Written by Czarina

Modified & Updated: 15 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

types of bags

Bags have been around for as long as humans have been gathering and hunting food. It’s one of the oldest human necessities. In fact, netted or animal skin bags were the first types of bags. Some modern bags are still made of leather, of course. But nowadays, bags are part of an outfit.

First, there was the handbag. Second, came its variations. And lastly, came the best way to style it. Whether it’s a single-strapped messenger bag or a two-handled handbag, there are different types of bags to go with an outfit.

There are also several types of bags, depending on the person using them. There’s an executive employee with a laptop bag, a student with a backpack, and army personnel with a haversack. But there are also types of bags with a specific use, such as luggage for traveling, a Dopp kit for toiletries, and a grocery bag for shopping. Time to read on and bag the information on these 50 types of bags, fashion trends, their history, and more!

Women’s bags aren’t just accessories.

Women and handbags are one of the world’s greatest pairings. Handbags give any outfit the pop it needs. However, that’s not what the bag is for. To some women, a good bag is a sign of wealth. While to others, a good bag means you can carry anything without difficulty.

There are different types of bags for women, from the traditional handbag to the stylish evening bag. Also, some of these types of bags are as stylish as they are essential.

The reticule was the precursor of the handbag.

handbag, types of bags
Image from Pixabay

This is one of the types of bags that started it all. A small drawstring-like bag called the reticule (or the indispensable) began in the 1800s. It was a “separate pocket” made for women. Despite its small size, this bag is actually roomy enough to store make-up, perfume, and some cards, among other things.

Designer handbags started becoming a status symbol in 1841. During this time, newly-appointed British royal confectioner Samuel Parkinson commissioned a sturdy leather luggage set for his wife. Today, the handbag is a default accessory for ladies. You can find a variety of designs and functions to what was a simple invention. Whether street brands or luxury brands, a functional handbag can become the best companion.

The hobo bag was born at the height of the boho-chic trend.

Green Hobo bag
Image from Vogue India

In the late 19th century, the word hobo firstly referred to homeless people. Then, the hobo bag came to be in 1936, wherein it inspired a fashion trend. However, it has been a controversial bag, because for a high-end luxury item, it glorifies looking homeless. Its shape is quite similar to that of a bundle on a stick that vagabonds are shown to carry around.

Bucket bags rose to fame in the 1960s.

Bucket Bag
Image from Adobe Stock

It’s neither the most stylish nor it is the most fashion-forward bag, but bucket bags have been a wardrobe staple for decades. The bucket bag has a circular bottom with adjustable strings on top. Usually made from leather, this bag is collapsible and easy to carry.

The history of the bucket bag goes way back. During World War II, the bag carried tools or water most of the time. Fashion historian Cassidy Zachary said the modern bucket rose to fame in the 1960s, thanks to Coach and American sportswear designer, Bonnie Cashin.

The Prada bowler bag is one of the most iconic modern fashion bags.

Prada Bowler Bag
Image from PurseBlog

For years, Prada trumps other brands with their bowler bag. Their bag was a hit since it was first released during the Spring/Summer of 2000. Aside from its sophisticated and classy look, it also proves as functional. You may even customize it according to your taste, and it can go with anything.

Canteen bags became a huge trend in the 2010s.

round bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

In the early 1800s, a canteen bag’s purpose was to carry a water bottle for drinking. Centuries later, these bags became stylish. However, it was in the 2010s that the bag itself became a huge trend. The canteen bag is a structured, rounded handbag with a long shoulder strap. It looks like an ideal combination of classy and bohemian.

The frame bag has Renaissance-era origins.

frame bag
Image from Unsplash

Like every fashion trend, the frame bag comes and goes. This bag is unique, convenient, and keeps itself upright. The frame bag is a popular choice among career women because of its sleek and professional look. Likewise, it can be worn on your shoulders or with a longer strap.

The frame bag has been around since the 1400s, during the Renaissance era. It’s called the frame bag because it was made with metal frames and covered with leather. Embroidery and beadings were only added a few centuries later.

There are four backpack purse variations.

backpack purse, types of bag
Image from Unsplash

The backpack purse is much smaller than a regular backpack. There are four backpack purse variations, each with a specific design and use. First, the daypack was designed as a smaller hiking backpack. Second, the one-shoulder haversack is usually worn by the military. Third, the knapsack looks similar to a backpack. And lastly, the very sturdy (and expensive) Japanese randoseru used by primary students.

The foldover bag can expand.

foldover bag
Image from Pixabay

There’s nothing much to say about this type of handbag, except that it is capable of folding. Made of soft fabric or leather, it is different from the usual handbags with a separate flap for it to close, instead, it is big enough to fold over on itself.

Victorian fashion inspired the muff bag.

white muff bag
Image from KYWIE

The muff is a cylinder-shaped, fur-covered handwarmer. It started as a necessary winter accessory that women wore from the 16th to 20th century. The handwarmer made a comeback in a modern fashion but in bag form. It still kept its shape but with additional straps, pockets, and flaps. From the early 2000s, however, the muff bag appeared once again on runways and on American TV shows.

The Kelly bag was named after a late princess.

Hermes Kelly Bag
Image from Love that Bag etc

French luxury brand, Hermès, introduced Sac à dépêches in 1935. Although the handle in this leather bag may be short, and its bottom flat, it still makes for a popular choice among women for its elegant design.

Grace Kelly was the epitome of beauty and Hollywood glamour. She was an award-winning actress before she became Princess of Monaco. Fast forward to the late 1950s, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco frequently carried a leather bag around to hide her pregnancy. After that, they changed its name to the Kelly bag.

A former model was always seen carrying a basket bag.

basket, Birkin, Hermes
Image from Pixabay

Making and weaving baskets are one of the oldest art forms in the world. The basket bag was used from the Medieval era to the Renaissance. However, modern designers turned the basket into one of the trendiest handbags it is today. Though Hermès named a line of bags after her, you would frequently see former English model Jane Birkin carrying a basket bag.

The Boston bag used to be called “green bags.”

BTS Boston Bag
Image from EastMojo

It is hard to believe that this travel bag was first seen in England’s House of Commons. Over time, the bag was brought to America wherein attorneys called it “green bags.” For centuries, the Boston bag became a popular piece. From mothers carrying groceries to overnight travelers needing a carry-all bag. The Boston bag has changed its shape over time. Recently, it looked more like a narrow canvas tote compared to the flat-bottomed original.

The crossbody bag was the first utility bag.

crossbody bag, types ogf bag
Image from Unsplash

This small leather bag was one of the first unisex bags. The crossbody bag was indeed a popular item among men and women from the 1600s to 1700s. Back then, it was used to hold small tools or mail. The modern crossbody bag was inspired by the fanny packs men wore in the 1980s. But from the 2010s, the bag now comes in varying colors, styles, and sizes.

Coco Chanel introduced the first flap bag in 1955.

flap bag, types of bag
Image from Unsplash

In 1955, French fashion designer Coco Chanel released Chanel 2.55. It was the very first flap bag with a front flap closure and a long strap. The luxury brand kept re-releasing the bag throughout the decades. This is definitely one of Chanel’s hallmark bags.

The evening bag is considered the reticule’s direct ancestor.

evening bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

As mentioned previously, the reticule was the first handbag. It’s small, kind of like a woman’s separate pocket, but stylish and functional enough for evening wear. Centuries after, the reticule evolved into a slim, rectangular bag. The evening bag is a variation of the clutch. It’s an ideal accessory for a late-night date or when in formal wear. Moreover, it could fit a smartphone, credit cards, and a few bucks.

The pochette was the ’90s “it” bag.

LV pochette bag
Image from Hypebae

French fashion house Louis Vuitton has had the most sought-after luxury bags for decades. In fact, the brand was named the world’s most valuable luxury brand from 2006 to 2012. The pochette is one of the luxury brand’s iconic designs. Like the reticule, the bag served as a separate pocket, hence the name. It generated so much craze and style hype back in the 90s, that every “it” girl had one.

The wristlet is a variation of the clutch bag.

wristlet clutch bag
Image from Editorialist

Combining portability and style, the wristlet is a clutch bag with a really short strap. It is also called a bracelet bag because it’s meant to be worn at the wrist. The bag looks like an envelope. It can also expand, thanks to its accordion-like interiors. It is also quite comfortable in comparison to shoulder bags that are mostly heavy. In fact, the wristlet produced a wave of small bag trends when it was released.

The pouch used to be a removable part of the belt.

drawstring pouch
Image from WhoWhatWear

The modern pouch is nowhere similar to the first pouch. Though both bags are small and easier to carry, it was invented due to necessity.

The lack of pockets for men and women resulted in the demand for pouches that could carry random small stuff. Additionally, local craftsmen started adding fringes, embroidery, and precious stones to their designs. In fact, brides wear pouches as part of their dress.

Jewelry designers created the miniaudiere.

miniaudurie, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

Clutch bags became a popular choice among Hollywood stars in the 1920s and 1930s. Both bags are small, but the miniaudiere is more intricate than an evening bag. American socialite Florence Gould was frequently carrying all of her stuff inside a small box which looked like a cigarette case. This inspired jewelry maker Van Cleef & Arpels to create the metal clutch bag designed as a piece of jewelry. Thereafter, Tiffany and Cartier followed suit.

The makeup bag has probably been around for 2,000 years.

Make-up bag
Image from Adobe Stock

Cosmetics have been around since 3000 BC, and most ancient civilizations used them for different purposes. Hence, the makeup bag was probably born within those thousands of years. It is usually a tiny bag with a zipper that can carry various makeup items.

There is more to men’s bags than just suitcases and messenger bags.

Men’s bags fall into a different category. These types of bags have deep, historical backgrounds. You could say messenger bags from the Roman soldiers and drawstring bags from the Ancient Egyptians. To men, these types of bags can determine a person’s social status. A man with a suitcase is most likely a professional, while a man carrying a sling bag is seen as a carefree individual. Each of these types of bags caters to every man, whether he is going to work or to play.

Roman soldiers started the messenger bag.

messenger bag, types of bags
Image from Pixabay

The messenger bag is a stylish and functional bag for men. It is less formal than a briefcase and more sophisticated than a backpack.

This is one of the types of bags first worn by Roman legionnaires. The messenger bag carried medicine for the army and letters to the generals. De Martini Globe Canvas released satchels specifically for telephone linemen in the 1950s. Made from cotton canvas, it has a waterproof lining, two closure straps, and a small pocket inside. As a result, bicycle messengers started adopting the bag in the 1980s, hence its name. Fast forward to the 20th century, repairmen and newspaper boys too, are associated with these bags.

The first leather briefcase came from the 19th century.

leather briefcase
Image from Adobe Stock

Due to the invention of railroad transport in the early 19th century, traveling was in fashion. This led to people commissioning for better luggage. Local leather workmen created the first briefcase, complete with leather corners, metal clasp, and handles. The ’60s and ’70s saw bulky leather briefcases from Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, and Mary Quant. Meanwhile, the ’80s briefcase opted for refined black leather bags from Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès, and Chanel.

Today, leather briefcases are commonly used to hold documents and laptops or tablets for work purposes.

There used to be four kinds of doctor’s bags.

doctor's bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

The traditional doctor’s bag was made of leather with a split-handle design. It held the necessary objects needed by a physician when visiting the sick. Meanwhile, American Civil War doctors had medical saddlebags. There’s also the pouch-like medicine bag the Indigenous North American doctors use and the battle bag from the military.

The first drawstring bag dates back to Ancient Egypt.

man carrying drawstring bag
Image from Adobe Stock

The drawstring bag has been around for centuries. It is made with sack-like cloth and long carrying straps. It first appeared in Ancient Egypt when men used to tie small pouches around their waist. Next came the rise of the embroidered drawstring bags during the 18th and 19th centuries.

A few centuries later, the bag became associated with street fashion and sports. The bag never went out of fashion but had varying designs instead. It’s a popular bag of choice for sneakerheads, beachgoers, and students alike.

The saddlebag was originally designed for horse riding.

Saddlebag on a black cruiser
Image from Adobe Stock

In the past, traveling on horseback meant there was a need to store personal belongings. The traditional saddle bag was made with leather and ties. It is slightly different from the pack animal, a much bigger saddle bag that sits on top of a horse.

The modern saddlebag was popularised by Dior in 1999. It was an unevenly shaped bag that can be folded over and closed with a clasp. Instead of horses, saddlebags are now more commonly found attached to bicycles or motorbikes for the rider to carry their belongings.

The satchel used to be called loculus.

satchel bag, types of bags
Image from Pixabay

The Ancient Romans used the loculus to carry medicines and messages. Loculus is Latin for “little place” and it is the father of most modern bags. Most likely made from leather, this bag is rectangular and usually comes in a solid color, with a handle on top and straps on them to be worn like a backpack. The classic leather satchel was originally aimed at school children’s use. However, British luxury designers started releasing their own versions, like Mulberry and their Alexa satchel bag.

The carryall bag used to contain blankets.

carryall bag
Image from Unsplash

The carryall bag is simply a large bag to carry lots of big items. This is probably a much easier way to put everything in a smaller bag than in a bigger suitcase. The leather carryall bag normally has a rectangular base, zippered opening, two handles, and a removable strap. It was formerly used to carry bedding and blankets.

In India, boarding school students are issued their own carryall bag. These bags contain blankets, quilts, clothes, and other school supplies.

The Bomber Barrel is the “most successful” weekender bag.

weekender bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

A weekender bag, as its name suggests, is best suited for you to pack light for a weekend getaway, road trip, or overnight stay. It is more spacious than a backpack, yet less bulky than a suitcase.

In 2016, Bomber & Company designers Vincent Pilot Ng and Andrew Nguyen began a Kickstarter campaign for the Bomber Barrel. This weekender bag is known to be water-resistant and lightweight. It also comes with military-grade clips, waterproof zippers, and emergency paracord zipper pulls. The campaign ended successfully, raising a total of $400,000, which was 26 times more than their target goal!

The Dopp kit was made in the 1920s.

dopp kit, toiletry bag, types of bag
Image from Pixabay

This is one of the types of bags that is considered manly. Leather-goods maker Charles Doppelt designed the very first toiletry bag for men. It was created in the 1920s and was supplied to the US Army during World War II. A Dopp kit is small with a square bottom and a zippered top as its classic shape. Its compact design makes it the perfect travel essential.

Not all shoe bags are waterproof.

Shoe Bag
Image from Afar Magazine

From the name itself, the shoe bag is intended to protect footwear. A good shoe bag should be compact, durable, and leakproof.

A shoe bag comes in handy when you’re packing for travel. It can fit in your luggage without taking up too much space, while making sure your shoes don’t dirty the rest of your baggage.

The army uses the barrel bag.

barrel bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

By the name itself, the barrel bag is a cylindrical bag that looks like its namesake. It is a bag typically associated with the men in the army. The barrel bag looks similar to a gym bag, but it is  also often confused with a baguette bag.

The rucksack went through several revisions.

rucksack, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

The rattan-framed canvas duck sack was first developed by the US Army in 1941. At that time, the bag was lined with heavy felt pads, brass snap hooks, and three external pockets. However, the first version of the army rucksack didn’t fit military use. Later on, revisions were made according to the National Ski Association’s Winter Equipment Committee’s suggestions. By 1951, over 10 companies made improvements to the rucksack.

Today, the modern rucksack is still shapeless, but it is made with sturdier cloth. It can carry over 10 kilograms, and some bags even come with padded hip belts to support heavy loads.

There is a math problem named after the knapsack.

Image from Pixabay

The knapsack is a hybrid of a backpack and a rucksack. It looks similar to a rugged knapsack but has the same features as a backpack. US Army General Henry C. Merriam designed the bag by combining the wood frame and the soft canvas rucksack. His design was patented in 1878 and made way for the modern backpack.

The knapsack math problem refers to “packing the most valuable or useful items without overloading the luggage.” This resource allocation problem dates back to 1897.

The haversack was adopted in the 17th century.

haversack, types of bags
Image from Wikimedia Commons

This military bag is similar to a backpack, except that it is a single shoulder strap. The haversack originated from the 17th-century British army. The haversack was derived from the German word hafersack and the Dutch word haverzak, both meaning “oat sack.” The US Army had been using the haversack since the American Civil War. The modern haversack can either be worn over the shoulder or as a backpack.

Meanwhile, the field bag has been around since 1851.

Military field backpack
Image from Adobe Stock

A part of the US Army gear is the field bag. Some field bags look like a messenger bag, while some look like a rucksack. The first field bag came out in 1851. It measured 13 inches across and 11 inches deep, made with a white linen cloth and painted with linseed oil. It was secured with a leather strap and a buckle, and was used until the late 1870s. New field designs resemble either a messenger bag or a rucksack. It comes in dark brown or olive green, completing the camouflage look.

The battle bag is used to carry ammunition.

Ammunition pouch
Image from Adobe Stock

Army bags are commonly used to carry supplies. On the other hand, the battle bag carries whatever a soldier may need should a battle arise. The British Army designed their own battle bag. It has a main compartment, ammo pouches, a first field dressing pouch, and a radio pouch.

A belt bag prototype came out in 1962.

belt bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

The belt bag started to become trendy in the past few years. Australian designer Melba Stone created the first belt bag prototype in 1962. A small pouch secured with a zipper, and usually worn around the hips or waist, best describe it. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that the belt bag became a fashion accessory. From 2010 onwards, the most stylish way to wear the belt bag is across the shoulders.

The sling bag was a popular ’80s accessory.

Sling Bag
Image from Point 65 Boblbee

There’s a bit of confusion about whether the sling bag and the shoulder bag are the same. They couldn’t be any more different, though both are worn over the shoulder. The sling bag is the cousin of the fanny pack since both types of bags come with a belt-like strap. It is perfect for casual wear and outdoor trips. It became popular in the ‘80s, since it was a small backpack alternative.

The hiking backpack was created in the 1930s.

Hiking backpack
Image from Adobe Stock

At first, avid adventurer Gerry Cunningham found it difficult to carry multiple packs while on a hike. Next, he realized that the bad design and awful fabric choice made the bag heavy. Therefore, he designed the hiking backpack by adding zippered compartments in order to easily carry things while rock climbing. In 1946, the Gerry Mountaineering brand was born.

Modern hiking backpacks now have a larger main bag and several external compartments. It comes in different sizes, depending on how long the hike or camping is.

The pilot case is a briefcase with wheels.

Pilot case
Image from Adobe Stock

Pilots and flight attendants don’t just instruct passengers to place their bags in overhead compartments. They have their own luggage too. The pilot case is a roller bag that resembles the modern briefcase, but with wheels! Today, most passengers use a pilot case style luggage for its convenience as carry-on luggage while traveling.

There’s a bag for everyone.

Sure, there are distinctions in style between men’s and women’s bags, but we are totally for using any type of bag you fancy. There are also types of bags that are simple for anyone to use. First, there’s the tote bag that can sometimes double as a shopping bag and a beach bag. Second, there’s the messenger bag that can also double as a laptop bag. But there are types of bags that are unique too, like the dark history of the carpetbag and the surprising reason why the lunch bag is a huge part of the American culture.

Tote means “to carry.”

Tote bag
Image from Adobe Stock

The tote bag is a must-have for every shopaholic. It is usually made with canvas, a very strong material. It also has enough room to carry books, clothes, or groceries. In the 17th century, the word ‘tote’ means “to carry.” The bag was brought to the US in the 1800s. L.L. Bean pushed the usage of the modern tote bag during the 1940s, calling it the “boat bag”.

The beach bag is a variation of the tote bag.

beach bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

Beachgoers and swimmers alike need a bag to keep their things dry and sand-free. Of course, a stylish beach bag is always a great choice. The beach bag and the tote bag may look and function the same, except for their materials. Most beach bags are made with straw on the outside, with waterproof cloth inside, and lined with netting.

The duffel bag is named after a municipal province in Belgium.

duffel bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

Almost every cylindrical-shaped bag falls into the duffel bag category. Aside from its shape, the duffel bag used to be made with Duffel cloth, a 17th-century heavy woolen cloth. The bag is named after a Duffel, a municipal province in Antwerp, Belgium.

In the past, the duffel bag was issued to non-commissioned military personnel for travel, sports, and recreation. It was made with canvas cloth and has a drawstring closure. Today, most duffel bags are made with canvas and polyester, so they can withstand harsh conditions while keeping your belongings safe.

There are many names for a backpack.

Image from Unsplash

The most popular and most versatile bag on the list. The backpack is commonly used by hikers and students. It has the capacity to carry heavy loads like books or camping supplies. What used to be a hiking must-have became a student necessity. The backpack craze began at the University of Washington in the 1970s when students brought their JanSport bags to school.

The United States coined the word backpack in the 1910s. It’s called a rucksack in the UK, a knapsack in Canada, and the German haversack.

The laptop bag looks similar to a messenger bag.

Laptop bag
Image from Adobe Stock

Though they look the same, their functions are somewhat different. Both bags are rectangular-shaped, the difference is the location of the pockets. Messenger bags have visible pockets on the outside while laptop bags usually don’t.

The luggage used to be a trunk set.

Image from Unsplash

When it comes to travel efficiency, the wheeled luggage is the best choice. But it wasn’t always the case. The luggage is a set of bags, cases, and containers necessary for travelers. People used travel trunks before the introduction of rolling luggage. The patent for this invention belonged to Bernard Sadow, who fastened four casters to a suitcase while including a bendy strap.

There are several kinds of grocery bags.

grocery bag, types of bags
Image from Unsplash

Grocery bags have been around for as long as people have been shopping for goods. There are several kinds of grocery bags, including baskets, plastic bags, and paper bags. The bottom of the modern shopping bag is usually flat. Meanwhile, there are two kinds: the environmentally friendly eco-bag and the canvas tote bags.

The fanny pack used to be protected from the bandits.

fanny pack
Image from Unsplash

This is one of the types of bags that keep coming back into the mainstream. The fanny pack is a pouch bag worn around the waist. The word fanny is British slang for buttocks.

The Native Americans had pouches made from buffalo skin, while the Scots had the sporran as part of the traditional kilt. The fanny pack came back in style in 2012. It’s either called “belted satchels” or “hands-free bag.”

The lunch bag is the new lunch pail.

lunch bag for school children
Image from Adobe Stock

Packed lunches have been part of the American culture for a long time. Back in the 1800s, working folks used to enjoy a good meal snugly kept inside old industrial containers. It was only in the 1920s when lunch pails became popular as they were sold commercially. Fast forward to the 21st century, people started to bring lunch bags instead of tins or pails.

Carpetbagger was a derogatory term.

carpet bag
Image from Wikimedia Commons

This is one of the types of bags that are lush and stylish. Moreover, the carpetbags began when railroad traveling became the trend. Old or discarded carpets were turned into bags in the 1840s and 1850s.

But by the end of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era began, Northerners began visiting the South to seek business and political opportunities. The Southerners didn’t take this kindly and started calling the opportunistic Northerners carpetbaggers, pertaining to their luggage of choice.

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