Briefcases don’t just hold your files and documents; they show your style.
A well-chosen briefcase can bring a look together and do so while being one of the most useful accessories in a guy’s arsenal. In this guide, we’ll help you find a practical and stylish briefcase through our in-depth reviews.
Beyond the reviews, we will also cover all the key considerations you should be mindful of when selecting a briefcase – this includes important features like material, capacity, style, weight, and more.
Let’s get down to business:
The Best Briefcases for Men
1. Best Briefcase Overall: Filson Leather Weatherproof Briefcase
Filson’s description that this is “a briefcase you can pass on to the next generation” is not an exaggeration; this is a top-quality bag. Its leather is fully waterproof, and the briefcase features a flap that covers its brass zipper to fully protect your electronics and files inside.
The briefcase has pouches on the outside to store anything you need quick access to, be it a laptop or a document, and has a detachable strap which affords you the option of using the double handles to carry it, or the strap to sling it over your shoulder.
This briefcase has an impressive carrying capacity of 13 pounds and exudes a sense of quality – from the brass hardware to the felt trim work on the shoulder strap, the bag harkens back to a time when things were built to last.
- Fully waterproof and protected against common causes of deterioration, like salt
- Branded hardware lends a sense of pride of workmanship and quality
- Exterior pocket for easy access of a few items
- Several internal pockets
- Relatively high maintenance
What You Need To Know
2. Best Luxury Briefcase: Shinola Guardian Leather Briefcase
This briefcase pays attention to what matters in luxury products – the details. The interior is lined with Shinola’s iconic fabric pattern, the exterior uses fine smooth leather that is not disturbed by needless pockets and zippers, save for a well-placed logo at the top of the bag.
The designers of this briefcase clearly understand that part of the luxury allure is restraint, and this bag has the perfect amount of functionality without disturbing its focus on style. It comes with a shoulder strap and a double handle, the latter of which is what we recommend – as this is a luxury briefcase, not a workhorse.
The bag’s design does include a padded interior section, however, so if you chose to carry your laptop in here you can rest assured it will be well protected.
- Slim, minimalist design
- High quality leather and hardware
- Brand name recognition
- A business briefcase that presents well
- No closable exterior pockets
- Few internal pockets
What You Need To Know
3. Best Organized Briefcase: Kenneth Cole Reaction Laptop Briefcase
Not only does this briefcase provide a multitude of scaled carrying compartments, but they are gusseted, providing added room and support. The bag is made of full-grain leather and has a padded computer pocket which means it will protect its contents from both bumps and the elements.
Both the front and back of this briefcase have zippered compartments, which is perfect for men who need to carry more than just their laptop – there are plenty of pockets for gear for other devices, or even more than one computer.
For those that carry a variety of electronics or documents and need to keep them organized and protected, this briefcase is an excellent choice as its expandable compartments offer more than enough capacity and separability for the typical businessman.
- Many zippered pockets
- Gusseted compartments allow for large loads
- Full grain leather means this bag will last
- Zippers may catch on things, not airport friendly
What You Need To Know
4. Most Durable Briefcase: Saddleback Leather Co. Slim Leather Briefcase
This briefcase is remarkably durable and clearly built for a man who wants a leather bag that is meant to be used rather than simply to look stunning, which it does. The briefcase has no breakable hardware – think magnets, zippers, and snap buttons.
Everything from the leather (full-grain cowhide on the outside, pigskin lining on the inside) to the thread that is used to sew it together is chosen for its durability. Saddleback even chose thread that doesn’t degrade when exposed to the sun, which means this briefcase is built to last from the bottom up.
There are additional features that you wouldn’t expect in a briefcase but are excellent touches that add to the versatility of this bag – like a false bottom that can be used to store important documents like passports or cash.
Perhaps the most stunning and over the top feature of this briefcase is its warranty – Saddleback Leather guarantees the bag for 100 years, so if it ever fails you whether you’re on the Appalachian trail or walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, you can easily replace it.
- Multiple color options
- No breakable parts
- Relatively heavy for a briefcase, 5 pounds
What You Need To Know
5. Best Laptop Briefcase: Samsonite Leather Slim Briefcase
This leather briefcase is an excellent choice for a man whose main purpose for a briefcase is carrying his laptop – be it to and from the office, or around town to the nearest public workspace.
The bag has adjustable straps that allow you to carry anything from a 13” to 15.6” inch laptop. Electronics tend to make a bag pretty heavy so it’s great that this bag weighs in at a mere 2.6 pounds, quite light compared to other leather briefcases.
The briefcase itself is quite slim (2.5” wide) and is also checkpoint friendly meaning you have easy access to your laptop and can pull it out of the bag for inspection quickly. There’s also a large side compartment where you can store items needed for quick access like notepads, cellphones, and passports.
- Dual handles and shoulder strap
- Padded tablet compartment
- Checkpoint friendly
- Interior compartments not leather
- May not fit larger specialty laptops
What You Need To Know
6. Best Leather Briefcase: Saddleback Leather Co. Thin Leather Briefcase
Guys who are interested in a briefcase for the dual purpose of style and utility will find that all Saddleback briefcases are excellent, but this one is particularly well-rounded for a man’s various needs.
One particularly special feature of this briefcase is its shoulder straps. They have two pads for added comfort but also adjust from 34” to 59” inches which will accommodate a guy that’s anywhere from five to eight feet tall. The briefcase also features D-rings that allow you to use the shoulder strap as backpack straps, making this briefcase fully convertible.
Like other Saddleback Leather briefcases, this one comes with a 100-year warranty, which you’re unlikely to have to redeem because of how this bag is designed – from intentionally large and thick strips of leather to the minimal stitching to reduce the chance of tears, this is a leather briefcase made for guys who will use it.
- Durable materials (full grain leather, stainless steel)
- Leather requires considerable maintenance
What You Need To Know
7. Best For Young Professionals: Filson Rugged Twill Briefcase
A young professional often can’t count on exactly what will be asked of them on any given day at work – it may be running to Starbucks for the office during a rainstorm or going to be the eyes and ears of the company at a meeting in Dallas. As such, a briefcase like this one is the best choice for a young professional – it’s versatile, durable, and looks great.
The briefcase is made from a patented fabric called Rugged Twill that resists water, and it has a storm flap to protect documents (and hardware) from water damage. The leather strap, which can be worn across the body or over the shoulder is removable which makes this a great choice for a man who may need to go on business trips and put it through security checkpoints.
The utility of this bag does not take away from its style at all – it comes in five reserved colors, and has leather accents to complement the twill body, resulting in a professional yet energetic look.
- Water resistant
- Easy maintenance fabric
- Lacks a padded compartment
What You Need To Know
8. Best Travel Briefcases: Tumi Alpha Bravo Aviano Slim Brief
The slim profile of this briefcase is perfect for a man who expects to be traveling frequently, be it for work or pleasure. The backside of the bag has a slip for attaching it to a luggage handle, which can be closed by a zipper if needed. There are numerous external compartments for storing quick-access items like keys, passports, and boarding passes.
The interior of the bag has both a padded tablet compartment and laptop compartment, so you can easily store all of your electronics on the inside, and chargers and adapters can be stored in the external pockets.
During our research, we found most reviewers were very satisfied with this bag for commuting and also longer journeys, the only small issue being that the zippers can ring against each other – if this bothers you consider tucking them in.
- Slim design means this briefcase isn’t cumbersome
- Travel friendly features
- Slim design may limit carrying capacity
What You Need To Know
9. Best Rolling Briefcase: Alpine Swiss Rolling Briefcase
This briefcase is an excellent choice for men who will be carrying heavy loads that would otherwise be a burden but for the rolling feature and telescoping handle. Other briefcases might begin to deteriorate quickly due to design and stitching flaws, but this briefcase has a hard-plastic frame and riveted seams to ensure that it holds up.
The briefcase is TSA checkpoint approved, and although it is quite large, it doesn’t give up any of the other aspects you would expect in a work briefcase – multiple compartments, sleek modern design, and accordion-style file divider. Furthermore, the compartments are fully open due to wrap-around zippers that give the briefcase an easy to access design that some classic briefcases lack.
A tangential feature of this briefcase is that it can stand up on its own, lending it to use in meetings or courtrooms where a lawyer or businessman needs to be able to put their briefcase down and still have access to its contents without fiddling around too much.
- Telescoping push-button handle
- Large carrying capacity
- Hard plastic structure
- Not appropriate for all occasions, very utilitarian
What You Need To Know
What to Know When Buying A Briefcase
Leather is quite a common material for briefcases because it’s long-lasting and has a versatile style. Leather typically comes in several types: full-grain, top-grain, and genuine.
Full-grain and top-grain leather is of the best quality and will develop a nice patina with time. Expect a full or top grain leather briefcase to last you several years. Genuine or PU leather (fake leather) is poor quality and will only last a season or two before requiring replacement.
Nylon / Polyester / Synthetic Materials
Nylon, polyester, or other man-made (i.e. synthetic) materials are very easy to care for. With a natural ruggedness to them – especially for ballistic nylon, it can withstand a ton of abuse and travel.
Briefcases come in different sizes for different occasions.
- Super Slim – Super slim briefcases are easy to carry, but they don’t have a lot of storage potential, making this size range great for a man who either needs a briefcase for purposes of style or who has minimal carrying requirements – laptops and papers but not much else.
- Slim – Slim briefcases are still quite manageable, able to fit laptops but have a bit more storage potential.
- Standard – A standard briefcase is roughly 17.5” x 13” x 4” and can fit much more than just a laptop and some papers – ledgers, record books, and other business or court documents can fit in here.
- Large – Plenty of storage potential but can also be cumbersome for some men, so it’s important to honestly consider how large of a briefcase works for you when considering this size.
- Extra-Large – Extra-large briefcases are great for longer trips across the city or even for commuter flights. But can become quite unwieldy compared to the standard and even large-size briefcases.
Briefcases are meant to be worn or carried and it should be comfortable to do so, even for extended periods. What makes a briefcase comfortable? Let’s take look:
Shoulder Strap Width – While it may seem that the wider the straps the better (for weight distribution,) extra wide straps can often get in the way. Likewise, narrow straps can be uncomfortable and dig into your shoulder if the bag is too heavy or if you’ve got to wear it for a long trip to work. Pay attention to your needs and act accordingly.
Removable Shoulder Strap – A removable shoulder strap greatly increases the versatility of a briefcase. If you are going to an important meeting, or simply your briefcase weighs a bit more, having a removable shoulder strap gives you some leeway.
Handles – The classic layout of a briefcase is with one handle located on the top center of the bag. This has given way to two-handle briefcases, which allow for a bit more versatility in lifting or carrying and can be more comfortable if your bag is extra heavy, on days when you may need to carry both a personal and work laptop for example.
4. Style / Intent
Different styles of briefcases fit different circumstances, so thoroughly consider your intent before deciding on a briefcase.
- Casual/College – Usually has lots of pockets for easy access to keys, passports, or business cards. Will often rely on a casual material such as canvas or nylon.
- Sporty/Modern – Modern and sport briefcases are typically slim and have some internal and external pockets. They’re great for carrying laptops, but you’ll find it a hassle to try to carry anything else.
- Traditional/Classic – Traditional and classic briefcases typically have plenty of extra storage space but are unlikely to have internal and external pockets or compartments.
- Formal/Business – Formal and business briefcases are more likely to have internal compartments for organizing documents or files, as well as pens, glasses, and other office essentials.
Most briefcases come in a dark brown or black; however, depending on what material you end up going for, there can be a greater variety of color, especially when it comes to canvas and nylon briefcases.
If you plan on traveling extensively with your briefcase, the weight will be an important buying factor. Not only will weight cause general physical fatigue if a briefcase is carried for an extended period of time but there have been numerous studies stating that heavyweight in a briefcase or messenger bag can be bad for your back (source).
Some briefcases come with added features that make them more useful.
- Rolling – Rolling briefcases are an excellent choice for those who need to carry a cumbersome number of documents or tools.
- Travel Friendly – Travel-friendly briefcases are convenient because they meet TSA regulations, and provide easy access to important documents like tickets and passports.
- Water Resistant – Water resistant briefcases are great for men who are using the bag for professional reasons because it protects the documents and devices within from rain or other spills. It also makes the briefcase easier to clean.
- Warranty – A warranty can be a good idea for a briefcase as it protects the user in the event that it becomes damaged or doesn’t fit your needs as intended.
- Combination Lock – A lock can keep documents and devices safe, but it can slow you down at checkpoints.
- Fold Over Closure – Rather than relying on a zip-top to the briefcase, fold-over closure helps to soften the look of the briefcase to make it appear slick or modern. It’s largely a personal taste – but one is worth noting.
Common Questions Men Had About Briefcases
Are briefcases still used instead of laptop or messenger bags?
The short answer is yes, depending on intent. Lawyers often use briefcases because they are more likely to have a lock and RFID protection. They present well and can be used just as often as messenger bags, it just depends on your unique needs – both are legitimate style choices.
What are the differences between a suitcase and briefcase?
A suitcase is generally a larger capacity and a more heavy-duty bag. It’s great for overnight travel and can generally store clothes, whereas a briefcase cannot. It’s more likely to have external pockets to store the extra gear needed for traveling, but less likely to have a shoulder strap. Suitcases are often made of softer material than briefcases, giving them a bit more flexibility when fully packed.
A briefcase is typically used for document and laptop storage rather than for clothing and travel needs. It’s smaller and less likely to have external pockets. The hard material and shoulder strap that is common on briefcases are more suitable for the daily use of a work commute than long haul travel.
What briefcase makes a good present for a college professor?
College professors are going to want a more traditional look, either leather or canvas, owing to the nature of their job in an academic institution (rather than a technical one). Internal compartments are also a must for keeping documents (both for lectures, and for grading) separated.
Where is the best place to buy briefcases?
Several of the retailers mentioned in our reviews above are excellent names in briefcases – particularly Saddleback Leather Co. for leather briefcases. Many manufacturers sell directly to customers at a lower price than is available from retailers. On the other hand, retailers have a wider selection – Macy’s and eBags are great options for finding an appropriate briefcase.
Which is better to go with when buying a briefcase – buckles or clasps?
Buckles and clasps both have their own unique advantage.
Buckles are great in that they provide a much more secure closure. Buckles are ideal if you plan on carrying valuables or client documents within your briefcase that you don’t want them to be easily removed.
Clasps on the other hand are a bit more sleek and simple. Their magnetic construction allows for easy access to any of your interior pockets.
Should I buy a handmade briefcase?
There are many terrific handmade briefcases that can be found on sites like Etsy that provide a unique and distinct look (with many of them gravitating towards the vintage briefcase style). Construction of these briefcases is generally a bit better – especially for the exterior. However, we did find that many handmade briefcases often lack several interior pockets or an appropriately sized laptop pocket (sometimes too big or too small). Furthermore, foam inserts that are essential for a padded laptop sleeve are also often missing.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.