Satchel Buying Guide – All You Need to Know

Satchel Buying Guide – All You Need to Know

What is a satchel?

A satchel is a bag, often with a strap. A combination of fashion and utility, a satchel is usually a soft sided bag that was traditionally used for carrying books. It has a strap that is worn diagonally across the body so that the bag hangs on the opposite hip. The back of a satchel extends to form a flap that folds over to cover the top and fastens in the front. A satchel is unlike a suitcase because it has a strap and it is soft sided. In recent times, however, satchels with firmer surfaces are seen, because of the demand for fitting in laptops.

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History of Satchels

Satchels have been around for centuries. They were used for carrying things around, as they still are! Romans legionaries used these satchels to store rations and personal belongings. They were called ‘loculus’ which means ‘little place’ in Latin. Satchels were carried as a part of a Legionary’s luggage. But it wasn’t until the 17th century that satchels got recognized as popular fashion accessories. Since then, satchels have become iconic symbols of class.

The satchel became almost synonymous with the school bag in Britain. There are references to satchels in school rhymes, poetry, and literature! No portrayal of a school boy or girl was complete without the leather satchel.

Advantages of using a Satchel

A satchel is unbeatable from a utilitarian point of view. A satchel of good size can accommodate all your essential files, documents, and other stationary items.

Satchels are provided with handles, in addition to shoulder straps. So they may be carried around like a compact and stylish suitcase. The shoulder strap allows us to wear the satchel over our shoulder, and across the body. This makes it a convenient hands- free option for carrying things.

Types of Satchel Bags

All satchels have handles and a shoulder strap. But there are classifications depending on their design and usage.Here is a list of the various types of satchels available.

Satchel Handbags


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These handbags are a perennial favorites of women who are fashion conscious. Hand held satchels are perfect accessories for both formal and informal occasions. They are stylish enough to complement elegant outfits and spacious enough to accommodate your essential things. Leather satchels lend a look of chic and professionalism. Satchel handbags with a multitude of designs, a spectrum of colors, and an elite selection of designer labels are available in the market.

Backpack School Satchels

These are the commonest of all satchels. They are very convenient for school children and even college students to carry their books and stationary. There are compartments provided for personal items and a lunch box also. Sometimes laptops may also be accommodated.


Earlier models of satchels were provided with actual buckle closures. These were inconvenient to undo, especially when we are in a hurry. Such cumbersome buckles have become obsolete, and have been replaced by snap buckles that are kid -friendly.

School backpacks feature pockets, both inside and outside the bag. This helps in better organization and easier accessibility of things.

Messenger Bag Satchels

These are the satchels for lighter loads, hotter climates and for a more organized look. Messenger bags are particularly useful when you need to access things, on the go. The main disadvantage is that messengers have a soft form that wraps around your body and so, they are not good to hold rigid things like a laptop.


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Try to find a satchel that is square and can fit in many of your things. Flap openings generally work best for soft messengers. Roll -top messengers suit semi -structured messengers, and zip openings for structured satchels.

If you are going to ride your bike or get active while using the messenger satchel, choose a sturdy and strong strap that can withstand the strain. Make sure the messenger can be pulled in close and ride high on your back.

The material of the messenger bag should be water -resistant polyesters that can take mud, rain, and grime. Canvas, leather, and other materials are also used. Coated or waxed canvas is a popular choice.

Size of a Satchel

Always assess the size of the satchel before buying it. It must feel comfortable to wear and carry. Ensure that the shoulder straps are of adjustable length for comfort. Size of the satchel depends on the purpose and also on the wearer.

  • A 11 -inch satchel is the smallest available. It can be used as a handbag or a clutch. It is a compact bag to carry basic essentials.
  • A 12.5 -inch satchel is the perfect fit for an iPad.
  • A 14 -inch satchel is the ideal size for a laptop. It is convenient to carry your laptop securely to school, university, or to work. This satchel can also hold A4 folders.
  • A 15 -inch satchel has a slightly bigger interior. It can fit in larger laptops and folders.

Types of Fasteners in Satchels

It is important to take note of a satchel’s fastening mechanism. Most satchels are closed with zippers on the top and then covered with a flap, and secured further with a magnetic snap. Here are some the common fasteners used.

  • Magnetic Fasteners – These are very similar to large snaps, but connect magnetically instead of just snapping together. Magnetic fasteners are connected to satchels with prongs.
  • Velcro Fasteners – These fasteners are easy to use, safe, and free from maintenance. School satchels usually have Velcro fasteners. The disadvantage is that they tend to collect hair, dirt, and lint. After few months, the Velcro loops may become bent, broken, or elongated and have to be replaced.
  • Zipper – This is the ideal and the safest way to fasten satchels. It also costs lesser. Always try the zipper several times before buying. Once the zipper fails, it has to be replaced.

Clean the metal chains, zippers, or other metallic objects on the satchel with a metal cleaner to avoid causing rust. When satchel is wet, dry it by keeping it in a dry, shady place.

Satchels of different Materials

As with any other fashion accessory (note that all satchels cannot be categorized thus, for many of them are used by school children and professionals too), there is a wide choice of materials to choose from. Though leather is undeniably the most popular choice, many other materials are evolving and offer several advantages.

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Materials like soft leather, canvas, nylon, or vinyl are used popularly. Leather satchels are more expensive. Other synthetic materials are weather resistant, water -proof and inexpensive, but tend to be less durable.



  • Canvas is a very popular textile for school satchels and is easily affordable than many other materials.
  • Canvas is of a tough texture but is soft and pliable at the same time.
  • The material is highly durable and can withstand the wear and tear of daily use.
  • Canvas satchels offer a lot of space for books and other personal belongings.
  • Canvas cloth comes in many colors like various shades of green and brown. They are also available in a variety of prints.
  • The disadvantage of canvas cloth is that its color fades with frequent washing.
  • Canvas is not water-proof and may not be suitable to carry during rainy season.

Caring for Canvas Satchels

Before cleaning a canvas satchel, remove any vinyl-covered or other flat pieces of cardboard that may have been inserted into the bottom of the bag for support.

If there are any stains on the satchel, pre -treat them with a good laundry stain remover by following the instructions given. Wash normal canvas satchels in the washing machine. If the satchel has decorative stitching, wash only by hand.

Dilute the laundry detergent with water. Dip the scrub brush lightly into the solution and clean the entire bag with circular motion. Rinse the bag, but avoid getting any non -washable area wet.



  • Nylon satchels are very popular because of their light weight and availability in many bright colors and trendy designs.
  • They are easy to wash and maintain. Their color doesn’t fade soon.
  • The disadvantage of a nylon bag is that is can easily stretch out of shape.
  • Choose a nylon satchel with a faux leather look.

Caring for Nylon satchels

It is a good practice to clean nylon satchels every day. In order to prevent the satchel from accumulating dirt, spray on a fabric cleaner and wipe off with a soft cloth. However, if the satchel is very dirty, it has to be washed with water, by hand. Harsh chemicals should not be used on nylon.

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Leather Satchels

Leather satchels have been in use for centuries. They are preferred because of their durability and timeless appeal. They can withstand the demands of daily wear and heavy loads. Leather satchels that are 13 inches or more can easily accommodate a laptop and some stationary.


Though there is much concern about the impact of leather industries on the environment, many producers are using processes like tree bark tanning and vegetable dyes that help lessen pollution.

Caring for Leather Satchel

Don’t use water to clean leather because wet leather is difficult to dry and water will stain the leather. It is advisable to use a good conditioner and a cleaner.

Using a non -dyed cloth, apply a small amount of cleaner to the satchel, and using firm strokes, wipe down the entire leather section of the satchel. Make sure you try the cleaner in a small, hidden area of the satchel first to confirm that the leather is colorfast. Leather satchels need to be cleaned once a month to keep them free from dirt and debris.

Conditioning leather is a good option since it prevents cracks and breaks on the leather surface. Conditioning keeps the leather supple and soft to touch. Always use the cleaner first and then the conditioner. After cleaning, hang the satchel on a hook until it is used.

Tips for Buying Satchels

  • A satchel is a bag that is bought to last a lifetime. Durability is the key selling factor for a satchel. For this reason, satchels are usually made of leather. The satchel must look and feel sturdy.
  • Leather satchels can be cleaned with shoe cleaners that are in the same color.
  • Ensure that the satchel you buy has enough padding and support to protect its contents (eg. laptop). It should have proper clasps or buckles to hold the contents securely.
  • Check if the satchel has enough compartments for holding essential items like a mobile phone, chargers for electronic devices, other wires and cables, and a secure pocket for your wallet.
  • After cleaning the satchel, never dry it in direct sunlight. It can cause fading of colors.
  • When not in use, keep the satchel filled with something. This will help keep the satchel’s shape intact.
  • The satchel should have strong and even seaming.
  • Always check if the handles are attached securely to the bag.
  • Check the bottom of the satchel for the tiny knobs, often called the ‘feet’. They keep the satchel off the floor when it is set down on the floor.
  • Satchels of flesh shade neutrals, buff, beige, and ecru will complement outfits in black, other neutral shades and understated classic styles.
  • Satchels of animal prints, faux leather or metallic shades can be paired with basic black and white colored dresses, winter clothes.
  • Original leather satchels of colors like brown, tan, and navy, look good with business suits, khaki pants and winter wear.