Best Briefcases For Men

Best Briefcases For Men Ready To Get Down To Business

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In A Hurry? These 12 Are The Best Briefcases for Men

  1. Best Briefcase Overall: Filson Leather Weatherproof Briefcase
  2. Best Affordable (Cheap) Briefcase: Alpine Swiss Conrad Briefcase
  3. Best Luxury Briefcase: Shinola Guardian Leather Briefcase
  4. Best Briefcase for Lawyers: AmeriLeather Executive Briefcase
  5. Best Organized Briefcase: Kenneth Cole Reaction Laptop Briefcase
  6. Most Durable Briefcase: Saddleback Leather Co. Slim Leather Briefcase
  7. Best Laptop Briefcase: Samsonite Leather Slim Briefcase
  8. Best Leather Briefcase: Saddleback Leather Co. Thin Leather Briefcase
  9. Most Stylish Briefcase: Troubadour Nylon Briefcase
  10. Best For Young Professionals: Filson Rugged Twill Briefcase
  11. Best Travel Briefcases: Tumi Alpha Bravo Aviano Slim Brief
  12. Best Rolling Briefcase: Alpine Swiss Rolling Briefcase

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 they key considerations you should be mindful when selecting a briefcase – this includes important features like material, capacity, style, weight, and more.

Finally, we’ll discuss common questions about briefcases and summarize our core criteria for picking the best briefcase for your unique style.

Let’s dive right in.

The Best Briefcases for Men of 2020 Reviewed

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Relatively high maintenance

What You Need To Know

Although this Filson briefcase may be lacking in some of the bells and whistles of other briefcases; it makes up for this through pure craftsmanship and quality.

Check the latest reviews here

2
Best Affordable (Cheap) Briefcase: Alpine Swiss Conrad Briefcase

For a man who needs a bag strictly for what it was intended for – to carry his gear from point A to point B – this is a great choice. Not only is the price modest, but if anything breaks down Alpine Swiss offers a 1-year manufacturer’s guarantee.

This briefcase has wide gauge zippers that are built to last and run both ways – reducing the chances that they get caught and tear at the bag’s fabric drastically. During our research we found that most purchasers were pleased with the number of pockets and organizational capacity of the bag, however there was some concern about the shoulder strap, which is lacking a pad. It’s not a critical fault, but something you should be aware of before purchasing if you intend to use it to carry heavy loads.

If you’ve got a new job that unexpectedly has you carrying a work laptop on the metro everyday, this is a perfect briefcase to cover your needs without costing too much.

Pros

  • Excellent price for quality and features
  • 3 External pockets add to carrying capacity
  • Ballistic nylon resists abrasion
  • Appropriate for business use

Cons

  • Utilitarian style not the best for casual use

What You Need To Know

This is an excellent budget briefcase that will get the job done and hold up over time. The 3 front pockets also make it quite easy to access essential items quickly.

Check the latest reviews here

3
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.

Pros

  • Slim, minimalist design
  • High quality leather and hardware
  • Brand name recognition
  • A business briefcase that presents well

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No closable exterior pockets
  • Few internal pockets

What You Need To Know

From its sleek and classic design, to its fine leather and patterned canvas interior, this briefcase has the subtlety that you would expect from a luxury piece.

Check the latest reviews here

4
Best Briefcase for Lawyers: AmeriLeather Executive Briefcase

This is an excellent choice for a lawyer or anyone in an industry that requires a high level of organization and reliance on paper documents. The bag is made of fine black top grain leather which gives the briefcase a professional and competent look, and features two nickel locks on a flap that can secure the contents of the main compartment.

The outer wall zipper compartment is subdivided into four sections, and the main section can be separated into three – this creates an excellent carrying case to keep documents from different cases or departments separated and easily accessible.

It also provides enough room for electronics, be it a laptop, chargers, or other devices. The solid square base of this briefcase means that it can be easily placed on the ground in a courtroom without falling over. One reviewer described the briefcase as a mobile “filing cabinet,” which given the carrying capacity – it certainly is.

Pros

  • Nickel locks provide added security
  • Top grain leather
  • Great organization capacity
  • Several internal pockets

Cons

  • Wide footprint

What You Need To Know

Easy access to documents in separable compartments, added security with a top lock, all while maintaining a stately appearance make this a well-rounded choice for anyone in the legal profession. Several pockets provide easy organization as well.

Check the latest reviews here

5
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.

Pros

  • Many zippered pockets
  • Gusseted compartments allow for large loads
  • Full grain leather means this bag will last

Cons

  • Zippers may catch on things, not airport friendly

What You Need To Know

For those who need to carry a multitude of items that are best separated, or guys who just need to take their whole office with them from place to place and keep it organized, this is the briefcase for the job.

Check the latest reviews here

6
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.

Pros

  • Multiple color options
  • No breakable parts

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Relatively heavy for a briefcase, 5 pounds

What You Need To Know

If you need a briefcase that is built to last, quality materials and a design that is purpose built for durability make this briefcase second to none.

Check the latest reviews here

7
Best Laptop Briefcase: Samsonite Leather Slim Briefcase

This purpose built, 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.

Pros

  • Dual handles and shoulder strap
  • Padded tablet compartment
  • Checkpoint friendly

Cons

  • Interior compartments not leather
  • May not fit larger specialty laptops

What You Need To Know

This is the most versatile laptop briefcase available owing to its adjustable compartment, large carrying capacity, and lightweight.

Check the latest reviews here

8
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.

Pros

  • Durable materials (full grain leather, stainless steel)

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Leather requires considerable maintenance

What You Need To Know

Leather products should be built to last, but unfortunately not all leathers live up to this reputation –Saddleback Leather Co.’s Thin Front Pocket Briefcase certainly does and its versatility makes it a truly exceptional briefcase.

Check the latest reviews here

9
Most Stylish Briefcase: Troubadour Nylon Briefcase

Troubadour is a well-known quantity in fashion and the brand name recognition this briefcase has contributes to its style significantly.

The dual leather handles and trim are an excellent accent to the ballistic nylon body of the bag. The zippers also have a leather tag that make the main compartment easy to open so you’ll waste no time fiddling with them, and they’re a great addition to the bag’s modern look.

The size of the bag also lends itself well to use as an accessory, as it is not so large as to be overpowering and dominate the look of an entire outfit.

Pros

  • Durable ballistic weave

Cons

  • Expensive for a non-leather briefcase

What You Need To Know

The modern features and subtle style of this briefcase make this the perfect choice for a man who wants to convey his style rather than simply have a briefcase that will be a mule to and from work.

Check the latest reviews here

10
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.

Pros

  • Water resistant
  • Easy maintenance fabric

Cons

  • Lacks a padded compartment

What You Need To Know

This is an excellent introductory briefcase for a man who is just getting into more sophisticated working environment and needs to navigate between style and utility.

Check the latest reviews here

11
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 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.

Pros

  • Slim design means this briefcase isn’t cumbersome
  • Travel friendly features

Cons

  • Slim design may limit carrying capacity

What You Need To Know

If you need a briefcase strictly for traveling or commutes, this is the perfect briefcase for the job.

Check the latest reviews here

12
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 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.

Pros

  • Telescoping push-button handle
  • Large carrying capacity
  • Hard plastic structure

Cons

  • Not appropriate for all occasions, very utilitarian

What You Need To Know

If you’re a man who knows that you need to be carrying a significant amount of gear around for work, or you just want to protect your back, this briefcase is an excellent choice.

Check the latest reviews here

Other Briefcases For Men We Reviewed

Filson Unisex Navy Briefcase

Known for their trusted outdoor wear, this navy briefcase by Filson is great for the modern businessman.  It includes the essentials: a zip top closure, water-resistant storm flap, a durable exterior shell, and large interior compartment for your important papers.

Tocode Waxed Canvas Briefcase

This waxed canvas briefcase (also marketed as a satchel) by Tocode is an affordable pick that is naturally water-resistant thanks in part to the waxed canvas.  While crafted to look like a premium handmade briefcase, it includes all the essentials men are looking for (i.e. large interior pocket, buckle closure, soft interior lining).

Banuce Italian Leather Briefcase

This full-grain Italian leather briefcase is a great choice for men ready to get down to business.  With both internal and external pockets, it provides sensible organization that has been designed well.

What to Know When Buying A Briefcase

There are at least ten major points to consider when choosing a briefcase.

1. Material

No matter the intended use of your briefcase, the material it’s made of impacts style as well as durability and care.

Leather

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.  Let’s take a closer look at these types of leather:

Full-grain leather – Full-grain leather is one of the most durable kinds of leather out there because it uses the full hide of the animal. This means that it also carries with it the individual imperfections of that animal’s hide, which adds rugged uniqueness to each piece made from this leather. Because the leather is harder to work with due to its thickness and durability, full-grain is one of the most expensive types of leather available.

Top grain leather- Like full-grain, top grain leather is quite durable. It has a more polished look owing to its manufacturing process, wherein the top layer of the animal hide is sanded off. This results in a leather that has a uniform and polished look and is easier to manipulate – reducing labor costs for top grain leather products, and thereby lowering the price.

Genuine leather – While genuine leather has the classic look of leather products, it’s not as durable. This is because genuine leather is made from only a small layer of animal hide, and possibly other materials as well. Because of its versatility, lower quality, and ease of handling when manufacturing leather goods, it is the most affordable of all the leathers we found during our research.

Vegetable-tanned leather – Vegetable-tanned leather essentially uses natural chemicals and traditional tanning techniques rather than a chemical heavy modern tanning method, making it the most environmentally friendly leather available. This type of leather treating and not indicative of the quality of leather (although most quality leather cuts are vegetable-tanned).  This type of tanned leather will develop a nice soft patina – which will allow the briefcase to look more beautiful with time.

Canvas

Canvas is a common material for briefcases. It’s durable, and more affordable than leather. It also is significantly easier to care for, which makes it great for a man who needs a functional briefcase, rather than one that is primarily intended to complete a look and might require heavy maintenance. Canvas is also both environmentally and animal friendly – it’s usually made from cotton, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or even hemp. Canvas has a traditional and classic look that will work well with a variety of styles.

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.  There’s a wide price range between nylon-based briefcases, but they have an aesthetic that will compliment a modern style.

Aluminum

Aluminum briefcases are quite durable and also relatively affordable. They have a modern look and are one of the easiest materials to care for as well. Aluminum briefcases can be great for those who need to be able to secure their belongings (like lawyers, businessmen, and law enforcement) because they often come with built-in locks.

Plastic

Plastic briefcases are not as durable as other materials as they have a tendency to become brittle – but they are easy to care for and provide an affordable modern look. A man who just needs a briefcase for a one-off occasion or in special circumstances may find a plastic briefcase to be just the right fit.

2. Capacity/Size

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. They’re roughly 12” x 16” x 3”.

Slim – Slim briefcases are still quite manageable, able to fit laptops but have a bit more storage potential. They’re roughly 11” x 16” x 4” and are a good choice for guys who want a slim look but aren’t sure if they’ll have to carry a bit more gear than a super slim would allow.

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. This added storage capacity is great if you’ve got a bit more to bring to work everyday, but at this size a briefcase can start to get unwieldy – keep this in mind if you’re a smaller framed man.

Large – Large briefcases have lots of storage potential and measure approximately 18.5” x 12” x 5”. They’ve got 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. They are roughly 19” x 14” x 10” but are quite unwieldy compared to the standard and even large size briefcases. They’re really only appropriate for larger framed men.

3. Comfort

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.

Shoulder Strap Length – Ideally, you’ll want to pre-measure your shoulder to find out approximately what length strap will work best for you and your needs. An extra-long strap may get in the way and tangle, while a short strap won’t serve its purpose correctly and doesn’t add any convenience.  Many briefcases do offer an adjustable shoulder strap should alleviate any issues here.  Should you decide to do your research on your own, an adjustable shoulder strap is something to be mindful of – especially if you purchase a briefcase only to discover it is impractical for your body size.

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.  Of course this isn’t a deal breaker for most – but it is definitely a little nice extra touch when selecting the right briefcase to meet your needs.

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. These two-handed briefcases can also help keep bundles of documents secure.

4. Style / Intent

Different styles of briefcases fit different circumstances, so thoroughly consider your intent before deciding on a briefcase.

Casual/College – If the intent of the bag is to bring along to events or casual days out, or even onto the college campus, this is the type of briefcase you’ll be looking for. They usually have lots of pockets for easy access to keys, passports, or business cards. Likewise for internal compartments, where they’re designed to partition areas for documents, pens, and other supplies you might need to carry.

Sporty/Modern – Modern and sport briefcases are typically slim and have some (but not excessive) internal and external pockets. They’re great for carrying laptops, but you’ll find it a hassle to try to carry anything else. They’re also easy to carry, but you should avoid heavy loads.

Traditional/Classic – Traditional and classic briefcases typically have plenty of extra storage space but are unlikely to have internal and external pockets or compartments. When it comes to briefcases, the traditional design is also the least intricate. This can be great if you need a purpose-built briefcase for carrying lecture materials from home to campus, or documents from the firm to court.

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. They have plenty of storage space, but don’t expect to find any external pockets.

5. Brands

There are many name brands that are active in the briefcase market., but let’s take a glance at them now:

There are household luxury brands like Kenneth Cole and Polo Ralph Lauren, and also well-known workhorse brands like Samsonite. Filson is an American company that has been making outdoor accessories with “rugged quality” since 1897. There are specialists like AmeriLeather, and Tumi (who say their briefcases allow you to travel “lightly and stylishly”). Finally, there are some lesser known brands like Stuart & Lau Cary who have quite high-quality briefcases.

Later on, we review briefcases from some of these brands.

6. Color

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.

Although choosing a brightly colored or uniquely patterned briefcase may be just the right thing for your unique style, remember to keep in mind the intent of the briefcase – if you need to take it to work, black or brown is probably best.

7. Weight

If you plan on traveling extensively with your briefcase, 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 heavy weight in a briefcase or messenger bag can be bad for your back (source).

Heavy Duty – Heavy duty briefcases are literally heavy, although quite durable. They protect their contents much better than lightweight briefcases, and therefore can be good for guys who are carrying files that can’t afford to be damaged.

Lightweight – Lightweight briefcases are, well, light. What they gain in portability, they lose in durability and the level of protection they provide to documents. This is definitely a class of briefcase that will work best for a guy who’s looking for a casual briefcase.

With that being said, if you plan on carrying a lot of weight, make sure that a briefcase is really the best thing for you – a small carry-on suitcase may be more appropriate when transporting a significant amount of weight (and also save your posture).

8. Extras

Some briefcases come with added features that make them more useful.

Rolling – Rolling briefcases are an excellent choice for lawyers or artists who need to carry a cumbersome number of documents or tools. This feature makes the briefcase much larger, and wheels can break or become jammed, but the mobility offered by a rolling briefcase is very convenient.

Laptop Compartment – Although this feature of a briefcase provides a convenient compartment for laptops or other devices, it is usually on the outside of the bag, where contents are less protected. This means that while it’s called a laptop compartment – it might be best used to store documents that need to be accessed quickly.

Travel Friendly – Travel friendly briefcases are convenient for travel because they meet TSA regulations, and provide easy access to important documents like tickets and passports. This can be useful in saving valuable time at the airport, especially if you are in a hurry to catch your flight!

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, which is a great feature for a businessman who doesn’t have time to do a lot of maintenance.

RFID Blocking – This feature is really important for people who have sensitive documents or information in their electronic devices. It keeps computers, credit cards, and other electronics safe from the intrusions of hackers.

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.

Padding – Although padding can help protect devices, which is really important for those whose work depends on their laptop or iPad, it adds bulk to the briefcase and may not be a great fit if you’re looking for a modern slim briefcase.

Combination Lock – A lock can be a key feature to keep documents and devices safe, but it can slow you down at checkpoints. Also, if you forget the combination or the lock breaks, it can be more trouble than it’s worth. Consider carefully whether a combination lock is a feature that’s right for your briefcase.

Zipper – A zipper provides a reassuring seal that means there’s no worry about items falling out of the bag. There’s also no need to remember a combination so it’s easy to access at checkpoints or in an emergency. Furthermore, broken zippers can easily be replaced or repaired. If you need a briefcase for practical purposes, zippers are a good choice.

Fold Over Closure – Rather than relying on a zip top to the briefcase, a 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 worth noting when trying to figure out which style will work best for your everyday use.

9. Organization

Different organizational options can make it easier to find and retrieve the documents and devices you store in your briefcase.

Outside Pockets – Outside pockets are great for chargers, small devices, and things you need to access quickly like keys or passports. But bear in mind, items stored on the outside of the bag may not be secure, and they can also change the dimensions of the bag greatly.

Interior Pockets – When looking to store pens, phone, key, or other small gear – an interior pocket (or pockets) can keep things well organized easily accessible.  Given that they are on the inside or under a flap, they will be a bit more secure – important for preventing theft or from simply falling out during transport.

Inside Compartments – Inner compartments keep files organized and separated within the briefcase, which is a great feature for those who deal with paper documents in their work. It also keeps all the contents of the briefcase securely within the main compartment, which is great for security.

10. Price

In our research, we found a wide range of prices for briefcases. The most affordable briefcases we found were $30, and the most expensive were over $500. So, after deciding on your intent, there’s a variety of choices depending on how much you’d like to spend on a briefcase.

How to Care for & Wear A Briefcase

Proper care for a briefcase is important if you want it to last as long as it was intended to, and there is a surprising amount of skill involved in choosing the right briefcase for a particular occasion – let’s take a look at some tips and remove some of the guesswork.

1. Cleaning – Depends on Material

The difference in maintenance and care required by various materials is substantial.

For canvas and nylon-based fabrics, which are common in business and casual briefcases, it’s more than enough to just spot clean them as they get dirty. Be careful about the amount of force, detergent, and abrasion you use when spot cleaning as you don’t want to wash out any of the colors, resulting in a washed out “stain.”

Leather is a bit more complex.

You can find our full guide to caring for leather here, but let’s summarize so you can get an idea of what it takes. There are three main steps to maintaining any leather products, not just briefcases: cleaning, conditioning, and protecting.

The first step, cleaning – helps to get the grime and chemicals (like salt) that may damage your leather before the next two steps. Be careful here – you don’t want to use a common soap to clean leather, the best choice is a specialty product called saddle soap because it helps to maintain the natural moisture of the leather and prevents it from becoming brittle.

Next comes conditioning the leather – the purpose of this is to add moisture back into the leather that may have been lost during the cleaning process. A common leather conditioner is mink oil, but there are many leather conditioners and you can check them out in our full guide to see which one will work best for you.

Finally, protecting the leather seals in the moisture you have just added, as well as protects the leather from salt, mold, and other contaminants that will damage it over time.

2. If Leather Condition Regularly

Leather is a durable and long-lasting material – if it is properly cared for. You don’t want to slack on this because leather will break down if not treated with care. Once or twice a month should be more than enough but keeping an eye on it and using your judgment will work too.

3. Store Appropriately

Just like clothing, briefcases can fall prey to moths which feed on cloth and even leather. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to store your briefcase in a dust bag, which should also reduce the amount of general maintenance you need to do.

Filling the briefcase with tissue paper (or newspaper in a pinch) will also help it to retain its shape and structure, and prevent creases – this is the same concept that is used with shoes.

4. Wipe Dry When in Rain

When your briefcase gets wet, whether it be from rain, dew, or simply being left in the bathroom during a shower – be sure to wipe it down to prevent leather from becoming brittle and cracking. This also can prevent mold and fungus growth.

5. Wear for The Right Intent

It’s important to pair a briefcase with the right outfit and for the right occasion. While a black canvas briefcase may actually work well with athletic wear, a leather briefcase would look out of place. Matching leather accessories like shoes, a belt, or gloves with a leather briefcase can make even a modest outfit look quite sharp.

6. Never Dry in Heat

Adding heat to dry both leather and fabric briefcases can alter the material irrevocably – leather will crack, and the structure of fabric will also change. Avoid heat when drying. If you need to dry a briefcase quickly, the best you can do is use a fan., but even this can potentially distort the material so keep a close eye on it.

7. Be Mindful While Wearing

A briefcase is a relatively high-ticket accessory and should be protected accordingly. Scratching or rubbing against coarse surfaces (think cinderblock or concrete at a bus stop) will definitely scratch leather and potentially rip canvas briefcases. Be aware of this and protect your investment.

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 which gives 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 are common on briefcases are more suitable to 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 a re bit more sleek and simple.  Their magnetic construction allow 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 are 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.

Briefcases vs. Messenger Bags vs. Laptop Bags

Briefcases

Briefcases are primarily used for documents and for this reason are more rigid (to prevent folding) and more secure (to prevent theft) than other bags. They’re generally for professional purposes and as such are more formal, lacking a shoulder strap.

Messenger Bags

Messenger bags are generally more casual than briefcases and even laptop bags. They’re more convenient to wear across the body or over the shoulder than to carry and don’t have a structured interior (one main compartment, no dividers.) They are typically made of canvas but if you want to a leather one, you can find some great choices here. Messenger bags are great for students or those men who want to be able to carry around more than just their wallet outside of work.

Laptop Bags

Laptop bags are the most technical of these bag types – they’re great for keeping valuables and gear close to the body, they have inserts to divide documents and compartments to store battery chargers and other documents. They’re generally slimmer and less formal than briefcases and some messenger bags. For guys with a technical job, be it in media or back end design, a laptop bag is a practical choice.

Backpacks

Although backpacks are very casual and so do not fit all occasions, they’re great for support and comfort and as such can be a good choice for those with back problems or who need to carry a lot. They also have a large opening which makes them able to carry more irregular gear like cameras and lighting. They usually don’t have a dedicated section for computers and other documents, however.

Suitcases

As we mentioned earlier, suitcases are really intended for clothes and longer overnight trips. Because of this they’re much larger than other types of bags and aren’t always appropriate for more casual settings.

Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Briefcase

First and foremost a briefcase should be durable – it’s meant to carry and protect your belongings and a briefcase that is of second-rate quality can’t realistically do that over the long term. After this key criterion, a briefcase should fit well with your style, the occasion, and your overall lifestyle.

If you have a casual look, a rigid and leather briefcase probably isn’t the best choice – a messenger bag might be more appropriate and upgrade your outfit well. That being said, regardless of your style, if the briefcase is for a professional occasion, that takes precedence and you’ll want a more conservative bag. If you’re objective about your own style, the occasion the briefcase is for, and your general lifestyle needs, finding the right briefcase from the wide selection available shouldn’t be too much trouble.

And remember, should you know of any friends or co-workers that are in search of a briefcase, be sure that you share or email this guide with them!

About The Author

Shawn Burns

Shawn is the founder and senior editor at Tools of Men, the leading style and grooming source trusted by men in 187 countries. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. He is an expert in all things men's grooming related. His work has been mentioned on countless sites including The Wall Street Journal, NBC, AskMen, Vice, WikiHow, and the New York Times.

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