A Comparison between Messenger Bags and Satchels

Messenger Bag and Satchel Comparison

Messenger bags and satchels are often mistaken for one another. Although both items have similar appearances, they do have some pretty big differences that set them apart from each other.

The messenger bag vs. satchel argument goes on between loyal wearers of either item, and in this article, we are going to discuss these major differences between the two.


A satchel is a type of bag that is usually made from leather and has a shoulder strap. This lets the item be worn across the user’s body in a diagonal manner. It looks similar to a briefcase, due to the leather material. However, unlike the leather on briefcases, a satchel’s is thinner and has a softer feel. This lets it be more flexible and adapt faster to the user’s body.

The satchel bag comes from the Latin terms saccellus or saccus, which mean “bag.” The most primitive usage of this type of bag dates back to the Roman Empire, where the bag was used by Roman legionnaires and other political personages.

The use of this type of bag soon found its way to France and nearby countries, and became a normal way to carry items.

The typical satchel has two upright straps for the buckles which help close the bag. Satchels can differ when it comes to design, size, and style.

Mailmen in many countries, including the US, often carry a mail satchel with them. Furthermore, the satchel is popular among students in numerous countries, from the United Kingdom, Western Europe, Australia, and Japan.

Messenger Bags

Meanwhile, messenger bags are the same as satchel bags in the manner that they are worn (across the user’s body in a diagonal fashion). Older messenger bags were usually made from canvas material and were employed by the workforce from a variety of industries in the USA, most notably couriers.

One of the chief reasons couriers use messenger bags is due to the fact that each time they need to get items from the bag, they do not have to remove the bag or take it off. If your job is to get and keep items in your bag the entire time, you need a bag that is convenient and practical, and this is where a messenger bag shines.

Another reason for carrying a messenger bag for deliveries is because the bag has a rectangular shape. This makes it more suitable for the items that couriers carry all the time, like documents and envelopes.

The Grand Debate

When it comes to the messenger bag vs. satchel debate, many are actually more in favor of the former. The latter is fashionable, yes, but messenger bags usually come in a wider range of designs and materials.

If you are required to carry heavier contents every day, you will benefit more from a messenger bag. The satchel is usually made from leather, and if you carry heavy loads each day and stash them inside a leather bag, the load you carry could as much as triple due to the heaviness of leather.

On the other hand, messenger bags come in nylon, PVC, and canvas. And if you are after good looks, the messenger bag is no stranger to chic designs. They are available in a wider range of designs so you can choose one specifically for your outdoor activities, the office, or for school.

Messenger bags are also more ideal for carrying more vulnerable items, like laptops. Some models have special compartments just for these items and they are well padded to ensure safety from impacts.

Men who go for messenger bags often say that accessibility to their items is easier—you can swing your bag to the front and easily remove your items from it. For men who ride bicycles to work or school, many are not fond of carrying panniers, so they find messenger bags more practical and convenient for their journeys.

The Final Word

Satchels are mostly the choice of students and office workers, who want a more proper bag for school or work. However, if you want a bag for your outdoor activities, you do not want something that is made from leather.

Messenger bags are more versatile compared to satchels, and this messenger bag vs. satchel talk ends with the former having a greater advantage over the latter. Men are far more into carrying messenger bags due to their functionality, accessibility, and practicality. It’s what I carry (though I do have a smaller satchel as a backup!).

For those interested in how satchels are constructed, check out this awesome video:

Watching this kind of craftsmanship puts me in a “zen” mode!

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