Jack & Chris
Briefcase Buying Guide
There are many different materials that are used for briefcases. The type of material used will play a part in the appearance, price, and durability of the briefcase. We have listed the most common materials used and some characteristics of each below.
- Leather – Leather is the most common and popular material a briefcase can be made of. It is durable, beautiful to look at and touch and it lasts a long time as well. Leather is used for hard-sided and soft-sided briefcases. The most common types of hide used in construction is top-grain and full-grain leathers. These are the strongest and most durable hides. If you are looking for economy options, split-grain or corrected-grain leathers are good choices. Suede is also sometimes used for the inside of briefcases but it doesn’t make a good choice for the exterior due to the reduced durability.
- Vinyl – vinyl that is waterproof looks like leather but is much less expensive. It is also a good choice for those who want an alternative to using animal hides. Vinyl can come on textures that are shiny or rubber like and can offer color options as well. The downside to vinyl is that it doesn’t last as long as leather. The good news is that the lower cost makes it fairly inexpensive to replace.
- Metal – Metal brief cases are made from aluminum that is lightweight and sleek looking. They are very contemporary in style and appeal to those who prefer the contemporary look. There are some versions of metal briefcases that have a powder coating or anodized finish that turns the silver black. This type of briefcase is very sturdy and is weather proof as well. They are usually less expensive than leather due to being made from recycled materials.
- Fabric – Soft-sided briefcases can be made from nylon, canvas, or leather. There are many different styles available in the soft-sided briefcase line. Soft-sided briefcases are strong enough to protect what you carry in them but are lightweight enough to make carrying them very comfortable and convenient. Some of the hard-sided briefcases may have fabric panels that with leather accents but most fabric cases have soft sides. Prices for soft-sided briefcases will vary according to the material they are made of and whether they have leather accents or are completely made out of leather.
Common Briefcase Styles
The main difference between the different types of briefcases is whether they are hard-sided or soft-sided. Designs can be different among both types which provide you with a lot of choices.
- Hard-Sided – A hard-sided briefcase has a rigid frame that is very lightweight. It is made out of sturdy plastic, aluminum or cardboard. Hard-sided briefcases have a clasp at the top that can be locked. Sometimes there are two clasps, one on each end with a hinged part that opens.
These cases open like a clamshell. Depending on the style, the top and bottom may be equal in depth or the case might have a shallower top and deeper bottom. Neither is better than the other, so personal preference plays a part in which of them you choose. This kind of briefcase has a short handle on top for easier carrying.
The inside of a hard-sided briefcase will vary and include dividers, folders where paperwork can go and an organizer section for business cards, pens, pencils, cell phones and other supplies. Some have straps that will hold a tablet securely while the case is carried around. Hard cases offer more protection for your files and important paperwork but it doesn’t fit into tight spots very easily.
- Attaché Case – This is similar to a briefcase but is usually thinner and smaller in size. Attaché cases have one or two pockets where you can put papers and important documents.
- Soft-Sided – These briefcases don’t have a hard frame and usually open from the top. These are great for storing papers and documents. Soft-sided briefcases are made from plastic, vinyl, nylon or leather. They usually have a long, shoulder strap and short handles offering users a choice of how to carry them. One of advantages to a soft sided briefcase is how flexible they are. They can expand to hold more items if needed and most have a pocket for laptops which most business people like to carry with them in today’s busy business world.
When you start searching for a briefcase, make sure you look for these important features.
- Stitching – The stitching on your briefcase should be free of loose threads and be uniform, straight and small. Check the inside and outside for consistency. Look for descriptions that use reinforced to describe the stitching.
- Durable, Metal Zippers – Plastic zippers can break so easily. Opt for metal zippers that are not flimsy. Read reviews to see what people have to say about the zippers. You can gain a lot of knowledge from reading the reviews.
- Hinges – Hinges should be strong and durable and not loose at all.
- Handles – The handles of your briefcase are very important. They should be securely attached to the body of the case with sturdy metal fixtures or reinforced stitching. Avoid handles that have been glued on. They come loose very easily.
- Briefcase Edges – This is the point where thinning can occur and the leather can peel or split. Look for cases that have these points reinforced.
Briefcase compartments are very helpful in carrying important papers, documents and other business equipment and supplies. The biggest consideration that you will need to think about is how much space you need for the items you will be carrying with you. Make sure that there are enough compartments in the briefcase to keep the contents organized, especially if you carry a lot of things with you.
A good quality briefcase is a necessary piece of equipment for anyone who carries paperwork and items in their case for work and personal use. With all of the different styles, materials, and sizes on the market there are plenty of briefcases to choose from. When you have the right information and know what to look for, sorting through all those choices becomes much easier.
The three top rated choices we have featured above are excellent examples of the types of briefcases available. Any one of these choices would be an excellent briefcase for a business person. There is plenty of room in all of them for your essentials and more. All of them are high quality cases that will add style as well as function.