Leather Satchels for Men

indy satchel leather strap

by Dave Johnson 


If you were like me as a kid, when you watched Indiana Jones for the first time, that was it. It was a movie that shaped my imagination, and nearly every playtime afterward became an adventure finding some artifact with supernatural powers. I remember a few years later looking at Indy and thinking about how cool he looked. I broke down the essential items that made him so cool: whip, pistol, fedora, crumpled shirt, and satchel. That summer I bought a high-quality leather whip—not the smartest long-term purchase. It’s not like I could use it for anything other than a Halloween costume. Today, though, when I look at Indy, the whip isn’t the crucial piece that screams at me. The hat, obviously—if you want to look exactly like Indiana Jones, you buy a brown fedora—exactly the reason I haven’t. But what also makes Indy so cool is his satchel.

History of Leather Satchels

Satchels have undergone an interesting history from their inception to today. Some of the earliest satchels were used by the Pony Express in the nineteenth century, who undoubtedly needed something durable to carry mail. That turned into the modern mail bag for postal workers. Some of these workers walked from door to door to deliver the mail, and today some postal workers still do, using their mailbags to carry the mail. Then in population dense, large cities, the satchel turned into the messenger bag used by bicycle couriers.

Satchels Have Simple Opening/Closing Mechanisms

What typically characterizes satchels is the simple opening. What makes a messenger bag different from a briefcase is that a messenger bag is more like an actual bag. It’s used to hold things but still get stuff in and out quickly. Messenger bags have very simple closures. Some messenger bags don’t have any closure at all, but a soft flap that flops over the opening. Others have a little more secure posting, either by magnets, leather straps affixed to posts, or quick-release clips.

It’s Not a Man Purse!

Even with the cool origins of the satchel—like, how cool is the Pony Express—over time, the notion of having a satchel as a personal bag fell out of favor with men who considered it a social taboo to be carrying a “man purse”. But the thing is, satchels aren’t purses. And purses aren’t satchels. I think part of the conflation of “man purse” and satchel came from the size of some satchels being too similar to a lady’s purse. Since satchels vary in size, if you get a small one, you might get a couple of “man purse” comments by some ball-busting friends of yours.

But it seems like the idea of the man purse is thankfully starting to disappear, maybe in part because of the expansion of the bag market in the last decade, which has convinced many men to start carrying a personal bag or briefcase on them.

How to Use a Satchel

Everyone has different needs when it comes to a bag, of course, and everyone will use a satchel or messenger bag in different ways, but I want to talk about a few ways that people like to use them. Maybe some of these ideas might resonate with you, and you’ll find that carrying a satchel is helpful.

EDC (Every Day Carry)

We all carry stuff on our person every day. A messenger bag is perfect for EDC items because of how easy it is to access everything. You might find that you can expand your EDC to more useful items that might be too heavy or cumbersome to put in your pockets. You can carry more with a satchel than you can in your pockets, and you can dramatically reduce your pocket bloat by simply putting most things in a bag.

Carrying Books

Now this a two-part suggestion. If you are a student who carries books around, I would suggest forgoing a bookbag in lieu of a messenger bag. For one, it’s a lot more stylish, guys. I’m not saying it will make ladies weak in the knees, but it might be a great conversation starter. And maybe more importantly, messenger bags are more durable than bookbags which inevitably tear up in six months, and it’s a lot easier to access your books with a messenger. Part two: I’m a bookworm and I always have been, so for me having a bag that holds a spare book or two is great, because if I’m ever bored, I can just pick up my book and read a few pages.

Using a Satchel for Work Stuff

Maybe the most boring of suggestions, but if you find yourself carrying a lot to work, just get a messenger bag and simplify. The messenger bag is great because the size is usually great for carrying paperwork and still has room to spare.

A Carryall

You’ll find that even if you don’t use a satchel daily, you’ll probably use one on a weekly basis, because they’re so useful. Anything you have that you need to tote somewhere, throw it in a satchel. And because of how durable they are, it’s a great way to transport things you want to stay not broken.


Jackson Wayne Leather Satchel & Messenger Bag


Of course, the first bag you should check out is the Jackson Wayne Messenger Bag. I personally think it’s perfect. It’s such a striking design that it gets a lot of attention from people. But it’s also an amazing practical bag. I love the pegged strap tie down that secures the opening, but is still easy to open and close. The grab handle on the back is a nice touch, out of the way, but convenient. Plus, this bag will be with you for a long time because of the top-quality leather, hardware, and construction. My son, who is six as of this post, loves it. He has told me frequently that he wants that bag when he gets older. So, it’s all his. I’m not even afraid of using this bag in the meantime, because I know this bag can take it, and it’ll look great doing so. So will yours.

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