There are a few ways to carry your EDC carry gear and work across a daily commute, and one is definitely superior to the others. A backpack has limited aesthetic appeal, which is perfect for those who wear Sperrys, board shorts and a tank top to the office because they left their fashion sense at their university frat house after graduating a decade ago.
While a bit antiquated, a brief case is undeniably more refined than a backpack. But unless you actually are a lawyer working for a high-power law Manhattan law firm or an FBI agent tracking down a serial killer, a black leather briefcase says you’ve watched too much Mindhunter. Seriously, what top-secret documents do you need secured by a three-dial combination lock?
Backpack vs. Briefcase? Neither
This leaves us with the messenger bag. Yes, some tasteless plebes will refer to these as “man purses” or “murses” for short, but drop us a line when you find a better alternative. In addition to papers and a laptop, most options will give you enough room to stow your keys, wallet, phone and even a change of clothes, allowing you to go straight from work onto a date or the gym. Utility aside, they also look particularly slick in waterproof leather, so that’s what we’re focused on here.
A Great Leather Messenger Bag Doesn’t Have to Be Gucci
Some “luxury-focused” men’s mags hawk $1,000-plus messenger bags made by price-gouging designer brands like Gucci or Burberry. More power to those who’ve got that kind of dispensable dough, but many will see those price tags and think, “Screw that.” This list is for that latter group.
But First, How to Care for Leather
Though these bags are all priced very reasonably, the leather they’re made from will last years if cared for properly. According to heritage American leather book maker Red Wing Shoes, these three simple treatment steps you can take to help squeeze the most life out of leather products:
- Clean: Remove dirt using warm water and a brush before drying with a cloth.
- Condition: Apply a light even coat of leather conditioner, mink oil, or boot oil with fingers, cloth or a sponge.
- Protect: Apply a dirt- and moisture-shielding leather protector in a sweeping motion from six-to-eight inches away.
With that, we’ve rounded up 10 affordable leather messenger bags for men that are priced at under $100 and carry a 4.5-star or better rating on Amazon based on hundreds—if not thousands—of customer reviews. Happy hunting.
Available in Cocoa (pictured), Saddlebrown or Wood. 4.6-star average based on 875 ratings
An Amazon-exclusive brand, Clifton Heritage primarily makes a variety of leather wallets, but don’t sleep on their briefcase-style leather messenger bag. The magnetically-closed bag has three pockets—two small pockets on the front and backside that can easily hold an iPad or other essentials, and one main big pocket with a smartphone pouch, notepad/wallet holder, and space to accommodate a laptop measuring 15.6 inches wide. The leather-and-canvas adjustable strap has a shoulder pad, but it can be removed if you want to carry it “murse”-style.
“I am very happy with this,” writes reviewer J. Griffin. “It is a neutral color which I like. It is very durable. Has enough space and pockets. I like the look of it. I don’t like to draw attention to myself or look flashy but I do like to look professional. This accomplishes both. The only thing I miss from an older laptop bag is a handle on the top. This is for when I am getting in and out of my car I have something to grab onto to.”
Available in Buffalo Distressed Tan (pictured) Charcoal Black, and Distressed Brown. 4.8-star average based on 2,982 ratings
An “Amazon’s Choice” selection for “leather bag for men,” the KomalC model is lined with high-quality canvas that’s hand-crafted by experienced cowhide fashioners. Key features include a distressed “Rustic Vintage” look, concealed snap closures for easy access, space for a 15.6-inch laptop, and two large pockets to hold other EDC essentials.
“I spent a long time looking for the perfect bag,” writes reviewer James P. Young. “I wanted leather, I needed to hold a 15-inch laptop, I wanted a bag large enough to hold my every day carry items (EDC) as well as being durable and professional looking. I decided to go with the KomalC after reading all the reviews. If I could add one thing to this bag, it would be end pockets, one on each side. It does have to very roomy pockets in front, but I’m a pocket guy. The smell and texture are amazing and I really like the inside. Not the cheap, green insides found in bags from India. This bag has it all. Highly recommended.”
Available in Black (pictured) or Brown. 4.6-star average based on 1,468 ratings
Coming in as one of the most affordable bags on this list, the Seyfocina’s sub-$50 messenger bag is offered in two sizes: 15.6 inches, and 17.3 inches. It boasts nine compartments—one that’s padded part for laptop, one large main compartment with a zipper closure, two inner pockets, two middle pockets, two front pockets secured by the magnetic clasps, and one back pocket with a zipper for “significant articles.” The removable strap can also be worn across the body at a variety of lengths.
“I love my new messenger bag for work that goes with any outfit I am wearing and is the perfect accessory for a guy,” writes reviewer Steve Collins. “This bag just looks awesome; [I’m] getting compliments on it and is well made. The stitching on it was my biggest concern but found it to be great. My new concern is how to clean this and how this will hold in the rain long term that I am still figuring out. The extra pockets throughout are nice for keeping things organized. The inside pocket is large and fits my laptop perfectly with room to spare. The shoulder strap is adjustable depending on your height. The price of this is amazing for the quality and would highly recommend.”
Available in Brown (pictured), Coffee, Dark Gray, Gray and Khaki. 4.6-star averaged based on 5,180 ratings
We’re following up the Seyfocina’s affordable offering with another inexpensive bag by Newhey that’s been discounted by $20, and it’s honestly one of our favorites to look at. Ranking as top Amazon Choice for “messenger bag for men,” this crazy horse full-grain leather bag offers lots of color variation and nine pockets—a main inner sleeve that’s doubly secured by both a magnetic strap and zippers, three more inner pockets, and five outer pockets than can transport items of varying sizes, including a water bottle, umbrella, wallet, hat… go crazy with those EDC items.
“I am very impressed with the amount of room this messenger bag has” write reviewer Sara (hey, no one says these bags aren’t unisex). “My laptop fits securely into padded laptop pocket, I also am able to carry my large leather planner, notebook, tablet and other items in the first pocket. I love having everything neat and organized before I get to work, with this bag I know where all of my work items are at all times. There are many compartments so things won’t shift and get lost, the phone pocket is perfect for my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge the other pocket I used for my wallet.”
“When commuting I know that even if I drop my bag nothing will fall out because of the heavy-duty zipper. It seals the main portion of the bag ensuring my laptop and other personal belongings stay secure. The rear zipper pocket is perfect for items you need quick access to, I keep my bus pass, change, and work badge there so I can grab it fast without having to open my bag. With my bag fully loaded it is still comfortable to carry, I can adjust the length of the bag to convert it to a crossbody, shoulder bag, or remove the straps completely to use it as a briefcase. I would absolutely recommend this item to anyone looking for a rugged stylish laptop bag.”
Available in Brown. 4.4-star average based on 962 ratings
Nearly 75 percent of almost 1,000 reviewers gave Rustic Town’s vintage men’s crossbody bag a five-star review, so you can throw any speculation regarding quality out the window. The listing promises 100 percent genuine leather that’s been oil-rubbed and distressed, but will continue to gain character over time. The glistening brass buckle and fittings add subtle flare, while its Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha (YKK) zippers will last a lifetime. Measuring 15 inches, the main compartment is capable of accommodating small laptops or tablets, while two smaller inner-zipped compartments can protect your phone, wallet, EDC pocket knife, and more.
“I just received my order and it far exceeds my expectations,” wrote buyer Peter. “The bag is extremely well made and beautifully handcrafted. It’s the kind of naturally tanned leather that looks like it will soften up nicely, and develop a beautiful patina with use and age. The color is rich and very much as represented in the photos. I’m going to put a protective layer of oil on it before starting to use it, as full-grain leather is porous, with all of the natural grain showing. It is refined enough to use for business or more casually; the design is classic, simple, and elegant. I like that the strap is sturdy and attached to the bag with brass rivets and reinforced stitching. As a side note, I read other reviews here that cited odd smells, thin straps, weak magnets, and a host of other concerns that gave me pause. However, none of these caveats turned out to be true.”
Peter also provided a one-year update: “The bag is softer and higher looking than when I first received it. It gets a very nice patina with age. I did treat with a coat of Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam when first received and let it soak in for a few days. That’s a natural beeswax product that helps to preserve and soften the leather. Very happy with this purchase.”
If these first five didn’t check your “leather messenger bag for men” feel free to explore these options below:
Komal’s Passion Leather
4.7-star average based on 1,537 ratings
4.5-star average based on 400 ratings
4.7-star average based on 187 ratings
4.7-star average based on 56 ratings
4.5-star average based on 487 ratings