The 20 Best Work Bags for Men
Take your pick from totes, messengers, backpacks and briefcases
Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.
We carry a lot of shit with us — laptops, books, tablets, other random things that aren’t necessary but we can’t bring ourselves to rid of. Not to mention the emotional and mental trauma we’re required to lug around day in and day out. We’re practically pack mules.
Considering the wide variety of objects people are now expected to transport from home to work and then back again, the type of bag one uses can make all the difference. A bag ill-equipped for the job can make that morning commute all the more hellish, whether it’s by losing your earbuds in a black hole of disorganization or, worse, your bag breaking completely. But, we are vain creatures, and while ideally we want something functional, we often favor aesthetics over practicality. Who cares if it gives us back problems as long as it’s a nice looking bag?
Yet the market for bags both handsome and functional isn’t as slim as you might think. Brands are catching onto the idea that people can simultaneously want both (what a concept). But with more options comes more difficulty in finding the bag that is just right for you. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to narrow down the selection to 20 work bags, broken up into four categories: totes, messengers, backpacks and briefcases. If you’re a devoted tote carrier, maybe it’s time to retire that New Yorker tote that’s seen better days for something a little more durable. Or, branch out and try a completely new style. Either way, there’s bound to be a bag for everyone.
Tote culture has taken off in recent years thanks to the proliferation of publications offering them alongside subscriptions. While those flimsy canvas totes alert strangers to just how culture and well read you are, they do little in the way of providing support. When it comes to a tote, especially a work tote, you want something sturdy. It’s a type of bag that doesn’t allow for much organization, save for an interior pocket or two, so if you don’t carry much or you’re the kind of person who throws in their shit and goes, you’re well matched for a tote. Also: it’s 2021, if you’re hesitant to carry a tote for fear of it reading as too feminine, don’t be. Trust us, no one’s going to think you’re carrying a purse (and if they do just let them know that handbags are all the rage).
L.L.Bean Boat and Tote, Open-Top
Incorporate a bit of the beach into your work life with L.L.Bean’s iconic Boat and Tote, available in a variety of sizes and colors. If you do opt for this one, be sure to go the extra step and have it monogrammed, so there’s no mistaking it’s yours.
Filson Rugged Twill Tote Bag
This tote has ‘rugged’ in the name, so you know it’s appropriate for even the manliest of men to carry.
Away The Longitude Tote
Maybe your work requires a lot of traveling, so you need a tote equipped to take you from the office to the airport and everywhere in between. If that’s the case, consider The Longitude Tote from Away, big enough to carry a 13″ laptop and a backup outfit. Plus the bag comes with a removable strap that easily attaches to any Away suitcase, ideal for when you need to make a mad dash through the airport.
Noah Multi Pocket Tote
This nylon tote from Noah has not one but two side pockets, perfect for stowing your essentials and keeping them readily available at a moment’s notice. While the Japanese nylon is casual, handsome leather handles help to elevate the overall look and feel of the bag.
Marni Brown and Black Tribeca Tote
Made from PVC-coated canvas, you won’t have to worry about being too precious with Marni’s Tribeca Tote, despite how expensive and luxe it might look (and in fact is). Whether you prefer brown or black, or can’t decide, the color-blocked sides offer the best of both worlds.
For the person who needs something that will provide a little more organization, look no further than the messenger bag. If you need each and every object you carry with you to have it’s designated place, a messenger will make sure things stay tidy and accounted for. Out of all the options listed, it’s probably the most commuter friendly bag, especially if you’re constantly taking public transportation. The single shoulder strap means you can just sling it across your chest to keep out of the way of other passengers.
Mark & Spencer Pro-Tect Messenger Bag
Mark and Spencer’s “Pro-Tect” fabric is scuff-resistant and extra durable, perfect for when you’re packed in tight in a subway car or have to haphazardly throw the bag in your car’s backseat as you’re running late to work.
Coach Hudson Messenger
Sleek, sophisticated and compact — it doesn’t get any better than Coach’s Hudson Messenger (especially at 70% off).
Acne Studios Large Messenger Bag
If your preferred aesthetic is extremely chic Swedish bike messenger, look no further than Acne Studio’s durable messenger bag, featuring functional yet snazzy accents like a vinyl ID pocket and D-ring for affixing keys and other necessities.
Nisolo Loreto Messenger Bag
For those looking for a messenger that isn’t as sporty as nylon iterations yet not so sophisticated as a leather option, Nisolo’s Loreto Messenger Bag crafted from waxed canvas strikes a happy balance, classic in appearance yet still allowing you to be a little rough with it.
Stutterheim Black Rain Messenger Bag
It’s only natural that a bag from a brand renowned for their rain jackets would prove just as capable of enduring the elements and keeping your precious belongings safe (and dry) from any inclement weather.
Polo Ralph Lauren Leather Messenger Bag
Take your messenger bag game to the next level with this leather beauty from Polo Ralph Lauren. Crafted from a rich full-grain leather, the bag is just as functional as it is appealing to look at, offering a spacious interior that’s lined with a tartan pattern for that extra preppy Polo touch.
Unfortunately, some of us are burdened with having to carry more than others. If that’s the case for you, you need something a little more heavy duty like a backpack. But that doesn’t mean your only options are some overly technical, burdensome hiking backpack — there are plenty of ‘packs that are both sleek and roomy. Plus, they’ll work for a number of other needs, like a carry-on or if you’re going on weekend getaway but don’t need to bring much with you. And what better way to connect with your youthful side than a good ol’ knapsack? You’ll feel just like a schoolboy again. Rest assured, you’ll look very much like an adult though.
Everlane Modern Snap Backpack
Featuring a padded interior laptop compartment, two side slip pockets, leather accents and water-resistant cotton twill exterior, this Everlane backpack is a no brainer.
Rains MSN Bag
For those looking to avoid resembling a prepubescent high schooler struggling to tote around a cumbersome load, opt for a compact style of backpack like Rains MSN Bag that still allows for plenty of room (and includes an interior compartment for housing your laptop) but will force you to edit down your daily carry, which is admittedly for the best.
Saturdays Hannes Nylon Backpack
Saturdays’ version of the commuter backpack is cut from a smooth nylon that’s capable of enduring whatever wear and tear you see fit to put it through, all while remaining sleek and stylish.
Mansur Gavriel Leather Drawstring Backpack
If the once nearly $1,000 price tag isn’t enough to persuade you to buy this buttery leather drawstring backpack from Italian brand Mansur Gavriel (now 64% off), we don’t know what is.
Boarding Pass NYC Metro Backpack
If you really struggle to stay organized, allow Boarding Pass’s Metro Backpack to rectify your bad habits with its compartmentalized interior that forces everything to neatly stay in its place.
A true briefcase is difficult to carry daily, unless you’re extremely minimal when it comes to what you bring with you to work, but they’ll make a great impression in a meeting and show that you mean business. Plus, you don’t have to go the old-school hard leather route — there are plenty of new iterations that in no way resemble your dad’s briefcase from the 80s.
Topo Designs Commuter Briefcase
Go the untraditional route with this Commuter Briefcase from outdoor-focused brand Topo Designs. As the name would suggest, this briefcase is designed specifically with commuters in mind and even converts into a backpack for those days when your load is heavier than usual.
Eastpak Acton CNNCT Coated-Canvas Briefcase
Keep things understated and discreet with this coated-canvas briefcase from Eastpak.
Lacoste Classic Petit Piqué Computer Bag
Lacoste brings their iconic petit piqué (in PVC) to this computer bag which features a handy adjustable shoulder strap so it can double as a messenger bag when necessary.
Lands’ End Waxed Canvas Laptop Briefcase
Who says a briefcase has to be strictly business? Lands’ End’s Waxed Canvas Laptop Briefcase proves that the silhouette has evolved from the bulky pleather versions of the ’80s to ones that appeal to those with a more rugged sartorial sensibility.
Smythson Ludlow Slim Briefcase
Maybe you have a big work anniversary coming up, earned a handsome raise or just want to treat yourself to a damn nice work bag. Whatever the case, splurge on Smython’s Ludlow Slim Briefcase made from grained calf leather and consider it the only work bag you’ll ever need from now until retirement.
We've put in the work researching, reviewing and rounding up all the shirts, jackets, shoes and accessories you'll need this season, whether it's for yourself of for gifting purposes. Sign up here for weekly style inspo direct to your inbox.
Suggested for you