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The Best Work Bags for Women That Look Classy and Boast Functionality

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Written by Jenna Cartusciello

On the hunt for the best work bag? While it could be as easy as picking up the first attractive bag you see in a department store, you may run into problems if you don’t know the item’s pros and cons before buying. Issues can crop up after one month or even just one week of use, such as uncomfortable straps, and not enough zippered pockets for small items. You might even realize that you picked out the wrong style for your needs! To help you avoid these problems without having to do all the research yourself, we’ve created a list of the best work bags for women.

It’s important to Us that your work bag is functional but doesn’t compromise on class and style. And while totes have reigned supreme for decades, they aren’t always the most comfortable — or healthy for your back. We still recommend a few totes (they’re a favorite for a reason!), but you’ll also see a lot of hybrid bags in our list. That includes bags with multiple carrying styles depending on the strap you use, such as a backpack-purse or a tote-satchel. To get started on finding the best work bag for women, learn how to pick a product based on your needs below.

The 19 Best Work Bags for Women

Finding the Best Work Bag for Women

Life would be easier if a “one size fits all” bag existed for women, but that isn’t the case. Different careers and commutes require different designs and styles. For instance: Are you someone who heads straight to the gym when the clock strikes five? Or do you commute via a train, bus or a walk? In either case, a backpack (or a backpack hybrid) is a great pick for you.

On the other hand, you may be looking for a versatile bag that can fit multiple occasions — think office party to a relaxing hotel getaway. A tote or a tote-purse may be a better pick for you, because it will have one large compartment that can fit items of all sizes and shapes. Understanding your bag requirements before you make a purchase will give you a good chance of being satisfied on the first try.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Work Bag for Women

Before buying a work bag, make sure you think about its materials, features, style, durability and price.

Material

The material of your work bag plays a big part in not just its appearance, but also its longevity. Polyester and canvas tend to be the most affordable materials, for instance, but also show the signs of wear and tear the fastest. Traditionally, vegan leather was also less durable, but more recent synthetic blends are high quality and long-lasting. Other popular materials like leather and nylon are the priciest but also have a desirable look and feel. They are durable, too — leather is water resistant and nylon is waterproof.

Features

What are the most important features you need in your work bag? To begin, we highly recommend a bag with a laptop sleeve, a water bottle pocket and reinforced straps. Other useful features include small pockets for your keys and earbuds, anti-theft zippers and a structured bottom (if you don’t want the bag to fall over when you rest it on the ground).

Style

Your work bag doesn’t necessarily have to be a big purse! Popular and functional styles include sleek backpacks, totes, messenger bags and purse-backpacks or tote-backpacks. We particularly love tote-backpacks, because they offer the best of both worlds and the extra straps can be tucked away when you don’t need them.

Durability

Many work bags look beautiful during the first few months of use, but they don’t stand up to the test of time. So, how do you know if your bag is durable? Look for features like extra stitching on places of tension, reinforced straps and high-quality zippers. Waterproof materials on the exterior also add a certain toughness, and materials that are easy to clean are a huge plus.

Price

You may have already settled on a budget for your work bag, and that’s great! An upper limit will help you focus your shopping efforts on reasonably priced bags. However, we caution against buying bags under $20 — they tend to be less durable. The bags we recommend fall between $20 and $200, and the majority cost $30 to $100.

What Are the Different Types of Work Bags for Women?

Backpack

If you walk, ride a bike or take public transportation to work, a backpack is a great pick. It’s easier to carry than a tote because it distributes the weight evenly on your back, leaving you hands free. Though it’s difficult to dig through the pockets when you need something or keep the zippers protected from pickpockets, you can shift the bag to the front of your body when necessary. Plus, plenty of backpacks look and feel like purses, so you won’t look like a schoolkid walking into the office.

Tote

The tote bag is a classic for two main reasons: It has an elegant, simple design and ample space. It’s also easy to protect the bag from potential pickpockets because it remains close to your side. However, totes can get uncomfortable to carry because the straps dig into the shoulder, and the bag usually requires a hand on it at all times to ensure it doesn’t fall down. If you like the look of a tote but want to have other ways to carry it, consider a tote/backpack hybrid, which has multiple straps.

Crossbody/Messenger Bag

Like totes, crossbody and messenger bags rest on one shoulder. However, they have just one thick strap and the bag falls much lower on the body. They also have a flap-style opening and can easily fit a laptop, notebooks and other knick knacks. Messenger bags are not as popular as totes and backpacks, likely because they are a little uncomfortable to carry and are not as versatile.

1

Best Overall: Solo Parker Hybrid Laptop Backpack Tote

Pros

  • Wear it two ways
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • Zippers closed

Cons

  • Only one color
  • Deep bag means small items can get lost
  • No bottle pocket

So, we know we said there isn’t a bag that works for everyone, but if you need a quick recommendation that will probably work for just about any scenario, try the Solo Parker Hybrid Laptop Backpack Tote. The name says it all: This bag works as both a tote and a backpack, and the padded backpack straps can be tucked away into a sneaky side flap when not in use. The interior includes a padded laptop sleeve and multiple pockets for smaller items. Plus, the top zippers closed.

What could be improved: This bag is quite deep, so smaller items may be hard to dig out if they fall to the bottom. A few of the pockets are too tiny to be useful, and we wish it had a water bottle pocket inside or outside.

2

Best Budget: ZOCILOR Women’s Backpack, Purse and Satchel

Pros

  • Carry it 3 ways
  • Can fit small laptop
  • Zippered pockets

Cons

  • Available only on Amazon
  • Zippers can get stuck
  • Dark interior makes it hard to find items

If you like the idea of a hybrid bag but want to spend less than $50, we recommend the ZOCILOR Women’s Backpack from Amazon. It has the look and feel of a cute purse, but works as a backpack and satchel as well. We like the multiple color and pattern options, the capacity to fit a small laptop and the zippered exterior pockets.

However, the dark interior fabric makes it hard to find smaller items, and some buyers wish the vegan leather were higher quality. A few find that the zippers are not easy to open and close.

3

Best Splurge: Pegai Leather Sharon Tote

Pros

  • Premium Italian leather
  • Comes with detachable zippered pouch
  • Free shipping in US

Cons

  • No zippered closure
  • Small items can get lost in large main compartment
  • Shipped folded

Ready to spend a little extra on yourself or a loved one? We love the Pegai Leather Sharon Tote. This luxurious, handcrafted Italian leather bag has a fabric-lined interior with calfskin accents, several interior side pockets, a magnetic closure and as a bonus, a detachable zippered pouch. The straps are tall, making it easy to slip your arm through.

The downsides: The bag doesn’t have a zippered closure, which isn’t ideal if you have a bumpy commute. The main compartment is also quite large, so smaller items that don’t fit into the side pockets get lost at the bottom. A few customers also don’t like that the bag is shipped folded, and the creases take a while to come out.

4

Best Tote at the Best Price: Calpak Haven Laptop Tote Bag

Pros

  • Free delivery
  • Removable laptop sleeve
  • Available in multiple colors

Cons

  • Delivery can take a week or longer
  • Not available at other retailers
  • Shoulder straps are quite short

Hoping to find the ultimate travel tote? The Calpak Haven Laptop Tote Bag is the one to beat. We like that this product has a removable laptop sleeve and a luggage trolley sleeve. It can also be carried as a satchel with the adjustable shoulder strap. Available in multiple colors and made in vegan leather, this bag has a classy look that goes with many different occasions.

The downsides: This product isn’t available at other retailers, and Calpak offers free shipping only if your order is $75 or more. In addition, it may feel awkward threading your arm through the short shoulder straps to carry the bag.

5

Best Small Commuting Backpack: Urban Originals Poppy Backpack

Pros

  • Low chemical, recycled materials
  • Sits high on back to reduce shoulder strain
  • Multiple interior pockets

Cons

  • Material stains in lighter colors
  • Interior velcro strap isn’t useful
  • Back of bag is unstructured

If you’re looking for an unobtrusive, comfortable and sleek backpack to bring to work, we recommend the Urban Originals Poppy Backpack. It comes in four colors (gray, black, pink and terracotta) and low chemical, recycled nylon makes up the exterior. We love the interior laptop sleeve and multiple interior pockets which prevent small items from getting lost. Plus, the bag sits high up on the back which helps reduce shoulder strain.

What could be improved: The velcro strap on the laptop sleeve isn’t very useful because it’s sewn too low. The back of the bag also doesn’t have much structure, which some customers may like. Without a laptop or a notebook, the bag can sag with the weight of other items.

6

Best Large Commuting Backpack: Matein Travel Laptop Backpack

Pros

  • Comes in multiple sizes
  • Multiple colors
  • Dedicated laptop compartment

Cons

  • Not all colors available in every size
  • A few customers experienced ripping
  • Could use more bottom padding

Need a sturdy backpack that can handle tough commutes and the occasional plane ride? Take a look at the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack. This bag comes in four different sizes and multiple colors depending on your preference, and it has a dedicated laptop compartment. We also like the many pockets inside the front zipper, and the middle compartment works well for books, notebooks and odds and ends.

The downsides? Not every color is available in every backpack size. A few customers found that the interior materials ripped after a few months of use. We wish the bottom of the bag had more padding for delicate items.

7

Best Leather Backpack: MAHI Leather The City Backpack

Pros

  • Handmade to order
  • Waterproof side pockets
  • Padded laptop compartment

Cons

  • Snug interior
  • Not available at other retailers
  • Pricey

If you love the idea of a backpack but want to elevate your style, we recommend the MAHI Leather City Backpack. This handmade, premium leather bag has thick straps for comfort, a large hidden back pocket, durable zippers and a waterproof water bottle pocket on either side. We particularly like the padded laptop compartment and internal phone pocket.

What could be improved: While this bag is large enough to hold a laptop, the interior is snug, so bulky items are tougher to fit. It’s also not available at other retailers, and as a genuine leather bag, it’s on the pricier side.

8

Best Purse Backpack: Fossil Elina Convertible Backpack

Pros

  • Carry 2 ways
  • Fits laptop up to 16 inches
  • Zippered closure

Cons

  • Straps are not padded
  • Narrow interior
  • A few customers say the zipper is not durable

Fossil is best known for its classy purses, but its backpacks are also noteworthy. We like the Elina Convertible Backpack because it has an attractive leather exterior and works as a backpack or tote. It fits a laptop up to 16 inches in height and has a zippered closure.

Note that the straps are not padded and don’t have much structure, so this bag will become uncomfortable if you’re carrying heavy items. The interior is also narrow, so you may not be able to fit as much inside it as you would like. A few customers have complained that the zipper is not durable.

9

Best Budget Purse Backpack: Telena Backpack Purse for Women

Pros

  • Anti-theft features
  • Cruelty free
  • Multiple colors and patterns

Cons

  • Available only on Amazon
  • Water bottle doesn’t fit in side pockets
  • Zippers may get stuck

If you like the look of a purse backpack but don’t need to have genuine leather, the Telena Backpack is a great choice. It can be carried as both a tote and a backpack, and it can fit a small laptop, among other items. We like that the backpack straps are adjustable, the bottom is structured, the pockets keep small items organized and the main enclosure has a zipper.

What could be improved: The exterior side pockets have no give, so you won’t be able to fit water bottles in them. A few customers have also had issues with the zippers getting stuck.

10

Best Tote With a Laptop Compartment: WanderFull Woven Hydrotote

Pros

  • Handwoven, vegan leather
  • Dedicated laptop sleeve
  • Water bottle neoprene sleeve

Cons

  • Not available at other retailers
  • Expensive
  • No zipper

Want the look of a glam bag with all the functionalities of a work bag? Check out the WanderFull Woven Hydrotote. It has an interior water bottle sleeve (the dream!), a dedicated laptop sleeve, a detachable crossbody strap and several pockets for knick knacks. We like that the vegan leather is more matte than it appears to be in pictures. It’s also durable and water resistant, and it comes in five colors.

The downsides — (which were hard to find!) — this bag isn’t available at retailers beyond the WanderFull website, and it’s pricey. The top also does not have a zippered enclosure, though this might appeal to some buyers.

11

Best Casual Tote: Urban Originals Lenora Tote

Pros

  • 3 colors: green, tan, black
  • Zippered pockets
  • Fits a laptop and water bottle

Cons

  • Big compartment means smaller items can get lost
  • Expensive
  • 1 way to carry

For a modern, chic tote that doubles as a work bag, opt for the Urban Originals Lenora Tote. This two-tone bag is made of high-quality, eco-conscious vegan leather and it has zippered pockets. We love that it has plenty of room in the main compartment for bulky items. A bonus: The straps overlap easily, which prevents the bag from falling down your shoulders.

However, the single compartment means that smaller items may get lost. This bag is also on the pricier side, and it can only be carried one way.

12

Best for Working Moms: Ayla Diaper Bag

Pros

  • High-quality, vegan leather
  • Expandable bottle pouches
  • Carry 3 ways

Cons

  • Not available at other retailers
  • Non-padded straps
  • Expensive

Need a work bag that doubles as a diaper bag and sometimes a weekender? The Ayla Diaper Bag has you covered. It looks like a large, chic backpack purse but has great functionality, thanks to a laptop sleeve, wide interior compartment, stretchy pockets for bottles and diapers, and zippered pockets for small items. We love that the two exterior bottle sleeves can be zippered open to create room for big bottles.

What could be improved: This bag isn’t available at other retailers, though the mini version is available on Amazon. It’s also pricey, costing $172 to $209, and the non-padded straps can get uncomfortable when carrying heavy items.

13

Best Crossbody Tote: Quince Italian Leather Large Triple Compartment Satchel

Pros

  • Zippered enclosure
  • Removable crossbody strap
  • Free shipping

Cons

  • Strap may dig into your shoulder
  • Slightly too small for laptop
  • Not available at other retailers

If you love the sophisticated look of a crossbody bag (or satchel) but don’t know which one to pick, try the Quince Triple Compartment Satchel. We love that this bag is made of Italian pebbled leather and can be carried as a satchel, crossbody or tote. The crossbody strap is detachable, and the metal feet reduce wear and tear on the bottom. Smaller than most satchels, this crossbody tote is manageable and won’t put too much weight on your shoulder.

What could be improved: The thin strap may dig into your shoulder if you place heavy items in the bag. We also wish this bag were a smidge larger to fit a laptop — if you prefer a tote that can hold a laptop and water bottle, we recommend the Quince Italian Leather Triple Compartment Shopper Tote.

14

Best Work and Travel Tote: Leatherology Alex Vertical Work Tote

Pros

  • Fits a 16-inch laptop
  • Interior water bottle holder
  • Trolley sleeve

Cons

  • Not available at other retailers
  • May be too big
  • Thin straps can get uncomfortable

Hoping for a bag that can travel from the office to the airport? We like the Leatherology Alex Vertical Work Tote. The Italian leather bag has a laptop sleeve that can fit up to a 16-inch Macbook Pro, an interior water bottle holder, a zipper closure and a trolley sleeve for luggage. We love the long shoulder straps, which make it easier to slip this bag over your shoulder.

The downsides? This tote is so big that you might not like carrying it around the office. The thin straps may also get uncomfortable if you’re carrying heavy items, and the bag is one of our more expensive recommendations.

15

Best Backpack Tote Hybrid: Eddie Bauer Bygone Recycled Backpack Tote

Pros

  • Made of recycled materials
  • 2 water bottle pockets
  • Adjustable, padded backpack straps

Cons

  • Comes in just 2 colors
  • Water bottle pockets are not expandable

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Solo Parker Hybrid Tote, we recommend the Eddie Bauer Bygone Recycled Backpack Tote. This simple, elegant bag has two exterior pockets for water bottles, adjustable, padded backpack straps and a spacious interior. We like that the nylon is made with recycled materials.

However, this bag comes in just two colors. We also don’t like that the water bottle pockets don’t stretch, and this backpack is hard to find at other retailers.

16

Best Work to Gym Tote Bag: Athleta All About Tote Bag

Pros

  • Simple design
  • Zippered enclosure
  • Laptop sleeve

Cons

  • Easy to lose small items
  • May be too large for very formal offices
  • Not available at other retailers

The Athleta Tote Bag isn’t just a work bag — it’s an extra large tote that can carry your gym items as well. We love the simplicity of the design, the zippered enclosure and the laptop sleeve. We also like that this bag is versatile and works as a weekender or beach tote.

On the other hand, the spacious interior means it’s easy to lose small items if you don’t tuck them into the small pockets. A few buyers also complained that this bag was too big for work!

17

Best Waterproof: Rains Backpack

Pros

  • Waterproof exterior
  • Sleek design
  • Fits a laptop

Cons

  • No strap padding
  • Expensive
  • Items get lost at bottom

Nothing’s worse than walking into your workplace with a soaking-wet bag and finding that some of your items got damp. On the rainiest days, opt for the Rains Backpack. The sleek, simple bag has a waterproof exterior and the sleek design fits into an office setting. We also like that it easily fits a laptop.

However, the main interior is tall, and small items can get lost at the bottom. The straps also have no padding and can get uncomfortable, and this bag is on the pricier side.

18

Best for Doctors and Nurses: Uniform Advantage Maevn READYGO 2 Backpack

Pros

  • Multiple colors available
  • Zippered compartment
  • Two water bottle pockets

Cons

  • Site is hard to navigate
  • Bag may be too small
  • Material has no give

Need a bag that can handle everything a medical job throws at you? Enter the Uniform Advantage Maevn READYGO Backpack. The zippered front compartment is great for studying tools like your pens and notepads and smaller items, such as your keys. The two side pockets are great for water bottles, and the roomy interior can fit a laptop, a jacket and more. We also like that the backpack straps can be tucked into a sleeve when not in use.

The downsides: The Uniform Advantage isn’t the easiest site to navigate because the READYGO 2 Backpacks are not sorted onto one page. In addition, the bag may be too small depending on your needs, especially if you want to bring a change of clothes and toiletry items for overnight shifts. We wish the material could expand for bulky items.

19

Best for Teachers: Sowaovut Laptop Backpack

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Multiple zippered compartments
  • Padded straps

Cons

  • Bulky look
  • Charging port is finicky
  • Only available on Amazon

We know what you might be thinking: Backpacks make teachers look like students! But if the wear and tear of a tote starts to ruin your shoulders, it may be time to switch. We like the Sowaovut Laptop Backpack because it has enough room to carry just about everything a teacher would need. It’s also highly organized with multiple zippered compartments and affordable.

However, this bag has a bulky look and feel that some teachers may not like. The charging port on the side often doesn’t work, either. This bag is only available on Amazon.

People Also Ask

  • Q: What is vegan leather?

    A:Vegan leather is usually made of polyurethane, a synthetic replacement for real leather. Though this material is sometimes seen as cheap and “fake,” it has come a long way in recent years, and it’s cruelty free.

  • Q: What’s the best bag for commuting to work?

    A:If you commute by foot, train or bus, we recommend a backpack or a tote-backpack hybrid, such as the Solo Parker Hybrid Laptop Backpack Tote.

  • Q: How much do work bags for women cost?

    A:Most work bags cost anywhere between $15 and $500. The bags we recommend cost between $20 and $200.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

Author photo

By Jenna Cartusciello

Affiliate Commerce Writer Jenna loves recommending great products to her friends and family, so helping the rest of the internet on their quest to find the best stuff makes tremendous sense! Though she mainly writes in-depth buyer’s guides these days, Jenna still enjoys crafting the occasional health article. In her spare time, she loves immersing herself in creative writing. Her favorite authors (for anyone who is willing to geek out with her) include Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, and Jennifer Egan.

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