A leather bag is one of the most classic accessories anyone can have. Durability is almost always assured, and it goes with any wardrobe and is appropriate for any occasion. One of the most versatile you can get is a messenger bag - formal enough for school or work and casual enough for traveling around the world.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Picks for Leather Messenger Bags
Whatever the reason for getting a classic leather messenger bag, it not only signals your sense of style, but is also something that can last you for years.
BEST LEATHER MESSENGER BAGS
1. Frye Logan Messenger Bag
2. S-ZONE Men's Crazy-Horse Leather Business Briefcase
3. Samsonite Colombian Leather Messenger Bag
4. Fossil Defender Leather Messenger Bag
5. PL Vintage Handmade Leather Messenger Bag
6. Kattee Men's Crazy Horse Leather Shoulder Briefcase
7. Kenneth Cole Reaction Leather Messenger Bag
The Frye Logan Messenger Bag oozes sophistication. Its classic cognac style will never go out of trend. It has a cotton lining that keeps the leather material safe from anything you place inside the bag.
The texture gives this leather bag a genuine look. The stitching is also very subtle, preserving the minimalistic design of the bag.
There is an adjustable shoulder strap attached via brass hardware to the bag. It's not removable though, which is not a big deal in my opinion. The leather is very soft, so it's comfortable and easy to wear even if you choose to have it close to your body. It also makes for a great work messenger bag, at least in my opinion.
There aren't a lot of pockets on the bag, however. There are a few on the interior of the main compartment, which are useful for phones and keys. Other than that, there are not too many options for organization.
Since the bag is leather, there will be some fading and wear on the brass slider that adjusts the length of the strap. Nevertheless, it doesn't take away the quality and durability that you will enjoy with this bag.
The S-Zone Crazy-Horse Leather Business Briefcase is very rustic and has a vintage vibe. This is mainly thanks to the crazy-horse leather material, which changes color and texture with bends, scratches, and use. Crazy horse leathers are made by applying a special kind of wax to a full grain leather surface. The wax rests independently on the leather fibers allowing the coloration of the leather surface to change if rubbed without the colors immediately reversing back.
However, while this wax gives this leather bag a very unique look, it also tends to smear on light clothing. The "stain" can be easily washed, but it can be an inconvenience.
It has a dual buckle design and a zippered compartment, ensuring that your items are very secure in the bag. The strap is attached with a buckle so you can easily remove it from the bag. There's a top handle that allows you to carry the bag as a briefcase. There's an adjustable padded shoulder strap to make it more comfortable to carry around as a messenger bag.
There are several internal compartments and a laptop carrier in this laptop messenger bag. There's also a zipped back compartment for extra security of more valuable items.
The Samsonite Colombian Leather Flap-Over Messenger Bag is another masterpiece from tried-and-tested brand Samsonite. This versatile piece will fit any business or casual engagement. It's not too flashy but still very stylish.
You can carry this leather bag as a briefcase with its leather top handle. You can also attach the straps to carry it as a messenger bag. The strap is not leather, however, but made of weaved nylon, but has an attached shoulder pad for comfort.
It also conveniently has several pockets and compartments for organization. There is an external slip pocket for quick items like pens and business cards, with an additional zippered pocket for more valuable items.
The main compartment is also secured with a full zipper, and opens up to even more internal pockets for easy access to your smaller items. It can also be called a laptop bag because it has a dedicated laptop carrier.
This leather messenger bag is covered by a flap that is secured by two clasps. A simple press of the button opens up the flap.
It's made with genuine leather, so it's not particularly waterproof. There will be some scruffs and wear from daily use.
The Fossil Defender Leather Messenger Bag features a simple, no-fuss design. It's built for functionality; everything you will need to bring with you on a daily basis has a place in this bag.
It has a genuine leather exterior and fabric-lined interior. While there are two buckles on the flap, there are push locks underneath that release the flap to reveal the main compartment.
There are 2 slip pockets, 1 zipper pocket, 1 zipper pocket, 3 pen holders, and a D-ring. There is also a large slip pocket at the back of the bag that closes with a magnetic snap. It also has a laptop pocket, but the padding is thin and may not be very protective for thinner and more fragile devices.
The strap is removable, but there are no top handles to convert the bag into a briefcase. The strap is a webbing but has leather attachments to the hardware. While it's advertised as a men's bag, its design is sleek and streamlined enough to fit any gender.
Not all good-quality leather bags need to cost you a lot. This PL 18-Inch Vintage Handmade Leather Messenger Bag from Komal's Passion Leather is a very fine piece of craftsmanship from a small group of passionate crafters.
It is made of handmade goat leather with olive fabric interiors. Th design of the bag is classic through and through, from the very recognizable satchel design, classic buckle closures, and rustic finish on the leather.
The strap is affixed with brass hardware, but it also has a leather top handle. The shoulder pad makes wearing the bag more comfortable.
It has several sections for better organization. In the interior, there is a big front pocket that will fit tablets or documents, 2 small inner compartments and 1 big inner compartment for carrying larger files. It doesn't have a dedicated laptop pocket, so you'll need a separate sleeve if you want to slip your laptop inside the bag.
There is an external zippered pocket at the back for extra storage.
It's bulkier than other bags in this list, both in terms of size and in terms of extra parts and components. However, you'll be able to fit a whole lot of stuff in this bag, including a full-size 17-inch laptop.
Another affordable option is Kattee Men's Crazy-Horse Leather Shoulder Briefcase. The style is very distinct and rugged, which is emphasized by its crazy-horse leather material. This is another bag that will look better with age, which will only complement its half-classic, half-modern style and shape.
The reinforced leather and cloth strap can be removed so you can carry the bag as a briefcase with the top handle.
The decorative buckles hide push locks underneath. The flap opens to reveal the main compartment secured with a zipper. The interior has 2 compartment pockets that can hold a 14-inch laptop and A4 documents, 1 wall zipper pocket, 2 slip pockets, and 2 pen holders. It doesn't have a dedicated and padded laptop holder.
There is a zippered pocket at the back of the bag as well.
Since it is made with crazy-horse leather, it has a wax coating that gives the bag its unique and rustic look. The wax has a tendency to rub off and transfer color on light clothing, but is easily washable. And there is a nice padded shoulder strap, which not all leather bags in this review have.
Kenneth Cole don't mess around with designing a top-notch leather messenger bag. The Kenneth Cole Reaction leather bag features high quality cowhide Colombian leather with self-repairing zippers. So you know it is going to last a while.
But they don't stop there either. The features of this laptop bag include a padded 15.6 inch laptop sleeve, as well as a spot for your tablet. There is a handy organizer section so you can stash all your daily gear like your phone, notebook or passport, pens and more.
And if you happen to need more space while on the go, you can expand it by 1.5 inches as well. Now that is handy!
It comes in both brown and tan, so you can choose the color you love, and you know it's from a brand that produces quality gear.
One of the more simple messenger bags in review, the Frye Logan Messenger bag is focused on showing off its handsome Italian leather, that's for sure. It's available in three colors: Cognac (shown above), Dark Brown, Slate.
The main flap has a simple magnetic closure that reveals a stylish black interior with leather features that compliment that bag well. On the interior are actually very few pockets (two in fact) to help you organise your belongings, so don't expect much help organising here.
There is an adjustable shoulder strap that matches the leather of the bag well, but might be a little susceptible to wear if you adjust it regularly.
All in all, this is a simple leather messenger bag that will suit anyone who does not care for too many pockets or the complexity of zippers in their life.
What to look for
Not all leather messenger bags are created equal. The material used is one thing, but there several other factors and parts that make or break your purchase.
Not all leather come from cow. There are different types of leather that affect the feel, look, and longevity of the leather. The most common is calf leather, while there are more exotic (and expensive) ones made from snake or crocodile.
Most products will be tagged "genuine leather", and is several layers of low-quality leather bonded together with glue and then painted to look like a better-quality leather. While it definitely isn't cheap material, it's considered as the lowest grade of leather. It won't be the best for daily use and abuse, but it will still last you a more than decent time of use.
What you'll find in "fine" leather goods start with "top-grain leather". Designer brands usually use this type of leather. Full-grain leather is split and sanded to remove imperfections then stamped with fake grain. Usually, it's treated and colored for a completely uniform look. It's not the best still in terms of durability, but it's great for color variety and resistance to stain and water.
The toughest and most expensive type of leather is called "full-grain leather". It takes the entire grain of hide with no manipulation, keeping all the imperfections and inherent toughness of the material. It's almost hard as nails and ages beautifully. If you take care of it properly, full-grain leather will last you an entire lifetime and will become richer and more beautiful the more you use it. It can be very expensive, but it's a worthy investment.
A new trend right now is vegan leather that is preferred by animal lovers and activists as it makes use of cork, kelp and synthetics instead of animal skin.
Parts and Components
A common part for all bags is the closure. This affects security of your bag in how easy or difficult it is to open it, but it can also affect convenience. Buckles are the most secure, but if you need to get into your bag several times a day, it can be inconvenient. Clasps are also pretty common hardware for messenger bags. There are some with magnetic closures. While it's easy to open and close your bag, it can be non-secure. Zipper are also pretty common either on the main compartment or in smaller interior pockets. Make sure the zippers are thick and sturdy to make it durable and easy to work through the thickness of the leather.
You also have to pay attention to how the straps are attached to the bag. Your bag will be carrying a lot of weight, and straps are usually the first ones to go. Make sure the stitching is good and strong if attached directly to the bag. If it connects with hardware, make sure that the loops are just as strong and thick as the rest of the bag.
What's the best leather messenger bag for you?
Choosing the best leather messenger bag is not easy. There are several options out there, and price is a big factor. Leather messenger bags don't come cheap (most of the time), but think of it as an investment.
If you need something classic and affordable, your best option will be the Kattee Men's Crazy-Horse Leather Shoulder Briefcase. It's a slim bag with a stylish design and enough compartments for everything you need.
An overall classic look will be the Fossil Defender Leather Messenger Bag. It has the durability and functionality that you expect from a leather messenger bag without too much unnecessary embellishments.
If you want the best of the best, you'll never go wrong with the Samsonite Colombian Leather Messenger Bag. Stylish, durable, and versatile, this bag can bring you from work to play and all over the world. It's also backed up by Samsonite warranty, so your purchase is always protected.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions related to leather messenger bags.
What is a Messenger Bag?
A messenger bag is a rectangular bag that is worn over the shoulder and typical has enough space and pockets for everything you need to carry. From books and papers, to pens and laptops, it's an all-rounder bag that is great for work, school or just a day out in town.
What are the Benefits of a Leather Messenger Bag?
Leather is far more durable than other synthetic materials and also has the added benefit for looking more stylish too. So, you can expect a leather messenger bag to last longer and be suitable for more formal occasions should you require it.