Two decades ago, backpacks were for school children and hikers, and the briefcase was a common sight in offices and courtrooms. Alas, with technology, comes change, and today, the laptop is an essential tool for almost everyone. Manufacturers have met the need by providing an array of messenger bags and backpacks for carrying your laptop.
The right choice for you depends on several factors including style, features, and how the bag will be used. Weigh the pros and cons to decide the right choice for you.
Because these backpacks are so similar, at least on first glance, it is often hard to decide. So, let’s break it down in detail…
Let’s begin with messenger bags. The classic messenger bag with a cross-body strap and handles for carrying has become the ubiquitous replacement for the briefcase. It’s so-named after the type of satchel used by mail carriers and bike couriers, and its roots can be traced all the way back to the pony express. Even utility pole climbers use a type of messenger bag to conveniently carry their tools.
The difference? Today’s messenger bags are designed to fit common-sized laptops, tablets, and folders full of the old-fashioned paperwork you still need. They are typically spatially well-designed and comfortable to carry. Many come with organizational features that make them quite versatile.
The single strap design of the messenger bag makes swinging it around in front of you easy to retrieve what you need. This design can make the messenger bag especially efficient for urban mobility and public transport. And you can reach for your laptop more quickly when on the move for business or between classes.
Who will be using the bag? Messenger bags are good for the professional who only needs to pack a laptop and a few other office items. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, and business professionals usually prefer them. Students may need more room for textbooks, but this could change as more books become digital.
Messenger bags go well with the suit and tie and business casual look. They make a statement about your professionalism. You can “dress down” with a style that has a wider, softer look. They can eliminate the need for a handbag or purse, and they are often made of expensive materials to enable you to proudly display your success.
Backpacks have been a basic staple for decades. Many people use them from the working professional to the hiker and frequent traveler. They’re great for anyone with a lot of gear to carry around including hydration and extra clothing.
And most of today’s backpacks are specifically designed to protect laptops and other electronic equipment as well as protect your back and joints. It’s safe to say that the laptop has become an iconic item.
With their efficient pockets and compartments, backpacks give you more organizational options. They’re more functional than messenger bags.
Who will be using the backpack? Will it be for the office only? Part-time hikers and campers will need room for hydration and other supplies. Commuter cyclists and hikers will need a backpack that is comfortable and lightweight. Can you afford to have several different bags for multiple purposes?
Also, consider your work environment. Some backpacks are perfectly appropriate in some settings while professors, businessmen, lawyers, and other professionals will want something more professional-looking.
Backpacks come in lots of different styles. It’s easy to find one that suits your personality and lifestyle. They’re available in different sizes and shapes and made of a variety of materials. Leather and leather-trimmed backpacks look sleek and professional. Nylon backpacks look sporty while canvas and waxed canvas look trendy and casual.
The decision on whether to purchase a backpack or messenger bag comes down to your main needs. Professionals who don’t need to carry a lot of office items other than a laptop will probably be happier with the looks and functionality of a messenger bag.
But if you cycle to work, or walk a few blocks to the office from the parking lot, a backpack will be more practical and comfortable. If you commute by public transport, a crossbody messenger bag will provide you with both safety and ease in getting to your things.
Backpacks will be more appealing to students, and younger professionals just starting out may find that a sleek, professional-looking backpack will suffice and transfer easily to travel and hiking. Their salaries may not be sufficient enough yet for them to own a plethora of bags.
These days, manufacturers are aware that almost everyone takes their laptop almost everywhere. Both the messenger bag and the backpack are great for carrying your electronics. When it comes to style, it’s all a matter of taste.
Here are some final questions to ask yourself:
Will a backpack look too casual for my work environment?
Will a messenger bag be sufficient enough for all my gear?
Which one will be more comfortable to carry in my situation?
Will I need to use the bag I purchase for multiple purposes?
Be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully, and let this guide help you decide which one is right for you.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!