A Guide to Man Bags

June 22nd, 2015

There are many, many styles of man bags out there to service your daily carry.

Here are five that we recommend as versatile, long-lasting investments for your commute to the office.

The Slim Brief

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Sleek and slim, for the man with appreciates a light commute. A laptop, a book, a magazine, a notepad, a pair of headphones, a place for his house keys, maybe a little energy bar for a long day. That’s all this man needs to make it from his office at home to his office at work.




Our choice online: the suede zip-top brief by Frank Clegg (Handmade in USA)

The Tall Tote

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For the man with a slightly heavier carry, and slightly more casual attire. The long-handled tote (preferably long enough to fit over the shoulder) is one of the more universal bags available for men. Its one large compartment is perfect for carrying just about anything, whether it’s a stack of books and a laptop, art supplies, a change of clothes for the gym, a coat for later is it gets cold, or perhaps all the accoutrements necessary for a day at the beach.




Our choice online: the zip-tote canvas tote by Filson (Made in USA)

The Grown-Up Backpack

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Even the classiest man has casual days, and for those, a sharp looking backpack is a perfect choice. For the bicycle commuter, the student, the gym buff, the outdoorsman, or any man who appreciates having both of his hands free as he moves about town.



Our choice online: canvas/leather rucksack by Filson (Made in USA)

 The Document Case

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For the super minimalist, modern man; the man who carries nothing but electronics. Store your laptop and/or ipad alongside your kindle and, if you’re feeling nostalgic, maybe even a pen and notepad in case something hits you and all your batteries are dead. Of course, you probably have just enough room for your chargers in there, too.




Our choice online: the zipper folio by Frank Clegg (Handmade in USA)

The Travel Duffle

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For the man with the big carry, or the man who might jaunt out for the weekend. The beauty of a hand-held duffle is that it’s large enough to use for a weekend getaway, but small enough to qualify as a carry-on. For the guy who is out and about all day and not sure where he might end up. A small duffle can simultaneously serve as a work bag, a gym bag, and an overnight bag. It’s always good to keep your options open.





Our choice online: the signature travel duffle by Frank Clegg (Handmade in USA)


Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford.

  • DMJM

    What ever happened to leather box briefcases? And can anyone direct me to somewhere where I can get a new one for less than £1000, people are charging a fortune for them these days. Much obliged

  • Zhenya

    Carrying my lunch is a big X factor for me. I’ve been in the market for a new everyday work bag for a while but still nothing that really sticks out. I carry grad school books, laptop, lunch. A slim brief doesn’t cut it but a duffle is way too much. Most messengers, like Alex said, aren’t my favorite either. Any suggestions? Prefer leather but canvas is fine too. Thanks!

  • Mondo Moda

    I’ve been using one for several months…..so far holding up nicely and gets a fair share of looks.

    • tommyjohn_45

      Thanks Mondo.

  • AdamE

    I have my leather Danier briefcase as my everyday bag for work. I keep a folder in there with a pad an pen, my work laptop, a few pens, a little pouch with my magnetic collar stays, some tie bars and cufflinks (since I usually get dressed for work at the gym in the morning, so I have whatever I might need in my briefcase), headphones and sunglasses, plus any other small items that i may need). As a weekender/gym bag, I have a Herschel bag in grey, with brown leather handles/detailing. I had one for a few years, but after a few zipper repairs, it finally kicked the bucket, so I grabbed the new version that also has a separate shoe pocket. It’s a great bag that I get regular compliments on. It’s attractive and hard wearing, but not so precious that I couldn’t chuck it in the overhead bins on a plane. I eventually might add a leather weekender to the arsenal, but no rush for that.

    I can’t get on the “grown-up backpack” bandwagon. I have backpacks, but they’re outdoor packs for hiking/biking but never with anything other than athletic attire.

    • TO

      If you rode a bicycle around or something you would want a backpack I suppose. Herschels look cheap and are branded though- doesn’t bother Ya AdamE?

  • TO

    One of the document case photos promted me as a reminder of a question I’ve been wanting to ask unrelated to bags- you’ve recommended cotton/linen blend tshirts in the past, can you advise any brands on the market currently that offer them?

    The lineup you have aquired in the header photo is mindboggling, that blue backpack is the shit- you’ve always taken bag recommendations to the next level and followed you’re own advise. Personally, right now I have a canvas offwhite/navy ‘small’ tote for work from Muji, a basic casual black backpack, casual navy duffle gym bag and casual small navy tote from Muji as well (hint: I love the value at Muji), a large tan filson duffle (one of the original recommendations from this site) and the Frank Clegg x Dan Trepanier beautiful brown leather backpack. Next I’ll be in the market for as this article described a ‘tall tote’.

  • Sergio Arteaga

    The bag I use for work is the Frank Clegg American Briefcase. It’s developed quite a beautiful patina.


  • Greg Haney

    Nice, leather for the win. Think it comes down to personal style though, I’m a huge fan of the rugged, do-anything adventure, Saddleback line. Taking a cross-country trip today and packed up my Classic Briefcase and the Side Pocket Duffel.

    • Greg Haney

      Bottom two bags. Top left is my Chestnut briefcase that I use at work (legal).

  • http://Keyboardandcompass.com/ Jeff McAllister

    I’m curious as to what @AlexCrawford1:disqus uses to lug around his cameras? Is there a more grown-up alternative to the classic field/style messenger bag?

    I personally use an ONA Astoria Messenger bag when in the field. It’s the best I’ve tried personally, although I’ve yet to try the Filson x Magnum bags. It would be cool to have a cleaner alternative for shooting more dressed-up events.

  • Shawn

    I’d give my left kidney (not the right one, tho) for a gator/croc Frank Clegg large duffle bag. Although I’m not sure I would like it to sit next to all the plebeian’s bag in the carry-on compartment of the airplane.. Of course, the day I get that kind of bag porn, I might as well fly first class! (just kidding! but it’s indeed a beautiful piece of leather!)

    For my daily, I opt for a messenger bag, made of vegetable-tanned leather and genuine Harris Tweed. Enough space to carry all my essential (and non-essential) gear.

    • tommyjohn_45

      what type of messenger bag?

      • Shawn

        I didn’t know there were ‘types’ of messenger bags. Unless of course you’re talking about brand, then it’s nothing special; a limited edition Fossil from last year. Wish I could’ve bought higher end, but couldn’t justify the premium prices!

  • http://www.jollybengali.net/ Malcolm

    Is a shoulder or messenger bag verboten then?

  • Esosa

    I alternate between a slim brief, the document case and the tall tote personally for me.. it gets the job done..what I really want next is a travel duffle..that joint is looking nice Dan! Let me kop that, lol

  • tommyjohn_45

    Anyone have any other suggestions on a quality (but less expensive) brief?

    • cam

      you didnt state the material but check out filson, jack spade and perhaps bb black fleece. cheers!

      • tommyjohn_45

        Thanks Cam… Yeah Filson has been on my watch list. Love the backpack especially. Would also like to have something a little more refined in leather or leather/canvas combo.

        • cam

          in that case, id go with jack spade. they have many wonderful and affordable options

          • tommyjohn_45

            Just got an email from them for 25% off too! They must have read your suggestion haha..

            Any baseball fans out there, check out Rawlings. They make some gorgeous bags. They’ve always been known for high quality leather gloves, and it looks like they put the same craftsmanship into their bags.

    • AdamE

      I got my briefcase (chocolate brown leather) from Danier, it was already marked down, with a boxing week sale lumped on top of it, so I got it for a steal. I’ve had it for around a year and a half now, of pretty much daily use, and it’s breaking in/holding up very nicely.