Best Leather Briefcase – Top Choices 2017

a couple of months ago

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Who needs a briefcase?

A briefcase is primarly designed for being carried short distances, for example between your car or commuter bus or train and the office. Or perhaps as your carry on personal item when flying, the piece of luggage that fits under the seat in front of you. But you may be surprised to find that some of them also has the ability to convert to a backpack!

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A briefcase often signals that you are an organized person, and also indicates that you are in some manner a professional. Having a good quality briefcase when going to a business meeting or maybe job interview can strengthen your self esteem compared to carrying a flimsy textile bag (that has its uses too in another setting).

In this review article we focus on leather briefcases only, because we believe they deserve a space of their own on our site. Leather of good quality is an outstanding material!

Jump directly to the bag that interests you most by clicking on it in the Quick Navigation below, or keep on reading!

Quick Comparison Table Leather Briefcases

Bag (Click on name for price and availability on Saddleback and Amazon)Size (exterior)WeightWarrantyHolds laptop size up to
Medium Classic Briefcase Saddleback Leather14" W x 11" H x 9" D6.6 lbs.100 Years Limited13"
Large Classic Briefcase Saddleback Leather16" W x 12" H x 9" D7.6 lbs.100 Years Limited15"
Extra Large Classic Briefcase Saddleback Leather18" W x 13" H x 9" D8 lbs.100 Years Limited17"
Medium Front Pocket Briefcase Sadleback Leather15” W x 11 ½” H x 7 ¼” D6.5 lbs.100 Years Limited15"
Large Front Pocket Briefcase Sadleback Leather17” W x 12” H x 7” D7.4 lbs.100 Years Limited17"
Medium Briefcase Thin Saddleback Leather14 ¾” W x 11” H x 4 ½” D5 lbs.100 Years Limited15"
Large Briefcase Thin Saddleback Leather16 ¾” W x 12 ½” H x 4 ½” D6 lbs.100 Years Limited17"
Medium Thin Front Pocket Briefcase Saddleback Leather15” W x 11 ½” H x 3 ½” D5.35 lbs.100 Years Limited15"
Large Thin Front Pocket Briefcase Saddleback Leather17” W x 12” H x 3 ¼” D5.75 lbs.100 Years Limited17"
Fossil Mercer Top-Zip Work Bag15.5"L x 3"W x 11.25"H2.75100 Years Limited14"
Bosca Soft Partners Brief12" x 14.75" x 6.25"3.35 lbs.Lifetime Limited13"

Classic Briefcase from Saddleback Leather


Medium Size (can hold most 13" laptops)

  • Exterior​: 14" W x 11" H x 9" D
  • Interior: 13 ½” W x 10 ½” H x 8 ½" D
  • Weight: 6.6 lbs

Large Size (can hold most 15" laptops)

  • Exterior: 16" W x 12" H x 9" D
  • Interior: 15 ½” W x 11 ½” H x 8 ½” D
  • Weight: 7.6 lbs

Extra Large Size (can hold most 17" laptops)

  • ​Exterior: 18" W x 13" H x 9" D
  • Interior: 17 ½” W x 12 ½” H x 8 ½” D
  • 8 lbs

Warranty: 100 years (yes, it's true!)

About Saddleback Leather

Saddleback Leather Co has been around for 10+ years, and from the start they set out to make bags of premium quality, made from full grain leather (you can read about leather qualities here). Today they have a wide range of leather luggage, wallets, handbags, backpacks and even jewelry!

Their warranty is second to none. For defects in material and craftmanship it is a breathtaking 100 years. Can you believe that? Their slogan is accordingly: "They'll fight over it when you're dead". To us that shows supreme confidence in the quality of their own products.

At Travel Gear Depot we believe this is the best of the best when it comes to leather bags. They do cost a whole bunch of your hard earned money, but considering the longevity of them, they are actually cheap.

SaddlebackLeather

Click HERE if you want to go directly to the Saddleback Leather site.


  • The famous bag that started it all at Saddleback Leather
  • Lined with natura pigskin
  • Made with full grain leather, looks even better with age
  • As at home in a courtroom as it is on a mountain trail
  • Converts to backpack when you need to have your hands free (when on your bicycle e.g.)
  • 1 or 3 strap closure system, you choose
  • 2 side straps that can be used as belts, tie downs or tourniquets
  • All sizes fit beneath airline seats as carry on
  • False bottom to hide your passport, wallet, spare keys and more
  • 8 D-rings for lashing
  • 4 interior pockets, 2 for pens and 2 for cables and chargers
  • 2 exterior side pockets for sunglasses and water bottles and 1 rear magazine pocket
  • Interior key clip
  • No breakable parts, e.g. zippers, snaps, buttons, and the likes
  • Two interior sections
  • Because of natural oils shade may vary
  • Adjustable strap length: 34 ¼” - 59 ¼”

Watch the video for a thorough presentation by the founder himself 🙂

You can check out the briefcase at the Saddleback site here!

Conclusion

So what is our take on this bag then? We have already praised the company and the overall quality of thier products. But what do customers actually think about the Classic Briefcase?

Of the (when this is being typed) 378 reviews, 334 have rated it with 5 stars, and 31 with 4 stars. This means that there are 13 negative ones. What do they say?

The most common complaint  is the weight. We don't really know what to say about this, since the weight is stated in the description, so you know what you get when you order it. If you think it's too much, then of course this is not the bag for you.

A couple of reviewers think the backpack mode with the straps sliding through a ring at the top doesn't work very well. On the other hand, another user (bicycle commuter) adores the backpack mode and praises the design features that makes it very comfortable.

Do we recommend it then? Oh yes, very much so. It is an investment that cant go wrong.

Frontpocket Briefcase from Saddleback Leather


Medium Size (can hold most 15" laptops)

  • Exterior​: 15” W x 11 ½” H x 7 ¼” D
  • Interior: 14 ½” W x 11” H x 6 ½” D
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs

Large Size (can hold most 17" laptops)

  • Exterior: 17” W x 12” H x 7” D
  • Interior: 16 ¼”W x 11 ¾” H x 6 ¾” D
  • Weight: 7.4 lbs

Warranty: 100 years (yes, it's true!)


  • Two spacious, secure front pockets with space behind to tuck maps in
  • Hidden front pocket behind the main strap holds a cigar or pens
  • Wide rear external newspaper pocket
  • Suede side of pigskin lining
  • Compartment divider and two internal pen pockets
  • Two side water bottle pockets
  • Internal key strap to keep your keys in place
  • Converts to a backpack
  • Because of natural oils shade may vary
  • Made with full grain leather that ages beautifully
  • Stitched with marine-grade thread and reinforced with copper rivets
  • Adjustable strap length: 34 ½” - 59 ¼”

    Conclusion

    Of the 89 reviews there are no 1 or 2 stars, and 3 with 3 stars. One of these is not happy with the color, one is unhappy with the change to suede pig skin lining (which another user is very happy with) and how the leather is tanned.

    Like the Classic Briefcase (above) we wholeheartedly recommend this as well. Worth every penny.

    Classic Briefcase Thin from Saddleback Leather


    Medium Size (can hold most 15" laptops)

    • Exterior​: 14 ¾” W x 11” H x 4 ½” D
    • Interior: 13 ¾” W x 10” H x 4” D
    • Weight: 5 lbs

    Large Size (can hold most 17" laptops)

    • Exterior: 16 ¾” W x 12 ½” H x 4 ½” D
    • Interior: 15 ¾” W x 11 ¾” H x 4” D
    • Weight: 6 lbs

    Warranty: 100 years (yes, it's true!)


    • Available in colors Tobacco, Chestnut, Dark Coffee Brown, Black
    • Lined with strong pigskin leather
    • Unpretentious, simple design
    • Converts to a backpack
    • Removable shoulder strap for carrying as a portfolio
    • 3 internal pockets: 2 for pens, 1 for laptop charge
    • Perfect for laptops, tablets, notepads and binders
    • Handle saddle-riveted to metal bar for strength
    • 8 Exterior D-Rings for lashing
    • Interior key clip
    • No breakable parts, e.g. zippers, snaps, buttons, etc.
    • Stitched with marine-grade thread and reinforced with copper rivets
    • Made of full grain leather which looks even better with age
    • Because of natural oils shade may vary
    • Adjustable strap length: 34 ½” - 59 ¼”

    Watch the video for a thorough presentation by the founder himself 🙂

    You find the Thin Briefcase here at the Saddleback site!

    Conclusion

    One of the 4 negative reviews (out of 102) is unhappy with the D-rings and the internal organization. These are features well accounted for in the description and images though.

    For one user the large front flap developed curls on both ends. We have not read anyone else experiencing this, so it's hard to comment on that.​

    A couple of users think the strap is too long even in the shortest position. ​This could be easily fixed by adding a couple of more holes in the strap, and we hope that the Saddleback Co will do that. Meanwhile, you could ask a shoe mender to do it for you. Or maybe you can do it yourself. Also, when the strap is in its shortest position, there is a large amount of slack that the single loop will not hold. One more loop please Saddleback?

    Thin Front Pocket Briefcase from Saddleback Leather


    Medium Size (can hold most 15" laptops)

    • Exterior​: 15” W x 11 ½” H x 3 ½” D
    • Interior: 14 ½” W x 11” H x 3” D
    • Weight: 5.35 lbs

    Large Size (can hold most 17" laptops)

    • Exterior: 17” W x 12” H x 3 ¼” D
    • Interior: 16 ¼” W x 11 ¾ H x 3” D
    • Weight: 5.75 lbs

    Warranty: 100 years (yes, it's true!)


    • Available in colors Tobacco, Chestnut, Dark Coffee Brown, Black
    • Two spacious, secure front pockets with space behind to tuck maps in
    • Hidden front pocket behind the main strap holds a cigar or pens
    • Wide rear external newspaper pocket
    • Open interior with two internal pockets for pens, flash drives and other small items
    • Removable shoulder strap to carry briefcase as a portfolio
    • Internal key strap
    • Easy to convert to a backpack
    • Made with full grain leather, marine-grade thread and reinforced copper rivets
    • Because of natural oils shade may vary
    • Natura pigskin lining
    • Adjustable strap length: 34 ½” - 59 ¼”

    Conclusion

    To be honest, we don't have much to say. This bag has 53 reviews on the Saddleback site, and 47 of them are 5 star ratings. In one of the 2 reviews with 3 stars (there are none with 1 or 2 stars) the user stated that this bag was not for him/her, since during the workday as a teacher he/she had to carry it a lot and frequently needed access to papers, markers, erasers etc. It simply got tiresome to open and close the buckles.

    If we think it's a good buy? You bet.​

    Fossil Mercer Top-Zip Work Bag


    • Size: 15.5"L x 3"W x 11.25"H (can hold most 14" laptops)
    • Weight: 2.75 lbs
    • Warranty: 1 year Limited
    Fossil Mercer Top-Zip Work Bag - Genuine Leather Briefcase

    In a hurry? Click here to go directly to Amazon for current price and availability!

    • Available in brown and black
    • Lined with 100% cotton twill
    • Made with top grain leather (read here about leather types)
    • Webbing strap length 54", adjustable to shorter lengths
    • Dual top rolled carrying handles
    • Two zippered main compartments
    • One open compartment between the zippered ones, with magnetic snap
    • Inside: one zippered pocket, three media pockets, five slip pockets, one card slot and three pen holders
    • Holds up to 14" laptops

    Conclusion

    ​Compared to the Saddleback thin briefcase the Fossil Mercer is about 2 lbs lighter. Accounting for this is the thinner leather quality and the fabric lining.

    This is in most respects a good quality briefcase, or workbag. Most reviewers are happy with it, and the average rating at Amazon is 4.3, calculated on 25 reviews.

    A couple of users have spotted one "fatal flaw" with it though. The small tab holding the shoulder strap is not stitched to the side of the bag, but attached with glue. For one user it came off after using the bag for less than three months.

    We agree with the reviewer that this is a major flaw, since the possibility of using the shoulder strap vanishes if the tab separates from the bag. The warranty only covers a year, so if this happens outside of this year you are on your own.

    However, if you have the possibility to stitch the tab to the bag yourself, the bag is worth its price. And perhaps yo don't even want to use the shoulder strap?

    Bosca Soft Partners Brief


    • Size: 12" x 14.75" x 6.25" (can hold most 13" laptops)
    • Weight: 3.35 lbs
    • Warranty: Lifetime Limited

    No time to read the whole review? Then please click here to go directly to Amazon for latest price and availability.

    • Available in amber and dark brown
    • Made with polished full grain leather
    • Steel top frame for stability
    • The frame also allows for the bag to stay open
    • Push lock brass clasp with key
    • Zippered pocket at the rear, which can be opened at the bottom so the bag can slip over a trolley handle for easy traveling
    • Three main compartments and one zippered interior pocket
    • Organizational suite at back for pens, cellphone, credit card and other small items

    Watch the video for a presentation of the Bosca Soft Partners Brief!

    You find the Soft Partners Brief here at Amazon!

    Conclusion

    We have to be honest here. We have actually not found all that many reviews of this bag on the web.​ But, we have found quite a lot of its predecessor, the Bosca Partners Brief. Out of 42 reviews on an e-commerce site 98% recommend it, and the average rating is 4.5.

    So, since Bosca is a reputable and well established company known for their high quality leather goods we figure that the quality of the Soft Partners Brief is equal to the former bag.

    The few negative reviews we've seen (of the Partners Brief) has been about a buckle breaking (he got a new bag) and the leather on the handle starting to unglue after a year. This user just sewed it back, and lived on happily with the bag.

    We feel safe ​the recommending the Soft Partners Brief. We think it's a beautiful bag and from what we understand it's also durable. We only wish for one thing: a detachable shoulder strap. There is none. If that's a problem is up to you.


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