Discover Satchel Bags

When it comes to over-the-shoulder bags, you can’t get more classic than a discover satchel. This venerable design first sprung from powerline workers’ bags in the 1950s, then was adapted for bicycle messengers and has been a staple of the fashion world ever since. Whether you want to channel your inner biker dude or just slap one on for a day at the office, satchels are a versatile option that look good with just about any outfit.

The satchels we reviewed here come in all shapes and sizes, from slim and minimal to roomy enough for an iPad or netbook and everything in between. They’re also designed to fit the tools of this era, which means most feature padded laptop sleeves and useful pockets for cords and tablets (because let’s face it, those are the new power tools). Our favorites include a range of sturdy materials including leather, waxed canvas, Cordura nylon, and even recycled plastic bottles. And they’re a lot more affordable than the vintage leather messengers of old.

One of our favorite picks is the Bellroy Via Work Bag, a surprisingly durable bag that’s a fine choice for the office, travel use and catching up on emails in your local cafe. The padded laptop pocket is large enough for a 13-inch tech device, and there are a wide variety of additional handy pockets that keep gear organized without adding bulk or distracting from the overall aesthetic of the bag.

Another good option is the Ally Capellino Kenny, a sturdy, understated discover satchel bags that’s crafted from lightweight, abrasion-resistant and water-resistant Cordura nylon. It’s a bit smaller than our top-rated pick, but it still has a great laptop pocket that’s large enough for a 13-inch device and plenty of other pockets to keep your gear organized. And the bag’s closure is a simple but innovative roll-top system that lets you close it with just a few quick motions and adjust it to the perfect length for your body.

A couple of things to consider when deciding which satchel is best for you: Style is not a metric in this review, but it’s important to remember that a satchel is a fashion statement as much as a utility bag. The discover satchel I tested has some rough edges and rugged hardware that makes it feel like a bag that was meant to be used. It’s a bag that wants to be personalized and abused, which is the kind of thing you want in a backpack.