Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by Nicole
The best messenger bags for women are practical and perfect for carrying your essentials for the office, college, your weekend errands, or some casual sightseeing. Beyond their performance, messenger bags can have a cool understated style that easily complements any outfit or a fun, playful vibe that makes a statement. Whether you are heading into the office, going to the gym, or spending the day exploring a new city, you can’t go wrong choosing one of these stunning messenger bags for women highlighted in this article.
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What Is A Messenger Bag?
The messenger bag is the larger, more practical version of a standard women’s shoulder bag. It’s big enough to take a laptop and everything else you need for a busy day in town, but also slim and elegant to fit with the polished professional or stylish modern woman.
The basic construction is a bag with a flap and a long strap. The strap allows you to carry it on your shoulder, either normally as a shoulder bag or diagonally across your chest (cross-body), and the bag swings round to sit comfortably on your lower back to let you walk or cycle with ease.
When you want to access the contents, you swing the bag to the front. The best news is that you don’t have to take the bag off to get inside. Historically, this feature made the messenger bag a practical solution for mail carriers (pony express), military messages (Roman legion), and bicycle couriers. Today, it is one of the best features for today’s woman who is juggling what often feels like a thousand demands on her time.
How The Reviews are Organized
I’ve looked at a range of messenger bags for women and picked 11 that give the best value for money while providing excellent features. In addition, I have sought out ones that are elegant or cool looking, with the goal that they would complement many different styles and outfits.
To qualify as a messenger bag, the bags must feature a shoulder strap and a flap. They range from budget to luxury models and cover a range of materials and looks. Messenger bags are largely unisex, and messenger bags for women may also come from those designed for men.
Whether someone considers a messenger bag more suitable for a man or a woman is a matter of personal taste. There is nothing that marks a messenger bag as male or female – features, function, and style of one bag can appeal more to one person or another on any given day based upon color, an outfit choice, or even what you intend to do with it on that day.
Accordingly, if you haven’t found a messenger bag in this article that wows you, take a look at another article that I wrote – 11 Of The Best Messenger Bags For Men. All of them are either stylish, cool, fun or sophisticated, and would be appealing to both men and women.
If you are interested in only leather messenger bags, I highlight 12 of them in 12 Exquisite Leather Messenger Bags For Men And Women. Some of these are truly gorgeous. If you are more keen on eco friendly and durable canvas bags, I have found some amazing ones 12 Best Stylish Yet Practical Canvas Crossbody Bags.
For multi-purpose bags that are stylish and useful for travel, school, business or running errands, take a look at 15 Best Black Tote Bags.
Finally, if you are looking for a larger carry-on bag alternative that would allow you to easily go away for 2-5 days, consider one of these – 12 Best Canvas Duffel Bags With Style. If you are looking for proper luggage, then Samsonite Winfield 2 would be an excellent choice.
Best Messenger Bags For Women
All of these women’s messenger bags are under $100 (except one – I couldn’t resist) and offer tremendous value for how they look or what they offer.
OIWAS Messenger Bag For Women
- Available in an attractive grey, black, pink and blue.
- Available in two sizes, 14.5″ and 15.6.”
- Waterproof polyester canvas to 600D strength.
- Tear-resistant material.
- Light at 1.22lbs
- Multiple pockets for organizing and securing your stuff.
- Adjustable shoulder strap.
- Padded shoulder protection.
- Reflective strip.
- Separate and lightly padded compartment for laptop up to 14.”
- Budget buy at under $30.
- Top carrying handle
The OIWAS Messenger Bags offer style and lots of functionality on a shoestring budget.
They are one of the best women’s messenger bags if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the daytime or night as they are waterproof, and include a reflective strip under the front flap.
It’s lightweight, and it comes with multiple pockets to help you organize the contents. You get a lot for your money with this women’s messenger bag.
Taoqiao Vintage Women’s Messenger Bag
- Durable canvas available in three sizes (medium, large, or extra-large) and two colors – black or beige.
- Buckles and zip fastenings for security.
- Adjustable shoulder strap.
- Plenty of pockets – zipped pocket on flap, zipped pocket on the back, two slip pockets under the flap, large inside zipped pocket for a laptop, one small secure zipped inside pocket, and two slip pockets for small items.
- Washable – by hand and air dry.
- Lightweight at under 2lbs.
- Affordable at under $50
- Padded shoulder pad – this is an oversize style messenger bag with lots of storage and a shoulder pad would help with comfort.
- Not ideal to protect laptops – soft construction and lacks padding.
If you are looking for a messenger bag with lots of room, then this would be one of the best women’s messenger bags. It’s a bit too casual in appearance for a professional office. However, it has a young laid back look that would make it a fantastic choice for a college or university campus or a casual weekend away.
The Taoqiao Vintage messenger bag has plenty of pockets for textbooks, notepads, pens, and lunch, but it is a lightweight bag so make sure you do not overstuff it with too much weight. Purchasers have been overwhelmingly happy and awarded it 4.6* out of 5 with over 1400 reviews.
Overall, it’s a cool looking bag perfect for when you need to carry a lot of stuff around with you.
ECOSUSI Messenger Bag For Women
- Available in 2 sizes – 14″ and 15.6.”
- Classic color range, including a deep red and dark blue.
- Decorative punched pattern on the flap.
- Versatile wearing options – two adjustable and removable shoulder straps and a carrying handle mean this bag transforms into a briefcase, backpack, and messenger bag.
- Plenty of pockets and compartments to professionally organize your stuff, including a zipper pocket, and a padded compartment with a velcro strap for a laptop.
- Leather appearance but vegan credentials with PU (faux) leather.
- Easy closure – the buckles would be fussy.
Ecosusi produces messenger bags for women who want a cruelty-free bag with a leather appearance and style. Vegan leather (faux leather) gives you a beautiful women’s messenger bag at a reduced price compared to the more costly classic leather alternatives.
The different color options are attractive, and the flap pattern is reminiscent of punched leatherwork on saddlebags. The three-way wearing options – messenger bag, briefcase, and backpack – make this a versatile bag for any occasion.
The Ecosusi Messenger Bag is sleek and elegant and would compliment any professional outfit. It would also be easy to wear when dressing more casually in jeans or even exercise clothes.
Kipling Small Messenger Bag For Women
- Available in lots of different colors and patterns.
- Made from water-resistant crinkled nylon.
- Easy to clean.
- Adjustable straps with magnetic snap on flap.
- Plenty of internal and external pockets, many with zippers for increased security.
- The largest electronic device that fits in this bag is an e-reader.
- Capacity – the bag is on the small side but holds 2L.
Not every woman wants or needs to carry a mobile office, and the Kipling Small Messenger Bag produces stylish messenger bags for women who don’t need to store a laptop.
There are wonderful colors and patterns if you prefer pretty and fun while the other color combinations are more classic looking. This eco-friendly bag is ideal as a holiday bag but is also smart enough for office use. There are lots of compartments to keep your items organized and safe. If you are looking for a sustainable bag that is lightweight, waterproof, and durable, then this would be an excellent choice.
Kattee Military Canvas Messenger Bag For Women
- Comes in different sizes
- medium 13.6″ (L) x 4.1″ (W) x 12.4″ (H) at 2.3 lbs
- large 14.1″ (L) x 4.7″ (W) x 12.2″ (H) at 2.2 lbs; and
- x-large 15.7″ (L) x 4.7″ (W) x 12.9″ (H) at 2.6 lbs.
- Available in a few colors – army green, black, dark gray, blue.
- Will fit a 13.3″ laptop in medium size, 14″ laptop in large size or 15.6″ laptop in x-large size.
- Durable canvas with leather accents.
- Adjustable and padded strap for comfort.
- Spacious with quick-release magnetic fasteners for access to main compartment.
- Zippered main compartment with easy to access front and side pockets.
- Great price for size and durability.
- No handle for alternative carrying options.
- No inner padding for extra protection for laptops.
This canvas messenger bag for women is large, stylish, and offers you lots of room for clothes and essentials for an overnight stay, gym clothes, school books and supplies, or even business essentials.
A very popular canvas messenger bag on Amazon, one reviewer remarked, “I carry so much in this bag yet when I put it on my shoulder it doesn’t feel heavy or burdensome. Generous amount of pockets and space and very strong and durable canvas! One of the best messenger bags I’ve owned.”
Levogue Leather Women’s Messenger Bag
- Classic vintage design with premium cow leather outer shell and canvas lining.
- Oiled leather improves with age, giving years of stylish use.
- Includes padding to protect your devices.
- Accommodates a 14″ laptop.
- Padded shoulder pad on the strap gives increased comfort in use.
- Adjustable strap.
- Plenty of pockets: one large compartment, two quick access outer pockets, a secure zipped pocket, and two inner compartments for smaller items.
- Magnetic closure on the flap.
- Double reinforced stitching.
- It could do with a top carrying handle when you don’t want to put it on your shoulder.
The Levogue Leather Messenger Bag is a vintage-style oiled leather messenger bag that looks great in all circumstances. It’s a classic design and yet looks modern at the same time.
Leather messenger bags for women offer versatility. You know that your messenger bag will easily take you from the office to a weekend away, or a day of sightseeing.
Oiled leather improves with wear, and the reinforced stitching gives you years of use. You get plenty of pockets to organize everything you need, and a padded laptop section takes care of your devices.
A top carrying handle would have been useful. There are times that you want to pick up or carry your messenger bag without putting it on your shoulder or have it dangling at your side. Nevertheless, this omission does not diminish it as a high-quality handmade leather messenger bag for women with excellent functionability.
TIMBUK2 Classic Messenger Bag For Women
- Four sizes available – x-small to x-large.
- 18 Different color options and combinations.
- External weatherproofing fabric.
- Top grab handle.
- External loops to attach lights for night walking or riding.
- Lots of internal compartments to organize everything.
- Side entry pocket to gain access without lifting the flap.
- Internal water bottle pocket.
- Except for the X-small size, it will accommodate a laptop.
- Removable stabilizing strap (extra strap across the chest) for use while riding a bike.
- Adjustable shoulder strap.
- Shoulder pad for comfort.
- Durable 150D poly tweed with a TPU liner (resistant to oil, grease and abrasion).
- Lifetime warranty.
- Budget option – expect to pay between $50 – $100 depending on color, and design.
- Zip pocket on the flap – this feature is handy for quick access to items.
- Carrying handle
You may pay more for one of these women’s messenger bags, but you get access to a lifetime warranty.
The Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag offers a staggering 15 color options and patterns. These range from bright and fun colors, to more sobering and sophisticated greys, beiges, and blacks. Accordingly, you can choose one that will easily blend with multiple outfits, or you can opt for one that makes you stick out in a crowd.
This is another of the best messenger bags for women who will be spending a lot of time outside. It offers a stabilizing strap so that you can safely secure this messenger bag while biking and external loops for additional lights. The material is durable and weatherproof with flap corner construction and has an internal waterproof lining.
Internally, it is brilliantly designed with lots of pockets, compartments, and pockets.
Samsonite Colombian Leather Messenger Bag
- Quality cowhide leather offered in two colors – classic black or brown.
- Excellent padded laptop compartment.
- Fits up to 15.6″ laptop
- Removable and adjustable shoulder strap.
- Top carry handle.
- Multiple pockets to accommodate electronics and other business essentials including a removable compartment for your cell phone.
- Organizer under flap for documents.
- Decorative buckles with metal snap fastenings.
- Not as many pockets as in other messenger bags for women.
Samsonite produces quality travel luggage, and the Samsonite Leather Messenger Bag is a high-quality product that is ideal for the professional woman who needs to carry a mobile office.
The laptop compartment is sensibly padded, and if you remove the shoulder strap, it turns this messenger bag into a standard working briefcase.
From a style perspective, this is one of the best messenger bags for women who are looking for adaptability. It is exceptionally designed for a professional women, but its cowhide soft leather and style also lends itself to a casual day running errands or exploring a new city.
Token Lorimer Enamel Messenger Bag For Women
- Dazzlingly bright colors – yellow, white, red, and a more sober black.
- Versatile – top carrying handle as a briefcase, shoulder strap as a messenger bag, and concealed straps to turn it into a backpack.
- Easy access velcro closures.
- Top flap and lining are water-resistant.
- Hidden zippered compartment under flap and removable cell phone pouch.
- Durable reinforced corners.
- Detachable insert accommodates laptops up to 15.”
- Dedicated water bottle pocket.
- Affordability – you pay well over $100 for this messenger bag.
The Lorimer Enamel Bag range of messenger bags for women is fun, edgy, and sophisticated. They are perfect for those women who are confident in their style and the fashion statement that they wish to make.
These women’s messenger bags come in playful and bold colors such as yellow and red, and “subdued” ones in black and white. These would be ideal if you spend a lot of time outdoors as they are highly visible (except the black one).
In addition, they have excellent features for any workplace. The reinforced corners, excellent water-resistance, and quick fastening Velcro closures are practical and useful features. The detachable insert for the laptop and another for your cell phone make this an excellent bag for organizing a range of contents.
Seyfocnia Leather Women’s Messenger Bag
- This vintage women’s leather bag measures 17.3″ x 13.2″ x 6.1″ and can accommodate a laptop with a 17.3” screen. It is available in black or brown, and weighs almost 2.7 lbs.
- Top carry handle.
- 9 Compartments total inside and out, and a couple that are zippered for additional security.
- Adjustable, wide and removable shoulder strap with padding for comfort.
- Made with water resistant PU (faux) leather and polyester lining.
- Durable zippers, latches, buckles, and closures.
- Padded laptop compartment.
- Budget friendly.
- Soft structure so without something firm inside, like a laptop, it may fold in middle.
The reviews on Amazon regularly state that the quality and stylish look of this messenger bag defies the budget cost.
This women’s messenger bag has an extraordinary number of pockets and compartments in various sizes all over the bag giving you lots of options to store items. This includes a padded laptop compartment. In addition, it has an official business look but in reality, has a soft supple exterior. As indicated above, if you do not have enough items inside the bag, it could lose its shape and fold in the middle. However, it also means that the material is flexible so that you can fit bulkier or irregularly shaped items in compartments and pockets.
Overall with its size, multiple pockets, detachable shoulder strap and top handle for a briefcase look, and padded laptop compartment, this is an excellent budget-friendly messenger bag for all professionals.
Top Five Reasons To Buy Messenger Bags For Women
Women’s messenger bags are an ideal choice for a number of reasons:
- Promote a professional appearance (if that is your goal).
- Complement any style, from casual to business attire.
- Organize your belongings.
- Carry everything you need with easy access.
- Streamline your life (only need one bag versus multiple).
Accordingly, choosing a messenger bag means that you come across in the workplace as professional, organized, and stylish. A leather messenger bag is the luxury bridge between a professional but stuffy briefcase and a spacious but overly casual backpack.
The best messenger bags for women fit your style from jeans and sneakers to a power suit and stilettos. Chameleon-like, it blends effortlessly into any environment from professional to city slicker to a weekend away. Overall, it translates into a cool and sought after style.
Modern History Of Messenger Bags
Like that other style icon – denim jeans – the messenger bag started as a workman’s product for the lineworkers who repaired and maintained electrical lines connecting people and power.
In 1950, De Martini Globe Canvas Company created a canvas bag with a waterproof lining and pockets for working use. The bag had plenty of compartments for tools, invoices, and a lunchbox. It was practical, widespread, and seen as the ideal way for workers to carry their possessions on the long miles they walked to maintain the lines.
Congested streets and the rise of the bicycle courier popularized the features offered by messenger bags in the nineties. They rapidly transitioned to becoming a stylish accessory for all city workers.
Ancient History Of Messenger Bags
In truth, messenger bags are from ancient times.
Roman soldiers found them practical and comfortable for carrying food and personal items. In fact, the Latin word “loculus” means ‘little place,’ and refers to a little place to put precious items.
Since then, messenger bags appear in every culture and era because they are an integral and functional design suited to human life, almost as much as sandals or spoons. In other words, their design and use are in our DNA. Neanderthals probably carried their flint tools and herbs in a prototype messenger bag!
The best messenger bags carry everything in a stylish way without you looking overwhelmed, loaded down with endless bags. Just one bag to sort it all – from coin purse to laptop to even a change of clothes or two.
Buyer’s Guide: What Do You Need In The Best Messenger Bags For Women?
There isn’t a uniform look or set of features offered in every messenger bag. On the contrary, different features are found in the best messenger bags for women. Which one you choose will likely depend on your lifestyle.
Messenger bags are versatile and you can take them anywhere. Still, you may be in the market for a more professional looking one, a casual weekender, or you might intend to use your messenger bag for everything.
Choice Of Material In Women’s Messenger Bags
Leather is a luxury material that is easy to maintain and gives you the image of a successful woman in the city. However, there are downsides to choosing a leather bag.
Leather requires maintenance to retain its good looks and waterproofing. If your leather messenger bag becomes saturated with water, then it will distort and lose its appeal. In addition, in a wet environment, you run the risk of the leather rubbing against you and color seeping into your jacket or other clothes.
Overall, leather is not the best choice if you regularly walk around in heavy rain. However, it certainly is an elegant choice.
The alternative to leather is a strong, durable canvas with a waterproof layer protecting your valuable contents. This option was the working choice in the 1950s. Today, the choice of canvas still produces some of the finest looking messenger bags for women.
Other materials like nylon, synthetic leather, and plastics also feature in some styles of messenger bags. With those choices, it is more a matter of style than anything.
Black is a classic color, especially in leather messenger bags. However, one of the best trends today is the exciting bright colors offered in all materials to match your personality.
What you should choose depends on how you wish to use your bag. If it is an expected addition to business meetings and such, you may be confined to more traditional and somber colors like black, browns and greys. These colors would also work better in complementing different colored outfits. However, if you can, have some fun and choose some playful and edgy colors and patterns. You only live once!
The construction of a quality messenger bag includes features like reinforced corners, taped seams, smart compartments, adjustable buckles, strong attachment points, and useful external pockets on some models.
The details matter when you are choosing the best messenger bag whether they are practical or style-driven.
For example, you may prefer:
- Abrasion resistance and appropriate reinforcement in strategic areas to improve durability.
- Carrying handle, giving you the option to carry one like a briefcase or on your shoulder.
- Detachable and adjustable shoulder straps for comfort or to complement different outfits.
Size Of Different Messenger Bags For Women
A smaller, thinner bag is lighter and more maneuverable. A larger, heavier bag may be bulky but has more room inside for versatility, such as a city break, an important meeting, or a busy school day.
Key factors for the best size in women’s messenger bags are laptop or tablet size, together with the expected amount of other things that you regularly need to carry. A laptop needs a bigger bag than a tablet. However, the volume of your textbooks, business necessities, or gym kit may move you to a larger messenger bag regardless.
Many designers play with the classic messenger bag by adding extra features such as pockets, buckles, and zips. When comparing one style against another, see if the detail adds functionality. For example, quick-release buckles and external pockets are valuable time savers when you are in a hurry and need quick access to documents, money, or your phone.
Other Useful Features In Women’s Messenger Bags
There are several other useful features of which you should be aware:
- Shoulder pad on the adjustable shoulder strap to distribute weight more evenly on your shoulder to increase comfort.
- Removable and adjustable shoulder strap for different lengths that could also be reconfigured into a backpack.
- Padded compartment for your laptop to add a layer of protection for your devices.
- External yet secure zipped pocket on the flap to give quick access to essential items.
- RFID protection to safeguard your bank and credit cards and passport from fraud.
Unfortunately, like many things, your budget tends to be the deciding factor in what you can purchase. Often, low budgets result in compromises on quality.
However, consider going slightly beyond your budget, whatever that may be. High-quality messenger bags that promote your professional appearance become a versatile and reliable part of your wardrobe, and stay in excellent condition for years. These messenger bags are more affordable when you consider the price on a cost per year basis. If you spend more on a better quality bag, you should expect it to last longer than spending less on flimsy materials or shabby construction.
If you can, it may be worth waiting for a sale on one of the high-quality and classic messenger bags for women included in this article. I believe that I have identified the best messenger bags according to their features and the value per dollar spent. However, who doesn’t like a sale! A messenger bag is a style icon that won’t go out of date provided you pick a classic style.
Are Messenger Bags For Women Better than Backpacks Or Briefcases?
All three – messenger bags, backpacks, and briefcases – are excellent solutions for carrying your possessions for work, a trip, or college. However, they are definitely different with pros and cons.
Although a briefcase does not easily transition to something casual like a messenger bag, it does provide the quintessential business look. In addition, a briefcase is normally structured and divided precisely for specific items, thus it leaves items safely in place and in excellent condition. Most messenger bags are less structured with wider spaces leaving you to decide how you want to pack your items.
On the other hand, a briefcase is more tiring to carry than a backpack or a messenger bag because you carry the weight with your wrist and arm muscles versus your shoulders. Plus, it occupies your hands, and you need to put it on the ground while you have a cup of coffee or answer your phone. Lastly, since your briefcase is not attached to your person, it can be forgotten and left on public transport or picked up by someone else by mistake.
A backpack is excellent at distributing weight across your back for comfort. A messenger bag redistributes weight from your hands, but not as efficiently or comfortably as a backpack. I recently wrote an article about some of the best Tumi laptop backpacks and found some incredible choices.
Unfortunately, a backpack is unforgiving to your clothing and causes wrinkles, or becomes uncomfortable on hot days and causes you to sweat. In addition, you need to remove your backpack to access its contents. Lastly, most backpack interiors lack the range of compartments needed for business demands.
On the other hand, the best messenger bags for women give you the practical functionality of an excellent (if large) handbag, keeping your hands free while efficiently organizing your contents. Some have a top carrying handle giving you the choice to carry it like a briefcase. The downside is that you bear the weight on one shoulder, and they are not as stable as backpacks, especially when cycling.
Messenger bags for women are an ideal choice for a woman who wants to have an organized, handy and professional looking bag for their use, but doesn’t want to give up on looking chic or playful, depending on your outfit. The best messenger bags complement many different styles or are stand out pieces on their own, and are an excellent choice for anyone looking for a versatile and value driven bag.