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Satchel vs Shoulder Bags

When it comes to bags, there are a few different types that are popular among women. Each bag type has its unique benefits and drawbacks, some serving functional purposes, some fashion and a few that fit somewhere in between both categories. 

Two types of common bags are examples of that are the satchel and shoulder bag. So what’s the difference between them:



Shoulder Bags


Tend to be made from leather on average or other durable materials

Likely to be made from cloth, like polyester and nylon

Carrying Style

Has one long strap that goes over the shoulder, all the way around the body resting on the lower hip of the opposite side

Comes with a shoulder strap and handles for either carrying it on one shoulder or in your hand


Often seen as a professional bag, typically used for carrying documents, books or a laptop

More commonly seen as bags for everyday errands and travel

Purpose / Function

Satchels are typically bigger and stronger than shoulder bags, making them better suited for carrying heavier and larger items.

Are more commonly used as purses. They aren’t as spacious as satchels so are used to keep smaller items

What is a Satchel?

satchel bag

Commonly associated as a bag for students due to its size, design and durability; Satchels are a popular type of bag that is often seen carried by both men and women. It has one long strap that goes over the shoulder, all the way around the body, with the bag hugging the other side of the body. They are typically made from leather and are designed in a way that distributes the weight of the contents evenly across the body. The bag is generally more in height than in width and always has a flap flipping over and covering its usual one big compartment.

What is a Shoulder Bag?

woman with shoulder bag

Shoulder bags are typically much more complex, with a lot of zippers and pockets of all kinds of shapes and sizes that help with organizing your possessions. There is a handle on top as well as a strap that goes over the shoulder, which is how it got its name. Though it is usually mistaken for a handbag or purse, which are typically smaller in size when compared to a shoulder bag.

Satchel vs Shoulder Bag Material Differences

Not much of a difference here. Most satchels and shoulder bags are made from leather or other strong materials since both need to be quite durable but of course, both bags are always available in other materials too with the shoulder bag being accessible in more variety of materials than a satchel bag. 

Satchel vs Shoulder Bag Carrying Style difference

Shoulder bags are more commonly used as everyday bags when you need to have your hands free. As with having smaller handles like other fashionable bags it also has a shoulder strap for when you need to carry it over your shoulder. Satchels have a single long strap that is most traditionally worn diagonally on the body, though if you wish you can wear it over one shoulder, hanging down straight. 

Satchel vs Shoulder Bag Image

A satchel is often seen as a more professional option due to its simple functional design when compared to a shoulder bag. The latter is often seen as more fashionable as they are available in a wide range of styles and designs. That’s not to say that you can’t use a shoulder bag for work, it’s just that they are more commonly seen as a bit of a spacious fancy bag used for everyday errands and travel.  

Satchel vs Shoulder Bag Purpose/ Function

Satchels are often larger than shoulder bags and usually feature one large compartment, and this is what makes the satchel ideally suited for carrying books, documents or other frequently-used sizable items that you need quick access to without having to unzip or shift through any pockets. 

Shoulder bags typically have more zippers and pockets than satchels, allowing for better organization of your possessions. Additionally, compared to satchels, shoulder bags are lighter and easier to easily throw over your shoulder.


So to wrap it up satchels are tall durable bags that are used to carry books and documents, while shoulder bags are smaller and more commonly seen as a more functionally designed handbag. 

Satchels are a good option to carry work or study-related items, while shoulder bags come in a variety of designs to fit any style and size, thus can be used in many different situations. 

So there you have it, the key differences between a satchel and a shoulder bag. Now it ultimately comes down to what you need the bag for and how you plan to carry it, and of course your taste. Whichever you choose, make sure that it is comfortable to wear and fits your needs.

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