A messenger bag is one of the most versatile options when it comes to carrying your daily essentials and is a great choice for anyone who wants to branch out from toting around their trusty backpack. While some messenger bags can feel a bit too casual for an office or after-work event, there’s one material that immediately dresses up their aesthetic: leather.
Leather is as hard-wearing as it is good-looking and is a great choice for an item you plan to use almost every day. Commuting looks different for everybody, and some may need more storage than others, so we’ve gathered a variety of leather messengers to suit the needs of anyone looking to upgrade their go-to bag.
What to Consider
Type of Leather
Leather is something we’re all used to seeing in bags, shoes, and jackets, but the sourcing and processes that leather goes through greatly differs from type to type. “Full-grain” describes leather made from the entire top part of the hide and includes all the material’s natural texture and fibers, giving it a unique finish; it is the most durable and highest-grade leather available, though it comes at a higher cost than other types.
The most common material used by leather goods brands is top-grain leather: This is leather that’s been split off the top of the hide and sanded down, making it smoother but also a bit less durable. Top-grain leather is widely available and easier to work with for manufacturers, so products made from this type are more affordable.
All the bags listed are top-grain except for the ones where we’ve specified that full-grain leather has been used.
Base the size of your bag off what you plan to carry. Some people like to keep things as compact as possible, so will opt for a slim briefcase or doc case style; if you frequently carry a laptop and want some additional space for extras like a book or accessories, then you’ll want a bag with a greater width that’ll afford you the wiggle room.
The right design details can add utility and uniqueness to your messenger bag. A dedicated laptop sleeve will be a must for some, but if you want a bag mostly for weekend fun, then a small messenger that fits your phone, book, and sunglasses should suffice. Shoulder straps are another important feature that let you choose how you want to carry your belongings; an adjustable shoulder strap makes for a comfortable commute if you’re having to walk a lot, but some may prefer the sleekness of just using the top handles.
- Good price
- Good quality
- Highly rated
Fossil’s Haskell bag is a simple, handsome leather messenger that won’t break the bank. It’s made using Eco Leather, which is tanned using low environmental-impact processes, and it boasts a patented Repreve recycled polyester lining.
Customers are impressed by how well-made the bag feels in hand, especially considering its affordable price, and many say the bag has lasted them for years. The size is great for a daily commute, with reviewers raving that it’s “roomy without being too big.” You can also customize it with embossed initials, so a lot of customers recommend buying it as a gift.
- Durable leather
- Includes organizational compartments
- No padded laptop sleeve
- Non-removable shoulder strap
This flap-over messenger bag is what most people think of when they hear the words “messenger bag,” but Kenneth Cole updates that classic design with a slimmer profile and a full-grain leather exterior. The bag has one large pocket that fits most laptops with a 15.6-inch screen and the two front pockets have organizing compartments to store accessories, including a cellphone pocket.
Reviewers loved the look of the cognac leather in person and say the bag feels durable in hand. Some say they wish it were bigger or had more compartments but those who wanted to carry just essentials say it has enough room.