The 5 best Messenger Bags for College Students [Buyers Guide]

Good morning, class. Today’s lesson:

“What are the best messenger bags for college.”

As your professor, I’ve gathered up a curriculum full of stylish messenger bags for your college experience. Each choice below is perfect for a different style of student and will fit in well with your overall college wardrobe.

If you’re anxious to grab a new messenger bag for school, click here to jump over to Amazon now and pick up my top choice, the Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag.

Ready to get an education in messenger bags? Let’s begin:

The best messenger bags for college


The 3 things you need to look for in a messenger bag

Here’s the deal:

When you’re choosing a good messenger bag for college, you need to look at 3 main things.

  1. Quality of the bag and brand – will it last?
  2. Functionality of the bag – does it do what you need it to do?
  3. Style and looks – will it look good and complement your style?

For the first, you can often look at reviews of the manufacturer and of the bag itself.

That’s the first place I would go.

In fact, I’ll link to the Amazon reviews for each of the bags in this post, so you can see what other owners thing before purchasing.

5 of the best messenger bags for college studentsAs for functionality, you need to be sure that the size of the bag and the number of pockets (inside and outside) meets your needs. If you need to carry textbooks, then you need something bigger and heavier, with a padded strap. If you’re only carrying a laptop or tablet, you can get away with something smaller and lighter.

Lastly, for style, look at your overall wardrobe and use case for the bag, and pick something that fits those.

Most college students have a pretty casual wardrobe, so a professional leather messenger bag may not be the right choice. However, if you want it to double as a bag you can take on job interviews or to an internship, a leather bag will probably work for you!

Class is in session – my top 5 college messenger bags


Below, I’ve collected a decent selection of bags to fit different styles and use cases.

Check them out and choose one that works for you.

Casual and cool: The Timbuk2 Command Messenger Bag

Who’s it for?

Pretty much anyone.

For those who keep it casual, but want a bag that goes with pretty much every outfit a college student would wear, this bag from Timbuk2 is a perfect choice.

Why it’s great

They’ve got 3 sizes, depending on your everyday carry needs. For those who have a lot to carry, the large size should do well to hold your books and supplies. The small size is probably better for those who just need a tablet or laptop with them at school.

I also love the aluminum hook enclosures with elastic, which make opening and closing the bag easy and secure.

Pockets and Organization

The Command bag has a number of internal pockets for organizing your supplies, including your phone, pens, and other gadgets. Some of these internal pockets are “floating” and lined with Tricot, meaning that they’ll help protect things like your sunglasses and smartphone. It’s also got an external zipper pocket, which lets you quickly access your charging cables and headphones without having to open the bag.

Let’s not forget the main laptop pocket, which holds up to a 17″ laptop for the large size. It’s also TSA compliant so you don’t need to take it out when you go through security on your trips home!

The Verdict

Overall, this is my favorite bag of the bunch.

For the average college student, this meets all your needs. It has enough different color options that it’ll meet your style needs, no matter what. It’s also got Timbuk2’s excellent lifetime guarantee and well known reputation for high quality.

Check out more reviews on Amazon, or click here to buy one for yourself.

School to Office: the Kenneth Cole “Come Bag Soon” bag

If you’ve got to dress to impress, this is the bag for you!

Kenneth Cole’s “Come Bag Soon” bag is a great balance between casual and professional that’s a good fit at school and in the office. Make a good impression on your internship colleagues with this one.

Who’s it for?

You’ve got an internship or a summer job at a more professional office, where you need to dress at least business casual. The high quality leather of this bag and clean look will fit in with your upgraded wardrobe, while still providing you the functionality for heading off to class afterwards.

Why it’s great

This bag is great because it’s got the perfect look that fits in everywhere. It’s made of high quality Colombian leather (make sure you take care of it!), and has the style of a higher end briefcase for a mid-tier budget. The closure is a magnetic snap that’s easy to open and close.

Pockets and Organization

The main compartment holds a laptop up to 15.4 inches, as well as your smaller textbooks. It’s also got an interior tablet pocket, as well. Additionally, it’s got two open-top pockets under the flap and a longer pocket on the rear side.

The Verdict

I love the look of this bag – I think it would work for anyone who’s got to move between work and school. If you’ve got bigger, bulkier books, they may either make the bag bulge or not all fit in there. However, if you’ve got a moderate amount of stuff to carry and need something on the professional side, this is a perfect choice.

Click here to see the latest prices and buy one for yourself on Amazon or read the reviews here.

Timeless Casual Style: the Timbuk2 Classic Messenger

While we already featured the Command Messenger earlier, the Classic Messenger from Timbuk2 is another super high quality bag that has a timeless look to it.

Who’s it for?

You’re a college student who doesn’t need to hit up business meetings just yet, and need a reliable messenger bag to bring your stuff to and from school each day.

This is the bag for you.

Why it’s great

Where do I begin?

This is the Timbuk2 messenger that started it all, over 25 years ago. It’s got a classic look that really never goes out of style and matches any college student’s overall look.

There are a number of different colors and shapes, too.

Pockets and Organization

The different sizes that this bag is available in will accomodate different size laptops. If you’ve got a big computer, you’re going to want to opt for the big sized bag.

The medium sized bag should do the trick if you have a laptop and a few textbooks. It’s got one single front exterior pocket, as well as a few pockets inside to keep your smaller items well organized.

The Verdict

This is a great all-around performer that will serve you well in college. Depending on your size and style needs, the Timbuk2 Classic has it covered. The padded shoulder strap makes the bag comfortable to carry to, from, and around campus, as well.

Want to check out all the different styles? Click here to find the best price and see the varieties on Amazon.

You can also read tons of user reviews here.

Military Style: Berchirly Vintage Military Messenger


For those who are into the military style, this pick from Berchirly is the perfect bag for college.

Who’s it for?

This messenger back is great for the student who is looking for a casual, army-style option to carry a laptop and a few books. Whether you’re going to the coffee shop, class, work, or the library, this style of bag fits right in. It’s compact, organized, and attractive.

Why it’s great

This is an awesome day-to-day bag to carry your essentials.

It’s made of canvas, so it can go through quite a lot without showing wear and tear. It also has two exterior pockets, as well as an interior padded laptop sleeve and zippered compartments. The use of both latches and zippers offers added security.

It comes in a variety of colors and sizes (8 in all), so you can choose one that best fits your needs. I prefer the army green, but your particular style may dictate otherwise!

Pockets and organization

This messenger bag consists of one main compartment, but also features several small exterior and interior pouches. The main compartment is ideal of carrying books, laptops, and other bulky items, while the smaller pouches are ideal for wallets, keys, pens, and pencils.

One exterior side pocket is particularly perfect for holding your phone while you listen to music or podcasts.

Final thoughts

This is a good bag for a college student who is looking to just make it to class and back. It isn’t quite fitting for a professional setting, and isn’t waterproof, so it won’t do well in wet weather.

However, if this is the style of bag that works for your style, it offers just enough organizational options and sturdiness to get the job done.

You can see the reviews here or check out the latest prices and availability on Amazon.

Classic and Masculine: Handmadecraft Vintage Leather Messenger

Looking for something more “classic” and traditionally masculine?

This bag from Handmadecraft is just the thing.

Who’s it for?

Leather messenger bags are the perfect fit for those who are looking for a more professional bag option.

Got an internship or a job in a more professional setting? This is a versatile design, and is perfect in both formal business settings and the classroom.

Why it’s great

This messenger bag has a sleek, brown leather finish that looks professional, but not over the top.

The addition of a diagonal zipper and multiple front pockets give it a more three-dimensional appearance, for an added bit of style. The bag sits on your waist and the shoulder strap is thick leather with a supporting pad, making it easy to carry throughout the day. It’s also got a handle on top that allows you to carry it more like a briefcase.

It’s 13” long by 18” high, with a depth of 5”. This makes it a pretty typical size for leather bags that should be a good fit for your everyday usage.

Pockets and organization

This leather satchel consists of a single main compartment, which will be what holds most of your stuff. It’s large enough to carry a laptop as well as books and chargers at the same time. The exterior pockets are perfect for holding wallets, phones, or anything else you’d rather not have in your pockets. There is also an interior zippered compartment.

The Verdict

This is a great looking bag that has a more classic rugged style to it. It lacks the organizational capabilities of other bags, as it consists of one main compartment, though the exterior pockets definitely help round out its carry capacity.

I’d recommend it for those who have a need for something a little more classy than the Timbuk2 and other more casual messenger bags.

Want one? Click here to check the price on Amazon.

The reviews are right here.

3 reasons why a messenger bag beats a backpack for college

If you made it all the way through this article, messenger bags really don’t an introduction.

Heck, if you spend more than 5 minutes in any city, you’re going to see countless men wearing them. This is primarily for 3 main reasons:

  1. They are extremely practical. Because they come in a variety of sizes, you can carry just about anything you may need (and have easy access to it).
  2. They are quite fashionable. Messenger bags come in an infinite number of stylish designs, colors, and form factors.
  3. They are easy to wear and get around in. They’re worn across the body, with a strap resting on one shoulder. These bags are perfect for any type of commute, and especially good for a busy student.

Messenger bags beat your pockets or a backpack any day. As you’re walking, you can rummage through your bag without taking it off. It’s also much easier to stay organized when using one, because it isn’t stacked from top to bottom like a backpack.

As I said, messenger bags come in endless sizes, levels of organization, and styles.

But they’re not for everyone.

good messenger bags for college guys

The 2 big reasons to stick with a backpack

Let me be honest with you:

If you’re the type who has to bring a ton of books, laptops, and other materials to class, a messenger bag may not be for you.

For these situations, a backpack is a much better choice for a college student. It really depends on how often you can (or want) to dip back into a locker or dorm room to change your bag’s contents for the next class.

Also, if you ride bikes a lot to and around school, a messenger bag may make the ride difficult. This is mainly due to how it hangs off of your back and is worn over just one shoulder.

The form factor of a backpack or sling bag is much better for a bike rider, in my opinion.

Have the need for a college backpack? Check out my post on the top college backpacks for guys here. You’ll find exactly the bag you’re looking for!

Check out these stylish messenger bags for college guys

Conclusion – what’s the best messenger bag for a college student?

Now pay attention, students:

Just kidding, you don’t have to go with my favorite. That’s why I chose a bunch of different options!

However, if it was me and I was back in school, I’d go with the Command messenger bag from Timbuk2. Unless you’ve got a more professional setting you need to use it for – then I would say the Kenneth Cole “Come Bag Soon” bag is a better fit.

Want to know more about how to fit a messenger bag into your school style? Check out this great video:

Let me know in the comments if you’ve got another favorite school bag.

And try to keep those student loans under control!

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