A rough-hewn utilitarian satchel is high on my list of necessary purchases for fall, and now I actually know what one is! It wasn’t clear to me what separated a satchel from, say, a briefcase or any other carryall. Wikipedia tells me a satchel is soft, while a briefcase is hard, and a briefcase never has straps but a satchel usually (but not always) does. It has come crossover with the messenger bag, although the messenger bag comes in more varieties of fabric and always has a strap.
The satchel has figured prominently in films: Indiana Jones carried one (his was actually a 1943 Mark VII gas mask bag), and later in 2009 in The Hangover when Zach Galifianakis says, “It’s not a purse, it’s a satchel. Indiana Jones carries one.” Galifianakis was carrying a Roots Village Bag, which prompted the company to release a larger bag called The Roots Satchel.
So there you have it, folks, everything you ever wanted to know about a satchel but were afraid to ask. Or maybe you didn’t care or couldn’t be bothered. But you never know, you might need a topic of conversation on your next first date or in line at the DMV. And if you’d like your own satchel, here are some that I think are quite nice.
Top to bottom: Proenza Schouler PS1 leather satchel in saddle, $2,175 at Ron Herman; Will bags utility tote, $348 at Free People, BCBG Max Azria bisquit embossed leather crossbody satchel bag, $137 at Bluefly; Medium leather buckle satchel, $100 at Topshop; IRO Andy crinkles-leather satches, $440 at Net-a-Porter; Mulberry oversized Alexa bag in black, $1,250 at Madison LA; The Satchel in vintage tribe leather, $158 at Roots; Premium Washed Leather Double Zip Satchel, $126 at ASOS.