Top 5 Bag Styles for Men

February 15th, 2012

Choosing a man bag can be confusing and intimidating.

As with any element of style, the bag you carry should be functional and appropriate for your lifestyle and fit comfortably and naturally within your personal style.

Here, I broke down my five favorite styles of bags for men, in no particular order.

    1. The Briefcase

    If your lifestyle calls for you to carry a computer and/or documents, this is your best friend.

    For a casual business outfit I like a more rugged canvas briefcase. It looks just as good with a shirt and tie as it does with a sweater and jeans. The alternative is a messenger bag, which in my opinion is less convenient and looks more feminine.

    If your day-to-day is a little more corporate, go with a sharp leather briefcase that can keep up with your power suits. Like this one:

    • Aviator shades by Ralph Lauren Purple Label
    • Striped Rugby Shirt by Michael Bastian
    • Navy washed cotton shirt by Steven Alan
    • Brown donegal tweed suit trousers
    • Canvas briefcase by Filson
    • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker
    • Tan suede desert boots by John Varvatos

    2. The Medium-Sized Duffle



    For the gym-gooers to keep their gear.

    For the light packers who only carry-on.

    For anyone, like me, who lives in a big city and gets around all day without a car. It’s the trunk for us on the subway.



    3. The Tote

    For those who are hauling supplies – books, notepads, art stuff, camera equipment, ipods, lunch, etc.

    This style looks the most feminine of the bunch (especially in a smaller size) so I recommend sticking with a rugged fabric and wearing it in.

    I find myself grabbing this tote often because it’s so easy – I can throw anything and everything in one big compartment but keep items that need easy-access separate in the front pockets.

    It’s also nice that the handles are long enough to wear over the shoulder, as shown here:


      4. The Backpack

      For the casual guys, for the students, for the bike riders.

      Hands free, no fuss.


      • Beige linen cardigan by Club Monaco
      • Brown tank top by Hanes
      • Olive cargo pants by JBrand
      • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic
      • Tan chukkas by Scarpe di Bianco
      • Canvas backpack by Filson

      5. The Carry-On

      For the travelers.

      There is plenty of variety here. As with any style selection, you should find what works best for you.

      We are men. We are practicality-oriented and have specific preferences, especially when we travel.

      The most practical (and durable) luggage is a wheeled hardcase (like a classic Globe-Trotter, for example). It protects the shape of your merchandise and lightens the burden of carrying.

      I don’t know what it is, but I’ve never been a wheeled luggage guy. Maybe it’s because I’m a notoriously light packer (believe it or not), or maybe it’s from hauling so many bails of hay on the farm as a kid, or maybe it’s because I studied psychology… There is something much more optimistic and satisfying about packing only what I need and carrying it with me rather than packing everything I want and dragging it behind me.

      Nevertheless, this is about the biggest big I carry. I could pack for 2 weeks in this thing (it’s all about versatility), and any longer than that I would find a laundromat.

      Thanks, as always, for reading.

      Yours in style,

      Dan Trepanier


      Photography by Alex Crawford.

      • Canvas & Leather

        I like your collection of Filson bags. You certainly have the trifecta!

      • SilverFocks

        I’m disappointed with your implication that there’s something feminine about carrying a bag that’s smaller than a briefcase. What’s wrong with a man carrying a small bag with a masculine design? I don’t generally wear a coat or blazer, especially during warmer months, so all I usually have are my pants pockets to keep my wallet, phone, key ring, and anything else I might want to carry (e.g., pen, sunglasses, facial tissue, mints, meds, hand moisturizer, chap stick, pocket knife). I got tired of always stuffing my pockets — it’s uncomfortable and nobody looks good with bulging pockets. Since I don’t carry a computer, notebooks, or anything that requires a larger bag, I chose to use a small canvas crossbody bag (Tumi T-Tech Forge) for its rugged look and the utility it provides. Although I’m heterosexual, I don’t feel there’s anything feminine about carrying this bag…and I carry it with confidence.

      • Anke

        Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that.
        And he

        just bought me lunch as I found it for him smile So let
        me rephrase that:

        Thanks for lunch!

      • Grocery Shopping Bag

        First one, is cool for normal use. For travel, I liked the third one. It’s quite easy to handle, and it is not so big like the last red colored bag.

      • ian
      • elizabeth

        what brand is the luggage? Thx!

      • Mike

        What is the denim in the top picture for the tote page?

        • Dan Trepanier

          APC New Standard. Sorry, some of our featured items got lost when we transitioned the site.

      • Amit

        Awesomest collections!!! Loved them all!!!

      • safe fashion

        I love the style combination. Men will not getting hard time to choose what appropriate bag they should use that fits in their attire. Thanks to your great idea.

      • lane

        the variety in your style is second to none! Well done like always

      • Nesty

        I love your page…..everything that you are wearing its obviously amazing….from head to foot…..

        from mixed and match….for all seasons….

        looking forward for more…..and of course because your handsome..its plus factor…..

      • Wow.

        Mr. Styleblogger-

        Your use of the descriptor “feminine,” evidently in the pejorative, is striking. Care to consider how much of what you wear/how you wear it/how you insist on being photographed in it the general population considers feminine?

        Happy leap day,

        • Bag Hag

          Funny that in the post where SB claims the tote to be the most feminine of all the bags profiled, he links back to the post where he wears it over his shoulders and pairs it with a floppy felt hat.

          Throw in a Venti Starbucks cup and he could be the new Olsen.

          Always entertaining/inspiring to see the new fangled shit Dan comes up with, which is why this blog has been, and always will be a success. Keep it up SB.

      • Tim Hardy

        Really liked your article and the points you raise are at the forefront of my mind when I design my bags. Trouble is everyone has their own preferences which often leads to confusion on what to include or ignore but I like to think I get it right some of the time – hoping my soon to launch messenger bags in Saddle hide and Bridle leather will hit the spot? Tim Hardy

      • Jonno

        Where is the rugby shirt on the first pic ??

      • Kyle West

        My favorite bag sources (from affordable to splurge):
        (1) Ben Sherman
        (2) Ted Baker
        (3) Filson
        (4) Dunhill

      • Michael

        I remember your post when you went to China for business and packed light but how the heck do you pack light for a two week trip? For a very casual 2-week trip, I’m sure I could do it but if one requires dressier clothes, one would need a change of clothing. There’s only so far i can re-wear an item of clothing and I don’t want to have to do laundry during a trip.

      • Steven Ryans

        Loving the Ziptop briefcase from Frank Clegg! That guy makes some of the best bags in USA. Is that a Filson backpack? Awesome post.

      • Hallock

        The backpack should also be listed for, “The guy with back problems.” I love my Filson 257, but I can’t lug it both ways on a subway computer en-toe without pain in my lower back and shoulders.

        • Gary-A

          Filson 257 ev’ry day on the subway in Boston!

          I don’t pack more than a lunch, a good book, scarf/gloves, and a hat. Every once in a while a laptop, and I do ok. I think it’s funny that the bag is as heavy as the contents within. The price of durability though, right?

          I actually like travelling with a laptop/thick notebook in the bag. Prevents it from molding to my side like a messenger bag.

          Now, the 220 duffle bag… THAT’S the one I hate taking on the subway.

      • Ambyr

        That luggage is an beautiful. Such an awesome power color. I really like your briefcase looks too. Very business chic.

        Come by to see my shots from the Loden Dager Fall ’12 collection!

      • TO

        “There is something much more optimistic and satisfying about packing only what I need and carrying it with me rather than packing everything I want and dragging it behind me”

        Genius sh*t Dan. One of the coolest posts to date.

        Sidenote- didn’t realize you also had the Filson “zippered” tote. Picked it up over a year ago, thought I was being original! I guess we’re all SB copiers…haha.

      • Anonymous

        Great concept-post. Unfortunately my every-day activities require a lot of equipment. Which means that I don’t get to carry a briefcase very often.

        Do me the ‘Tote’ and the ‘Duffel’

      • Dan

        If I may ask, the brand and style of each of these bags? I picked up a brown duffel (similar to your post) from Brooks Brothers that I love for carry-on travel. It also features a slide-out handle and wheels (that are barely there).

        I went the canvas route for a while (think J.Crew Weekender), but I felt it was too casual for the biz world. I feel like all I see is Tumi, which is so bland, but the most conservative.

      • Patrick

        Great tips, thanks. A Filson amateur? ;-)

        What would you suggest in the 150-200$ range for a waxed canvas messenger bag?

      • Nathan

        Hi Dan, I’m interested to find out more about the “luggage” portion.
        Since we frequently travel to overseas for 2 weeks, just interested to find out how many and what kind of items realistically you’d take in your 2 weeks holiday, say, Japan during winter into to just one carry-on.


      • cam

        and a post within a post “1 piece/3 ways: Suede Chukka”. thanks dan!

      • Bosun Lewis

        The luggage bag is absolutely fantastic, looks extremely well crafted and the wine colour does well to contrast your suit.

        Always been a fan of backpacks, canvas/military ones are making waves over here on campus in the U.K

        Insightful post!!

      • Emanuel Iuhas

        My favourite is the first one!

      • Alex M.

        Loved the bag post! Especially loved seeing you carry Frank Clegg bags. He makes a hella bag. Dan you should definitely check out his new shrunken leather duffles … wow.

        Keep up the good work!

      • TJ

        Such a great variety of style!!

        Thx for reading? Thanks for writing!