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What is a Satchel?

What is a Satchel?

Leather Satchel/Messenger Bag
The Gustav Messenger Bag

Aren’t bags sometimes confusing? They look similar yet they have different names and furthermore have different kinds of uses and functions. Get to know more about bags, particularly with satchels. Get to know what similarities does a satchel has with other bags, and furthermore know what differentiates them.

Design Of The Satchel

Like most bags, a satchel’s design differs from other bags. It is a bag with a box-like rectangular structure with a flat bottom. Its strong structure intends to keep what you store in place. Although it is not as versatile in storing things as a tote bag, it perfectly serves its primary function which is to carry books and other similar things.

Flat-bottom Leather Backpack


Likewise, a satchel has a very unique design. One of its sides being longer than the other. This is because the longer side extends over the bag forming a flap that folds and acts as a cover. Additionally, the closing mechanism behind the flap will differ with each design. Some may use magnets to close the flap while other designs may use fasteners, like that of a belt.


Furthermore, a satchel either has a long strap to hang the bag on one's shoulder or two short handles on its top like a handheld briefcase. However, most designs these days have both. It has two short handles with a removable long strap for convenience and function.

Using a satchel is typically the same as other long strap bags. Unlike shoulder bags, however, a satchel bag hangs diagonally across the body. Sometimes one may refer to “wearing” a satchel bag rather than carrying it like a tote or shoulder bag. Thus, the bag is hanging at the hip opposite of where the strap is anchoring. Likewise, some have designs with backpack straps instead of one long strap. This design is typically seen with school kids from countries like Japan and Germany. In Japan, these bags are known as Randoseru, a word borrowed from ranzen, the German word for “backpack”. In fact, schools and school kids in Japan traditionally use the randoseru until the 6th grade or even later.


Satchel bags are traditionally leather. Leather is strong and durable and can usually carry heavier things without tearing. It is perfect for satchel bags especially when storing heavier books inside. However, modern satchel bags are not all leather. Some use canvas or strong thick fabrics to make these bags. This is because non-leather bags are cheaper in contrast to leather satchel bags. Leather satchel, however, will always have its advantages for being strong. Additionally, a leather satchel will more likely to protect the contents from the rain in contrast to canvas or cloth-made satchels. Plus, leather will always last longer than other materials especially when you take care of it properly.

History Of The Satchel

When and where it was invented is unknown. However, the earliest satchels were of leather. Some sources say that satchels are similar to the bags carried by Roman soldiers. Those bags were known as “loculus” which were used to carry rations and other personal things. Also, around 300AD recordings of Scottish monks carrying around their bibles inside leather satchels were proof that such a bag exists at that time. It was only around the 1700s when satchel bags became popular for carrying books for schoolboys. Right now, satchels are still popular because it is highly functional and stylish, especially when made of leather.

Comparing Satchel’s From Similar Bags

Many bags are different yet similar in shape and form. The following are bags that are similar to the satchel bag yet are different in some other way.

Satchel vs Tote Bags

What are tote bags? To simply put it, tote bags are large structureless bags with handles on each side. It is a bag that is meant to carry various items of various shapes and sizes. This is because its design enables it to open wider than most bags. It has simple, convenient, and highly functional. Likewise, it is quick to pack and also is quick to unpack. By all means a versatile bag. The satchel on the other hand is not as versatile as the tote bag. This is because of its rigid, rectangular, box-like structure. However, while it carries less your items are more secure inside the satchel than in a tote bag.

Satchel vs Messenger Bags

Satchel bags and messenger bags look and may have similar functions. Strictly speaking, however, there are differences. For example, traditional messenger bags are made of waterproof canvas whereas satchels are made of leather. Furthermore, messenger bags were often being marketed for men while satchels were meant for women. In this modern age, however, messenger bags are now frequently made of leather and satchel bag with canvas. Likewise, both bags are now for both sexes to use. Perhaps the only thing that would differentiate both bags from one another is their use. The messenger bag is for office use while the satchel is more for leisure and school.

Satchel vs Hobo Bags

What are hobo bags? They are crescent shape bags that are made from a flexible material and are often worn crossed-body. Like the tote bag, it lacks a solid structure. It has a roomy interior which makes it easy to pack things in. It looks more similar to a shoulder bag however it is sometimes mistaken as a messenger or satchel bag without a structure. In contrast, satchel bags are rigid and have a compartmentalized interior. Unlike a structureless bag, such as the hobo or tote bag, the satchel allows you to organize your possessions. Keeping them tidier in the inside.

Handmade Leather Bags

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