The 9 Best Men’s Leather Messenger Bags of 2023

The roomy Shinola Canfield Double Zip Brief is our top pick.

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Travel + Leisure / Sabrina Jiang

Luggage is a crucial part of the travel experience — but it can also affect your everyday life at home. Beyond the preferred carry-on and checked suitcases that are used on occasion, we’d like to take a moment to focus on something that’s reached for way more often: the quintessential leather messenger bag. This style varies in size, shape, and functionality, but find the right messenger bag and you’ll be rewarded with a piece that works not only for your next trip, but also serves your daily commutes.

When assessing the best leather messenger bags on the market, we considered a variety of factors, including leather quality, spaciousness, comfort features, versatility, and value. Our top pick for overall look and feel goes to the Shinola Canfield Double Zip Brief, made from a premium soft leather that will patina and change color in time. This bag also features two large zippered compartments and four smaller pockets for extra organization, whether accompanying you to far-flung destinations or simply to the office and back.

Here are the best leather messenger bags for men.

Best Overall

Shinola Canfield Double Zip Brief

Shinola Canfield Double Zip Brief

Shinola

Why We Love It: It’s packed with organizational features and is spacious enough to double as an overnight bag.

What to Consider: Because of its size, it isn’t the most lightweight option.

Sometimes a little more space can be a good thing and the soft, double-zip Canfield bag from Detroit-based Shinola clocks in at 11.5 x 16.75 inches with a roomy 4.75-inch depth. This style comes in tan or black and features two zippered compartments — so you can, for instance, devote one pocket to laptops and business documents, and the other to a change of clothes for after work. The interior features a padded sleeve that fits up to a 15-inch laptop, two zip pockets for smaller items, and two slip pockets for phones, wallets, pens, and other accessories.

Despite all its space and functionality, this bag is still easy to wear and comfortable when slung over the shoulder. And, if its larger size doesn’t appeal, there’s a similar, slimmer Canfield Weekday brief with one zippered compartment that will still fit a 15-inch laptop, too.

Price at time of publish: $1,095

Dimensions: 11.5 x 16.75 x 4.75 inches | Colors: Black, tan

Best for Laptops

J.W. Hulme Classic Charles Messenger

CLASSIC CHARLES MESSENGER

J.W. Hulme

Why We Love It: It’s a great quality bag that develops a beautiful patina over time.

What to Consider: It can feel a bit bulky to some.

J.W. Hulme doesn’t skimp when it comes to quality, and this classic Charles Messenger is no exception. It comes in a smooth, vegetable-tanned American leather that’s lined with microsuede fabric and finished with durable brass hardware for a classic look. When you touch this bag, you can feel the quality and attention to detail that went into creating it.

The monogrammable bag comes with a longer shoulder strap that is removable and adjustable, complete with a sewn-in shoulder pad for comfort. Inside, you’ll find multiple pockets to keep you organized, as well as a larger slip pocket that fits most laptop computers. The best part of this bag is that, over time, it will gently break in and start to develop a unique patina based on how you use it, making each piece slightly unique. It is simply bound to become one of the most treasured accessories in your closet, with an heirloom quality that will only get better with time. And because of its durable nature, it’s safe to say this messenger will accompany you on many adventures, for years and years to come.

Price at time of publish: $695

Dimensions: 15.25 x 10.5 x 3.5 inches | Colors: Saddle Heritage, American Heritage, Black Heritage

Best Slim

PinoPorte Nino Briefolio Leather Bag

Nino Briefolio Leather Bag

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: It’s part briefcase and part messenger bag.

What to Consider: It can feel a bit small, and the blue leather isn’t for everyone.

What’s not to love about Italian leather? Not only does this bag come in a naturally tumbled, hand-burnished Italian leather, but it’s equipped with thoughtful details and finishes, including magnet grip handles, a front side zip security pocket, and a fully padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, as well as a full organizer panel complete with an RFID protection pocket for your most sensitive cargo. We especially love that, while this bag packs so many practical details that make it a real workhorse, it still maintains its slim profile, clocking in at a slender 2.5 inches wide.

Price at time of publish: $398

Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 2.5 inches | Color: Midnight blue

Best Organization

Kenneth Cole Reaction Risky Business Messenger Bag

Kenneth Cole Reaction Risky Business Messenger Bag

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s made from full-grain Colombian leather that is very durable.

What to Consider: 15-inch laptops may be a bit snug — but they do fit.

Organization can make or break a messenger bag. Too little, and you’re constantly fishing through your bag in search of a pen, or passport, or whatever. Too much, and the bag loses critical interior volume to rarely used pockets. We love this Kenneth Cole Reaction “Risky Business” messenger, not only for its cheeky name, but also for striking the right balance of organization components: a roomy main compartment for documents and everyday essentials, a full-length zipper pocket, and a rear exterior open pocket, all of which is executed in a tear-resistant polyester lining. And on top of all that, dual magnetic closures under the main flap make opening and closing this bag a cinch.

Price at time of publish: $160

Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 3 inches | Colors: Black, cognac, dark brown

Best Budget

Cole Haan Go to Work Two-tone Canvas & Recycled Nappa Leather Briefcase

Go to Work Two-Tone Canvas & Recycled Nappa Leather Briefcase

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: Its recycled leather is eco-friendly — plus it’s packed with pockets.

What to Consider: The bag is only half leather, technically.

Okay, so it might be a bit of a cop-out to call a messenger bag that’s only partially leather the “Best Budget” for men’s leather messenger bags — but the prospect of getting a Cole Haan bag for well under $300 makes this option an excellent value for the price. The brand has been synonymous with quality and craftsmanship for nearly 100 years, and this bag is no exception. It’s polished, it’s practical, and it has just the right amount of interior pockets for all your essentials. It even features a removable, adjustable shoulder strap, a dedicated laptop sleeve, and an easy-open zip-around closure.

Price at time of publish: $278

Dimensions: 17 x 12.5 x 5 inches | Colors: Safari

Best Splurge

Gucci Horsebit Leather Messenger Bag

Gucci Horsebit Leather Messenger Bag

Mr. Porter

Why We Love It: This stunningly luxe messenger bag will last a lifetime.

What to Consider: It’s definitely an investment piece so be sure you’ll want to use it for years to come.

This luxurious messenger bag is topped with a “horsebit,” a form of equestrian-inspired hardware that has been a Gucci design signature since the early 1950s. But while many may associate the brand with celebrity dressing and the House of Gucci film, this bag is a perfect example of the designer’s roots in leather craftsmanship. It is made from durable cross-grain leather, features an interior zip pocket to secure your most important possessions, and comes with detachable webbing straps in the brand’s signature green and red stripe. If you’re looking to invest in a luxury men’s leather messenger bag, this is a worthy option.

Price at time of publish: $3,900

Dimensions: 9.1 x 11.8 inches | Colors: Brown, dark gray

Best Square

Il Bisonte Leather Messenger Bag

Il Bisonte Leather Messenger Bag

Saks Fifth Avenue

Why We Love It: It’s a unique (almost) square shape.

What to Consider: The strap is not removable and is rather thin.

If it’s less important that you carry around larger electronics such as laptops, consider the pared-back design of this luxe Italian messenger bag from Il Bisonte. It’s precisely crafted from beautiful vachetta cowhide leather, with a suede underside on the main flap and a cotton canvas lining for durability on the interior. It’s a nearly square shape that’s less common for a messenger style, but executed in a best-in-class way with precise stitching and a sleek look. Maybe it can’t hold a giant water bottle or your laptop, but it doesn’t need to — this is a streamlined bag that’s designed for just the essentials.

Price at time of publish: $570

Dimensions: 12.5 x 11.5 x 2.25 inches | Colors: Dark brown, black

Best Satchel

Salvatore Ferragamo Brooklyn Leather Crossbody Satchel

Salvatore Ferragamo Brooklyn Leather Crossbody Satchel

Saks Fifth Avenue

Why We Love It: It’s sleek and portable but still makes a statement.

What to Consider: Some may find it a bit small.

The quality and history of Salvatore Ferragamo are unmatched, and this Italian luxury house leaves no detail overlooked, even on this sleek, portable satchel. We love the embossed exterior which has just enough detailing to feel interesting, but doesn’t necessarily scream logo mania. The bag is just big enough to carry your essentials (like a wallet, passport, and snack), and lightweight enough that it won’t hold you back with an adjustable strap fitting comfortably over a shoulder and across the body.

Price at time of publish: $1,090

Dimensions: 10.5 x 9.5 inches | Colors: Black

Best for Cameras

MegaGear Torres Mini MG1328 Genuine Leather Camera Messenger Bag

MegaGear Torres Mini MG1328 Genuine Leather Camera Messenger Bag

Amazon

Why We Love It: It can double as a camera bag or a standalone messenger bag.

What to Consider: It might not be the right shape for everyone.

Sometimes a full-blown messenger bag isn’t exactly the right size you need. The genius of this square-ish camera bag is that it can obviously be used to transport delicate camera gear, but can also be used as a messenger bag in its own right — easily fitting a water bottle, small electronics, and other essentials on the go. For the price, it’s tough to find a better quality leather bag in this size. The bag also comes lined with a heavy duty, shock-resistant lining to better protect your cameras (and other precious gear) from the occasional drop, jolt, or accident.

Price at time of publish: $100

Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 4 inches | Colors: Brown, black, blue, khaki green, mink, maroon

Tips for Buying a Leather Messenger Bag

Prioritize Comfort

The whole idea of a messenger bag is to be able to carry things on the go. If a bag is cumbersome, you’re less likely to use it regularly. If you’re investing in a bag — especially an expensive one — it’s important to prioritize comfort. Paying attention to details such as shoulder strap width, adjustability, and padding will pay dividends in the long run.

Choose the best size for your needs

No single bag is going to be perfect for every person. If you’re a photographer, you may want more of a camera bag — something with the width to accommodate a camera, but not so wide that your equipment flops around. If you’re a digital nomad, something with a reliable, padded laptop sleeve is a must. And, if you’re looking for something lightweight to hold your essentials as you go on long walks while exploring new destinations, then something sleek and lightweight is for you. Whatever you do — make sure to think carefully about how and where you’re going to use your leather messenger bag.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can you use a messenger bag for travel?

    Of course you can! Messenger bags were designed for people on the go. Our only advice would be to be careful about bags that are easily flipped open, especially in crowded areas where pickpocketing may occur. Zip-top bags or bags with buckled closures will generally reduce this issue.

  • How do you care for/clean a leather messenger bag?

    As with all leather goods, it depends on the type of leather and the finish. Lightly running a barely damp rag over a leather bag should be enough to remove surface grime — but, truly, wring that sucker out as much as you possibly can. You may also want to consider getting a bottle of leather cleaner or conditioner to take care of your investment. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure


For this article, T+L contributor Todd Plummer researched dozens of bags and used his own personal experience as a travel writer to round up the perfect list of leather messenger bags for men.

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