Free Shipping within the U.S. for orders over $70 - FREE RETURNS

The Journal

Satchel vs Messenger Bag

When looking for a functional bag that keeps your hands free while offering you easy access to your possessions, two types of bags always come to mind, a satchel and messenger bag; even if you may not really know how to tell them apart, as both look quite similar to each other. However, do not worry; We are here to save the day and turn you into a satchel and messenger bag identifying expert. 

So, let's start! Both have pretty subtle differences that may help distinguish between them and when it comes to comparing and deciding which is better for you many features of theirs need to be dissected and considered. First, let's start with taking a look at a brief comparison chart:




Messenger Bag


Is usually made of leather

Is usually made of fabric

Wearing Style

Worn diagonally across the body, with the bag resting low on the hip of the opposite side of the shoulder holding it by the strap

Worn diagonally across the body, with the bag resting on the lower back of the opposite side of the shoulder holding it by the strap


Gives off an effortlessly classy and casual vibe

Offers the perfect blend of a smart and casual look

Function/ Purpose

Designed to be durable and carry heavy personal items on a daily basis

Designed to carry important and lightweight items securely and easily accessible to you while on the go

 Now let’s go a bit more into depth:

What is a Satchel Bag?


A satchel's history dates back to the times of the Romans. Interesting right? An early form of it was used by the soldiers, modified versions of it were later used by students and still remains to be a popular choice among the younger generation. The satchel is an easy to carry bag that works as a fashion statement for both men and women. It has a long strap that allows one to carry it cross-body or over the shoulder with the bag resting low on the body reaching the hip. Typically not as wide as a messenger bag but still provides enough room to carry a couple of sizable items as it has a large main compartment.

What is a Messenger Bag?

leather messenger bag beside a teddy bear

Though its history isn't as fascinating as the satchel’s, involving Romans and soldiers, it still isn’t any less impressive. A Messenger bag is of American origin that was designed to carry important documents during the times when riding a horse was the primary means of transportation. Though these bags did not become popular until bicycle messengers started using them to carry their equipment.

These bags are ideal for carrying horizontally shaped small to medium-sized items. It has one shoulder strap, typically shorter than a satchel’s strap, which fastens across the body diagonally with the bag resting high on the body.

Also Read: What is a Messenger Bag?

Satchel vs Messenger Material Differences

Though available in other materials too, standard high-quality satchels are made from leather. Typically good messenger bags can be found in a variety of materials such as cotton, canvas or nylon; generally lighter materials as they were designed for active purposes, they’re also available in leather.

Sometimes you can find both satchel and messenger bags that are a mix of both leather and fabric for people who do not want the best of both worlds.

Satchel vs Messenger Wearing Style Differences

Satchels have a long shoulder strap that allows the person to carry the bag on their shoulder or wear it diagonally across the body letting it ride on the hip.

In comparison, messenger bags have a shorter cross-body strap that is designed to be worn against the lower back where you can easily pull it to the side or front to access the pouch. This feature can be a blessing in public crowds as you can easily keep your bag close to your body and in front of your eyes to avoid theft.

Also, many messenger bags allow complete freedom of movement which is an essential feature, especially when it comes to cycling or motorcycle riding, as they can, depending on the particular bag’s design, sometimes come with a stabilizing strap under the armpit to keep the bag in position. 

Satchel vs Messenger Image Difference

A satchel with its leathered look has a vintage feel. It somehow gives off a sophisticated yet rugged look that attracts students. 

A messenger bag with its horizontal, classy, briefcase-like appearance is perfect for working professionals. We aren’t saying that a satchel isn't professional looking; it’s just that it has a different feel to it. 

The satchel can be worn in a casual setting, but if you are looking for something sleek and formal then this is probably not the bag you're looking for. It's more of a stylish personal items bag. 

Satchel vs Messenger Functionality Difference

Though both satchels and messenger bags are designed with flaps, zippers and buckles to keep your valuables safe, the messenger bag feels more secure with its pouch resting higher across the body, instead of dangling lower. Also, a messenger bag is more likely to have additional compartments for better organization, than a satchel.

If you are looking for a functional bag to safely carry a laptop or folders in; mostly things usually kept horizontal, then the messenger bag would be better as it is longer in width than length. Satchels on the other hand are longer vertically and not as wide which can sometimes prove to be a hindrance when you need to put something inside that’s broader in size and cannot be put vertically.


A messenger bag can go with both a smart or casual outfit, as it is not too formal. Furthermore, it is very useful for carrying your laptop and gadgets along with other things. A messenger bag has the potential to be more of a functional item when compared to satchels that aren't as versatile and are mainly used to carry personal items, such as books, journals, laptops or folders. 

So there you have it! The main differences between a satchel and a messenger bag. Hopefully, now you have a better idea regarding which one is which. Though both bags have their own unique features and styles, in the end, it all depends on your personal preferences, needs and situation. 

If you liked this article about satchel vs messenger bag, consider checking out these articles below --