The 10 Best Leather Briefcases

Updated March 26, 2018 by Sam Kraft

10 Best Leather Briefcases
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We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Looking for something a little more stylish and professional than a backpack to tote all your gear to the office, school or on a business trip? One of these leather briefcases should fit the bill nicely. Coming in elegant attache, messenger or traditional models, they provide enough room to hold papers, files, books, laptops, pens and even a few personal clothing and grooming items. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best leather briefcase on Amazon.

10. Alpine Swiss Expandable

If you like a little more structure in your briefcase, then the Alpine Swiss Expandable makes a suitable choice. It offers a clean and professional look and comes equipped with dual combination locks that can be programmed with two unique number sets for added protection.
  • 4 protective metal feet
  • expandable interior file folders
  • hinges are not very durable
Brand Alpine Swiss
Model By Alpine Swiss
Weight 7.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Kattee Messenger

The Kattee Messenger is available in three rich colors and fits the bill for quality, function and style. It has two front zippered pockets for your keys, wallet and passport and the sturdy flat top handle makes it easy to grab and head out the door.
  • max strap length is 55 inches
  • clasps and zippers close tightly
  • dye may rub off onto clothing
Brand Kattee
Model XZ122
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Peacechaos Tote

If you love a retro vintage vibe, look no further than the Peacechaos Tote, which features a weathered brown leather exterior with decorative bronze buckles on the front flap. Its hidden push-button closures provide simple, secure access to all of your items.
  • rear pocket for tablets
  • wallet and cell phone holder
  • zipper sometimes gets stuck
Brand peacechaos
Model BC25168
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. McKlein Coughlin Attache

At 13 inches in height and 4.5 inches wide, the McKlein Coughlin Attache offers a slim design that makes it highly portable even as it keeps documents, mobile devices, business cards and other items efficiently organized within.
  • protective feet provide stability
  • 3-digit combination lock
  • hinge is rather weak
Brand McKleinUSA
Model 80464
Weight 6.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Polare Satchel

The Polare Satchel is an effective multifunctional bag for work or leisure with several interior compartments to keep things nice and tidy. It features a versatile strap that can transform this model from a briefcase to a messenger bag, backpack or luggage tote.
  • durable industrial-grade stitching
  • thick cowhide leather
  • buckles do not seem very durable
Brand Polare
Model 3337141
Weight 6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Samsonite Colombian

The Samsonite Colombian features a useful organizer under the front flap that will accommodate and organize your small essential items. It’s nothing fancy, but its crisp look and solid construction make it a serviceable commuter case.
  • convenient exterior rear sleeve
  • buckles smoothly and effortlessly
  • strap needs more padding
Brand Samsonite
Model plastic
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Iswee Business Bag

Soft, smooth and made from genuine cow leather, the Iswee Business Bag looks professional and provides the functionality a business man or woman needs. Its adjustable and removable long shoulder strap also provides convenient versatility.
  • an id card slot
  • 2 snap-closure front pockets
  • ideal for holding 14-inch laptops
Brand Iswee
Model Variation
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Time Resistance Messenger

With five attractive colors to choose from, you can select whichever version of the elegant Time Resistance Messenger that best suits your style. It’s designed for optimal balance and carrying comfort with two spacious main compartments.
  • comes with a protective cover
  • side zippers for easy access
  • strong and reliable brass hardware
Brand Time Resistance
Model Variation
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Banuce Bag

The stylish Banuce Bag is a nice choice for those who favor a casual contemporary vibe. It looks more expensive than its budget-friendly price and is made from a waterproof Oxford fabric with PU leather that can stand up to your daily commute and more.
  • versatile removable shoulder straps
  • padded sleeve keeps laptops secure
  • 4 color options available
Brand Banuce
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Saddleback Classic

The Saddleback Classic is a rugged stalwart with its high-quality construction and craftsmanship. Its full-grain boot leather continues to look better with age and the nickel-plated metal hardware is built to last for a lifetime.
  • double-stitched at all stress points
  • ideal for overnight business trips
  • available in 3 sizes
Brand Saddleback Leather Co.
Model 01-10-0001-LG-CN-NP-C
Weight 10 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Versatility Meets Function

The briefcase conjures up a variety of images in the human mind. One such image could be a scholarly, scruffy, rugged, and brave archaeologist, professor, and action hero searching for lost civilizations and saving the world. Another is a medical doctor in need of a place to keep his stethoscopes or a frequent traveler requiring a resource to protect and store his business documents. Regardless of the application or profession, the leather briefcase is a perfectly suitable storage companion for many situations.

Typically equipped with a handle, the briefcase is defined as a narrow, hard-sided, box-shaped bag or container normally used to store, organize, and carry papers from one place to another. While this is a basic definition, we know that a briefcase comes to have different functions depending on the person using it. As our list currently shows, the leather briefcase comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Three distinct styles of the leather briefcase include the traditional hard-sided, soft-sided, and attache case. The hard-sided variety evokes the image of a fancy lawyer on his way to the courthouse or the business professional walking on Wall Street. Characterized by a lightweight frame and carrying handle, the hard-sided leather briefcase features a series of internal dividers or pouches that keep sensitive documents neatly organized and easy to find. Though they don't have any shoulder straps, many hard-sided briefcases are equipped with combination locks, adding an extra layer of security for transporting a large number of documents with sensitive information.

Resembling a hard-sided briefcase, the attache case is significantly smaller, thinner, and more formal in appearance. Its interior is simpler in design and has fewer compartments, but it can be used in very much the same way.

Soft-sided leather briefcases are gaining quite a bit of popularity in both the casual and professional sense, as they lack rigid framing and open from the top, allowing for quick retrieval of paperwork and laptops when vertically oriented. Many soft-sided leather briefcases include the convenience of both handles and shoulder straps. Additionally, they can be folded down and tucked away when not in use. Although many soft briefcases have buckles to keep their contents from falling out, they don't always provide the same level of security or protection from impacts as a traditional hard leather briefcase.

Taking All The Variables Into Account

You should realize that like many red wines, quality leather improves with age. For that reason, if you're looking for something that will remain resilient in structure and fashionable for years to come, finding an option made with genuine full-grain leather will ensure it develops an attractive patina. Whether you go with a hard or soft-sided option, make sure that it's durable and that it smells real to your trained olfactory senses. Yes, you heard that right! It is okay to smell that briefcase. I know that it might sound strange to imagine yourself standing in the middle of a department store with your nose pressed up against an item on display, but you should understand that genuine leather has a distinct odor that cannot be replicated by its synthetic counterparts. Taking a whiff of that new leather briefcase will give you a good idea of its authenticity. But I wouldn't recommend taking a taste, as that could make the store detective your new best friend.

Consider your occupation, what you'll be using the briefcase for, and how often you'll need to travel with it. This will usually dictate the best option for your needs. For example, if you're a high-powered attorney or tax professional, something discreet and secure is a great idea (i.e. an attache or hard-sided option). Always pay attention to the hardware by feeling the handle, shoulder straps, buckles, locks, zippers, metallic rings, and anything else on the case that is likely to wear out over time.

Make note of the number of available storage compartments inside your briefcase of choice. If you plan to present a lot of documents in court, it's always a good idea to choose an option with plenty of pouches, so you can keep your materials organized and available for quick access.

When your fashion sense and working environment come into play, consider your available color options. Many leather briefcases come in either black, brown, or tan.

A Brief History Of Leather Briefcases

The earliest briefcase-like bag dates as far back as the 1st through 3rd centuries C.E., and was known as the Roman loculus. Made from a single goat or calf leather hide and offering an envelope-like design, the loculus was used by Roman legionaires and was typically reinforced with diagonal straps that met in the center with a bronze ring. Its original purpose was to store food and other personal effects for members of the army.

While its overall function didn't change much in the centuries that followed, the concept of the "man bag" remained a strong influence right up through the 16th century. Prolific writer William Shakespeare provided insight into the steady popularity of the rudimentary satchel as a means for storage in his 1599 work As You Like It.

With the innovation of pockets being sewn into most clothing by the 17th century, the satchel became more synonymous with women's fashion and the elite.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century saw the use of new materials for construction purposes, including iron and steel, mobilizing human society with an ability to travel farther than ever before, creating a growing need for bags and briefcases that could withstand heavy use.

Fast forward to the 1950s and 1960s, and we find the briefcase becoming a staple accessory for anyone from the government worker to the budding entrepreneur. By the 1980s, designer labels reigned supreme with companies like Prada and Gucci releasing sleek and refined leather bags and briefcases.

In today's market, both soft and hard black leather briefcases have become potent symbols of power, sophistication, and success.

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Last updated on March 26, 2018 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

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