Now that many of us are back in the office, it’s never been more important to find a great work bag you really love. I’m talking about the kind of bag that lasts through every commute, holds all of your work essentials, and won’t look out of place at your next after-work happy hour. Think: a much-needed upgrade to the canvas tote you use to run errands over the weekend. Whether you’re starting your very first job or just getting a head-start on the new season, investing in one of the best work bags is one of the easiest ways to get your head in the game—and make a great impression on your first day.
The bags on this list come highly recommended by Marie Claire editors and experts in the field alike, which means that they’ve been tested for daily use, comfort on your shoulder, and versatility. Marie Claire already has specialized guides to finding the best laptop bags, best laptop backpacks, and the very best leather tote bags if you’re looking for any of those items specifically.
What To Look For in A Work Bag
Unlike your favorite take-anywhere tote, there are a few key features every great work bag should have:
- It should be able to fit any or all of your devices.
- It should have pockets for essential items, like your wallet, keys, or phone.
- It should come in a neutral color that will match any of your outfits.
- It should be made from a durable fabric, be it vegan leather, real leather, or canvas.
- It should be sturdy enough to last through an entire day's work and travel.
With that in mind, keep scrolling to shop the best work bags on the market for 2023 from fan-favorite and top-rated brands like Madewell, Everlane, Cuyana, and more. Some of the work bags on this list retail for under $100, while others are investment pieces that will stand the test of time. Other bags on this list can actually double as a carry-on bag or a weekender bag if you're a jet-setter.
- Best Overall Work Bag: Madewell The Zip-Top Medium Transport Tote
- Best Work Backpack: Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Neoprene Backpack
- Work Bag With The Best Features: Modern Picnic The Tote
The Best Work Bags
Best Two-Tone Work Bag
This Madewell work tote is a bestselling staple in their bag offering. We love the black and brown combo—you never feel like your shoes don’t match it. It has a zip across the top as the name might suggest; comes in four colors; and measures 11" in length, so it's great for smaller laptops and tablets—or if you're the kind of person who leaves your larger laptop at the office when you leave at night.
Pros: Has a zip-top closure; Fits a 15" laptop; Comes in several colors; Has three interior pockets; Has a long shoulder strap; Is monogrammable
Cons: Is unlined.
Customer Review: "I love everything about this tote! It’s is well made and comfortable on my shoulder. I put so much stuff in it when I’m going to meetings for work. Snacks, my 36 ounce Yeti bottle, Ipad, and my notebook are among all the stuff I pack in this tote. Madewell is my favorite name brand and this bag didn’t disappoint me." — Madewell
Best Preppy Work Bag
Decorate this upcycled and monogrammable tote bag—made from plastic water bottles—with the monogram of your choosing. It comes in four colors, including this bright red and blue option, an olive green and yellow option, and a classic black and white version. The canvas is made to be stain-proof and stain-repellent, plus it fits a laptop. It measures 23.75" in width and is 14.5" high so it will fit all of your essentials. Or, use it as beach bag in the summer.
Pros: Is customizable; Comes in four colors; Made from water-resistant; Lined; Has three interior pockets; Fits most 13" inch devices.
Cons: Weighs 3 pounds on its own; Doesn't zip.
Customer Review: "I was torn on what size to order, not confident that I needed a large. But I'm so glad I ended up going with the large - it truly fits everything and is still rather easy to carry on your shoulder when full!" — Paravel
Best Lightweight Nylon Work Bag
This work-friendly tote bag from cult-favorite brand MZ Wallace comes in three colors and is made from a lightweight quilted material that won't leave your shoulder feeling sore after a long day. It's 11" wide and 13" tall, so it will hold your computer plus all of your essentials. Reviewers on Nordstrom say it's also a great carry-on bag because the interior is so spacious. It has a zipper across the top for extra security, plus a few interior and exterior pockets.
Pros: Comes in two colors; Lightweight; Has a shoulder strap; Has a zipper; Has an interior pocket; Fits most 13" devices.
Cons: Some reviewers say that it doesn't keep its shape.
Customer Review: "I've been back & forth on ordering this bag for over 6 months but so happy I finally ordered it. Big enough for any adventure, & the luggage sleeve is a godsend. I use for the gym, overnight trips or even as a laptop/work bag. Cannot recommend enough." — Nordstrom
Best Canvas Work Bag
L.L Bean's iconic Boat and Tote rose to popularity once more on the heels of the coastal grandma trend that took over the internet last summer. The bags are available to shop in a bunch of colors, come in four sizes, are available in two lengths, and can be monogrammed with a cute phrase or just your name. It's made from a sturdy canvas leather material that can be spot cleaned, plus it has a flat bottom that won't rip or tear as you use it.
Pros: Easy to clean; Customizable; Comes in different colors; Comes in two different lengths; Comes in five sizes; Has a zipper.
Cons: No interior pocket or pouch.
Customer Review: "Great tote bag! Roomy, compact, and sturdy! Long handles are perfect for shoulder carrying! Nice looking, too! Natural canvas with red trim!" — L.L Bean
Best Insulated Work Bag
Modern Picnic rose to popularity for their line of very chic lunch bags that look more like cute handbags. The Tote bag from the brand comes in five colorways and prints, including black vegan leather and several croc-printed versions. It comes complete with an insulated insert to keep your favorite snacks or lunch chilled on your commute and a zip-top closure. Plus, it measures 13" in height and 16" in length, so it can hold a laptop alongside your food.
Pros: Has an insulated pouch; Has a zipper; Is monogrammable; Has interior pockets; Has exterior pockets; Fits most 13" devices.
Cons: The interior insulated pouch doesn't have a handle, which some reviewers say makes it hard to use.
Customer Review: "I cannot rave about this tote enough!! If you are looking into one staple piece to own THIS IS IT. It carries so much inside: my laptop, camera, charger, water bottle, and my lunch. The removable pouch is such a nice addition since I can easily store my snacks and food containers in a separate compartment!" — Modern Picnic
Best Work Backpack
"Since I started going to the gym again, I've needed a bag that helps me transition from my workout to the office. Few bags fit the bill—my favorite chic options are too small, and my favorite large options look too much like luggage for my taste—but this option from Dagne Dover truly changed the game. This bag has a pocket for everything, including a laptop sleeve with an elastic band that holds it safely in place. It also includes a shoe bag, which is ideal for separating my gym sneakers from the rest of my necessities. What's more? In addition to looking great, it's 100 percent vegan, and its lining is composed from recycled materials." — Gabrielle Ulubay, E-Commerce Writer
Pros: Made from waterproof neoprene; Holds a 16" laptop; Easy to clean; Fits over a suitcase handle; Has several pockets; Comes in several colors; Comes in three sizes; Has dedicated interior pocket for your laptop; Has a zip-closure; Has a pocket for your water bottle.
Cons: Costs $200.
Customer Review: "Great travel backpack and great backpack for work. Amazing quality and fits a 13 inch laptop perfectly! Would highly recommend if you’re looking for a high-quality back but also functional." — Nordstrom
Best Simple Work Bag
Everlane calls this bag "no average tote," and I would have to agree. It's available in three color options, including this classic black color; it's made from luxury-feeling faux leather and features an interior zip pocket for your wallet. It's roomy—it measures 13" in height and the bottom measures 16.5 inches wide, so it can hold everything you need for work. Plus, the handle drop measures 9.5" so it will rest comfortably under your arm.
Pros: Comes in multiple colors; Has an interior pocket; Fits most 13" devices.
Cons: Doesn't have a zipper.
Customer Review: Reviews not available.
Best Versatile Work Bag
Where to begin? BEIS' Work Tote comes in four colors and print combinations; boasts both a sturdy top handle and a removable padded shoulder strap; has a dedicated laptop sleeve inside, has a trolley sleeve that fits over the handle of your carry-on suitcase; and has one zipped pocket on the outside for easy access. Consider this the most versatile work bag on this list.
Pros: Comes in multiple colors; Has a shoulder strap; Zips closed; Has interior pockets; Has exterior pockets; Fits 11" in devices and under.
Cons: Doesn't fit larger laptops.
Customer Review: "I’m blown away by this bag. The material is SO SOFT. & the design JUST MAKES SENSE. Thankful for the 2 outer side pockets that make it easy to shove whatever is in my hands easily in these pockets while walking. Thankful that the bag is one open unit inside with a laptop sleeve on one side and an opposite side zipper pocket on the other this way there’s not so many compartments that I can’t find anything. This bag is perfectly functional and I’m so thankful for it!!" — BEIS
Best Work Bag For Hitting The Gym After Work
This tote from Bellroy comes in two sizes and five neutral colors including this olive green, burnt orange, and a leather-free cream-colored option. It fits laptops and devices up to 13" in its own dedicated sleeve, is made from an easy-to-clean and water-resistant fabric, and has a few dedicated pockets for your water bottle, your umbrella, and shoes. If you're the person who goes right from the gym to the office or vise versa, this one is for you.
Pros: Fits laptops and devices up to 13"; Has a dedicated laptop sleeve; Has interior pockets; Comes in multiple colors; Comes in two lengths.
Cons: Some reviewers say it's too small if you need to hold several laptops.
Customer Review: "It's compact and spacious, great pockets to keep things organised, and I love the water bottle pouch.
I'm going to be using it for a looooooong time!" — Amazon
Best Fan-Favorite Work Bag
If you're looking for a work bag that's been tested out by a group of fashion insiders, this one is for you. This was one of the most highly-recommended options back when I started my very first job, and remains a classic to this day. Shop it in three colors including this olive green, a soft blue, and a creamy white option. The zip-top closure adds security and has several interior pockets to keep your wallet and phone safe—and within close reach. The flat bottom means that all of your essentials—your laptop! your water bottle!—don't move around while you're carrying it.
Pros: Has a zipper; Comes in several colors; Keeps its shape over time; Has interior pockets.
Cons: Has no exterior pockets.
Customer Review: "I’ve been looking for a roomy, durable tote, that would be good for everyday. I finally found the perfect bag when I got this. I can fit all my stuff (iPad, charger, phone, lotion, lip gloss, water bottle, nurse supplies, etc.,) with room to spare and it’s made of a sturdy material so it can everyday use. I sprayed it with scotch guard so it doesn’t stain or catch lint. This is the PERFECT bag for everyday use. Loved it so much I bought the smaller version in a different color." — Nordstrom
"For years I'd stash my laptops in bags that looked professional and uber-serious for the office. But in a new, power-casual world, I'm ready to sport fun work bags, especially for the summer days ahead. Rebecca Minkoff's M.A.B. Hobo Bag, with its silver dog clips and sleek zipper tassel, brings the right amount of accents. But it's still a practical pick: The Sand Dune leather option goes perfectly with sundresses and work outfits alike. It's roomy enough for a laptop (with an interior of 13'' W x 10.75'' H). The strap can convert to a shoulder or cross-body so that you can adjust it for comfort." — Tanya Benedicto Klich, Senior Editor
Pros: Has a convertable shoulder strap; Has a magentic closure; Comes in several colors.
Cons: Won't fit a 16" laptop; Has one interior zip pocket.
Customer Review: "Super cute bag. Large enough for iPad and lots of extras. When using, it collapses and doesn’t feel too big and bulky. Comfortable to wear and shoulder strap does not slide off your shoulder!" — Rebecca Minkoff
Julia Marzovilla is the E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she covers everything from the latest beauty and fashion launches and sales to celebrity outfits and news. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and STYLECASTER. In her spare time, Julia can be found creating shopping guides for all of her friends, spending too much money on yet another pair of black boots, and cooking in her far-too-small kitchen.
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