respective areas for easy access later.
Compare this with a backpack where you may have to fumble around for a while to find what you are looking for in its great abyss.
Do not let their size when flattened out fool you. You can get just as much storage in a laptop messenger bag as you can in a backpack.
Unlike a backpack, you will not have the items you placed inside of them get squashed.
There are adjustable shoulder bags, which can hold an impressive amount of stuff. They remove the need for having a backpack if you are looking to transport a good amount of gear.
You would be hard-pressed to find a messenger bag that wasn't durable. This is because most of them are made out of canvas and leather.
When you find the odd shoulder bag made out of a material such as polyethene, it will be reinforced in a way which keeps to the tough and durable design these kinds of bags are known for.
You have the potential to be using your messenger bag for years to come.
Computer messenger bags make it easy to get to your gear. They all feature a flap on the front which you simply lift to access your things.
Since these bags are worn at waist-level, it becomes even easier to get inside your bag.
If you hear your phone ringing in your bag, you can quickly and effortlessly get to it in time to answer the call.
✔️Keeps Your Body Cool
Have you ever worn a backpack when it was hot outside? You have probably found your back became a sweaty mess after taking it off.
With a shoulder bag, you will never have this problem.
Given the minimal body contact you get while wearing a bike messenger bag, this is a great bag to wear in hotter climates or during the hot part of seasonal climates.
What should I carry in my messenger bag?
Many people think that a messenger bag can't hold much... you'd be surprised to see that with a bit of organization, you can take everything you need with you!
We advise you to take a pair of earphones with you. Smaller than headphones, they allow you to listen to your favourite artists during your different journeys!
If you have long hours of commuting, it is a great asset on which you should not skimp.
We also recommend that you always carry a portable (if possible universal) charger and an external battery in your bag.
You will, therefore, have everything you need to avoid running out of battery (which often happens when you need it most).
If you like to walk or go for long walks, a few protein snacks will not be too much.
They take up very little space, keep well over time and will be more than appreciated in case of craving, believe me.
Also, we advise you to carry a water bottle or a thermos, on the one hand, to avoid buying plastic bottles and on the other hand to be able to take along preparations (soups, tea, mate).
Then come the essential sunglasses, especially in summer. The eye is a very sensitive organ and its cells do not regenerate once damaged. It is therefore necessary to take great care of them.
Speaking of care, don't forget your small bottle of hydroalcoholic gel, it will get you out of many unhygienic situations.
Finally, we create bags with zip pockets. Use them to store your valuable belongings. We recommend an ID card, a wallet, keys and other things that are important to you!
How to organize my Messenger Bag?
You've just acquired your brand new messenger bag and you're dying to use it as soon as possible.
However, when you open the main compartment for the first time, you're wondering what's the best way to organise your messenger bag so that you can take all your everyday stuff with you.
Whether you're a student, a traveller or an employee, you'll soon accumulate (intentionally or unintentionally) a lot of items in your saddlebags. You will even find some of them after months of absence (you know what I talking about don't you?).
You might as well start off on the right foot and organize your messenger bag cleverly so that you always know where your stuff is stored.
A quality saddlebag is more than just a storage solution, but it's up to you to make the most of it.
Today's satchels often offer compartments for computers or laptop sleeves. We're not going to tell you what to put in them, are we?
Take advantage of the main space to organize your bulky and heavy items such as books, pads, notebooks or simply your sportswear or change of clothes.
You can also make the most of the open interior open pockets by slipping in objects that you use often and that need to be close at hand (pen, computer charger, calculator). Save time and avoid searching for hours what you use every day.
Take advantage, if the messenger bag has one, of the inside zip pockets to store your valuables, which you want to keep safe and which are not often useful during the day (house keys, wallet, student card).
Some quality saddlebags even offer external pockets (open or zip), which are often on the back, i.e. the one stuck to your body so as not to leave free access to everyone. Why not store a notebook, your smartphone and your glasses for example? You'll have them handy!
The Top 5 Best Messenger Bags 🏆
Now that you know what road messenger bags took to get here, as well as their best features, we will go over the best messenger bags you can get today.
Each one of these will vary in style and features, giving you several options to choose from to match your personal preference.
This sophisticated messenger bag is made out of luxurious Colombian cowhide leather. This gives it tremendous durability, as well as an elegant look.
You can hold onto this bag for a long time since it will age beautifully. Since it is a stylish designer messenger bag made out of special leather, you will pay a little more.
However, the price is worth matching your professional lifestyle if you want to look both classy and casual simultaneously.
A nice feature of this shoulder bag is the set of dual magnetic closures underneath the exterior flap.
This will ensure your bag will close every time, without you having to remember to do it. The bag also features a permanent and padded shoulder strap that can be readjusted to extend up to 60 inches.
No matter what your height is, the Kenneth Cole Reaction Risky Business messenger bag will look good on you.
The one downside of this bag is that it is expensive. However, you do get what you pay for.
2. Timbuk2 Commute 🥈
If you are looking for a big shoulder bag that is rugged and tough, the Timbuk2 Commute messenger bag is the answer.
It is made out of 100% polyethene, so you do not have to worry about precipitation defacing it. This is a bag that is ideal for cyclists, considering it enables light to be reflective when hitting it.
Combine this with its ability to survive any sort of nasty weather and you have an incredible bag.
You have pockets galore with this messenger bag. You can never have too many pockets.
Thankfully, you are in luck because there are plenty in this bag. On the interior, there are a surprising 10 pockets, along with one zippered pocket. You also get three exterior pockets.
You will have several ways to carry it thanks to the bag's adjustable strap.
One issue with this bag is that some of the pockets are mysteriously small. If you have tiny items, they can be useful, but for most things, they will be unusable.
3. EIKEN Winnipeg 🥉
If you are looking for a beautifully crafted vintage look on a messenger bag, the EIKEN Winnipeg delivers.
This is a lightweight messenger bag that has elegance and durability. It features elements made from crazy horse leather in addition to a waxed canvas body that exudes rugged sophistication.
The durability of this bag is also emphasized by being cut-proof, so you can drop any concerns about it not holding up.
On the inside, there is a dedicated laptop compartment that will fit up to a 15" laptop.
There are also additional smaller pockets to secure your everyday accessories, including your phone.
For the traveling professional, this shoulder bag is ideal given it is within the dimensions allowed for bringing it into the airplane cabin.
There are five colors to choose from, although they may not appear as vivid as expected according to some customer reviews.
The EIKEN Washington is the shoulder bag with photographers in mind. It has a unique design that has been specially customized for store camera gear safely and securely.
This rugged and durable bag features plenty of storage spaces for your gear, including a special removable pocket so you can carry your camera accessories when you are shooting. There are also additional pockets on the exterior.
Protecting your gear is crazy horse leather and waxed canvas, ensuring nothing damages your expensive and delicate equipment.
The weight of this bag is incredibly light, coming in at just 700 grams. There is also a high-quality buckle that is magnetized in a way where it will not lose its magnetism easily.
If you are looking for large sleeves to carry around textbooks and other large items, you will have to look elsewhere. This is a bag designed for specific use by photographers.
5. FRYE Logan
Being a brand known to create luxurious leather products, FRYE has done it again with their Logan messenger bag.
This luxe all-leather shoulder bag is much more expensive than all of the other bags we reviewed. However, for the professional that wants to look supremely classy and sophisticated, this is the bag to get.
If you want a classicly-styled messenger bag with modern construction, this bag has both.
There are multiple pockets within its roomy interior. The beaten leather looks incredibly classy in a way where you will look like a million bucks. This messenger bag also features a magnetic snap closure to secure all of your belongings.
Messenger bags are still in style because they are incredibly versatile and stylish.
With its rich history in the background, you know you are using a quality product designed to be day-to-day luggage for the modern student, professional, or casual user.
Enjoy the timeless nature of a messenger bag by getting one that matches your personality and needs.
Whether you ride a bike, take the train, ride a car, or walk, you will come to enjoy the ease of transporting your gear in a messenger bag.