Difference Between a Satchel and a Tote Bag

Knowing the difference between a Satchel and a Tote bag can be difficult when shopping for bags. People often confuse the two as they both typically look similar on the outside. However, a closer inspection reveals essential differences between these two styles of bags.

It’s worthwhile to understand these bags to choose one according to your needs/the occasion. In this article, we’ll discuss the key differences between Satchels and Tote Bags to help ensure you make the best selection.


A Satchel is characterized by its boxy, structured shape. It has a flat base, and its sides taper towards the top, giving it a rectangular look. Satchels usually have two handles and one long strap so that they can be worn across the body or on the shoulder. They are typically made of leather and feature buckles or zippers.

A Tote bag is more relaxed in terms of silhouette. Its spacious interior makes them perfect for carrying around everyday items like documents, textbooks, laptops, and groceries! The most common tote bags feature two straps designed to carry over the shoulder. Tote bags come in many materials, ranging from the canvas.

Size & Shape

The two main differences between a satchel and a tote bag are size and shape. A satchel is typically smaller in size and square or rectangular in shape, often featuring a flap closure with buckles or straps. They are also generally designed to be compact and lightweight.

On the other hand, a tote bag is larger in size, usually featuring an open top or zipper closure. It has more room for storage than a satchel and can carry heavier items such as books or groceries. It is also commonly used by people who need to carry multiple items around with them throughout the day.


When it comes to history, Satchels and Tote bags have some interesting similarities. Satchels have been used since the 14th century and were initially created to carry documents and money safely. The origin of the tote bag needs to be clarified, but it is believed that they first appeared in the 1800s as utilitarian bags used by farmers and laborers. Over time, both styles of bags gained popularity for their practicality and durability, becoming staples of everyday life.

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The two styles differ in their design. A satchel usually features one large pocket with a flap that closes with a buckle or strap closure across its front surface. Tote bags typically feature two straps that cross over at the top, creating a single handle for carrying items securely on the shoulder. The two styles also differ in size, with a satchel generally smaller and more compact than a tote bag.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the difference between a Satchel and a Tote bag comes down to the design of the bag. Tote bags are generally larger, feature open tops, and have two straps for carrying them over your shoulder or in your hand. On the other hand, Satchels usually have a flap closure with either one handle or two handles for carrying it by hand.

Both styles can be made from a variety of materials and serve different purposes. So it’s important to consider your lifestyle before deciding which is better suited for you. Whichever style you choose, there’s no denying that both are timeless pieces that will look great no matter where the day takes you.