Messenger Bag Reviews

Don’t Kill the Messenger

While the various iPads have never been heavy and keep getting thinner and lighter every year, that’s no reason to have to carry them by hand. Besides, with all the essential and just plain neat accessories we have to carry with our tablets, a good bag is a great investment.

Messenger bags are especially good because they are small and easy to take anywhere. Since our modern mobile stuff is so small you don’t need a bulky laptop bag or briefcase.

My daily driver bag would barely fit an ultrabook, but I have my Air 2, Apple keyboard, power bank, and wall charger all in one place. So whether on the bus or in a coffee shop, you will always have a fashionable and convenient way to keep everything together.

I’ve put together the most popular tablet bag choices and stuck my favorites at the top. The rest, well, the order doesn’t matter.

So let’s get this article in the bag.

Top Pick: SOLO New York Ludlow Tablet Sling Tote

I personally am a big fan of simplicity. I expect that most people who are fans of Apple products also share that sentiment, which is why this sling bag by Solo New York caught my eye. It’s specifically designed to house a tablet up to the 12.9″ that the iPad Pro comes in.

The profile of the bag is razor sharp, with two pockets on the front of the main compartment. It’s padded to protect the tablet inside and is made of polyester. The bag really is very slim, yet offers a substantial amount of space for modern tech people to carry around. You could easily fit your entire Apple life in this bag – an iPhone, iPad or similarly-sized MacBook and AirPod, a wallet, and a few cables and chargers.

For me, this is almost the perfect daily bag. It looks great, doesn’t get in the way, and has a spot for everything I might want to carry with me. If you’re the type who travels light, it’s hard to think of a reason to spend more than this, unless you want materials that are more exotic and more expensive.

The Cheap Champ: AmazonBasics iPad Air and Netbook Bag

This is about as basic as a tablet bag can get. There is no shoulder strap in sight here and only a handle to help you carry it around. Honestly I’m not too sure what the point of a tablet bag like this actually is. Unless you carry your iPad around sans any sort of cover or case. Hey I’m not judging.

Let’s look at the bag on its own merits though. It has only two compartments. The main compartment is where your tablet goes and the other front compartment is where your cables and other accessories go.

The whole thing is neoprene, which should give quite a bit of protection to something as light as an iPad Air. It also is weather resistant, which means it does make sense if you sometimes have to take a walk in the rain to the bus or something.

One thing I don’t know if I love or hate is the bright Amazon orange inside. It makes the case look like the inside of a muppet’s mouth. This quirk is surprising in an otherwise very businesslike product.

My verdict? At only about 10 bucks this is actually a pretty nice product. If you use your iPad in a way that makes you OK with not having a case, and you don’t have any other hand luggage, this is an affordable and convenient way to take it from point A to B.

Best Paranoid Choice: Pelican Products ProGear Elite U140

Are you the overkill type? Do you drive a Hummer and wear camo in the suburbs? Well, this may be just the right tablet bag for you sir, madam, or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Well, I can’t say much for the looks of this bag, the whole army surplus thing isn’t really my first choice. Still, maybe this is a case of form over function, which I can respect.

This Pelican Progear Elite is watertight and crushproof. It has a quick-access top-loading design. The front plate is rigid, we are told, and our poor backs will be caressed by and ergonomic s-curve.

OK, in all seriousness, although this is a pretty over-designed bag I think anyone who takes a bicycle to work or school or somehow exposes themselves to the outside world could actually justify this bag. At about 75 bucks RRP it’s actually not that expensive for what it is. If you need to have impact protection this seems like a reasonable choice. Or maybe you just think it looks cool. Hey man, whatever makes you happy.

Solo Urban Universal Tablet Sling

Oh, I’m the king of the slingers – the urban VIP. I’ve reached the top and had to … stop; just stop.

Right, I actually like the design of this bag. It looks very smart, although it is basically just a tablet sleeve with some compartments sewn to the front. I’m not a big fan of backpacks though, unless I need to carry a lot of stuff. In this day and age your electronics don’t need that, so compact shoulder bags are convenient to carry around an office building or any other urban environment. Nothing sucks like navigating subway crowds or college turnstiles with a backpack.

This bag is padded and can support tablets up to 11” in size, so you iPad Pro people can look elsewhere. There are also two zippered sections up front so you can put your phone, cables, glasses and other small items in there. There really isn’t much more to say about the Solo. It’s affordable and more practical than the AmazonBasics iPad bag, which only has a handle. I think it is a great middle ground between that and a full-on shoulder bag.

It’s also pretty neat that this bag comes with a five year warranty. This is definitely something that I would buy with my own money.

SumacLife Cady 12.9-inch Tablet Bag for Apple iPad Pro

Yes, I can read. I know this is a cheap bag for an expensive tablet. However, this is one of the few 12-inch tablet bags I have seen, and now that Apple has a 12-inch tablet this may be a necessity for some. Until the iPad Pro 12.9-inch gets even more purpose-made bags, we will have to settle for this.

I think this bag looks pretty stylish. It also has plenty of storage compartments and takes advantage of the extra real estate a 12” tablet provides. There’s plenty of space for all sorts of accessories and even your phone. I don’t like the fact that the other stuff in the inner compartment can apparently come in contact with the tablet itself, but I guess if you pack it right there isn’t anything to worry about.

The exterior has a sort of faux leather finish and a hard shell. It’s no Pelican Products tank, but it will protect your stuff against minor daily bumps.

If you have a 12-inch tablet then this is a product worth looking at, if only because your options are a bit limited. If you have something a bit more average in size (there’s no shame in that, people) then I suggest you look elsewhere for now.

Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag

While there are many parts of the world where crime is a rarity, plenty of people need to move through spaces where they may be targeted for theft. While you might be able to replace a stolen iPad or Macbook, albeit at some expensive and inconvenience, the information on that tablet may be irreplaceable – which is why prevention is better than the cure.

If you travel the world or live in a place where theft is rife, then this anti-theft bag from Travelon might be the answer. It uses innovative locks to make it hard for pickpockets to loot your bag. It has special RFID blocking slots, so that you can stop high-tech crooks from skimming your cards. It comes with an LED light, which can be removed; it has slash-resistant straps and body material to prevent pickpockets from surreptitiously cutting your bag open without your noticing.

At the same time, the bag manages to look OK. It’s not very stylish, in my opinion, but in some situations small sacrifices have to be made. The biggest issue is size. iPad Airs seem to fit with slim cases, 12.9″ iPads are right out, and an iPad Mini would obviously be just fine. Measure your tablet in its case to make sure it fits, but otherwise this is a great bag for the security conscious.

Men’s Genuine Leather Small Briefcase Messenger Satchel

There was a time when men were real men, women were real women, and bags were real leather.

These days it is all synthetic stuff. This bag is made from real goat leather, and while the goat itself was probably not thrilled by this fact, this is a very pleasing bag from both a material and design perspective.

The inside is lined with canvas and there are three partitions. There is also a zippered full-size pocket on the inside and a quick access pocket on the outside. The strap is adjustable and the goat leather is by all accounts very soft.

Leather bags like this are meant to age and they usually last quite a long time. The price of under $50 is very reasonable for a leather product, and unless you have friends in PETA then you should at least think about it.

The proof is in the pudding though, since at this price I actually expect fairly serious problems with a leather bag. It turns out that this is not the case, however. The bags have some uneven stitching here and there, but are solid with lovely brass fittings. If you like stuff a little hipster or retro or just appreciate a good handmade leather product, then this is a very interesting choice. At this price I really feel like I am robbing someone.

Bagged and Tagged

A good bag is the sign of a civilized human being who wants to keep their hands free for important stuff like art and poetry. Hopefully the bag that does that for you will be found on this page. Next time when you can hold a quarter-pounder and a soda, remember where you found the bag that made it possible.