Best messenger bag for school

Small Travel Bags

The messenger bag was originally designed for telephone linemen. The cross-body bag allowed them to easily access their tools without impeding their movement.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which messenger bags for school are best?

Messenger bags are a stylish and versatile way to carry your school supplies. They distribute the weight of your books more evenly across your body and keep you organized as you go about your day. Messenger bags make it easy to go between school, work and extracurricular activities without scrambling back home to swap your bag. 

The best messenger bag for school is the tomtoc Travel Messenger Bag with Protective Laptop Compartment

What to know before you buy a messenger bag for school

How much room you need

Knowing how much you plan to carry in your messenger bag will help you determine what size you need. For example, if you want to pack your uniform for your after-school job along with your textbooks, you should get a messenger bag with a wide base and a long cover to contain the bulky items. If you just need something to carry a lightweight laptop, a smaller and sleeker version may be better for you. 

How you like to organize

If you’re someone who likes to separate your items by category, you may prefer a messenger bag with multiple pockets and compartments. If you don’t mind your things mixing in one large space, consider looking for a bag with interior side pockets so you can easily find your keys and other small items. You can also get a thin laptop sleeve to help you organize your tech without the constraints of compartments. External pockets will also make it easier to quickly grab important things. 

Your style

The colors and material of a messenger bag can complement and even elevate your look. Leather messenger bags, which typically come in shades of brown and black, can make you look cool and professional. Canvas messenger bags come in a broad variety of colors. There is a wide range of neutrals as well as colors and even patterns. 

Some messenger bags are designed to look classic and vintage. These often have aesthetically pleasing clasps and buckles. When buying a new messenger bag for school, consider what type of messenger bag would go best with the overall style you want to achieve. 

What to look for in a quality messenger bag for school


One of the benefits of messenger bags is that they are more comfortable to wear than most backpacks. However, denser materials such as leather can be heavy and inconvenient to carry all day. Additional features such as clasps and compartments can add to the weight. Make sure the messenger bag you choose is light enough for you to wear comfortably, but durable enough to hold your things. A small messenger bag may suit your needs if you only need to carry a couple of textbooks at a time. 


Messenger bags are typically made of leather, canvas or a mix of both. Cheaper ones may be made of nylon fabric. Leather is heavier and more difficult to clean, while canvas and nylon are lighter and often machine-washable. Some messenger bag material is waterproof or resistant. If you live where it frequently rains or you often have to travel on foot, be sure to consider a bag with this quality.  

The strap

The strap of a messenger bag can make or break the comfort and overall usability. That’s why it’s important to choose one with a thick and quality strap. A wide strap will help distribute the weight of your bag. Additionally, a padded one will keep it from digging into your shoulder as much. 

How much you can expect to spend on a messenger bag for school

Messenger bags for school can cost anywhere from $20-$100, depending on the quality of the material and the size of the bag. 

Messenger bag for school FAQ

Are messenger bags bad for your back?

A. Messenger bags can negatively affect your back if they’re only ever worn on one side and weighed down with too many things. The best thing you can do for your health when wearing a messenger bag is to pack light and support the bottom with your hand. 

How do you clean a leather messenger bag?

A. Frequently brush off and wipe down your bag with a slightly damp cloth. Then every few months wash your hands and apply a leather cleaner with a soft rag. 

What’s the best messenger bag for school to buy?

Top messenger bag for school

tomtoc Travel Messenger Bag with Protective Laptop Compartment

tomtoc Travel Messenger Bag with Protective Laptop Compartment

What you need to know: A durable but lightweight messenger bag with handy exterior pockets and safe laptop storage. 

What you’ll love: This versatile bag features an anti-shock design, adjustable padded straps and soft interior lining to prevent scratches. It has a convenient luggage belt to easily transport it during travel. The material is thick and liquid-resistant.

What you should consider: The zipper is on the top of the bag instead of the side, which caused some customers to damage their laptops. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top messenger bag for school for the money

RICHEN Messenger Bag

RICHEN Messenger Bag

What you need to know: This soft and comfortable neoprene messenger bag comes in three different sizes and over a dozen patterns. 

What you’ll love: This bag has convenient exterior pockets and bright and colorful designs. The material is lightweight but sturdy and the straps are adjustable. The one large zipper pocket features soft lining to protect your items. 

What you should consider: The stitching on the shoulder strap can easily come apart under the weight of a computer. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

DHK Vintage Handmade Leather Messenger Bag

DHK Vintage Handmade Leather Messenger Bag

What you need to know: A stylish and professional-looking bag with multiple compartments and secure buckles. 

What you’ll love: The exterior is treated, full-grain leather material and the interior is lined with thick canvas. It has convenient outer pockets and a handle on top in addition to the adjustable strap. 

What you should consider: It has a funny smell out of the package and the weight isn’t distributed evenly. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Anabelle Weissinger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.


Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.