Scaramanga’s rough guide to men’s leather messenger bags, satchels and man bags

posted in: Leather Bags | 8
mens leather messenger bag
mens leather messenger bag

We get asked by a lot of people to make recommendations and give advice on the wide range of men’s leather bags we sell. So to help others we have put together ‘a rough guide to leather messenger bags, satchels and man bags’.
There are almost as many names for fashionable leather bags as there are uses for them.
We’ve heard them called: messenger bags, courier bags, despatch bags, man bags, reporter bags, satchels (matchels) and man bags.
Before we go any further we’d better explain exactly what a man bag is.
Simply derived from ‘man’ and ‘handbag’, they’re fashionable bags for men (but girls use them too) that combine style – e.g. a vintage worn leather look – with function.
Technically a briefcase is a man bag; in the current sense of the term man bag refers to a less formal men’s shoulder bag such as a messenger bag, courier bag, satchel or despatch bag.
They are more casual than briefcases, but far more stylish than a scruffy canvas rucksack.
Of course they’re nothing new. Here in the UK, not that long ago, no discerning gentleman would not have been seen without a leather Gladstone bag.

Leather satchel
Leather satchel

Remember Indiana Jones’ or Chewbaca’s satchels?
Man bags have become more popular in the last few years mainly due to the fact we’re carrying more stuff around with us today and bulging pockets just don’t look right.

How to choose your bag

Think about what it’s going to be used for.
It’s no longer a simple case of small bags for women; large bags for men.
Is it going to be used for carrying a few items like your mobile / blackberry, I-pod, PDA, filofax, compact digital camera and keys?
If so then a smaller messenger bag or satchel is best. They’re also more practical for travelling on crowded public transport.
Laptops, A4 folders and files, books and magazines would need a larger bag, but the larger the bag the more likely you are to fill it and the heavier it gets!
We always recommend using a proitective sleeve such as those sold by Belkin.
If in doubt opt for the middle option: a medium sized bag.
If you have a lot of things to carry and you are super organised then lots of pockets and compartments are essential.
Generally you will end up putting more into your new bag than anticipated so allow extra space.

What do you want it to look like?
Long. Wide. Satchel.
Long bags are deep, hang lower and are ideal for A4 files and paperwork. Wide bags are more popular and look more like the iconic cycle messenger bags.
With their straps and buckles satchels have that retro old school look and feel to them, although safer, they need a little more effort to get into.
Top tip: if you like satchels and their buckles, but think they’re too cumbersome to fasten and unfasten, just wear it with the buckles unfastened.

Without a doubt leather looks best and is hardwearing. A tan leather messenger bag will soften a little and taken on a slightly darker worn look and feel.
Many tan leather bags are made with distressed or vintage leather, so you don’t have to wait five years for the bag to look like that vintage leather bag you really wanted from day one.
Though canvas messenger bags may be light and foldable they don’t really hold their own shape and sometimes trying to get something out of them can seem like a luck dip.
They may be water resistant, but do you really want to look like you’re just about to trek through the jungles of Borneo?
Designer or high street?
Well if you’re loaded and have between £250 – £500 to spend opt for a Mulberry, Paul Smith, Bally, Prada or Gucci bag.
Or for between and £45 and £100 you can buy a vintage styled leather messenger bag or retro leather satchel online or on the high street.
Get going!
So now it’s time to give in and get yourself a leather messenger bag or leather satchel or leather man bag. Click here to see our range of leather bags.
If you’re still not convinced below are some of the hundreds of reviews, views, tips and words of advice left by many of our happy customers over the last year. More can be seen listed under each of our leather bags.

A brief history of the man bag
Man bags have become more popular in the last few years mainly due to the fact we’re carrying more stuff around with us today and bulging pockets just don’t look right.
Man bags have a definite manly history. Many a British explorer would have kept their personal belongings in a manly leather satchel, African hunters have used a leather shoulder bag to keep their weapons and store their catch. More recently cycle couriers, messengers and thousands of postmen continue to use them today as well as fishermen.
They’re just as utilitarian and but with a little more style to them.

Chewbaca with his shoulder bag
Chewbaca with his shoulder bag
Indiana-Jones and his messenger bag
Indiana-Jones and his messenger bag

We have a range of over eighteen leather messenger bags, leather satchels, leather man bags, courier bags and leather travel bags available in up to four sizes at our website.
For more help and advice contact the Scaramanga team.
E-mail them at: or
Call them on 0845 2 591158

8 Responses

  1. Erich Noordhoff

    The bags here are great, and I’ll be ordering one before I go back to Canada in July, quick geek note though, Indiana Jones had a canvas World War II era (1942-1944) British Gas Mask bag. I in fact have one (the Mk VI) and it is my current daily use ‘man’ bag. It is from 1942 and is strong as can be. I’m looking for a leather bag to hold my macbook pro 15.4 or when its not in there a Canon digital SLR

    Great website by the way, and excellent pricing!

  2. Hi Erich – thanks for your reply.

  3. I’ve just received a medium Overlander bag and it looks great, even better than shown on the website. However I would like to know how to take care of it. How do I have to clean the leather? I’m looking to order several bags of different sizes…

  4. Thanks for spending some time to put this interesting material together. I am going to definately bookmark your blog to keep coming back again. Continue the very good work

  5. Hi Scaramanga
    received satchel its just GREAT so thrilled with it cant wait to show it off to friends & family so will be passing on your company name Yaaaah! It is going to be so admired,will be useing it on my travels & when visiting the Fringe this year it will be with me. O yes a question how do I clean it?.
    jane Crouch

  6. Hi Jane, just use a slightly damp cloth. We do not recommend using ‘leather cleaners’ as we do not know how they may react with the leather. Please conatct us if there is something specific on the leather bag. Scaramanga

  7. I use ‘Renpur’ (some kind of bees wax compound, very soft and you apply with a sponge and leave it on) on my Scaramanga (I have the large wide sachel) and it brings it up a treat. The back is stained a bit from my jeans, but this just adds to the character and doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
    I’ve no idea how long I’ve had it, at least a year if not more and is ageing wonderfully!
    My only critisism is that its perhaps a little big for my everyday needs, but I use it daily non the less.
    I have a freind who really likes the bag but wants one that is chocolate brown which as yet you’ve not had on your website.
    Still, it does means I don’t have freinds running around wearing my sacred bag!

  8. williams

    Hi ,
    first of all i really got to say , u guys sure have tons of nice vintage leather bag that exactly i looking for .
    do you have any website that i can access and maybe buying some bag from you .
    please plase get back to me asap because i so in love in leather bag .
    get back me at


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