When it comes to everyday carry, a smart man knows that different occasions call for different loadouts. After all, you wouldn’t carry a sleek urban-friendly folding knife if you were headed into the great outdoors — not, at least, if you know what’s good for you. The same could be said for bags, as well. A tactical backpack might suit the hiking trails, but it’s going to be a cumbersome haul if you’re trying to get on the subway, ride your bike through the city streets, or even hail a cab.
Luckily, if you do often find yourself an urban commuter, there’s a go-to pack category that will certainly suit your needs: messenger bags. Built for speed, comfort, and quick-access, these over-the-shoulder slings are one of the best options for the modern city dweller on-the-go. Of course, as is the case with every gear category, there are some that are certainly better than others. But we’ve done all the hard work and rounded up all the top-tier options on the following list of the 20 best messenger bags for men.
Incase Compass Messenger Bag
If you’ve ever needed proof that a low price doesn’t necessarily mean a shoddy construction or cheap material quality, you’ll find it in the Incase Compass messenger bag. Simple without being simplistic, this straightforward shoulder sling pack features a durable polyester weave exterior, a padded nylon shoulder strap, room for a 15″ laptop computer, and a wealth of both internal and external organizational options. It’s definitely a budget option but only in regards to pricing.
Material: 500D Blended Weave Polyester
Carhartt D89 Messenger Bag
Masters of blue-collar workwear and carry solutions, Carhartt unsurprisingly makes superb budget-friendly messenger bags perfect for travelers and commuters who value quick access, solid organization, and reliable durability. There’s nothing that will probably surprise you here, but it does boast a ripstop construction with a weatherproof DWR coating, making this a great all-weather option. And, as we’ve come to expect from most bags, this one also features a dedicated laptop sleeve.
Size: 19″ X 12.5″ X 5.5″
Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag
Designed to both suit the needs of the daily urban commuter, as well as meet most airlines’ carry-on requirements, the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag is an excellent all-occasion everyday carry pack. It’s TSA-compliant, meaning you can even send it through the X-ray machine without having to take everything out, and the top closure is TPU lined for superb weatherproofing. Pair that with its sturdy and lightweight aluminum hardware, integrated silencers to keep the bag quiet at all times, and a luggage pass-through for your wheeled carry-on or checked bag and this is one great do-everything and go-anywhere messenger bag.
Aer Tech Sling
A bit smaller than many of the other options on this list, the Aer Tech Sling is the ideal messenger bag for anyone who needs to carry a specific set of high-tech gear but also values discretion and speed. It’s built from Cordura ballistic nylon, giving it both tear- and water-resistance, and also boasts an extra water-resistant coating on the outside. Inside, of course, you’ll also find seven liters worth of storage space with a hefty number of organizational pockets for all your batteries, cables, tablets, and more. There’s even a slot for a 13″ laptop. It’s not the most capacious option, but not everyone needs a gargantuan messenger bag.
Material: 1680D Cordura Ballistic Nylon
Herschel Sandford Messenger Bag
Though we wouldn’t call it the toughest bag out there, Herschel’s Sandford Messenger Bag makes up for it with its wealth of style options, internal organization, and a number of other features. Available in your choice of two different types of camo, all black, or heather gray, this handsome bag is a simple yet dependable option that works great for any occasion. It also features a neoprene liner that’s easy on all your gear (high-tech stuff included), has a dedicated 15″ laptop pocket, and specialized pouches for your tablet, cables, and more.
Tom Bihn The Maker’s Bag
Tom Bihn is an under-the-radar everyday carry brand if there ever was one. And, honestly, they deserve a lot more recognition than they’ve gotten in the space. Just take their masterful Maker’s Bag, for instance. This handsome over-the-shoulder messenger bag boasts an ultra-tough and lightweight construction of ballistic nylon, it has a ripstop fabric liner, and it even features super reliable Duraflex hardware. As mentioned, this is an unsuspecting option but it deserves to be at the top of everyone’s list.
Material: Ballistic Nylon Or Halcyon
Chrome Industries Citizen Messenger Bag
Headquartered out of Portland, Oregon — one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country — Chrome Industries have made a name for themselves by making some of the absolute best commuter-friendly gear. Their Citizen Messenger Bag is certainly no exception to the rule. Rather, it’s an exemplification of everything they do right. From its iconic seatbelt buckled quick-release strap, its abrasion-resistant and weatherproof nylon exterior and truck tarpaulin liner, this is an exceptional bag through and through. It even fits a 17″ MacBook Pro, comes with a lifetime guarantee, and is made right here in the USA.
Material: 1050D Nylon
Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase
Topo Designs has been around for long enough to have solidified themselves as a go-to name in outdoor-ready gear. But it’s not just time spent that makes them a noteworthy brand — they also know how to make a solid piece of gear, evidenced by their Mountain Briefcase. Featuring a 1000D Cordura nylon exterior (which is both weatherproof and abrasion-resistant), a coated pack cloth liner, and a three-way carry system (boasting a shoulder strap, stowable backpack straps, and briefcase-style handles), this excellent bag functions as well on the trail as it does in the office. It’s also made in the USA, has a 12.9-liter capacity, and a 15″ laptop sleeve.
Material: 1000D Cordura Nylon
Arc’teryx Fyx 13 Messenger Bag
It seems absurd to think that a brand might have offerings that deserve to be on a “best of” list in every category they tackle, but that’s exactly the case with Canadian outdoor brand, Arc’teryx. In this case, it’s their Fyx 13 Messenger Bag that makes the cut, boasting an advanced, lightweight, and waterproof construction. That build quality is only bolstered by its impressive low-profile organization — including a hideaway water bottle pocket and a quick-access small item pouch under the main compartment flap. If it’s sleekness of style and comprehensive organization you seek, this may be the sling bag for you.
Material: AC² Ripstop Nylon
Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag
While it would certainly be presumptuous to say that any bag is the absolute best, we bet the Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag could give all the others on this list a run for their money. That’s not just because it boasts a handsome weatherproof exterior or because it has a unique FlexFold internal divider system (making for some great modularity and customization), or even because of its 15″ main compartment with a secure MagLatch closure. Rather, it’s all of these impressive features together that make for a remarkable bag that somehow manages to be greater than its subsequent parts.
Material: 400D Weatherproof Nylon
Skagen Mikael Courier Bag
If you’re searching for something that’s as resilient as it is classy, you absolutely can’t go wrong with the Skagen Mikael Courier Bag. This impressive and stylish messenger is made from a combination of polyester and nylon, has a handsome leather trim, and can fit up to a 15″ MacBook Pro in its dedicated pocket. Of course, they haven’t forgotten versatility, either, as this bag also features a wealth of internal organization, a weatherproof flap over the main compartment, and a handy external leather loop for a carabiner keychain or bike light attachment.
Size: 20.2″ x 14.8″ x 6.4″
Material: Polyester Nylon Blend
DSPTCH Tech Messenger Bag
Most messenger bags are an excellent carry solution for the modern commuter. But the folks at DSPTCH took it a step further by imbuing theirs with organizational options suited perfectly to those who haul a lot of high-tech gear around with them daily. The Tech Messenger features a freestanding design (so you can set it down anywhere without it tipping over), has a padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 15″ MacBook Pro, a dedicated tablet pouch, built-in cable management, and a wealth of other organizational options. For good measure, it also boasts a lifetime guarantee, so you know you can trust its quality day-in and day-out.
Material: DWR-Coated 1680D Ballistic Nylon
Alchemy Equipment AEL026 Large Shoulder Bag
With an exterior made from 600D waxed Kodra material, Alchemy Equipment’s AEL026 would be plenty tough and weatherproof for most. But the brand wanted to give it even more durability, so they also gave it a 3X PU-coated 900D Kodra base, so that users could feasibly drop it into a puddle in the street with no harm done. And that is only bolstered by the inclusion of YKK AquaGuard zippers. On top of all that, it also has a 15L capacity, a dedicated laptop pouch, an EVA foam adjustable shoulder strap, and an external phone pocket.
Material: 600D Waxed Kodra With 3X PU-Coated 900D Kodra Base
Mission Workshop The Rummy Messenger Bag
Constructed from American waxed canvas, Mission Workshop’s American-made Rummy Messenger Bag is a great weatherproof option for any city-dwelling commuters — especially those who travel by cycle. It also has a dedicated 15″ laptop sleeve, custom aluminum hardware, a closure flap that doubles as a roll top, and it’s compatible with the brand’s Arkiv modular system. That last bit is especially enticing, as it means the bag is expandable and can be customized to suit your carry style.
Material: Waxed Canvas
Defy Recon Messenger Bag
Most bags — be that messengers, backpacks, briefcases, or otherwise — settle for the toughness of nylon. And while we’d never badmouth the magnificent material, there are other things that are a bit more resilient. Take, for instance, M35 military canvas. This tarpaulin is used on war-ready transports, it’s waterproof, slash-proof, abrasion-resistant, and just super impressive all-around. That’s why Defy used it to make their Recon Messenger Bag. And while that would be enough to warrant a spot on this list, it’s also made in the USA and boasts bike inner-tube trim, military-grade seatbelt straps, dual Cobra quick-release buckles (the same ones used by Special Forces), and it can fit a 15″ laptop.
Size: 15″ x 12″ x 2.5″
Material: M35 Military Canvas/Vinyl Truck Tarp
WP Standard Vintage Leather Messenger Bag
For those who value heirloom quality, the WP Standard Vintage Leather Messenger Bag is certainly the option for you. Made from full-grain vegetable-tanned leather, this bag looks superb out of the box and will only get better with age — acquiring a patina directly influenced by the adventures on which you take it. Of course, while its natural material appearance is certainly a beautiful feature, it also still boasts modern conveniences, like a suede-lined laptop compartment, an adjustable strap, and a simple button stud main compartment closure that’s both secure and grants users no-fuss access to your gear inside.
Size: 18.5″ x 11.5″ x 4″
Material: Full-Grain Vegetable-Tanned Leather
Triple Aught Design Parallax Messenger Bag
If ever there was proof that messenger bags weren’t just for the urban commuter, it’s Triple Aught Design’s tactician-friendly Parallax Messenger Bag. Built to survive the battlefield without dragging you down, this sling bag boasts a construction of ultra-lightweight sailcloth, which is also puncture- and slash-resistant, as well as waterproof — making this an excellent all-weather option. It also boasts innovative magnetic buckles for secure and easy carry, ambidextrous back-panel zippered pocket for quick access to things like your tablet or 15″ laptop, and it boasts a quick-access small item panel for your everyday carry necessities. And that’s not even the half of it.
Material: Dimension Polyant And Hypalon
Tumi Alpha Bravo Fallon Messenger
While Tumi is definitely best known for their travel-ready luggage, they don’t shy away from the day-to-day carry solutions. And, judging by the quality of their Alpha Bravo Fallon Messenger, that’s great news for the rest of us. Manufactured from sturdy water-resistant ballistic nylon (and boasting plush leather accents), this is an excellent messenger bag for the frequent traveler. That’s doubly true when you consider that it also meets carry-on guidelines for most airlines, boasts a handy dedicated laptop pocket, and is available with the brand’s Tumi Tracer feature — a complementary program utilizing a unique identifier and a registration database that helps reunite users with lost or misplaced bags.
Size: 15″ x 11.4″ x 4″
Material: Ballistic Nylon
Filson Padded Computer Bag
It might seem hard to believe that a small western outfitter could grow into one of the most important American heritage brands out there, but then we see the beautiful and rugged things that Filson continues to produce and, suddenly, it doesn’t seem so strange after all. Their Rugged Twill Padded Computer Bag is one such thing, boasting YKK zippers, saddle-grade North American bridle leather, and enough space to fit a 15″ laptop. There’s also plenty of internal organization for your daily gear haul and it’s available in one of three handsome and rich colorways, making it easy to customize to your style.
Material: Rugged Twill
Killspencer Briefcase 2.0
As we’ve come to expect from the Los Angeles-based brand, Killspencer has managed to take the messenger bag and elevate it to an elegant piece of carry made from gorgeous full-grain all-black leather. Called the Briefcase 2.0, this bag also has a pair of subtle tactical touches in the form of a pair of mil-spec Cobra quick release buckles — the same kinds used by Special Forces on their battle-ready gear. Of course, it’s also made in the USA and boasts pockets that fit a 15″ Macbook, iPad, and includes a number of organizational slots for all your other gear.
Size: 11.75″ x 17″ x 2.5″
Material: Premium Full-Grain Leather
Urban Commuter Essentials For Men
A messenger bag certainly isn’t the only thing you need to get you through the city streets safe and sound. Luckily, you can find the rest of the necessary gear on our urban commuter essentials for men guide.
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