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Light-brown leather bag next to man typing on laptop
Leather satchel

A satchel is a bag, often with a strap.[1] The strap is often worn so that it diagonally crosses the body, with the bag hanging on the opposite hip, rather than hanging directly down from the shoulder. They are traditionally used for carrying books.[2] The back of a satchel extends to form a flap that folds over to cover the top and fastens in the front. Unlike a briefcase, a satchel is soft-sided.

School bag[edit]

Children carrying leather and cowhide satchels

The satchel has been a typical accessory of English students for centuries, as attested in Shakespeare's famous monologue, "All the world's a stage." The traditional Oxford and Cambridge style satchel features a simple pouch with a front flap. Variations include designs with a single or double pocket on the front and sometimes a handle on the top of the bag. The classic school bag satchel often had two straps, so that it could be worn like a backpack, with the design having the straps coming in a V from the centre of the back of the bag, rather than separate straps on each side.[citation needed] This style is sometimes called a satchel backpack.[citation needed]

The use of school bag satchels is common in the United Kingdom, Australia, Western Europe and Japan.[3] In Japan the term for a school bag satchel is randoseru. The Unicode for the school satchel Emoji is U+1F392.[4]

In fashion[edit]

Much of the popularity of the satchel as a fashion accessory in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada since 2008 is driven by the Cambridge Satchel Company, whose product was on a Guardian gift guide in 2009, and was described as a cross-body bag in a 2010 article.[5][6][7][8]

In popular culture[edit]

Indiana Jones always carries a satchel as part of his outfit, alongside his whip and hat (the prop used in the movies was a 1943 Mark VII gas mask bag).[9]

The satchel is referenced in the movie The Hangover, where the character Alan Garner says "it's not a man purse, it's called a satchel. Indiana Jones wears one."[10] The bag he was actually carrying was a Roots Village Bag.[11] Following the attention due to the movie, Roots released a larger bag, called simply The Satchel, however the design of both the Village Bag and The Satchel are not the same as the traditional satchel.

The satchel is indirectly referenced in the nod to both Indiana Jones and The Hangover in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, where the character Peter Quill says "It's not a purse, it's a knapsack."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Satchel,, Accessed 28 October 2009
  2. ^ Satchel,, Accessed 28 October 2009
  3. ^ "7 Ways to Make Your Child's School Bag Lighter". Retrieved July 25, 2017. 
  4. ^ "School Satchel Emoji". Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Christmas gift guide 2009: Men's accessories". The Guardian. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess (24 April 2010). "How to dress: Cross-body bags". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Lukas, Erin (23 December 2011). "The story behind the explosion of the Cambridge Satchels". Fashion Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Williams-Grut, Oscar (23 January 2014). "Moneybags: humble British satchel conquers the world". The Independent. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  9. ^ " - Research - Indy's Gear - The Shoulder Bag". Archived from the original on 5 Feb 2015. Retrieved 28 Feb 2015. 
  10. ^ Memorable Quotes from The Hangover,, Accessed October 29, 2009
  11. ^ "Village Bag on the Silver Screen". 14 Aug 2009. Archived from the original on 27 Jun 2010. Retrieved 28 Feb 2015.