Every man has a few bags kicking around but do you really need 5 types of bags? Absolutely! Like shoes you need to select the style / functionality for the occasion. Good luck hiking in your penny loafers. Can you do it? Yes. Do you look like a rube? Also yes.
The Dopp kit is a toiletries bag. This type of bag helps you organize your toothbrush, razor, and soap. Using this dedicated bag helps you pack quickly and keeps your other bags free of clutter. Whether you are traveling for a weekend or 6 months this bag will be useful every day of your trip.
The best designed dopp kits have a hook built-in them that allows you to hang them for easy access. Another useful feature to look for is a waterproof compartment for wet items.
I recommend that you dedicate a tooth-brush, nail clipper, and band-aid stash to your dopp kit and leave them packed.
Of all the types of bags this tends to be the default for many men because they grew up with them. Backpacks have a lot of utility but they are often seen as childish, sporty, or proletariat.
So why should every man have one? Every man needs to carry things over unknown terrain or long distances. Backpacks are at their best when mobility is at a premium. Need to carry three classes worth of books 2 miles. Backpack balance that weight on your shoulders and allow you to navigate stairs, halls, and buses.
I recommend you pick your backpack based on the type of activity you would use it for most. I like to look for good shoulder straps and organization or lack there of. Some people prefer wide open no frills compartments and some need a slot or pouch for everything.
This is a travel necessity these days. Roller bags are also called spinners and rolling luggage. They are ideal for long trips and airplane travel. The reason these bags have become the standard for frequent fliers is that they put the weight of your stuff on the floor and let you drag it around on wheels.
A good roller bag will have a sturdy handle and reasonably large wheels. The smaller the wheels, the more you will feel vibrations from the surface you are pulling it over.
If you never travel or never travel by airplane then you could probably skip this bag.
Satchels are simply bags with a shoulder strap, usually worn cross body. Many popular bags fall into this category. Briefcases, messenger bags, and field bags are all satchels. Some satchels have extra straps that allow you to wear them like a backpack but those are less common.
This is the quintessential commuter bag. They excel in carrying a small amount of stuff while staying out of the way. The large shoulder strap makes it easy to get it on and off.
Every man should have one as this is the jack of all trades bag. Regardless of how formal or informal the occasion a smart satchel will not look out of place. This bag will work for job interviews, meetings, work, conventions, day trips, dates, sporting events, and walks.
It’s Achilles heel is weight. Anything heavy will pull on one shoulder and wear you down.
Why the Duffel bag when we have already covered backpacks and rollers? The duffel fills that space in between. Many men use these for sporting equipment and they are good for that but they are also perfect for weekend trips. It’s medium capacity allows you to leave the roller at home.
By adding a good duffel to your mix you can use a smaller backpack for every day use. They also pair really well, backpack on your back and duffel in hand.
Duffels tend to take a beating so I look for very rugged construction and good access to the main compartment. End compartments can be very handy but are not always necessary.
These are the bags that I think every man needs. Sure there are others but they tend to be more specialized. Some men will never need a briefcase or a full frame hiking backpack. Totes are nice but limited.
I recommend that for these workhorse bags that you buy high quality and choose neutral styles that pair well. That bright red ballistic nylon messenger bag might not work as well as say a tan canvas satchel when you are wearing a suit.