There’s a lot to think about when you’re buying a men’s briefcase. Not only do you want to look and feel good carrying it around, but you also want it to be comfortable to hold or carry, and have enough compartments for everything you need.
I’ve written this article to point out the most important factors that you need to consider before making your purchase. If you want, you can quickly jump to my Top 15 Leather Briefcases For Men article.
Type Of Briefcase
The is the first and most important factor to consider. You must ask yourself “what will I mainly be using the briefcase for?”.
Presumably, you buying a briefcase for some type of work, but what type? What’s your occupation? If you’re an attorney or accountant, then an attache case or a luxurious leather briefcase would be ideal.
If you find yourself traveling often for business, then an obvious choice would be a rolling briefcase either as a standalone, or as an addition. If you decide to bring your laptop with you, then a checkpoint friendly laptop briefcase will come in handy, though it’s not essential.
Some briefcases are perfectly suitable for multiple situations such as casual/formal messenger bag types. Though they’re not typically classed as a briefcase, you can get away with carrying one into a casual work environment or on holiday.
The material of a briefcase affects how it looks, how it feels and how long it will last (though this is closely tied in with craftsmanship).
For the utmost professionals, those who want to look like a boss (or perhaps you are one) and make the best impression either in business meetings, job interviews or on your daily commutes, a top quality leather briefcase should be the priority.
Genuine leather is durable, flexible, looks and feels good, and boy does it smell good too. There are so many different forms of leather and different methods of production, which affect the properties of the leather.
I’m no expert on leather tanning, but this article on Wikipedia is extremely useful in this matter.
The other most commonly used material on men’s briefcases are nylon and polyester, both are from a group of synthetic polymers. Though they’re not as luxurious as leather, they’re usually resistant to chemical elements, have high strength and are cheaper to produce.
You may see a number followed by a “D” letter (e.g. 1680D) when synthetic polymers are mentioned. The “D” stands for denier, which is basically a measure of a fabric’s linear mass density. The higher it is, the more durable the material.
The toughest of them all, but also, the heaviest. The metal used for briefcases is usually aluminum, which has a high resistance to corrosion.
If you’re looking for a metal briefcase, chances are that you work in an industry where you’re exposed to more dangers such as construction, or you have things that you’re highly protective of.
You’ll be glad to know that a metal briefcase will likely come in the form of an attache case, which will have locks on it too.
The three most common colors on briefcases for men are black, brown and tan. That’s being a bit too general, because there are several shades between those colors that are normally just grouped within those colors.
Black and dark brown are the best options to go for in a professional environment, because they project a sense of power and prosperity.
Tan and other lighter colors are better for casual purposes where the working atmosphere is more relaxed and informal. You should avoid briefcases that have more than two different colors on the outside (that includes the stitching), since this is seen as being too flamboyant.
You should always have enough compartments within your briefcase to keep the contents as organized as possible, especially if you carry a lot of things.
This doesn’t mean that more compartments, the better. As a matter of fact, I prefer traveling light, but even then I like at least 3 sectioned areas in total (inside and outside) to separate my laptop, stationary and documents.
If you’re traveling and have a rolling briefcase, it would be ideal to have a complete separate section for a few items of clothing.
A feature that I consider to be essential no matter your occupation, is a quick access compartment that allows you to keep items that you quickly need access to, such as your mobile phone or plane tickets. Many men’s briefcases have this either on the front or back.
The last thing you want is to take your laptop out your briefcase to find that it has been scuffed and scratched around the edges or worse. So if you have to to carry your laptop around with you, make sure that there’s a dedicated laptop compartment that’s adequately padded and big enough to hold your laptop.
If you’re planning to travel by air with your laptop, then consider a checkpoint friendly compartment. This means that the laptop compartment opens out fully flat, or it can be removed from the briefcase, so that nothing obscures it, making the checkpoint process hassle-free (read more about this on the TSA website).
Size & Weight
Bigger is not better in this case. You don’t really want to carry around anything too big and heavy, unless your job warrants it. And if you’re a particularly short man like myself, it just looks ridiculous and feels uncomfortable to carry around.
The ideal dimensions should be a width of between 15 – 16.5 inches, height 11 – 13 inches and depth 4-6 inches. Of course, the depth you can give or take a couple inches depending on how much you have to carry, and whether the briefcase can be effectively compressed if there is any empty space inside.
These are just guidelines of what I think gives the best look when it comes to size, but ultimately, as long as you feel comfortable, that’s all that matters.
You don’t have to spend several hundred dollars to get a high quality men’s briefcase. As a matter of fact, there are many elegant models less than $200 that are practical, will last long and look a lot more expensive than they really are. You can see some of them here.
If you do have an occupation that’s considered high class, be it a lawyer, stock broker, executive of a big company or a director, then I don’t recommend that you go cheap. Invest in a top quality leather briefcase as this will likely affect the way your clients perceive you.
If you’re working in a more vibrant and creative job environment, such as in an Art museum or certain areas within media, then you can get away with different styles, regardless of whether it looks $50 or $500.
The chances are, the more money you spend on a briefcase, the longer the warranty period will be. This shows that the manufacturer has confidence in their product.
I wouldn’t be too skeptical about briefcases that only have several years warranty if they’re not too expensive. However, if it has no warranty or just one year, I would avoid it unless they have a solid reputation for quality. You may find this to be the case if the producer is based in another country such as Italy or England.
Hopefully, my guide has given you a better insight into briefcases for men. Just bear in mind that although your occupation may lead you to getting a certain type of briefcase, in the end, its style and your appreciation for intricate details will depend on your personality.