The 5 Main Types of Leather Bags For Men in 2020

So you’re debating over which leather bags were made for men and which are exclusively for women? The good news is that only a few bags favour our better halves, those which will earn you a questionable stare should you pluck up the courage to carry them to work.

We’ve narrowed down the list to the top five main types of leather bags for men which will help guide you make an informed decision on your next purchase. You’ll be able to identify each bag based on its characteristics and find out what to look for when choosing the perfect bag for you.

Main Types of Leather Bags For Men

  1. Briefcase
  2. Messenger Bag / The Satchel
  3. Backpack
  4. Duffel Bag (Weekend Bag)
  5. Leather Laptop Bag

1. The Briefcase

We start the list off with one of the most sophisticated descendants of modern-day leather bags for men. The first briefcase that resembled the rectangular bag we know today dates back to the late 1850s. Since then, the briefcase has transformed into the epitome of bagwear for businessmen. Although not only used for business purposes, as the name suggests, its original purpose was to carry “briefs” or business-type of documents. 

It has come a long way since then, seeing how its original or classic shape has evolved from a hard, box-shaped exterior with buckles and code-combination security locks to softer and sleeker designs over time. These days briefcases even come with padded interior compartments to store and protect laptops and other electronic devices.

The main characteristics

  • Rectangular shape
  • Top handle for carrying purposes
  • May have shoulder strap for comfort
  • More rigid structure (to protect paperwork)
  • May be on the heavier side (especially if metal is used to reinforce its edges)

Choosing the right leather briefcase

Look for the bag that’s going to compliment your office attire. An easy way of doing so is to choose a shade of leather that matches the colour of your work shoes as well as your belt. When considering functionality, there are two main points to factor into your decision: softness of leather and size of the briefcase. A softer leather is more malleable, whereas a harder leather will hold its structure better. The best option is usually finding a good balance between the two - something that will hold its shape while not being too hard or rigid. A suitable size can be determined by looking at the size of your laptop (should you decide to use the briefcase for this purpose), alternatively consider the contents you plan on storing in your briefcase. 

Our recommendation:

Two Sizes

Huckleberry Leather Messenger Light Brown

Modern Briefcase / Leather Messenger
From R 2,895.00

2. The Messenger Bag / The Satchel

As the name suggests, the messenger bag originated from a time where workers transporting goods required a bag to help them store and deliver their goods. Although still used to this day by many delivery services such as postal workers and couriers, the messenger bag has grown in popularity throughout history. Many brands have adopted its style to create new and modern-day versions of one of the most versatile bags known today.

Use cases have expanded from delivery services to any personal use you may think of. An over-the-shoulder strap is the first tell-tale sign of a messenger bag which makes hauling items from place to place more comfortable than carrying by hand. Materials used in messenger bags can range from a number of different options including leather, canvas, synthetics, hemp, nylon, vinyl and cotton among other durable materials. Leather messenger bags age better than most, especially when treated regularly with a special leather cream.

The satchel can be considered the messenger bag’s older, wiser cousin. Traditionally made from canvas, it touts a more natural look than other synthetic counterparts. Canvas satchel bags are lightweight, spacious and comfortable to carry.

The main characteristics

  • Adjustable shoulder strap
  • Frequently featuring a top foldover flap to open and close the bag
  • Multi-compartmental, to store a variety of items

Choosing the right messenger bag / satchel

Firstly, since messenger bags are vastly different from one another, it is important to consider the material you are looking for. More sophisticated options include the leather messenger which also boasts longevity and durability. If you are looking for a more casual day-to-day bag, canvas messengers are usually a good choice too. Since the canvas material can be dyed various colours, it is oftentimes easy to find a colour you like that may also compliment your daily attire.

If space is a priority, consider the size of the bag in relation to the items you plan on carrying, alternatively separate compartments can also be prioritised. If a laptop will be carried, consider padded leather options as opposed to softer, thinner materials.

Our recommendation:

Atticus Canvas Messenger Basil

Canvas Messenger
R 1,695.00

3. The Backpack

This two-strap rucksack is iconic for its all-round functionality. Students, hikers, soldiers, travellers and all other types of daily commuters make use of the backpack in its various forms. The origin of the backpack is difficult to pinpoint but evidence shows that a resemblance of early backpacks can be found in Europe around 3300BC - making it one of the most ancient bag types in our books.

Like the other bags on this list, backpacks can be found in many different styles depending on your preference and use cases. Backpacks can even be used in business settings if chosen correctly, sophisticated leather options make this possible. If you’re looking for less formal options, you’re in luck, since backpacks are mostly perceived as casual travel companions.

Canvas backpacks keep things simple and stylish. Usually well-padded and boasting ample space, it’s easy to see yourself using one of these everyday. Sometimes a little touch of leather also helps add a bit of class to an otherwise casual backpack.

The main characteristics

  • Two adjustable shoulder straps
  • Can be frameless or have an external or internal frame for support
  • Multiple zippers or buckles can be found to close individual pockets
  • A small handle at the top for quick and easy handling

Choosing the right leather or canvas backpack

Backpacks are all about functionality, so consider this when shopping for your next one. What will you be using it for? If you’re looking for an everyday bag, choose something lighter that won’t be a burden to carry. Leather backpacks are great for outdoor adventures while some styles can even be carried to the office. 

Our recommendation:

Buckley Canvas Backpack Basil

Canvas Backpack
R 1,695.00

4. The Duffel Bag (Weekend Bag)

Sometimes you need a bag with a little extra space for that weekend business trip or overnight stay. Of course not only limited to those two occasions, duffel bags (or duffle bags) have been around since the 17th century serving many purposes.

Leather duffel bags, in particular, project a sense of success like no other. One can’t help but synonymise a leather duffel bag with Thomas, the young CEO, who seems to have an extra ten hours over and above anyone else on any given day solely based on his daily activities.

Often used interchangeably, the “weekend bag” describes the look you’re envisioning now, the look of a man with high-end taste, style and drive. It’s possible you’ve seen him sporting this bag at the gym 5 days a week too.

The main characteristics

  • Top closure opens and closes its main compartment
  • Large top leather handle
  • A shoulder strap that extends across the length of the bag
  • One or two round compartments on either end of the bag usually used for shoes or other items

Choosing the right leather duffel bag

Without a question if you are even considering getting a weekend bag, genuine leather should be your top choice. Besides benefits like premium quality and style, a leather duffel bag will garner the much needed appreciation from you as a proud owner to ensure you use it to its absolute full extent. This is a long-term investment and it should be seen as one too. Maybe one day you may pass it down to your son and tell him of the tales and trips your leather companion accompanied you on.

Our recommendation:

Coming Soon

Leather Duffel Bag

5. The Leather Laptop Bag 

The final type of leather bag earning its place on our list is a broader category which most of the above bags can fall under depending on how you look at it. However, we decided to keep this one separate since it serves one sole purpose and therefore should be assessed as such. 

The leather laptop bag is designed to carry, you guessed it, your laptop in the most effective, protective and comfortable way possible. All this while maintaining your own unique sense of style. As mentioned above, messenger bags, backpacks and briefcases can all be used to carry your laptop and oftentimes these bags are designed with this specific feature in mind. There are a few traits you can identify to see whether a bag was designed to be a leather laptop bag (in addition to its individual bag type):

The main characteristics

  • Soft interior padding (to protect your laptop while you carry it)
  • Sufficient space (usually specified to indicate which size laptop it can accommodate)

Choosing the right leather laptop bag

If you’ve made it this far into our guide, you should know by now how to choose any other men’s leather bag, so this decision should come fairly quickly. Once you’ve considered the main type of bag you’d like to acquire, all that’s left is to screen your remaining options on their capabilities of storing your laptop. 

Pro-tip: If the bag’s specifications don’t indicate which laptop size will fit, measure your laptop’s length and width and compare it to your preferred bag’s dimensions. Always allow up to 1-2cm additional spacing to ensure a comfortable fit.

Our recommendation:

Hayden Leather Messenger Dark Brown

Leather Messenger
R 3,295.00

Bags have been around for centuries, evolving into what we see today. It’s time to dispel any preconceived notions that they have been made only for women. The modern-day man should embrace this and find a suitable bag to fit his needs, sometimes opting in for a few different types to fulfill various needs and occasions.

If this short guide has helped you choose a more suitable leather bag, consider subscribing to our newsletter for more tips, tricks and advice on men’s fashion!