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The Best Men’s Briefcases for Classic Carrying

Best Briefcases 0 Hero
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More sophisticated than a tote or a backpack, a briefcase projects an aura signifying you’re an organized professional down to the bone. It’s the gift people purchase for young men when they graduate from law school to earn MBAs to show they’ve entered an elite playing field where intelligence is power. Type in a search query for briefcases, and you’ll find a ton of options to choose from, making it difficult to hone in on the ideal choice for you. To make your search easier, we’ve created a list of the best briefcases for men. Now all you have to do is choose the top-tier carrier that speaks to you.

The Best Briefcases Breakdown

History of Briefcases

Briefcases are the ancestor of a 14th-century satchel people used to carry valuables, money, and other accessories. In 1826, Godillot of Paris created a carpet bag with a hinged iron frame that set the stage for the briefcases we know today. Then came the Gladstone bag, and much like today’s briefcase, it featured a sturdy two-section design. The Rosebury bag followed shortly after, but it wasn’t until the late 1850s that the modern rectangular briefcase emerged and took the professional world by storm.

Why should you carry a briefcase?

A briefcase certainly doesn’t define a man, but it’s certainly a piece of gear that shows the world you mean business. Walking into a room wearing a sharp suit and backpack won’t have the same effect as when you make an entrance carrying a dapper attaché. Indeed, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but first impressions are essential in the business world, and with a briefcase, you put your best foot forward.

Briefcase Vs. Messenger Bag

At first glance, it seems like there’s no difference between briefcases and messenger bags. And since there are multi-carry options, it can be even more difficult to bags in general. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two carrying options to define their styles. Messenger bags are more informal and are designed to be carried over the shoulder or across the body. They’re often made with softer material and don’t typically have handles. On the other hand, briefcases are always built with a carrying handle. They’re also more spacious, so they can carry legal-sized documents with ease. And they typically look more formal than a messenger bag. 

Do People still use briefcases?

Your average office worker isn’t expected to bust out a three-piece suit every day anymore, and this shift to a more business-casual work environment means briefcases aren’t as popular as they used to be. However, they’re still perfectly capable of carrying office essentials, and many options come with laptop compartments and other features to accommodate modern work gear. They’re also an easy way to elevate your style, as they’re much more stylish, professional, and versatile than a tote or a backpack.

What to look for

Material: High-quality leather is durable, stylish, and ages well, making it a classically popular choice for briefcases (you should go with full-grain if you value longevity the most). Nylon and canvas are lightweight, water-resistant, and great for more casual and/or practical purposes (and convenient if your commute involves rain).

Size: Make sure the briefcase you’re eyeing has enough space to hold your essentials like a laptop, documents, notebooks, and other accessories. A width of ~17in, height of ~13in, and depth of ~6in is a good ballpark.

Use: Ask yourself if you want a briefcase for daily work, business meetings, travel, or an all-arounder. For daily work, something bigger with multiple compartments is usually ideal, but if you just need a convenient bag for meetings, a smaller briefcase with a laptop compartment can be more manageable.

Compartments: If you need multiple devices at work, make sure you get a briefcase with a laptop compartment and maybe even a tablet compartment if you need it. Additional internal pockets can also help keep your items organized and less likely to bounce around.

Style: Traditional briefcases come with a hard shell and a lock, with leather usually being the most popular choice. So, if you want a classic look, go for the classic design. That said, even many classic-inspired options come with removable straps to make them more versatile.

Herschel Gibson Messenger Tech

Herschel Gibson Messenger Tech
Pros
  • Made with 100% recycled materials
  • Comes with a removable padded shoulder strap
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Great style and durability for the price
Cons
  • Could fit more laptops sizes if it was just a bit wider

Best Budget Briefcase: The Herschel Gibson Messenger is built for tech-savvy individuals who are on the move constantly. It’s equipped with reinforced carrying handles, various storage compartments to carry all your gadgets (including a 15″/16″ laptop sleeve), and it’s made with 100% recycled materials. For easy access, it has a two-way main compartment zipper and a front storage pocket for your compact essentials, such as your keys and smartphone. You can also transform it into an over-the-shoulder carrier with the included removable padded shoulder strap.

Material: EcoSystem™ 600D Fabric
Size: 11″(H) x 15.5″(W) x 5.5″(D), 18L
Compartments: 15″/16″ laptop sleeve, front storage pocket

Bellroy Via Work Bag

Bellroy Via Work Bag
Pros
  • Made with recycled material
  • Water-resistant main zipper
  • Detachable shoulder strap
  • 3-year warranty
Cons
  • A bit on the smaller side

Best Starter Briefcase: Using 100% recycled external fabric, the Via Work Bag is a smooth carrier for formal business meetings and walks in between them. It has a water-resistant main zipper, a padded laptop pocket for laptops up to 16 inches, and a removable padded shoulder strap if you want to transform it into a messenger bag. There are also luggage pass-through slides on the back, making the bag easy to attach to your luggage if you’re traveling. The clean design Bellroy employs ensures this briefcase will still be stylish decades from now.

Material: 100% recycled external fabric
Size: 420mm x 320mm x 140mm, 14L
Compartments: 16″ laptop sleeve, internal mesh pocket

Timbuk2 Scheme Convertible Briefcase Backpack

Timbuk2 Scheme Convertible Briefcase Backpack
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Removable shoulder and backpack straps
  • Great for traveling
  • Made with durable nylon
Cons
  • No water bottle compartment

Best Convertible Briefcase: Marrying the classic briefcase design with modern technology and the ability to turn into a backpack, this briefcase from the SF-based Timbuk2 is a sophisticated carrier for the everyday grind. It has a slip pocket and two rear zip pockets for your files, a padded laptop sleeve capable of protecting up to a 15-inch laptop, and a wide opening for easy access. With the removable shoulder and backpack straps, you can adjust the briefcase to suit your needs. For durability and style, the briefcase is made from 600D Non-P PVC/900D Poly, and for peace of mind, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Material: 600D Non-P PVC/900D Poly
Size: 12.2″ x 16.1″ x 5.91″, 25L
Compartments: 15″ laptop compartment, rear zip pockets

Mystery Ranch 3 Way Briefcase

Pros
  • Made in USA
  • Versatile construction with a 4-way interchangeable design
  • Large central compartment
  • Comes in a variety of colors
Cons
  • Internal pockets can be hard to access if fully packed

Best Tactical Briefcase: Mystery Ranch makes some of the best bags for outdoor use, but they also produce a respectable briefcase. The 3 Way Briefcase is constructed from 500D CORDURA fabric, allowing it to take a beating. It has a Rip Zip opening for blazing quick access to its detail pockets, a padded sleeve for laptops up to 15 inches, and a variety of accessory pockets to keep you organized. And it has an expandable zipper that gives you five additional liters of storage.

Material: 500D Cordura fabric
Size: 17” L x 12” W x 12.5” H
Compartments: 15″ laptop compartment, detail/accessory pockets

Topo Designs Commuter Briefcase

Pros
  • Made in USA
  • Horween leather accents
  • Can be used as a backpack
Cons
  • Backpack straps aren’t removable

Best Briefcase for Commuting: If you’re a modern city-dweller, Topo’s Commuter Briefcase is a versatile carrier fit for the urban playground. The bag has a 1000D Cordura nylon exterior, Horween leather accents and handle, and YKK zippers. It’s built with storable backpack straps, a removable adjustable shoulder strap, internal organization pockets, and a security pocket. This USA-made 15L briefcase is just what you need for a fast-paced life with business meetings around the world.

Material: 1000D Cordura nylon
Size: 16″ W x 11″ H x 4.5″ D, 15L
Compartments: 15″ laptop compartment, internal organization pockets, security pocket

Filson Original Briefcase

Pros
  • Made in USA
  • Fabric that comes from a historic British mill
  • Detachable shoulder strap
  • Great for traveling
Cons
  • On the heavy side

Best Durable Briefcase: Filson’s American-made Original Briefcase is built using uncompromising materials, Scuba’s 22 oz rugged twill, and North American saddle-quality bridle leather. The carry-on-sized briefcase has over 10 internal pockets so you can organize all of your essential documents and gear; designed to hold a 15-inch laptop securely. Ensuring that everything inside is tucked away safely, it features a custom-cut YKK zipper closure, in addition to a storm flap closure.

Material: Twill and bridle leather
Size: 16″ W x 12.5″ H x 4″ D, 13L
Compartments: 15″ laptop compartment, 2 external full-width pockets

Killspencer Briefcase 2.0

Pros
  • US-Made
  • Made with premium full-grain leather
  • Classic style with modern features
  • Cobra buckles and a Swiss-made zipper
Cons
  • N/A

Best Leather Briefcase: Made in the USA, Killspencer’s Briefcase 2.0 features high-quality materials for excellent longevity. The sleek business bag is made from full-grain leather and has a stylish Swiss-made Riri zipper in an antique silver finish. It features two patented Cobra buckles, one exterior bull hide leather handle, and a nylon-lined laptop compartment with an elastic secret strap for stability. It also has an Alice clip attachment webbing strip, so you can add an accessory case.

Material: Premium full-grain leather
Size: 17″ L x 2.5″ D x 11.5″ H
Compartments: 15″ laptop compartment, 2 exterior pockets

Hardgraft Long Haul Briefcase

Pros
  • Made in Italy
  • Plenty of storage for a laptop and other devices
  • Additional leather strap on the side
Cons
  • Shipping and tax add to the cost

Best Laptop Briefcase: Spacious enough to comfortably fit your laptop and documents, Hardgraft’s Long Haul Briefcase is a hardworking piece of gear with a classic design. The carrier is made in Italy from vegetable-tanned leather and minimal hardware, allowing it to be comfortable to carry and resilient. It has a large flap with an external zip pocket hidden underneath, an adjustable shoulder strap, and a strip of leather on the back, so you can attach it to the grab handle of your suitcase when you travel.

Material: Vegetable-tanned leather
Size: 15.8” L x 11” H x 3.3” D
Compartments: Full-width laptop compartment, full-width zip pocket

Shinola Computer Brief

Pros
  • US-made
  • Long removable shoulder strap
  • Gunmetal hardware
  • Versatile style
Cons
  • N/A

Best US-Made Briefcase: Shinola is most famous for its classic watches, but they’ve decided to apply its design talents to creating a timeless Computer Brief. This briefcase features pristine leather, a long removable shoulder strap, and silver-toned hardware. It has a padded foam interior to protect your goods, three open pockets for smaller items you need on the go, an exterior open pocket, and a detachable key fob. Shinola made a briefcase for men that complements any of their elegant watches perfectly.

Material: Leather
Size: 11″ H x 15.5″ W x 2″ D
Compartments: 15″ laptop compartment, interior zip compartment, open exterior compartment

Bennet Winch Black Leather Briefcase

Pros
  • 100% British cotton lining
  • Made with Italian leather
  • Brass hardware welded in London
Cons
  • Pricey

Best Premium Briefcase: Fitting for both a custom-tailored suit or a more laidback look, Bennett Winch’s briefcase is a smart option when you’re looking for a document carrier. Besides the ability to match any outfit in your closet, it will help you stay organized with three internal pockets, a protected laptop pocket, a concealed front phone pocket, and a wallet pocket on the backside. It’s made from full-grain vegetable-tanned Italian leather, 100% British cotton lining, and solid brass hardware welded in London.

Material: Full-grain vegetable-tanned Italian leather
Size: 16.5” L x 13.8” H x 3.14” D
Compartments: 16″ laptop compartment, 3 internal pockets

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