When you are in the market for a briefcase it’s important to ask yourself some questions. What kind of budget do I have? What do I expect from my briefcase? What do I need to carry with me on a regular basis? What is the primary use of my briefcase?
It’s a good idea to be able to answer these questions before you decide on what you are going to buy. Of course, you want a briefcase that fulfills your needs and provides you with value for your money. The purpose of this article is to help you identify the most important factors you need to consider before you hit the buy button.
If you want some quick suggestions from us you can jump over to the article top 10 briefcases for 2017 here we have found our favorites from 2017. If you are a lawyer and are looking for the perfect match for your suit jump over to best briefcases for lawyers.
The word briefcase actually is derived from the word legal documents or briefs that lawyers carry around.
A nice briefcase sends a certain signal, here is a man serious about his work and the stuff he is carrying around. That guy is most likely awesome and going somewhere – so it’s time for you to consider rocking a classic briefcase.
Type of briefcase
This is absolutely the most crucial part when choosing your briefcase, you want to be sure that you can answer our question “What is the primary use of my briefcase?” in a clear and concise way.
The most regular use of a briefcase is for work, but there can be a big difference in your occupation and your expectations to a briefcase.
A slim classic leather briefcase is often used by lawyers or businessmen. They offer little room and same goes for the organization. But if you are looking for something just to carry a small laptop and some papers/reports this is ideal.
Rolling Briefcase – If you travel a lot you might want to consider a rolling briefcase. They are often quite large and can replace a weekend or duffel bag while maintaining your professional look as well.
You can often fit both books, laptop, accessories and even a set of clothes for a weekend trip. They usually offer a wide range of compartments, small pockets and therefore you can get a neatly organized travel bag.
Messenger Bags – If you’re looking for a hybrid briefcase solution, it can be a bit difficult. It’s often hard to find a briefcase with a casual look. If you’re looking for something a bit more casual you might want to try to search for messenger bags which more often will offer a casual and business-like look.
The attache case is a lockable hard sided briefcase, often comes in very sturdy material or even aluminum, carbon fiber or metal. This way you can make sure whatever you are carrying is safe.
A pad-folio you might have seen in a movie. It is a very small briefcase designed specifically for the business man. They are meant to be carried under the arm or in the hand, which is why they have no handles usually. It can only fit the essentials you need for a business meeting often notes, pens and a calculator. If you often find yourself rushing to a meeting and forgetting things, a padfolio is a neat and handy solution!
Padfolios are often made from leather and can be personalized with your own name or company name. The classic colors are navy blue, brown and black.
A portfolio is also a variant of a briefcase, closely related with the padfolio. The difference is in the size, a portfolio is much larger than the padfolio. So if you need to bring along a standard a4 report, pictures or a tablet to a meeting a portfolio is a sure bet!
Depending on your needs it’s good to think about what kind of material you choose for your briefcase. The most popular material for a briefcase is leather, but it’s all about you and your expectations. But there can be a big difference in leather. It can be very hard and sturdy, soft and nice, it can come with a really unique patina (unprocessed leather) meaning that your bag will change due to the chemical processes, or the leather can be processed and keep the same sleek look for years if you treat it well. If you want to get a better overview of leather types and patina you can read more here.
If you are often carrying fragile product samples or your laptop you might want to exclude metal and carbon fiber as the padding can be non-existing in these. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something secure and lightweight for documents or contracts, you might want to consider going with a metal briefcase.
Tend to be a bit cheaper than the leather briefcases as they are often made from recycled materials. Most common is the lightweight aluminum. A sleek material that obviously doesn’t require any maintenance and you don’t have to fear any weather conditions!
Most commonly used for briefcases, it’s durable and sturdy and smells nice too. Leather can last for many years with minimal maintenance if you want to treat your leather nicely make sure to treat it with some leather wax or leather fat occasionally. Mostly used for briefcases are the top grain and full-grain leather. If your looking for something cheaper split-grain and corrected-grain can work too. If your going to go for the cheaper leather versions you can quickly find your self in trouble if your living in a place where you often have to expose your bag to rain.
Nylon and polyester are mostly used, cheaper than leather and metal. If you want to know more about synthetic polymers you can read more here.
A quite expensive material that is lightweight and high strength (Drop your carbon fiber briefcase from the 4th floor and it will survive), in addition to that it has a very characteristic and quite beautiful surface. Expensive but you often get a lifetime warranty.
Mimicking leather often but at a much lower cost, you can get the neat classic look of a leather bag but without using animal hides. Be prepared that your most likely is going to have to replace your bag within a few years. Vinyl has a very low lifespan.
The most used colors for briefcases are the classics, navy blue, brown, tan and black. Usually, we are in that spectrum when we are talking about briefcases. Of course, there a tons of different shades to choose between.
In general, it’s the way to go, if you’re going for the business look we recommend you to go for tan or black. We do not recommend the use of multiple colors and or funky color schemes on business briefcases.
Compartments and organization in a briefcase
When attending to business or traveling it’s important to be organized, it will eliminate time waste and frustrations and focus you on the task at hand. We, therefore, recommend to always go for a bag that has multiple compartments and organizations opportunities.
Small pockets or zipper pockets either inside or on the outside that can be closed is essential to separate your small items like chargers, plane tickets, cell phone or whatever you need from your compartments. You don’t want a bag that only offers a few compartments and no other options for getting organized. It’s extremely frustrating trying to find a specific small item in a big mess.
We recommend at least 2 compartments and 2 pockets for separation and organization. If you’re going for a rolling briefcase for traveling it is also nice to have at least one compartment dedicated to clothing only. Also, be aware if you are looking for a laptop briefcase your computer will fit nicely e.g. check the width and height before you buy it. A specific pocket made for your charger and cables is a must.
Size and weight of a briefcase
The weight is heavily correlated with your choice of material, so if you want to a lightweight secure briefcase, you might want to consider a carbon fiber briefcase.
The size correlates with your expectations to your bag along with the organization options the bag offers.
Width: Between 15-17.5 inches
Height: 11-13 inches
Depth: 4-6 inches
Conclusion and where to buy your briefcase
There is a lot of things to consider when you buy a briefcase that you want to last for years. Mostly it’s important that you know what you want – remember if you’re in doubt it’s most likely better to postpone a bit and get your expectations clear.
Secondly, we think the most important thing to consider is the material you choose.
You can buy your briefcases in many different locations, often you can find briefcases in your local walmart or costco and at a good price. If you’re looking for quality models you might wanna head downtown or check the usual suspects in e-commerce, Amazon, Ebay and Etsy.