The complete guide to messenger bags

You should carry no more than 10% to 15% of your body weight in a classic messenger bag. Plus, a high-quality bag made with lightweight material is always a smart move. A nylon or canvas design won’t add extra bulk as you hit the books.

Keep an eye out for key features like water-resistant material, adjustable shoulder straps, and a padded laptop sleeve to protect your gear. As you head from work to the weekend, secure your stuff with multiple zip pockets and an interior divider (or three).

If you’re hauling a bunch of heavy textbooks to campus, grab a messenger bag with two large slip pockets to keep your everyday essentials organized. Plus, a convenient keychain clip guarantees you’ll never forget your keys at home as you head out the door.

Do you have an activity packed day? We’ve got you covered with the ultimate storage. An expandable zip feature is a solid solution for extra space when you need it—and zero bulk when you don’t.

What is a messenger bag used for?

A messenger bag is used to carry your everyday essentials in comfort. It’s usually worn over the shoulder for a casual look. A messenger bag or shoulder bag is durable, flexible, and easy to carry with a roomy interior and plenty of storage.

Whether you’re headed to campus or baggage claim, a messenger bag is versatile. Also known as a courier bag or a sling bag, embrace work, school, and travel with ease thanks to plenty of storage and an adjustable shoulder strap.

Store your laptop in a messenger bag with a padded laptop sleeve and interior pocket for your charger, so you never run out of steam.

Add some casual polish to your morning commute with a laidback-but-structured look that’s built for every day. Messenger bags like the Aisling Crossbody offer a roomy interior with plenty of space for your wallet, phone, and everything in between.

If you’re headed to campus, the classic Madhouse Messenger Bag is the perfect bag to store textbooks. Two large slip pockets and an interior divider are the ultimate way to organize your school gear. Plus, store your school ID badge in a convenient front pocket as you head to class.

What are the best messenger bags?

The best messenger bags are durable, comfortable, and lightweight. When finding your perfect fit, keep in mind how much weight you'll need to carry all day, every day. Go for a large shoulder bag when hauling heavy books to campus, or a smaller crossbody for everyday essentials.

A durable messenger bag with an expandable zip is a must-have as you head to class with heavy books. Pro tip: gear made with nylon is extremely durable and can handle anything the school day throws your way. A waxed canvas construction is another solid option to handle daily wear and tear with ease.

When carrying bulkier items like textbooks, make sure you pick a messenger bag with an adjustable strap to take the weight off your shoulders. If you’re toting other technical gear, clip your camera bags to your messenger with external loops and straps to layer on extra essentials.

Plus, velcro closure and easy-zip exterior pockets are a solid solution to storing extra pens, pencils, and a spare highlighter (or three) as you head to the library.

A smaller crossbody is the way to go for lighter gear. Grab a bag that’s neat and functional for everyday use with plenty of storage for your mini essentials. Grab your wallet, keys, and even a collapsible water bottle to stay hydrated on your next adventure.

Don’t have time to drop off your stuff at home before dinner with the gang? Go for a crossbody bag that’s versatile. Go for a Convertible Tote Bag with a removable strap and dual carry handles to carry lighter loads.

If you’re still on the fence over which bag is right for you, we’ve done the research for you. The best messenger bags are:

  • Best Classic Messenger Bag: The Madhouse Messenger Bag is anything but basic. Pay homage to the ‘90s with this classic bag that’s retro, long-lasting, and totally iconic.
  • Best Campus Messenger Bag: The Loftin Messenger Bag is crafted in lightweight crinkle nylon fabric and is durable and stylish for all of your school essentials.
  • Best Convertible Bag: The Myrte Convertible Bag is the ultimate combination of fun and functional. This go-to crossbody, clutch, and waist bag is a fan-favorite that can take you from an early morning class to a late-night out with ease. Plus, show your license in seconds thanks to tailored credit card slots for easy access.
  • Best Small Crossbody Bag: The Gracy Crossbody Bag is perfect for carrying your must-have items as you run a quick errand. Smaller than a standard messenger bag, store your keys and wallet in a front zip pocket—and any extras in a roomy main compartment.

Can I wash a messenger bag?

Yes, you can wash a messenger bag in a few simple steps. Most bags must be softly cleaned by hand with a slightly wet cloth, so steer clear of the washing machine. Wipe in the direction of the fabric and hang away from direct sunlight to dry.

Kipling bags must be spot-cleaned to maintain the high quality and major durability of your gear. Avoid bleach, and do not soak the product in water.

If you have a leather messenger bag or crossbody bag designed with leather extras, keep in mind that variations in color and grain are totally normal. Limit exposure to sunlight and dab the material with water in the direction of the fabric. Could your messenger bag use a refresh?
Discover more about how to clean your Kipling bag.

Shop Kipling for the best messenger bags and crossbody bags for work, school, and everything in between. Go ahead and find your perfect fit today!