Maybe it’s the fact that I’m heading out on my first international trip since the onset of COVID-19 (about to go face-first into as much sushi and yakitori as possible on an upcoming trip to Japan), but I feel like I can’t stop thinking about… bags. Packing them with stuff, optimizing their storage space—I am not exaggerating when I say that I’ve picked up a small mountain of various bags (of various sizes) that I “need” for my upcoming travels ([Morgan Freeman narration voice] He didn’t need those bags.)
One thing I realized I do actually need is a solid crossbody bag. Whether you’re keeping your essentials on-hand as you glide through the airport or just need something that can give you a little extra cargo space (without cramping your style), the best men’s crossbody bags tend to fall somewhere on the spectrum between “fine leather goods” and gorpcore-adjacent fashion-meets-functionality.
Unlike a tote bag or a daypack, a great crossbody bag is streamlined, and doesn’t overstay its welcome—at least from a design perspective. Basically built to fit comfortably when worn across your body (duh), crossbody bags are one of those few things in life that manage to hit a Goldilocks-esque level of “just right.” Given that most men are reticent to carry anything remotely resembling a purse (despite how far we’ve come discarding several gendered ideas around style), a crossbody bag for men is likely the most common way to increase EDC capacity (short of a pair of cargo pants; though if you’re asking us, the more pockets, the merrier).
Whether you’re looking for a luxe leather crossbody bag, a sportier option from Nike or Adidas, or just a travel crossbody bag that’s built for last minute sprints through security and hours-long hikes on the trail, you’re in the right place. Here are a few of our favorite crossbody bags for keeping all the essentials—and yes, that includes your phone, wallet, keys, sunglasses, Chapstick, pocket knife, gum (you get it)—within reach while on the go.
Bellroy Venture Ready Sling Bag
While it’s definitely not the biggest brand on the market, Bellroy has built a solid reputation among those in the know when it comes to sharp, understated essentials (shout out to Bellroy wallets). The brand’s take on a crossbody bag is exactly what you’d expect from Bellroy: everything you need and nothing you don’t. While the outer shell is made from a simple recycled nylon (great for wearing in a variety of contexts and—more importantly—weather patterns), the interior has plenty of crucial details for toting all your stuff. Whether you’re wowed by the front pocket with a built-in internal divider, the padded phone sleeve, or the rear zip pocket (which is designed to lay against your bod, and is perfect for holding those “I’m-gonna-lose-it-if-I-lose-this” valuables), the details prove this Bellroy bag is a no-brainer if you’re in the market for a crossbody bag.
Nike Sportswear Essentials 1L Crossbody Bag
While there’s a mountain of different crossbody bags available at Nike, this smaller crossbody bag stands out. At a one-liter capacity (or, better put, eight inches high and five inches wide), this crossbody bag isn’t going to be a carry all, but it should serve nicely as a way to carry your phone, wallet and keys without weighing down your pants pockets. (This is especially true during shorts season where—at least for this writer—putting things in your pockets either messes up the fit of my shorts or leaves awkward bulges where I’ve stashed anything larger or heavier than a tube of Chapstick). With a unique, almost L-shaped belt design, this is a bag that’s likely to fit and feel better when actually worn across the body; sure, any belt bag can be a crossbody bag, but given that most bags in this category are technically fanny packs (just worn differently), the unique shape of this Nike crossbody bag is clearly designed to be worn across your chest or over your back. If you’re just looking for a bag to bring to concerts or for day tripping around town, well… just (buy) it.
Maison Margiela Logo Crossbody Bag
Listen, if you’re going for a designer bag, you might as well accept that you might have to spend a bit. Even with its hefty price tag, however, this designer leather crossbody bag from Margiela manages to have some practical touches, including an expandable cotton canvas throat (managed by a drawstring closure) that allows for expanded storage space. Even better, the minimal design of this model means that—not only is it something you’ll likely rock for more than a year or two—you won’t regret dropping a stack on a bag that’s overbranded and overdesigned (but you knew that already; after all, it is Margiela).
$1405 at SSENSE
Patagonia Atom Sling Bag
Leave it to Patagonia to make a great, gorpy crossbody bag. With an eight-liter capacity, this is definitely meant for bigger trips (or you know, spending time hiking or hanging out in the great outdoors), but all that extra cargo space means you’ll plenty of room when it comes to keeping your daily essentials on deck. Featuring an asymmetrical design to fit comfortably on the body, the Atom Sling Bag boasts two main pockets, with an additional zip pocket area on the front of the belt for stuff you really want to keep close at hand (aka: your phone, wallet, emotional support tube of Tums). It even has “tuckaway front straps” which can hold a yoga mat or light jacket. If you’re heading someplace and need some serious storage capacity (but don’t want to lug around a full-on backpack), this sling bag should hit the sweet spot.
$65 at REI
Carhartt Cargo Series Hook-N-Haul Hip Pack
Who said a crossbody bag can’t also be “workwear?” Carhartt’s iconic “C” logo might be more commonly found on pocket tees, beanies, and overalls, but the brand’s commitment to rugged, hard-wearing gear clearly applies to everything it puts out—including belt bags and fanny packs. This crossbody bag—part of Carhartt’s Cargo Series—can be worn on its own or attached via the eponymous “Hook-N-Haul” straps to any other bag in the series. On its own, this bag has two pockets: a larger pocket with integrated organization sleeves, and a smaller zippered front pocket. Made with 500-denier Cordura ripstop nylon, this pack should be as rugged (and rain-resistant) as the Carhartt name implies.
$28.66 at Amazon
C.P. Company Lens Crossbody Bag
C.P. Company is a company known for its techy, functional designs, but we’re charmed by the simplicity of this crossbody bag. Effectively a small rectangular zip pouch with a snap button flap closure to keep things locked in, the simple, single compartment design of this bag is a refreshing change of pace when compared to the multi-pocket crossbody bags that are commonly found in the market. Real fans of the brand will recognize the Lens button branding on the exterior—a nod to C.P. Company’s iconic “Goggle” designs.
$149 at End Clothing
Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag 1L
What can we say? We love Lululemon. While we’ve ranted and raved about its shockingly top-tier men’s underwear, that’s far from the only thing we love from the ubiquitous Canadian activewear brand. The insanely popular Everywhere Belt Bag has a great reputation for a reason, combining a simple, uncomplicated, functional design with an accessible price point for a belt bag that’s almost impossible not to add to cart. Made from a water-repellent fabric, the two zippered pockets (one in the rear of the bag and one on the front) are perfectly sized to hold just the essentials. The point of opting for a crossbody bag is making items like your phone and wallet easily available without overcomplicating your cargo carrying situation. TL;DR: Who needs pockets when you can just pick up one of these Lululemon belt bags?
$38 at Lululemon
Dries Van Noten Crossbody Bag
If your vibe is “dadwear… but make it designer,” then this might just be the bag for you. Sure it may look like the leather fanny pack your dad on family vacations in the 1990s, but we doubt you’ll be using this made-in-Italy leather bag to hold crumpled ticket stubs, an overstuffed wallet, a Ziplock baggie of peanuts, and exactly 28 cents (unless, you know, you’re into that sort of thing). If you’re asking us, the fact that this is something that looks like it could round out your vintage The Rock-themed Halloween costumeand it’s from cult-favorite designer Dries Van Noten almost makes us want to add this cart purely on principle.
Dries Van Noten
$975 at SSENSE
Pants pockets are overrated.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.