What makes a good briefcase? Ask any suit with a 9-to-5 and a penchant for vicuña suiting, and he’ll have a few requirements: lightweight and with a comfortable handle; large enough to carry a computer and some documents (the word “briefcase” is derived from the legal documents, or briefs, that lawyers carry) but not so bulky it looks like a weekender; and made of materials built to last so he can pass it on to the kid when he gets old enough to pull his weight. A slim messenger or duffel bag with a shoulder strap, but no handle — that isn’t a briefcase. It’s time to get serious about the things you carry. These briefcases cover the spectrum, from simple and affordable to luxuriously-detailed and expensive.
J.Crew Harwick Briefcase
Available in either olive or dark navy, this briefcase is made of water-repellent nylon. Its interior is padded and can fit a small laptop. Additionally, the brief has leather handles and several organizing pockets, and can be zipped shut.
Incase City Brief
Here’s a briefcase that’s utilitarian above all else. Weaved with a 270 x 500D polyester blend, it’s durable, has two easy-access organizer pockets, can hold a 13-inch MacBook Pro and features an adjustable shoulder strap for when you get cramps from too much glad-handing. It looks pretty darn good, too.
Herschel Supply Co. Clark Messenger
The Clark Messenger features a fleece-lined 15-inch laptop sleeve and a large external pocket, and the body comes fully lined with brand’s signature coated poly fabric. The handle and zippers are finished in leather. Bonus for those who like to match: this bag comes in a variety of styles, ranging from solid navy to full camouflage.
L.L. Bean Heritage Waxed Canvas Briefcase
This briefcase is made with a waxed-cotton canvas, so it’s weather resistant. It has leather accents and two exterior pockets, and it can fit a 15-inch laptop.
Topo Designs Mountain Briefcase
Colorado-made Topo bags are simple, functional and capable of office duty or a day on the trail; with their Mountain Briefcase, the brand took the silhouette of a brief and gave it an outdoorsy makeover, with a 1,000D Invista Cordura exterior, enough space to hold a laptop and jacket, and an optional messenger-style strap.
Ernest Alexander Spencer Brief
This is Ernest Alexander’s classic leather briefcase. It has an adjustable strap, a padded laptop divider and plenty of pockets for storage.
Jack Spade Waxwear Base Brief
As the name suggests, this brief is made of a 100 percent waxed cotton canvas. The exterior is largely unassuming, but unzip it and you’ll find a spacious interior with several leather organizational slots, mesh end pockets and enough room for a laptop and some gym clothes.
Filson Original Briefcase
This classic briefcase is completely American-made with cotton, oil-finished twill and 100 percent genuine bridle leather. It’s water and scratch resistant, features an interior compartment with three dividers and has two stow pockets. And since it comes in five colors, you’ve got options.
Billykirk No. 165 Medium Waxed Canvas Carryall
This California-based leather and canvas company designs everything from belts to hats to bags. The Carryall is their answer to the briefcase. Its pocketed and particularly roomy Denier olive nylon lined interior can expand to almost 12″ while its leather trimmed outside takes on the look of a rugged tool bag.
Killspencer Attaché Briefcase
Made in Los Angeles by Killspencer’s small team of craftsmen, this black leather briefcase is padded and lined with fur to protect a 15-inch laptop. Its exterior features a vintage silver Riri zipper and three small exterior compartments to hold an iPhone or other small items. Get it monogrammed for a personal touch.
Porter Brief Bag
Made in Japan, Porter’s briefcase is made of nylon, has web handles with leather grips, and features a detachable shoulder strap. It’s available at Club Monaco.
Billy Reid Briefcase
Billy Reid’s briefcase has cordovan straps, brass hardware and hand-pressed grommets. Its interior is lined with cotton duck cloth. Since the exterior is made of 100 percent calfskin, be prepared to have it professionally polished every now and again if it’s your everyday carry.
This Parisian brand makes a simple yet beautiful briefcase. Its exterior is made from vegetable-tanned leather, while the interior is lined with recycled cotton. Inside, there’s one main compartment and a zippered pocket for keeping small items.
Beautifully constructed with Florentine Vacchetta leather, the Trash is capable of carrying a lot in its small frame (16 x 12 x 3.25 inches). It has eight compartments, all lined with water-resistant nylon, and room enough for a 15-inch laptop. Additionally, there are specific areas to hold travel essentials like your plane ticket, travel guidebooks, sunglasses, smartphone and even a cigar.
Arrivé Narita Slim Brief from Tumi
This Tumi briefcase is made of ballistic nylon and fits a 15-inch laptop. The interior is built for functionality, with an accessory pouch and several open and zippered pockets for organizing smaller items. The finishing touches are also nice: the Narita has a comfortable articulating shoulder strap and is equipped with the “add-a-bag” system so it can attach to rolling luggage.
Lotuff Leather Zip-Top Briefcase
A dependable and understated briefcase, this one is crafted in New England from high-quality vegetable-tanned leather. The bag comes in three colors — chestnut, black, chocolate — and has a removable shoulder strap, along with two easily accessed full-width pockets. And since there isn’t much of an interior lining, it can accommodate whatever the day requires.
Boldrini Selleria Double-Handle Briefcase
This dapper bag features a front slip pocket that seals magnetically, protective feet and gold-toned hardware. Made in Italy using smooth brown leather, what truly distinguishes this double-handle briefcase is its bright blood-red twill interior.
Rag & Bone Lenox Briefcase
The Lenox briefcase is minimal and murdered out. Some of its features include 100 percent black-oil-finished leather and a zippered main closure.
J.W. Hulme Co. Fremont Attaché
Although J.W. Hulme Co. makes several styles of briefcases, the new Fremont Attaché is one of our favorites. Completely made in America with leather, it’s suitable for both office and casual settings. It’s slim, has several functional compartments and can fit a 15-inch laptop.
The Commuter Briefcase by Frank Clegg
This Frank Clegg briefcase, made from tumbled leather in Massachusetts, is simple and functional. It consists of one large easy-access gusset and two exterior slip pockets.
Colonel Littleton No. 1943 Navigator Briefcase
This WWII-inspired briefcase is handmade in Tennessee with polished leather and boasts an expandable body and adjustable side gussets. Inside, there are two dividers and several smaller pockets for necessities. Along with its solid brass hardware and intricate system of straps, this briefcase feels like an heirloom.
Ermenegildo Zegna Legal Document Bag
Available in either black or dove grey, this 100 percent calf-leather bag is scratch resistant, has a palladium metal plate and its interior is lined with suede. Luxurious indeed — but don’t get it if you’ve got a laptop bigger than 13 inches.
Serapian Evolution Double-Handle Briefcase
This Italian-made double-handle has two main compartments, each with two large slip pockets and several other organizing slots. On the bag’s exterior there’s a full-length zip pocket and a newspaper holder. The hardware is palladium and the bag’s small logo is made with silver.
Want Les Essentiels de la Vie Trudeau 17-Inch
The Trudeau has a minimalist exterior and a compartmentalized interior with 14 pockets to hold pens, notepads and business essentials. Also, it’s large enough to hold a 17-inch laptop and comes with a padlock and key.
Dunhill Boston Briefcase
The Boston is made from black grained leather — and it’s soft. The brief has two exterior pockets (one on the front and one on the back), and its interior is lined with a navy canvas.
Ghurka Counselor No. 95 Leather Briefcase
Ghurka is renowned for crafting leather goods that evoke American timelessness — and this briefcase is no different. It boasts two large interior compartments, can fit a 17-inch laptop and features polished brass hardware.
Zero Halliburton 3 Carbon Fiber Attaché
In the big action movies, there’s usually a guy handcuffed to a briefcase full of cash. Well, if you’re that guy you’ll want this attaché from Zero Halliburton. Made with an impervious carbon fibre shell, this carry-on has a red leather interior and a three digit combination lock for additional security.
Valextra Accademia Classic Briefcase
Slender and lightweight, this elegant briefcase is ideal for the cosmopolitan gentleman. It has a single zip-around compartment, which is padded to protect valuables, and another easy-access pocket along its exterior that zips across. Each bag is made in Italy and monogrammed with a serial number that verifies its authenticity.
Berluti Un Jour
Berluti designed this bag as a day bag for businessmen (“un jour” means “one day” in French). This Venezia leather briefcase boasts a timeless hand-polished patina, one main compartment and a small frontal zip pocket. Additionally, its accented with brass hardware and has a cotton-lined interior.
Böle Country Governor Briefcase
This Böle briefcase is made from spruce bark-tanned Swedish leather, has a Nordic reindeer skin lining and comes with a 15-year guarantee (and annual servicing). It’s the Rolls-Royce of the briefcase world.