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If you’re a guy who never carries a bag but wants to start, these are my top recommendations

I'm of the school of guys who never leaves home without a bag. Aside from the fact that the right bag serves as the perfect accessory or the cherry on top of a bomb fit, it's a practical way to keep all of your belongings in one place. Also, it keeps you from walking around with your hands swinging in the wind like a maniac.

While many guys agree that a bag is a must-have accessory for everyday life, many more want to incorporate a bag into their wardrobe but don't know where to start. If you fall within this group or just want a new bag to add to your collection, I've created this guide to help you pick from the best of the best.

To simplify your shopping experience, I've separated the 23 best bags for guys into five defining categories:

  • Tote bags

  • Backpacks

  • Crossbody and sling bags

  • Mini bags

  • Briefcases

I own, have tested or plan on purchasing all of the bags on this list, so they're 100% editor-approved. From the super affordable $22 Targus Classic Slim Briefcase Messenger Bag to the luxe, Scotchgrain Mulberry Mini Antony Uniform Eco bag, there's something here for everyone.

Take a look at each pick and category in more detail below.

Tote Bags

Tote bags, across the board, are the most common and gender-neutral of the bunch. From your standard inexpensive canvas tote for everyday use to a more polished and premium leather tote for targeted use when traveling or commuting to the office, there are so many different kinds to choose from.

Credit: Paravel, Baggu, Carl Friedrik
Credit: Paravel, Baggu, Carl Friedrik

What I personally love about tote bags, in particular, is that they’re the ideal carryall bag. Also, they’re among the most affordable while being the most practical for everyday use.

Some folks love a compartment-free tote like the popular and affordable L.L.Bean Boat and Tote. I prefer one with at least one inside compartment so there’s organization inside the bag when I’m on the go — just if I need to grab something quickly.

The Baggu Duck Bag is one of my favorites for this reason. It has a single inside compartment that’s easy to access. Plus, it’s super lightweight and comes in a bunch of different colors and patterns. For the same reason, I love the Bellroy Market Tote — plus, it fits a lot while remaining pretty compact.

When I’m going on vacation or heading to the beach, the Paravel Cabana Tote is my No. 1 go-to. It’s also arguably the most stunning bag in the bunch and is customizable. And if you’re looking for the best tote to pair with a suit or for work, the slim Carl Friedrik Anywhere Tote is the best pick.

Backpacks

I, admittedly, am not the biggest backpack fan, as they tend to look a bit juvenile when worn casually. However, I’ve found that those with minimal and more classic designs work with any look without adding that childish touch — and these all fit the bill perfectly.

Credit: Carl Friedrik, Dagne Dover, Troubadour
Credit: Carl Friedrik, Dagne Dover, Troubadour

When looking for an adult backpack for everyday use, try to find materials like leather, suede and neoprene, as they’re easy to clean and look super luxe and polished.

Backpacks are perfect for the guy who wants to carry more items but doesn’t want the strain of lugging them all around in a tote. My favorite right now is the Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack in the color camel (pictured above). It’s the perfect summer color, and since it’s neoprene, it’s super lightweight and quickly dries if it gets wet. This backpack also fits a 13-inch laptop easily.

If you’re looking for the perfect affordable, no-frills backpack, the Herschel Heritage Backpack is my No. 1 recommendation. It’s been a staple for years, and Herschel never disappoints in quality and durability.

If you’re willing to splurge on something more premium and versatile, the Troubadour Apex Backpack and the Carl Friedrik Day-to-Day Backpack are my top recs. The former’s made of lightweight waterproof fabric and fits up to a 17-inch laptop without looking bulky, thanks to its slim, tall frame. The latter is for leather lovers who need lots of space without the bulk.

It’s premium chrome-free nubuck leather and Vachetta leather. It’s collapsible and expandable depending on how much you plan to carry. Plus, it has padded mesh shoulder straps, making it the most comfortable commuter bag ever.

Crossbody and Sling Bags

Crossbody and sling bags are currently having a major resurgence, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. If you only like carrying essentials like your wallet, keys, phone and maybe some hand sanitizer, lotion and mints, this is definitely the best bag type for you.

Credit: Bellroy, Coach Outlet, Troubadour
Credit: Bellroy, Coach Outlet, Troubadour

This is the category I frequent the most as it’s hands-free, stays out of the way and adds a minor upgrade to your outfit without being over the top.

With festival and concert season in full swing, a crossbody bag is a must-have for keeping your things secure and close to your body — essential in a swarm of strangers. The Dagne Dover Micah Crossbody is my No. 1 pick. It’s roomy, lightweight, easy to clean and has lots of compartments inside to keep everything organized and easily accessible.

If you’re in the market for something under $35, you can’t go wrong with the Herschel Cruz Crossbody. It’s a bit smaller than the Micah Crossbody but has enough room to hold everything you need.

For those who want a designer crossbody at a wallet-friendly price, the Coach Sullivan Crossbody In Signature Chambray is my favorite. It’s easy to dress up or down and is one of the brand’s most popular bags, so it’s sure to go fast!

Need more space than a crossbody bag allows? A sling is your best bet. The best-selling Bellroy Sling and Troubadour Sling are my two favorites because they’re compartment-heavy inside but simple and sleek on the outside.

Mini Bags

Lastly, if smaller is better and you just want to carry the bare essentials — think your phone, wallet and keys only — a mini bag is just what you need.

These are the most lightweight, least bulky and some of the most fashion-forward of the bunch.

Credit: Rains, Dagne Dover, Mulberry
Credit: Rains, Dagne Dover, Mulberry

There are so many to choose from since brands now make men’s mini bags in different shapes, configurations, materials and colors.

If you’re planning on heading out in the rain and need a 100% waterproof mini bag that perfectly holds all of your essentials, the Rains Box Bag Micro is exactly what you need. For those who just want somewhere to store their phone with a couple of cleverly placed slots for cash and cards, the Dagne Dover Mara Phone Sling is my top recommendation.

The most luxurious and sustainable pick that’s sure to last you a lifetime (and then some), though, is the Mulberry Mini Antony Uniform Eco Scotchgrain (pictured in the top right). It comes in eight colors and has one main compartment, two credit card slips under the flap, an extra credit card slip at the back and an adjustable leather strap. This is, hands down, a bag you’ll be glad you bought years down the line.

Briefcases

Lastly, for those exclusively looking for the best bag to take on an in-person interview, to a corporate setting or just to your place of work, a briefcase is the best way to go.

Contrary to popular belief, briefcases aren't as stuffy and rigid as they once were — think less Mad Men and more Silicon Valley. While high-quality leather is still one of the main materials used to create today's more modern briefcases, they now have a much more relaxed, slim and approachable silhouette than they once did.

Credit: Troubadour, Carl Friedrik, Coach Outlet
Credit: Troubadour, Carl Friedrik, Coach Outlet

Also, briefcases aren't expensive across the board anymore. In fact, today, you'll find a quality briefcase that will last you years on end for under $25.

My personal favorite, though, is the Carl Friedrik Slim Leather Palissy Briefcase. It's hands down the most stunning leather investment piece you'll ever buy — and it's literally made to last a lifetime. Since it's made of vegetable-tanned Vachetta leather sourced from Tuscany, Italy, it develops a beautiful patina over time. It also handles day-to-day use with ease and always looks extremely polished with every outfit, no matter how casual or formal you go.

In celebration of Carl Friedrik's 10-year anniversary, the brand just released its best-selling Palissy Briefcase and Swanfield wallet in a new Naturalé leather color. It's such an exclusive limited release that only 200 were made!

If you're more accident-prone and want a bag that's more easy-breezy but still luxe, the Troubadour Pathfinder Slim Briefcase is my top recommendation. It's super lightweight, waterproof and keeps its contents completely dry, even if the bag gets soaked. It's also surprisingly roomy on the inside while remaining slim and trim on the outside.

And we can't talk about the best bags for guys without mentioning this designer best seller. The Coach Liam Compact Brief in Signature Canvas has a beautiful coated canvas and a natural smooth calf leather body with tons of pockets to store all of your things. Best of all, it's over 60% off for a limited time!

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