The Best Men’s Bags for Work, Travel and the Gym

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Whether you’re heading to work, the gym, or are lucky enough to be having a weekend away, you’re going to need a bag to hold all your essentials. Check out our guide to help you figure out which style you’re best suited to.

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Gone are the teenage days when your essentials consisted of a wallet and a phone, making your jeans pockets a perfectly viable place to store them. Now you need to transport your laptop, gym trainers, snacks and a whole bunch of other stuff that’s somehow become a necessity.

The list of bags is pretty endless; satchels, duffle bags, backpacks, rucksacks, briefcases and weekenders, to name a few. Each style serves a different purpose, and some are pretty multifunctional. Our guide will help you figure out which ones you can take to work and which ones are better left in the changing rooms at the gym.

Work Bags

The Satchel

A work bag for men is the most obvious choice for an office job and unless all your colleagues are rocking a briefcase, a satchel is a pretty safe bet. They’re like the less-serious younger brother of the briefcase (without The Inbetweeners quote that goes with it). Satchels have seen a huge resurgence over the past few years and that’s partly due to high-end brands like Louis Vuitton, YSL and Goyard reinterpreting them for the 21st Century. The satchel can act as one of the best briefcases for men.

It’s almost impossible to mess up the satchel-and-suit look; as long as you haven’t got it swinging about by your knees, you’ve probably nailed it. They’re also the perfect size and shape to fit a laptop or tablet, a diary, and a few choice snacks and grooming products. The distinctive flap and buckles will also help to keep all your belongings secure. A satchel is also one of the most popular man bags out there too.

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The Cambridge Satchel Company satchel
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

The Messenger Bag

Messenger bags are more varied in their appearance. The traditional across-the-body style is pretty similar to a satchel; it offers a little more padding and flexibility when you’re trying to fill it to the brim and is also a little less formal.

This makes it the perfect option if you’re cycling to work and need something more weather-proof and durable. Then comes the messenger bag in backpack form. Wearing a backpack over your suit is no longer a cardinal sin; instead, it’s a pretty sophisticated option.

If you’re looking for a little more functionality and luxury with your messenger bag then we’d recommend Sandqvist or Velomacchi. The Later offers a watertight, versatile pack that carries your load close to your center of gravity and distributes the weight off of your shoulders allowing for a more aggressive riding style. This bag was designed to carry a computer or tablet for extreme commuting during the week and swap for a hydration system to explore the trails on the weekend. Or go for Sandqvist minimalistic style meets high quality materials to create a fantastic product. Prices start at £104 and go up to £270. Don’t be put off by the price though as it will definitely last you for a few years.

Commuter with a Velomacchi Speedway backpack
Commuter with a Velomacchi Speedway backpack

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The Backpack

This is undoubtedly the most practical choice if you’re commuting to university every day. There’s a huge range available, from the stylish to the purely functional. If you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb in a crowded train station, then something black is your best bet.

This design from Eastpak and Sandqvist combines all the necessary functions, including a fleece-lined laptop sleeve, with an urban style that won’t leave you looking like you’re off for a trek in the Andes. If you want to indulge in some prints or bright colours, this leather Eastpak backpack is perfect for the every day and has a handy laptop sleeve hidden within it, meaning you can hide your laptop. Nifty, right?

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A man with a black backpack
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Travel Bags

The Weekender

Sometimes style has to come before practicality. If the thought of slipping the overly-padded straps of a backpack on to your shoulders makes you shiver, then a weekender might be more to your taste. A men’s weekender bag is one of the best bags for travelling.

Men’s weekender bags are sophisticated in appearance and roomy enough to hold everything you’d need for a mini-break. Travel bags for men designs like these from Rains and Herschel, ranging between £59-£74, are water-resistant and fully lined to ensure maximum protection for your belongings. If you’re heading out of town for a few days then these have just the right amount of space for the essentials without being too bulky.

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A leather duffel bag
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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The Duffle Bag

The words ‘duffle bag’ might bring back nightmare-ish memories of school camps, but there are plenty of stylish and practical options available that make them the ideal bag for travel. They are as spacious as a weekender but slightly more casual, making them a good choice for a stag do or a weekend getaway with friends. In terms of comfort, these are some of the best travel bags out there.

Brands like The North Face and Porter & Yoshida for these simple yet effective designs. They have more than enough space for your weekend essentials and can provide you with all the space you’ll need for a weekend away. Our own range bags are just as effective as well! The lower price point is something we pride ourselves on but we don’t compromise on quality. Starting at just £20, we can guarantee that you won’t find a better quality bag for the price.

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A man carrying a duffle bag
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Gym Bags

When it comes to picking a bag for the gym, you’re going to want something that’s going to be able to hold a decent amount of space. You’ll need to be able to pack your gym gear, shoes, protein shaker and towel and that’s not easy to fit in a little bag. There are plenty of gym bags for men out there, so we’ve narrowed down what you need to be looking for.

Thankfully, the gym is the one place where no one really looks at your bag (it’s more your form they’re looking at!) so you don’t have to break the bank for this. A simple duffel bag, backpack or even a holdall will suffice for your session. Brands like Herschel, Fjallraven and our own label will make sure that you’ve got all the space in the world for your gym trips. You could also try to get yourself a sports holdall with a shoe compartment for extra space and functionality.

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Man putting trainers into a sports bag
PHOTO CREDIT: Business Insider

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The Best Men’s Bags for Work, Travel and the Gym

Now that you know what’s available, here’s a few tips for choosing which one to go for.

  • Keep your usual style and colour palette in mind – it’s important to choose something that will easily fit in with most of your outfits.
  • Bear in mind how much room you’re going to need – don’t be tempted by something small if you’re going to have to stuff it to the brim.
  • Don’t ruin your clothes – if you’re going to be wearing a suit with your backpack, look for one that’s got a hand strap to as this will help you to avoid creasing your suit at the shoulders.
  • Plan ahead – if you’re going to be on your feet a lot, a backpack or bag with a shoulder bag will be more comfortable to transport than something handheld.
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A man wearing a rucksack
PHOTO CREDIT: The Idle Man

On That Note

You now know which sort of bag will suit your needs; whether you just want something that will complement your suit, or you need something with as many compartments as possible. A lot of styles are versatile enough to be worn for all purposes, so don’t be afraid to mix it up; as long as you don’t try and take your briefcase to the gym, you’ll be alright. Investing in something high-quality will benefit you in the long run, you don’t want to get caught out by a broken strap whilst doing the daily commute. Now go and grab yourself a bag… and never, ever, refer to it as a ‘man bag’. Above we have outlined the best men’s fashion bags for you so you don’t have to go to the effort of trying to find one.

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