7 Tips for Buying a Satchel

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7 Tips for Buying a Satchel

Satchels have a long history, starting with Roman Legionaries who used satchels for rations and personal belongings. The satchel was originally called a 'loculus', which meant 'little place' in Latin. Today, satchels are also known as book bags, school bags, messenger bags, and trolley bags, and are widely available in traditional stores as well as online venues like eBay. Satchels should not be confused with totes, as they are made from different materials, have different straps or handles, and are better made for wearing over the shoulder.

For fashionable utility, the satchel cannot be beat. When deciding upon which satchel to buy, there are eight tips to keep in mind before finalising a purchase. A shopper should consider such features as the best size for the intended purpose, style, colour, material, and ease of care. Because there are such a large variety of satchels, in a plethora of styles, colours and size choices, knowing what the benefits of each type of satchel will help one to narrow the choices down a bit. One can find the best selection of satchels on eBay.

1. Consider the Types of Satchels

There are three major types of satchels on the market today: messenger bags, backpacks, and school trolley bags. Each type of satchel is good for carrying books or everyday items, which voids the necessity of having to carry a large bag around. With extra pockets, and long shoulder straps, the satchel is the perfect way to carry mobile phones, keys, books, and even a snack for later on.

Messenger Bags

This type of satchel has been carried for hundreds of years by women as well as men, and has always been made with a fastener that is reliable and strong. Most messenger bags are weather resistant and available in nylon or vinyl. These satchels are perfect for use on bikes or walking when a secure bag is required. Modern day messenger bags usually have zipper fasteners to keep one's belongings safe.

Messenger bags are usually worn over one shoulder, with one strap crossed over the body. The bag rests on one side of the body or at the lower back level. Students like messenger bags because of the fit and storage capacity for carrying books.


Backpacks are a form of satchel, with the primary difference being that it is not just worn over one shoulder, but rests equally on two shoulders. This design keeps the weight evenly distributed between shoulders for additional comfort, reducing back and shoulder strain. The downside to this design is that if one needs to get inside the satchel, it has to be completely removed from the body.

School Trolley Bags

This type of bag features telescoping handles and wheels, which can be easily used to prevent any back strain issues. However, because school trolley bags also have adjustable straps, they can be used as backpacks when the situation requires it.

2. Consider the Material the Satchel Is Made From

Satchels are usually made from soft leather, canvas or nylon and are available in a variety of colours. Leather satchels are a bit more expensive, but vinyl bags can crack and split when continually exposed to weather and frequent use. Before buying a satchel, consider what material it is made from. These materials range from natural leather to synthetic materials.


Leather is waterproof and is a luxurious option for a satchel. Leather satchels are widely available because leather is very durable, pliable, and easy to care for. Leather satchels come in many colours, making them easy to pair with a wide range of outfits. For example, a purple leather satchel can be carried with an outfit that consists of purple tights, and boots.


Canvas is a widely popular textile for school satchels and is much cheaper than other types of materials. The soft flexibility of canvas provides ample room to store books and personal belongings, and canvas is highly durable compared to some other materials. One of the downsides to canvas satchels is that they will require frequent washing and this causes colours to fade. Canvas satchels are popular amongst older students who are looking for a satchel with plenty of room as well as distinctive style. When buying a satchel, choose a stylish and fashionable backpack or trendy messenger bag in colours from sea green to olive brown. And for a really stylish look, pair the satchel with a sleeveless cardigan in the latest fashion.


Nylon satchels are wildly popular today. These satchels are made in cool and trendy colours with a variety of designs. One of the disadvantages to a nylon satchel is that it can easily stretch out of shape, which also means that special cleaning instructions must be followed. Choose a nylon satchel with a faux leather look and a long shoulder strap, or perhaps a satchel with cool designs for a trendy and chic look. Wear a cardigan or blazer for a sassy fashion statement.

3. How Easy Is It to Care For the Satchel?

When looking for a particular satchel, think about the material it is made from and how easy, or hard, it will be to care for the satchel. Many women would rather not have to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning their satchel, but prefer the more easy to care for items.

Caring for Leather

Never use water to clean leather because wet leather is hard to dry and the water can stain the leather. To clean leather satchels, one should use a good leather conditioner and cleaner. Using a non-dyed cloth, apply a small amount of the cleaner to the satchel and using firm strokes, wipe down the entire leather portion of the satchel. Be sure to try the cleaner in a small, hidden area first to confirm that the satchel is colourfast. Leather satchels will usually need to be cleaned once a month to keep them free from dirt and debris.

Conditioning cleaners are a good idea because leather needs to be kept conditioned to prevent cracking or breaks and maintain a soft and supple feel to the leather. If using a separate cleaner and conditioner, be sure to clean the leather first and then condition it afterward. Conditioning also needs to be done monthly. To keep the leather satchel cleaner for longer, always hang it on hooks or keep it on one's shoulder.

Caring for Canvas

Prior to cleaning a canvas satchel, remove any vinyl-covered or flat pieces of cardboard that may have been inserted into the the bottom of the bag. If there are any stains on the satchel, pre-treat them with a standard laundry stain treatment following manufacturer instructions. Wash plain canvas satchels in a washing machine. Machine washing will damage satchels with decorative stitching.

If it appears that a washing machine will damage the satchel, wash it by hand using a soft scrub brush or terry cloth. Using laundry detergent mixed with warm water. Dip the scrub brush lightly into the solution and tap off any excess water. Clean the entire bag with circular motions, and then rinse the bag, being careful to avoid getting any non-washable areas wet.

Caring for Nylon

Nylon satchels can, and should, be cleaned every day. To prevent the satchel from accumulating dirt or debris, spray on a fabric cleaner and wipe off with a soft cloth. However, if the satchel is very dirty, it will need to be cleaned by rinsing it with clear water. No harsh chemicals should be used on a nylon satchel.

To clean any metal chains, zippers or other metallic items on the satchel, use a metal cleaner to avoid causing rust. If the satchel is wet, dry it by placing it in a cool, shaded location. To keep the bag from fading, do not place it in direct sunlight, and to keep it in the correct shape, fill it with something to prevent distortion.

4. Inspect the Satchel's Fasteners

Some satchels are made with a zipper closure on the top which is then covered by a flap with a magnetic snap. This is the most common type of closure for satchels, although sometimes metal hardware, such as snaps, or even Velcro can be used as a fastener.

Magnetic Fasteners

Magnetic fasteners are very similar to large snaps, but connect magnetically rather than simply snapping together. Magnetic fasteners are connected to satchels with prongs that are inserted into the material and are then bent back over a large metal washer-like disc on the inside.

Velcro Fasteners

Velcro is safe, easy and completely maintenance free, with only a minimal loss of use over time from repeated fastening and unfastening. However, Velcro has some disadvantages as well, as it will tend to collect hair, dust or lint over several months, and the loops can become bent, broken or elongated, preventing the two sides from connecting securely.

Snap Fastener

Snap fasteners are most often used for children's clothing, because they are easy for children to use and can be attached to nearly any fabric, although there are some satchels that utilise this type of fastener.


A zipper is the ideal way to fasten satchels and costs comparatively little, but if a zipper fails, the satchel will have no way to be kept closed until it can be repaired or replaced, which can be difficult as well as expensive. Many women prefer to simply replace the satchel rather than deal with the problem of a broken zipper.

5. Assess the Satchel's Size

Determine how well the satchel feels when worn on the shoulder before buying it. Make sure that any shoulder straps are the correct length for comfort. The straps should be neither too short nor too long for the level at the bend of the arm. It is important for a satchel to fit comfortably with one's arm being able to rest on the top of it as it hangs from the shoulder. Be sure to determine the correct size satchel for comfortable wear.

11-Inch Satchel

The 11-inch satchel is the perfect size for use as a small handbag or clutch because it is the smallest size satchel available. This small bag is compact, making it suitable for carrying one's phone, makeup, iPod, or any other small everyday items.

12.5-Inch Satchel

A satchel of this size will perfectly fit an iPad in the main compartment. This can be very useful for any woman who needs to be able to take an iPad anywhere. With the perfect size of this satchel one can carry any expensive tech with confidence that it will remain safe inside.

14-Inch Satchel

14-inch satchels are exactly proportioned to carry certain laptops, making it the idea satchel for anyone that needs to take their laptop to work, school, or anywhere else. This bag is also the perfect size for A4 folders.

15-Inch Satchel

Although this satchel is comparable in size to a 14-inch satchel, it can actually carry larger laptops and folders. The 15-inch satchel boasts a wider gusset and a larger overall interior, allowing one to carry more items and making it perfect for any woman who needs more space to carry her things.

6. Look for Good Quality Construction

Any good satchel will have separate compartments inside as well as outside for storing a mobile, change or other items. Some satchels have a single, big compartment to carry one's things in, and other styles have two or three compartments. For a more organised satchel, multiple compartments or pockets inside and out are a plus. Interior pockets or compartments can hold a mobile which is especially useful for finding a ringing phone quickly.

Although pockets can help one to determine quality construction, it is necessary to look closely at how the satchel was made to determine if the zipper was sewn in accurately or snaps were placed correctly. Tug on the zipper to be sure that it is actually sturdy and not intended to be simply a decoration on the satchel.

Check the lining, if one is present, to ascertain whether it was sewn in carefully without gaps or misalignment. A good lining will be made from material that will not bleed colours from the seams. Overall construction of the satchel at seams and joinings should be inspected to be sure that it has been made with care and not haphazardly thrown together.

7. Look for a Detachable Shoulder Strap

Choosing a satchel with a detachable shoulder strap will provide more versatility and ease of use because when carrying a satchel in a more formal setting, the strap can be removed. Although satchels are available in double as well as single strap versions, sometimes the double strap model is more hassle than it is worth due to a tendency for one of the straps to keep slipping off the shoulder.

How to Find a Satchel on eBay

To start your search for the perfect satchel on eBay, simply enter keywords that describe what you are looking for into the search bar at the top of any eBay page. For instance, if you type "long shoulder strap leather satchel" into the search bar, a results page is generated, populated with listings for satchels that match that description. The more specific the search phrase, the fewer the listings returned, while a generic search phrase will return a results page with potentially hundreds of listings. You can sort listings based on the colour and the outer material.

When you have found the exact satchel you are looking for, be sure to reread the listing carefully. If you have any questions you want to ask the seller about size, or the condition of the satchel, simply click on their member name, go to their profile and access the contact link. While in their profile, review their feedback score to find out how they were rated by other buyers. You can always select listings by setting search parameters to narrow the listings to only those posted by top-rated sellers.


Satchels can be both functional and fashionable. When shopping for a new satchel, a woman should consider the different types that are available. There are satchels that look like backpacks and satchels that look like messenger bags. Materials for satchels include the ever popular leather, while more affordable materials include canvas and nylon. A shopper should always consider the fasteners that secure the satchel. Some satchels close with magnetic fasteners, while others are secured using zippers. The shopper should consider the quality of the zipper, as a faulty zipper can ruin a satchel. Along with assessing the construction of the satchel, a shopper should also assess the size. Will a laptop fit in it? How many pockets does the satchel have? Can a woman access her ringing mobile easily? When a woman needs a satchel for any occasion, no matter what that occasion might be, eBay has an extensive selection of satchels to choose from.

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