Briefcase vs Messenger Bags

It can be a bit confusing when it comes to deciding which bag you should take to work. After all, there are a lot of things to consider, such as your profession, work environment, what and how much stuff you will be putting inside it and what kind of image it will project of you. It’s part of your attire and will have an effect on others’ impression of you, it could be a slight or a significant impact, overall appearance matters; especially when it comes to first impressions.

Since you’ll need to choose the best option for yourself, in order to add a bit more clarity to your decision, we have compiled a list of some of the main differences between briefcases and messenger bags.

First, we’ll take a brief look with the help of the following chart, then later we’ll do a thorough comparison.

featuresBriefcaseMessenger Bag
Purpose/functionAre meant to be used to carry documents, or other slim tech devices . Will be used in formal settings such as in business meetings and boardrooms.Are intended to carry and protect personal items and devices, such as laptops, tablets and books. Will be used in many different settings; ranging from casual to professional 
MaterialsTypically have a hard protective shell made from leather, vinyl or sometimes plastic.Usually made from some kind of durable fabric such as nylon or canvas.
Storage capacitySince it is typically rigid in form and slim in shape, it is not possible to carry more than documents or flat objects.Since many messenger bags are traditionally made with soft fabric, they can expand to carry more items
Look and feelCan be sleek looking and has a traditional classic appearance.Offers a more modern and versatile appearance
Carrying styleUsually carried in hand or hooked on one shoulder worn straight.Most commonly worn diagonally across the body, or on one shoulder

What is a Briefcase?

A briefcase is a hard-sided luggage case used to carry important documents, such as papers or files. It has traditionally been carried by hand, but more recently is also sometimes available with a detachable strap with which it can be worn over the shoulder, leaving both hands free.

A briefcase originally gets its name from the type of document it was designed to carry. It was used to carry ‘briefs’, the type of document used by lawyers. It is now commonly used in all formal settings by businessmen and other professionals.

What is a Messenger Bag? 

A messenger bag is a fabric or leather bag that’s signature design is its long single strap and flap that covers the bag’s opening. The bag is worn across the body for convenience, as it was originally a bag for couriers, designed to allow them to have quick access to the posts inside, while riding a horse and later a bicycle. Modern messenger bags are more commonly used for everyday personal items, such as laptops, books, and papers.

Feature Comparison 1 – Materials

A briefcase is typically made from leather, vinyl, or even plastic. These materials are hard and sturdy, which helps in protecting the contents of the bag, such as important work documents/files or even tech devices nowadays. These materials make the bag more expensive and elegant looking, so they are most likely to be used in business or professional settings

A messenger bag is made from a durable, sometimes waterproof fabric such as nylon or canvas. These materials and overall build make the bag slightly more casual and lightweight than a briefcase, so it is more likely to be used in informal everyday settings.

Feature Comparison 2 – Which Carries More?

Since a briefcase is more structured and rigid, it is not able to hold as much. It can come with dividers and compartments meant to hold and organize specific slim items such as papers or a laptop, but it isn’t able to hold large or irregular-sized objects, so there is limited storage space.

A messenger bag, on the other hand, can hold more due to the lack of structure. It has no hard exterior and is usually made of soft fabric, so it can hold larger or irregular-sized objects. Like the briefcase, it also typically has one large compartment but some come with more sections and pockets to hold smaller items.

Feature Comparison 3 – Look & Feel

A briefcase usually comes in a slim, firm, rectangular-boxed design. It can look sleek and stylish and has more of a traditional and formal look. It will look good and compliment one well, if the person carrying it is wearing formal clothing, such as a business suit, but may end up looking out of place if worn with casual clothes.

A messenger bag has a more laid-back and modern appearance. It can come in a variety of styles, shapes, and designs. It is more suitable to wear with casual or semi-formal clothing, such as a shirt and jeans/pants, but can also look good with more formal clothes.

Feature Comparison 4 – Function/Purpose

A briefcase is made for business and professional use. It can hold important documents and tech devices such as a laptop, but it isn’t meant to hold as much and isn’t as casual in appearance either. It can symbolize or be associated with power and dominance in business meetings, for example.

A messenger bag is quite versatile. It’s somewhere in between a briefcase and a backpack on a scale from formal to informal. It has more space and can hold objects such as laptops, books, and even files. It can be used by either a student or a professional and still look casual and neat.

Feature Comparison 4 – How you carry it?

A briefcase is carried by the handle. This adds to the formal look, which may be an important factor for some people, but some now also come with a detachable shoulder strap, along with the handle, to be carried over the user’s shoulder.

A messenger bag is mostly carried over the shoulder by a strap, with the bag’s strap placed diagonally across the chest. This adds to its modern look but also keeps the bag very secure while allowing easy access to its contents. Additionally, the strap is typically adjustable, so the user can adjust it to their preference.

Conclusion: Briefcase vs Messenger Bag: Which One Should I Buy? 

When choosing which bag to purchase it is important to consider your needs and preferences. What activities will you be using the bag for? How much do you need to carry? Do these factors match your needs or preferences? Weigh up all the features and pros and cons of each bag before making a decision.

Whether you choose a briefcase or messenger bag depends on your personal taste and preferences, as well as your needs and everyday activities. You should consider all the factors we discussed above before making a choice.

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