Whether you’re gearing up for a new semester at school or headed off to work, a stylish and functional bag is an important accessory. You want to find a bag that has the right features (laptop storage, pockets for organization) but also one that has clean, minimal design. Our favorite bags are also proof that style and functionality don’t have to be expensive, all these bags are under $150.
Here are our picks for the best Budget-Friendly Backpacks for Men 2019!
Sleek and stylish, this bag from Incase has an outstanding design and a ton of integrated features. It’s nice and deep with plenty of storage and a padded laptop sleeve. We love how Incase uses thoughtful touches in their design like hiding the zippers and plenty of interior organizational pockets for all your accessories and gear. Dorian is a personal user of their products and we’re definitely big fans. We also really like the larger version of this style if you’re looking for a bit more room for travel or more gear.
We’re big fans of Herschel’s backpacks, they’re great quality and very reasonably priced. Their standard version is great but we’re even bigger fans of the mountaineering vibe of this version. It comes in a huge range of colors and patterns and the padded shoulder straps and snapping strap details are nice features. The interior features a padded laptop sleeve and the exterior zipper pocket has plenty of room for keys and tech accessories.
We love Aer’s lowkey, minimal designs, and futuristic style. The durable, ballistic nylon is incredibly tough and the overall construction is very high quality. This pack features a very cool central zipper design and a ton of room, much more than you’d think for a small size. It’s great for lugging around school stuff and can do double duty as a great bag for the gym with its shoe compartment. Overall, this is an outstanding backpack that will last you a long time. If you’re looking for a slightly more traditional backpack style, Aer’s Day Pack is also an awesome choice.
A classic school or work bag that’s very affordable, this North Face backpack features a technical, outdoorsy vibe and a lean profile. It features dual pockets and protection for your laptop. The details set this one apart, it has a ton of functional pockets and space for attachments, including space for a water bottle.
We love Bellroy’s products and have featured them before, so it’s no surprise that they make a great backpack. The design is sharp and clean with an integrated front zipper for easy access. The padded straps are comfortable for long wear and the interior features plenty of space for organization and a padded laptop sleeve.
Like the North Face pack, this backpack from Topo designs has a cool outdoorsy vibe and matching technical features that are tough enough for years of school and adventures. Padding and interior organization options are top-notch and its size is perfect for your daily work or school routine but also is spacious enough for travel. The backpack comes in a bunch of very cool color options and features stylish color accents mixed in.
Clean, well-designed, and very affordable, this backpack from Everlane is an awesome choice. It’s got a modern look but with some traditional strap details which give it a nice overall vibe. Like with all things Everlane, there’s zero branding and a very nice minimal aesthetic. Like the Herschel, it has a top-loading design, snap straps, and features plenty of space for your gear and a padded laptop sleeve.
Just like the right briefcase, a stylish and functional wallet is a smart way to keep your life organized and looking good. We’ve discussed some of our favorite wallets before but we wanted to update it with some new picks and styles. To recap, here are a few things we look for in great wallets:
No Contrast Stitching
Classic & minimal design
With that said, here are our current picks for the Best Wallets of 2019!
A great value, this bi-fold wallet from Bryker Hyde features excellent leather quality and great functionality with multiple interior slots and an id window. Branding is fairly minimal but there are multiple logos. The wide range of colors and RFID blocking are nice bonuses too.
For the man who prefers a minimal carry, this leather card case wallet from Herschel is excellent. It features really nice pebbled leather and multiple slots for cards and cash. Construction and edges are great and the finger cutout is a nice detail for ease of use. There’s a bit more branding than we usually prefer but overall this wallet is a great value.
We also loved this bi-fold leather wallet from Herschel as well. It features the same excellent pebbled leather and clean design. This option features RFID blocking and Tile tracking, which are great security features (there’s also a similar, non RFID version too) and the interior features plenty of card slots and space for bills.
This option from Carl Friedrik is bi-fold / case hybrid, so it’s got a nice slim design but also has a good amount of storage. It features beautiful Italian leather and construction is excellent. There are a variety of color options available too. We loved the very minimal design and thoughtful details like an exterior pocket with finger cutout.
Another brand we love, This Is Ground always brings really high-quality design and leathers to all of their products. We loved the unique magnetic attachment design in this phone case wallet as well as the clean, minimal design with no branding. The interior features just the right amount of pockets and the wallet closes up with a nice, heavy duty zipper. Good, slim phone wallets are tough to find but this version from This Is Ground really knocks it out of the park.
A stylish and functional bag is one of the most important accessories a man can own and we thought it was high time we updated our previous picks. We love a good backpack of course, but no matter what type of field you work in, carrying your goods in something sharp and professional is important. You’re better than that old, falling-apart school bag.
In this video, we’re running down a batch of the latest and greatest new men’s briefcases and messenger bags for 2019!
We loved the clean, simple design for those looking for a budget-friendly option. It features a clean, no-frills design and is made from rugged canvas with plenty of padding to protect your goods. It also comes with a shoulder strap for extra flexibility.
Another bag with a clean, minimal aesthetic, the Italic bag is a great leather option. It features really nice pebbled leather that feels luxurious, especially for its affordable price point. This bag also comes with a removable shoulder strap (in nylon) and an interior padded laptop compartment. The metal feet on the underside were the real drawback as they can sometimes cause damage if you aren’t careful.
This bag features a nice nylon base with leather accents and matte hardware giving it a very sharp design aesthetic. While not all leather, it would be an excellent option for those of you who don’t work in super formal environments. It has nice details with a ton of functional interior pockets and a nice-looking leather shoulder strap with matching hardware. Overall we really liked this bag and felt it was well worth the price given its excellent design and functionality. It comes in multiple colors too.
Dorian is a big fan of their phone cases so we were excited to see one of their briefcases as well. The Bellroy features really nice leather and a lot of structure, which we really like. It has a clean, functional design and some nice touches with its interior contrasting color and nicely integrated eyelets for the shoulder straps. Two things we weren’t in love with were the leather accented nylon shoulder strap and a little bit of excess branding. It’s on the expensive side but we felt like it was definitely worth the investment for those looking for a modern, structured briefcase.
We’ve featured some of their products before and we’re definitely fans of their high-quality construction and great leather. This bag is on the slim side so it’s definitely for the guy who carries less stuff. It’s got a great minimal design and an exterior pocket for extra storage as well. The interior is very cool and it features a bunch of different organizational compartments for your extra goods and features an interior magnet set up that works with their innovative mod products. It’s definitely on the expensive side but well worth the price for its quality.
Accessories may seem like a small thing but they’re one of my favorite ways to mix up your look and add some extra personality in a very affordable way. Whether you’re adding a new tie to your rotation, trying out a new watch or piece of jewelry, or bringing in something more utilitarian like a key holder, these extra touches to your personal style will go a long way.
With that in mind, here are my favorite men’s accessories under $100!
A tie bar is great because it’s both utilitarian and stylish. It’s a small touch but you can mix and match with different colors, finishes, and styles to add just a bit of personality to your tie game.
Speaking of ties, I love the texture and look of a knit tie because it’s just a bit different from the norm. Plus, because of look and design, knit ties crossover to more casual looks very easily, so try pairing them with a blazer and denim or an oxford and chinos.
Just like the key holder above, Bellroy has a knack for making stylish leather goods that are the perfect mix of minimal design and high-quality materials. Their Low Down wallet is a great pared-down choice.
Finding a phone case that’s both classy and protective is tough but Elago really nails it. They’re remarkably slim and minimal but still offer a great fit and protection, no matter what type of phone you have.
Despite its name, the Times Weekender is the perfect budget-friendly watch for any day of the week. In addition to being both high-quality and very affordable, it’s classic design works well with any wardrobe choice, casual or dressy.
Now that you’ve got a great watch you can further mix up your look by swapping out different watch straps. Add a leather or suede one for a polished look or try nylon and perlon for something more sporty. Buy a few and switch them up depending on your mood, it’s easy and fun.
Finding a good backpack isn’t easy, and finding an affordable one is even tougher. That’s why I love this one from Knomo so much, it’s versatile and stylish without being too bulky, something that’s really tough to find at such a great price point.
These are, to me, the 16 accessories every guy needs to own, regardless of your age, occupation, and lifestyle. Some of these items you may not wear often, but there will be an occasion, as a grown man, when you will need them and you’ll be thankful that you thought far enough ahead to take care of them before it’s too late and you’re scrambling at the last minute. I’ve also included my favorites for each of these items below. But these points below are just skimming the surface compared to the much more through Men’s Essential Accessories Series I did recently.
Like I’ve mentioned before, every man should have at least a grey suit. Even if you only wear it once every year, you’re going to need a suit. Along with that, looking well dressed is always about the details and a white pocket square is an easily overlooked item that really does make a big impact and it’ll only set you back a couple of bucks.
This is another overlooked item. I talked about this in my article about the 12 Things Men Wear That Women Love, but a tie bar is something that adds that special touch to your outfit. It’s also so cheap to own so order it once and you’ll never think about it again.
Get rid of your white socks. These socks can and should be worn as your everyday socks. If you need heavier duty, thicker socks for your job or because of the weather, there are plenty of companies that offer warmer versions.
Whether you’re a sunglass man or not, sunglasses are important because they’re going to protect your eyes from the sun, prevent you from squinting, which creates wrinkles around your eyes, and they can add a stylish, cool touch to your outfit. Check out my sunglasses story so you choose the right frames for your face shape.
We all have those lazy days, myself included, where you just say F it, I’m gonna throw on a hat. When it comes to baseball hats I have very specific opinions about them so I shared some of my recommendations below.
Everyone travels. Whether it’s to some exotic country, or across town, you’ll need to put your clothes in something AND trash bags are not an option. Like every accessory you own, it should not only serve it’s purpose, but look damn good at the same time. I have a whole article about weekender bags you should check out.
This item goes great with your weekender bag. Again, doesn’t matter if you’re traveling to another city or to the gym, a dopp kitt is essential because it’ll keep your grooming products organized and contained in a respectable manner.
Everyone has casual days, and white sneakers look so sharp on every guy regardless of your age or body type. If you’re really scared of wearing white, or think that it doesn’t look right, ease yourself into it with a nice low top lace-up black or navy sneaker.
Just like with your wallets, a phone is something you’re probably carrying on a daily basis. So let’s make sure your case is as classy, well-designed and functional to meet your needs.
If you work in a more physically-intensive job, where utility trumps everything else, then use whatever case meets your requirements for the week and then grab one of my choices below for the off-hours or weekend. Because there’s nothing worse than seeing a guy with a big phone bulge in his front pocket, or worse-yet, a big ass phone clipped to his belt – yuck.
The goal with anything you carry, and especially your phone case, is to provide protection, while still looking sharp and being as small/minimal as possible. Believe me, I’ve tested a few hundred cases over the years and these are by far the best that my clients and I all agree about.
Quick note: Even though I’m demonstrating cases and showing pictures of cases for iPhones, I do my best to provide Android options wherever possible.
It protects the back and sides with the slimmest profile I’ve ever seen. Also, here’s a point I especially love – It doesn’t have some gaudy logo all over it.
It’s made of a flexible but hard plastic that has a rubbery matte texture, so it isn’t slippery like other cases. There’s lot of similar cases out there, but I like this one because it covers the bottom and top parts – which most others don’t. In my tests, if this type of case doesn’t cover all sides, the edges will catch on your pockets or fingers and the corners will chip off easily and become jagged, which is very annoying to hold.
The only downside to this case is it doesn’t provide any screen protection, so it’ll be sitting on the screen if you lay your phone face down. If you need screen protection, see the next two cases.
I also like that the case is still a little pliable. Most similar cases are very brittle and my clients broke a few of them trying them out for me. This one has come off and on numerous times and looks good as new and hasn’t warped yet.
Before I discovered the Veil, I recommended and used Ringke cases for years.
The Air case is made of a polyurethane material so it’s soft and flexible. The main advantage of this case is it has a little bit of a lip around the screen, so the screen is protected if you lay your phone face down or drop it. I also like the dust and lint flaps for the headphone and power plugs. They can be annoying if you use these plugs often, so definitely grab the Slim case instead, as it doesn’t have them.
The Slim case is the hard plastic version of the Air case, but, as I said above, without the dust and lint flaps.
I like the crystal clear as well as the smoke black colors for both because they show off the beauty of your phone without looking gaudy.
If you’re looking for a relatively small leather case that can hold 3 cards as well, then grab the Bellroy 3 Card Phone case.
It’s made of the same leather as their wallets and feels really nice in the hand. It’s definitely the smallest phone/card case I’ve seen. They also make a version for 1 card, but what’s the point of that? And their similar case that holds no cards is just too bulky for such a single purpose item.
The major downside to this case, aside from the somewhat bigger size, is the price. It’s quite expensive at about $65, but again, it’s the best leather style case I’ve tested.
I holding one in Blue Steel in the video above, but I also like their Charcoal, Black and Java colors. So those are the phone cases I recommend to my clients and personally use. Have any cases that you love and you’re not trying to hawk your own product? Leave a comment so myself and others can see. I’m always on the hunt for awesome products!
Like I said in the series Intro Video, the things a man carries on his person projects and influences his life and personality in ways he may not notice. And this is no more true than with the little piece of leather or fabric that he carries every single day – his wallet.
I’ve seen it all when it comes to how men carry their cards and cash. I’ve had clients with no wallets who just carry a bunch of loose or rubber-banded cards and cash in their pockets, while others carry these massive monstrosities that I wince at just thinking about how uncomfortable it must be to sit on something like that all day.
As I mentioned in my 10 Most Overlooked Style mistakes ebook, full pockets ruin perfectly good outfits. I see it all the time. The sad part, is a lot of wallet manufacturers continue to sell these massive and bulky things they call wallets. I often wonder what man would see these and think this is something they should carry everyday for the next decade.
I’m going show you the different wallets I recommend to my clients.
There’s a few things that every gentleman’s wallet should be:
Clean & classically designed
As thin or small as possible
Understated in color and material
So let’s get into the different types of wallets that are best for you and determine what to have and why.
Bi-fold or Bill Fold wallets
These are the ones you probably envision when thinking about wallets. These typically go in the back pocket, but some men carry them in their front pockets. I don’t advise this, though, because it’ll leave a very noticeable buldge and, depending on the pants, a very odd square fading on the leg.
The only word that comes to mind when I hold this wallet is luxury. The textured leather and construction feels, pardon my french, so [email protected]#$ing good. I really love the classic design.
This wallet is the thinnest of all the billfolds I’ve seen, which is important because if a wallet is thick while it’s empty, imagine what happens when you start filling it?
The thinness is made possible by nixing the bill slot and using a spring-loaded money clip in the middle. There’s other wallets similar to this by other designers, but they were either not great quality, had a logo all over them, or just had an odd pattern or design.
If you want something almost as thin as a card wallet, but with the ability to hold cash, this wallet is the best I’ve ever seen. That’s on top of it’s impeccable attention to detail, like the hand lacquered piping along the edges that’ll keep this wallet looking new for a long time. If you can’t tell, I love this wallet.
In the video, I have a special edition Petroleum blue, but I also love their dark blue, black and gray colors, as well.
If the Valextra wallet isn’t your speed then definitely go for the Low Down.
I’ve recommended this wallet to a few friends and clients and they’ve held up amazingly well, even after a year of daily use.
The tapered corners and shorter height help make it feel less chunky and big. And the leather is sturdy yet supple without a hint of shiny or glossy-ness which plagues a lot of wallets.
There’s one thing that bothers me a little and it’s the contrast stitching. I wish it was the same color as the rest of the wallet, but it’s an admittedly small quibble since it’s close enough in color that most people would never notice.
The black and charcoal are the colors you should go for. I normally like brown, as well, but their brown and blue colors were too loud.
The Purist is constructed of thin, high-quality leather and features a simple but efficient design.
I love the angled slots, which diminish bulkiness and make it easier to access the cards. Even when full, this wallet is still quite slim.
I’m not the biggest fan of the two-toned leather lining, but it’s not enough to sway my recommendation.
My only concern with this wallet is the outter leather. Shiny leathers, like this, tend to show every little mark or stain on them. If you’re a little rougher on your wallets, I’d probably go with the Bellroy.
I didn’t include these in the video because they’re a little more niche than a bi-fold wallet or regular card case since they fold like a wallet, but can’t hold much cash. I still like them a lot and some clients prefer them over the non-folding card cases, so I thought best to include them.
With smooth, coated edges and the different interior pockets, my clients really love this wallet. I’ve even given them as gifts a few times. I think the design, pocket placement and textured leather really stands out and feels great in the hand. Just a warning, it’s a little thicker than the other card cases, so if you’re looking for super small and thin, you won’t get it with this one. It feels more like a wallet than a card case.
Just like with their bi-fold wallet and regular card case (below), the leather is awesome and the design so classic and thin that it’s hard not to love it. I especially like how they keep the logo very small and out of the way, unlike some other brands…
If the other options are a little pricey, you will love this one. I love the textured leather and the construction is quite good. A lot of times, Coach misses the mark, but they nailed it with this card wallet.
Just like their bi-fold wallet. This card case is super luxurious, thin and well-constructed. There’s not much else to say, I actually like this one because it has 6 slots, so you won’t have to stack a lot of cards in it. Most other card cases have 3 or 4 slots so you’ll have to dig through your cards to find the right one.
If the Valextra isn’t your thing, this is a great alternative. Just like their bi-fold wallet, it’s a super durable, thin and features a unique and logical design.
The card slots with different orientations, make it’ easier to pull out your cards and squeeze the sides to expose the center pocket’s contents. I also love the curved edges since it’s easier to slip in and out of your pocket and not catch or snag on anything.
Just like with their Low Down wallet, though, I wish the stitching wasn’t so contrasting. I only like the black or blue steel colors because the other options are either two-toned or really loud.
Soft, supple leather and classy as hell. Unlike with their bi-fold wallet, I actually like the two-tone top pocket because it’s just a little nice surprise and doesn’t scream at you.
Black is the best color for this wallet, and just like with their bi-fold wallet, I question the durability of the leather if you’re rougher on your wallets, but I really, really like the clean and simple design.
If you’re looking for a wallet that holds you cards, cash and phone, these are for you. Let me warn you, though, they’re the opposite of slim wallets. If you wear suits, carry a bag often, or don’t mind carrying your wallet in your hand, these are right up your alley.
I’ve had clients explain to me the joy of carrying their phone in their wallets – where it takes a little more effort and time to get to their phones. They say it makes their actions more deliberate and less reactive and schizophrenic. It’s almost like an excuse to take their time. One client explained the opening/unzipping his phone wallet like a sort of ritual. Like rolling up your shirt sleeves or doing something methodically.
I looked long and hard for good ones and even though there’s a lot out there, I found most of them to be lacking in one major area or another.
Like Bellroy’s bi-fold wallet and card case (above), the phone pocket is made from the same leather that is very scratch and blemish resistant with a buttery smooth zipper and an equally logical and well-thought out design. My clients who use this wallet really love it.
I love the pocket layout, where the phone fits in the main compartment and your cards fit in a bit of a floating divider, making everything easily accessible. It also has slots for extra SIM cards, small pens and a place to put your house key. They literally thought of everything.
They make two sizes – for larger and smaller phones. I only like the black, though, as the other colors have odd-colored zippers and pull tabs, and/or the color is just too loud and not befitting a proper gentleman.
After scouring the web for months trying to find other great phone wallets, I was so happy to find This Is Ground. Turns out that they’re located less than 5 miles away from my office! I got to visit them and they showed me all their goods and I was very impressed.
If you don’t like the Bellroy Phone Pocket, then go for this one. It cuts out all the extra frills and gives you just the essentials. Which is not a bad thing at all. Some clients noted how they preferred how this one opens flat over the taco-style opening of the Bellroy.
The leather is so supple and nice to hold that it really sets itself apart. It’s not as scratch/blemish resistant as the Bellroy, but this wallet will age and mature with you and have a much nicer patina.
The only downside is that the zipper tends to stick a little for the first week or two. My clients were definitely spoiled after using the Bellroy, but they all said it smoothed out after “working it in”, so it’s a minor quibble.
I love the Smoke (black) and Cognac colors the most. The Cognac looks amazing in person. The Stash comes in small and large phone sizes, as well.
For my clients, I normally recommend they get a bi-fold or phone wallet and then a card case for when they don’t need to carry as much – like when they’re going out for the night or to a premiere or after-party, where seeing pocket bulges is a big no-no.
For a guy that likes his phone and wallet separate and needs to carry a decent amount of cards/cash with him, I’d say get a bi-fold and get a card case for when you’re going out for the night or just don’t need to carry all your stuff with you.
If you want to carry as little with you as possible and hate added bulk, get a card case. But don’t delude yourself and cram 15 cards into a card case and still think it’ll be slim. If that’s the case, you should just get a bi-fold, as it’ll do a better job of distributing that bulk in your pocket.
If you’re a guy who likes to carry everything all together, or doesn’t want to sit on a chunk of leather and cards, then the phone wallets are for you.
I think a man should have a regular, everyday wallet that can be placed into a breast pocket in your blazer or suit jacket and some form of a slim wallet that can slide into a front or back pants pocket when you don’t need everything – like when you’re going out for the evening, etc.
Just like with keys, you don’t need to and shouldn’t have to carry everything with you at all times. Most men/my clients love to say “But what if I need something in the wallet?”
The argument quickly crumbles when I ask them: “So you’re going out for drinks with your friends, and need your gym, library, membership cards in case you need to go work out while reading a book at 2am?”
Most men know what kind of night they’re going to have, so don’t pull that BS of needing your tactical wallet with you at all times.