Shoulder bag vs messenger bag, both bags are good but which is better?

It’s important to stress that while some may choose one over the other, the reasons behind their preferences are very relative as what one likes may not be ideal for his neighbor.

Let’s look at the different features of both bags, what they can be used for and how to best rock them.

A look at these two bag types might just be the help you need to make the best bag choice for you.


shoulder bag vs messenger bag

There isn’t much difference between a shoulder bag and a messenger bag. This is because while shoulder bags are considered bags with long straps that can be slung on the shoulders by both men and women, messenger bags are also bags that can be worn the same way.

The smaller-sized messenger bags can easily fall into the category of sling bags because these bags are easily slung on the shoulders or worn diagonally across the chest as crossbody bags.


Messenger bags can be called shoulder bags. This is because shoulder bags are bags that can be carried by slinging the straps on one’s shoulders.


There’s not much difference between a shoulder bag and a crossbody bag but they differ slightly. However, both can be used interchangeably depending on the length of the straps.

Shoulder bags with short straps may easily pass as handbags while shoulder bags with long straps can be crossed across the body as crossbody bags.


Big Shoulder Bag

You can choose to call a bag designed to be worn on the shoulder a shoulder bag or a handbag. These are the general names they are known for.

There are many who don’t see shoulder bags as any other thing apart from handbags.

However, it’s best to go with the generally accepted name so that people can easily identify what you are referring to.


Any bag with straps that can easily be hung on the shoulder can be considered a shoulder bag.

Shoulder bags as their names imply are to be carried on the shoulders just as belt bags are designed to be strapped round the waist or belt line.


The difference between the two lies in the size. While purses are generally known to be handless bags that usually come in small sizes and are a bit bigger than wallets, messenger bags are generally known to be big bags with long straps that can be worn as crossbody bags or as sling bags.


messenger bag vs backpack

Find below the differences between messenger bags and backpacks;

Single straps.Double straps.
Can be worn like a backpack.Can hardly be worn like messenger bags.
Comes with fewer compartments.Comes with more compartments.
Can easily be worn as crossbody bags.Can hardly be worn as crossbody bags.
Designed with fewer loops.Designed with more loops.

Nevertheless, messenger bags and backpacks do have some similarities, they are; messenger and backpacks can both be used for travel and work.

Messenger bags and backpacks can both be used by students, men and women are included.


Why are some messenger bags designed with materials that are waterproof?

waterproof waxed canvas messenger bag for men

This is because of the nature of what these bags are used for. One can’t call them fancy bags that are carried around only on very special occasions.

They are bags we use on a day-to-day basis. Vendors use them all the time, it’s easy to exchange items at the marketplace with your messenger bags slinging towards your left waist or your right waist.

Bicycle riders use them all the time. Delivery agents use them to run errands under the snow, rain, or whatever harsh weather comes their way, so why not design in materials tough enough to withstand harsh weather?


The word best is very relative in the sense that what Frankie might consider as best could be what Meg will term a nightmare. What am I saying in essence?

Individual choices play a major role in defining what they see as good, better, best, or worse. In other words, there are no messenger bags generally considered the best for everyone.

Let’s look at it from this angle, there are a few things you could look out for in a messenger bag if you are interested in optimizing your comfort while carrying around your bag.

What are these things? Let’s see them below.

Strap length: very short straps can be more difficult to carry than longer straps unless there are other tweaks done to the bag to make it more comfortable even with shorter straps.

Strap width: Bold and padded straps are good for the shoulders. Thin straps when overloaded with heavy-weight items can bite into your shoulders and cause you gross discomfort.

Bag durability: Check out how durable the material used in producing the bag is. Recommended materials are, waterproof, Cordura, polyester, and leather.

Color: Bags with versatile colors can easily be used as messenger bags. Imagine carrying a pink bag everywhere you go and every day of the week. While this might be very ideal for some, it may not be the same for all.

Bag size: Check the size of the bag in relation to what you want to use it for. If it’s for office purposes, it should be big enough to contain your laptop alongside other work gadgets.


Why will you choose a messenger bag over a backpack while embarking on a journey? Let’s see some reasons why you would either choose a backpack or a messenger bag for travel.

Backpacks Over Messenger Bags:

Backpack for travel

Bag size:

Backpacks are naturally bigger than messenger bags, there are still small-sized fancy backpacks that can’t even contain a notebook by design but let’s stick to the big-sized backpacks.

Backpacks are more spacious with more compartments than regular messenger bags. You can fill up the inner space and still be left with some more room at the stomach area of your backpack and even at the sides.

If it’s a backpacking trip, there are very big backpacks specially designed to contain your sleeping bags and your tent alongside your blankets and other items you would be needing.


Backpacks are hands-free and very convenient for traveling.

Quick stops to grab a bite at an inn or cafe will not necessarily need you to start panicking about the safety of the items in your bag.

You can easily sling the bag on your back and head out to get whatever you need to get without worrying about how to carry your backpack together with what you’ve gotten.

Travel Duration:

If you are embarking on a semi-long journey backpacks are a better option because of their sizes and multiple compartments.

You can pack up everything you will be needing without having to worry about space.


The materials used in making backpacks range from mesh, nylon, canvas, strong leather, and cotton. These materials can stand the test of time.


Even though backpacks are designed to carry heavy-weight items, there are special ultra-lightweight bags that can leave you comfortable till you remove them.

Their broad double and padded straps are designed to make you as comfortable as you will want to be.

Messenger bags over backpacks for travel:

messenger bag for travel


Messenger bags are generally designed to have single, long and broad straps that can be worn as crossbody bags. This way, the pressure is not concentrated on one arm.


If you are making a short-term travel and you won’t be needing many items, then there’s no need to go with something bulky. It’s easier to sling the bag across your chest and go your way.


The bags are made of soft fabrics that even though they are soft can withstand harsh weather conditions. There are Messenger bags that are designed with materials that are at least 80 percent waterproof.


If your trip is a one-day business trip and you don’t want to go along with so many items, it’s easy to use your travel messenger bag for the office after you’ve unpacked and refreshed.


You can freestyle with your messenger bag while traveling and people may not necessarily know that you are traveling anywhere.

The squeezed faces and ruffled shirts that usually accompany heavy luggage can’t be your portion.


There are varied and valid reasons why one will either prefer a backpack to a messenger bag for work and vice versa.

Some of these reasons could be, the nature of one’s work, taste, most preferred dress pattern, and the bag design amongst many others.

messenger bag for work

If for some reason one’s work warrants him to carry numerous large files, several tabs, and laptops from one place to the other, probably because he’s either a lawyer or a tech guru, then he can be seen carrying a backpack on a regular basis.

On the other hand, if your work requires that you carry fewer items as all you need is usually locked up in the confines of your drawer after work hours, you can easily sling a messenger bag on your shoulders daily.

backpack for work

How about taste? What if you just do not fancy backpacks for some unknown reason? Most definitely you will choose messenger bags over backpacks for work a hundred times over.

Let’s say the design of the messenger bags gives you more comfort, because you normally have to jump buses and trains daily on your way to work and sitting with something constantly bulging out behind you ain’t a good option and having to adjust the bag each time you want to sit or stand seems like too much of a big deal, then messenger bags will be your next option.


There are a wide variety of factors that shape people’s perceptions and choices.

While taste can be considered a valid reason why people make varying degrees of choices, there are many others who would choose a bag type over another not because of anything relating to taste or any of the other earlier mentioned reasons but because they simply have to choose something.

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