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A Guide To Work
& Commuting Bags

Whatever type of job you do, it’s more than likely that when you head to work there are a few essentials you need to carry with you. The events of recent years have certainly seen some changes to the way many people work. But whether you go into the office a couple of times a week, or are an essential worker who heads out every day, it’s important that you can carry everything you need safely, securely and in style.

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A good bag keeps your devices, documents, snacks and everything else organised and allows you to carry around all the essentials you need for the day with ease. 

And whether your commute involves cycling, walking, driving or catching a train - the right bag should provide all the protection, comfort and storage you require, as well as being something you can rely on to stand up to daily use.

Read on to discover how to choose the type, features, style, and materials that are right for you.

What Features Do I Need For A Work Bag?

A well-designed work bag can handle whatever you throw at it without sacrificing style or comfort. Here are some features that you should look out for when purchasing your next work bag:

Multiple Compartments

Many work bags only have one large compartment designed to fit all your stuff. This might be convenient, but it can also lead to chaos and cause you to misplace items. The best way around this is to get a work bag with multiple compartments so that you can keep different things separate and untangled. Look for a work bag with dividers and pockets of different shapes and sizes to keep your keys, identification cards, and other small accessories organised and within easy reach.

Water Bottle Pocket

Whether you want to stay hydrated during your commute, or like to take a bottle with you to use at work, a dedicated water bottle storage solution on your work bag is a feature well worth looking out for. Providing easy access when you need it, and helping to protect the contents of your back fro a soaking should your bottle leak in transit, many bags include a place to store your bottle on the outside and include straps to keep it secure.

Specialised Laptop & Tech Storage

If you’re using a bag for work then you need to think about the items you’ll be carrying on a daily basis. A lot of bags offer convenient areas designed specifically for certain items. For example, if you regularly carry a laptop or tablet with you, it’s worth choosing a bag with a dedicated internal laptop compartment. This provides a padded area to keep your device safe, secure and easily accessible.

Padded Bottom And Sides

Quality padding protects your gear from getting damaged. If you’re using your work bag to commute on trains or buses, then it’s worth looking for a model that offers enough padding to keep everything protected when you put it down on the floor or in a luggage hold.

Adjustable Carrying Straps

Most backpacks and messenger bags come with adjustable carrying straps that are padded for maximum comfort. Some of the best feature an ergonomic design to help distribute the weight of your bag evenly across your back and shoulders. Whatever bag you go for, it’s worth choosing one with high levels of adjustability so you can ensure a comfortable fit, particularly when wearing for extended periods.

Ventilated Back Panel

If you’re opting for a backpack for work use, take a look at the back panel closely. A feature found on most technical packs, back panel ventilation helps to keep your back cool so that you don’t end up hot and sweaty when on the move. Particularly if you’re commuting in summer, this can help to prevent a build up of warm air between the bag and your body so that you don’t turn up for work with unsightly sweat marks on the back of your shirt.

Durability & Weather Resistance

The last thing you want is to get to work only to find the contents of your back are soaking wet because you’re been travelling in the rain. While no bag is going to be 100% waterproof, a good work back should be made from materials with some degree of weather resistance that will keep your belongings safe during a typical commute. It’s also worth looking for materials such as tough nylon or fabrics that won’t tear or scuff easily.

Suitable Design

Depending on your job, you might want to look for a bag with a style that matches the rest of your outfit. For example, if you wear smart clothing for work, a bag with a subtle, pared back design in dark colours would be a good match. Similarly, if you’re involved in a more creative or casual role, you might not want to pick a bag that’s too corporate looking as this could clash with the rest of your work attire.


Choosing The Right Type Of Bag For Work

When it comes to work bags, there are dozens of options available, all designed for different lifestyles. If you are trying to decide what bag to buy, start by picking the type that fits the demands of your work and commute.

Backpacks For Work

The backpack is as versatile as any bag can get. Whether you are walking, biking, or hopping on the Underground, a good backpack can help you carry everything you need securely and comfortably.

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If you need to carry items such as a laptop, look for a pack with a dedicated laptop compartment. This will help to keep your equipment safe and secure in transit. Other handy features include a dedicated bottle holder on the outside, which is great for easy access to your water bottle, as well as additional pockets for small item storage - perfect for making sure you don’t lose your keys, phone or other items.

Another important consideration when selecting a backpack is the size you need. For most packs, the volume will be shown in litres. This represents the total internal storage of the backpack, so you’re able to choose a model that’s big enough to carry what you need. Whether you require a larger pack to carry lots with you, or prefer a smaller, more agile pack with room for just the essentials, there are plenty of options to choose from.

A high quality model, such as the backpacks from Patagonia, will be constructed from tough materials and designed to handle days out on the trail as well as the daily commute, so you know it will be reliable.

There are a range of options in Patagonia’s bag collection, including heritage inspired designs, as well as the impressive Black Hole models which are packed with great features - and of course responsibly produced.
Fjallraven is another brand that is highly recommended for anyone looking for a great backpack. Fjallraven backpacks offer stylish design as well as long lasting reliability. This much respected brand has been developing backpacks for outdoor use since the 1960s, and has developed a strong reputation for creating innovative products intended to withstand the harshest environments. 

Their modern day Fjallraven range includes timeless classics like the ever popular Kanken, as well contemporary models in a wide range of styles, sizes and colour options. They can all trace their roots back to packs designed to help people enjoy the outdoors, as well as those used on arctic expeditions, so they should certainly be able to handle the daily commute with ease.

Messenger Bags For Work

A messenger or shoulder bag is a popular choice when it comes to selecting a bag that’s suitable for work purposes. Offering a slightly more professional look than a backpack, which often evokes a style and nostalgia of a past era, a messenger bag will fit into almost any work environment.

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Originally designed for bike messengers, this style of bag has since been adopted by many professions, from office workers to those who spend time out and about. They are trendy, functional, and work well as a carryall for a wide range of situations. Messenger bags are ideal for carrying laptops, documents and all the essential items most people need on a daily basis.

When choosing a messenger bag, there are a range of styles and sizes to consider. If you’re looking for something timeless there are great heritage inspired options, including Filson messenger bags that are constructed from tough water resistant cloth. These bags develop a beautiful patina over time, and are about as classic as they come.

For a different take on the style, options such as Fjallraven messenger bags include a range of size and colour options. Models include messenger bags that are part of the brand’s Greenland family, made from Fjallraven’s signature G-1000 fabric for incredible durability. Fjallraven also offers smaller messenger style bags like the Kanken sling pack which are great for anybody who needs to carry just the essentials.
The only drawback is that it can be cumbersome and awkward to carry when loaded with heavy or multiple items.

Duffel Bags & Holdalls For Work

A holdall or duffel bag is often reserved for travel and sports, but it also makes a superb work companion for the professional who has a lot to carry. Duffel bags usually have more room and more organisational options than other bags, making them perfect for those days when you’ve got a bit more to take with you.

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Whether you’re packing your gym kit for that post office workout, or simply need a bit more room to carry all your work gear on a daily basis, a holdall offers all the space you need and more. And if you need to travel as part of your job, then a good duffel bag will easily swallow everything you need for your trip including clothes, equipment and accessories. 

Duffel bags and holdalls are available in a range of size options so it’s easy to find one that’s big enough for everything you need. Sizes are usually displayed in litres, so you can quickly compare the volume of storage between different bags.

There are also different styles of bags available to suit a range of work environments. Outdoor focused Patagonia duffel bags offer modern looks and are hard wearing enough to survive everything from international travel to a weekend camping, which means they can double up as go bags for leisure as well as work.
For something a bit more classic, opt for a leather style bag. There are some great options available from brands like Nixon that are able to carry a huge amount of gear, while helping you to look sharp.

Tote Bags For Work

Tote bags are not just for grocery shopping; their strong drop handles and large square compartments make them perfect for lugging laptops and paperwork to the office. The top is typically open, so you can easily retrieve or stuff in your work essentials and they work incredibly well as a complement to casual office attire.

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If you’ve got a long commute, or want a bag for winter, it’s worth looking for a tote that can be closed. Some totes feature zips, while others might have flaps that enable you to seal the bag. While this does impact the easy access of a typical tote, it will help to keep out the worst of the weather, and to make your bag more secure.

Most tote bags are usually a good shape to use for work purposes. Their rectangular design means that slipping a laptop, a folder or some documents in and out is usually a piece of cake. This makes them great as a secondary work bag, for those days when you’ve got a bit more to carry - but they’re just as good on their own when you need to take less with you.

Briefcases For Work

Traditionally used by professionals, briefcases combine smart looks with protection for documents and other important items. However, many of today’s briefcases are designed to offer increased storage, as well as designs that break away from the black leather rectangle you might be thinking of.

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With premium materials and construction, a good work briefcase will undoubtedly look great in any professional setting. As well as leather, modern briefcases from brands like Filson use softer yet durable canvas for a look that’s as timeless as it is versatile. And with enough storage to carry everything from your laptop to a change of clothes, briefcases are well worth a look for a heritage inspired bag for work.

The Best Materials For Work & Commuting Bags

The material you choose depends on how much wear and tear you expect from the bag. You do not want your work bag falling apart halfway through the year.


Leather work bags are sturdy, durable, and timeless. They can withstand all kinds of scrapes, and they add an elegant touch to your outfit. They are an excellent choice if you expect to take your work bag with you from job site to job site throughout the year or if you simply want something that looks great.


Cotton is breathable and versatile. You can find cotton duffel bags or messenger bags in just about any colour or pattern imaginable, which makes them great if you are looking for bags to keep up with your eclectic office style.


Nylon work bags are lightweight and weather-resistant. They are an excellent choice if you move around a lot and are worried about lugging extra weight or getting your work essentials drenched by the occasional burst of rain.


Canvas bags are sturdy, lighter, and more affordable alternatives to leather. Being easy to clean, they are a good choice if you have frequent contact with people or things during your commute.


There's nothing more frustrating than pulling off a dapper look and having to lug around an ugly, ill-fitting bag. Fortunately, there are plenty of stylish options available.
Formal work bags are appropriate for business attire and feature neutral colours, sleek styling, and streamlined design. Choose one made of leather or another high-quality material to complement your professional look.

Casual work bags are typically oversized with plenty of room for books, magazines, makeup, and other essentials. Go for a bag in a bold colour or pattern for extra style points.
These days many jobs have dropped the ultra formal dress code of yesteryear, so it’s likely you’ll be free to be a bit more individual in your style. There are plenty of bags available that can work just as well whether your outfit leans more towards smart or casual, offering all the features and flexibility you’ll need for work, commuting and for leisure.

All work bags have the same objective: to carry your belongings around without breaking your back and do so in style. But no two bags are alike; some are perfect for short commutes, while others can transition from the office to a weekend trip. Ultimately, the right bag for you will depend on the demands of your work, your style preferences, and how much you are willing to spend.

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