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A Review of Saddleback Leather Company’s Thin Briefcase: A Businessman’s Toolbox

Getting your gear from A to B never looked so good.

 

A man takes great pride in his toolbox. This was true 100 years ago, and it’s just as true today. A symbolic vessel bringing about improvement, to create something from nothing. Carrying a man’s required tools for the day.

A man’s tools help him become who he wants to be. Whether they’re physical hand tools, a computer, or a master’s in business administration, your tools are what help you achieve what you want in life.

And just as it’s important to use the best tools, it’s best to use the right toolbox.

Equally as masculine as a mechanic’s toolbox is the businessman’s equivalent: the briefcase.

As a kid I remember my idea of a grown man: suit, slick haircut, briefcase. The briefcase is so essential in a man’s life, it is a stereotypical part of the costume. If you read Primer, then you know how important it is to carry your gear in the right bag. Doesn’t improve your image of being inexperienced when you’re carrying your bookbag from high school around with you at the office. You’re a grown man now. You need your toolbox.

I wholeheartedly recommend Saddleback Leather Company’s Thin Briefcase.

Before I go on, there are 3 things I wish I knew before I got it:

  1. I should have got it sooner
  2. I won’t be disappointed at all
  3. This thing will take a beating and look better for it

I chose the large thin briefcase in chestnut leather. I opted for this size based on my laptop’s dimensions. The large is 17″ long, big enough for my Macbook Pro and then some. (The medium is 15″ long) It’s also a nice size for your body profile, not too big like some larger briefcases, and not so small that it looks like a satchel.

The briefcase has two large compartments, a collapsible small pocket perfect for your phone or external hard drive, and a back pocket to keep oft-used documents handy, or a magazine or two. Inside there are also two pouches for pens on each end. I use a neoprene laptop sleeve from Chrome when stowing my laptop, since the briefcase isn’t padded on the inside.

Inside of Saddleback Leather Thin Briefcase

Saddleback’s briefcase is built like a bomb shelter. It’s made with large pieces of thick full-grain boot leather with only 3 major seams, and pigskin lining that is tougher than leather. The design features no breakable parts, has hidden nylon reinforcement straps at all stress points, and marine grade polyester thread to hold it all together.

And if for some reason your lifestyle is beyond all that armor, Saddleback has an awesome 100 year materials and workmanship warranty.

Here, watch a video of a Saddleback bag going head to head with a crocodile.

If you’ve never had a briefcase, it’s understandable. Growing up, many of the briefcases we saw were pretty dressy. Why would we ever need to carry one? Your dad’s accountant, he had a briefcase. You? You just need something to carry your shit in. And I get that, I was like that too.

One of the best parts of Saddleback’s thin briefcase, beyond its ruggedness, is its multipurpose style. You’ll look as great carrying it with your suit, as you will on the weekend in jeans. There’s something about a simple brown leather bag that is acceptable to carry in almost every situation.

The functional design of this briefcase is also really versatile. It’s got the best of both worlds: carry it like an attache case with the onboard handle, or use the included strap and haul it like a messenger bag. It also converts into a backpack in about 10 seconds, proving how many uses this bag will have in your life.

It is probably heavier than what you are used to carrying. Coming in at about 4 lbs, all the armor has its weight. However, after carrying it for about six weeks, the weight is not an issue for me. I’ve read about some folks who cite this as a concern, from my perspective I don’t even notice. If you’re carrying a laptop and some books around, you’re already prepared for a haul.

saddleback leather thin briefcase

Saddleback’s quality and warranty come at a price. At just over $400, you may think of this as an out-of-reach luxury item. Gosh, just a couple years ago you didn’t know why you would need a briefcase, right? Don’t look at this the same way you bought a new backpack every year in school. This is a one-time investment in a bag that will last you the rest of your life. When you’re 80 and you go to drop off the draft of your will at your attorney’s office, you’ll be taking it in your Saddleback briefcase. Morbid? Maybe. But true.

Saddleback’s slogan is pretty damn accurate: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” If you buy one quality set of screwdrivers, you’re set for life. No more buying screwdrivers. Same goes with a briefcase. Spend a little more once, and never worry about it again.

That man’s toolbox a hundred years ago is something he took great pride in. If he had been using a Saddleback Leather Company briefcase he’d still be proud using it today. (And it would still be under warranty.)

Check out more on the Thin Briefcase.

  • briefcase_gal_8

How they hold up

Recently, Reddit user Hejog posted a review with some photos of his thin briefcase (in a different color) after 14 months of use. I think the marks give the bag a lot of character. More of his photos here. How awesome is this bag going to look in 10 years? Thanks Hejog!

UPDATE

A few readers have requested updated pictures to see how the bag is holding up. Besides some battle scars from use, it’s in pristine condition  almost a year and a half later. As you can see, this is a beautiful bag that only gets better with use.

Click on each thumbnail for a full size image.

 

About

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page.

 
  • Jason

    Damn. That’s beautiful.

  • dovev

    even the croc want it. looks great and you can go to war with it…

  • Patton

    Is the color on the website really that far off?

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Patton, Yeah I noticed that too. My photos are a good representation of the color.

  • Joel

    That’s a great looking bag! Better start saving!

    Quick question: Did you buy the bag or did they give it to you? I feel like I’ve seen their ads on the site before and I was just wondering.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

      Hey Joel, I reached out to them about reviewing the bag. I’ve known of Saddleback for a couple years now, received some requests from readers about reviewing some briefcase options, and wanted to give the thin briefcase a test drive. That’s how about all reviews are done on Primer, I find something I think you guys would be interested in and reach out to the company. Saddleback doesn’t advertise with us, the banners you’re talking about were affiliate links. Our reviews and opinions can’t be bought, never have never will. If we believe something is a quality product, we mean it.

      Thanks for reading and for the question!

  • Bruce Wheyn

    So need one of these in my life. Seeing a few briefcases recently really turning my head, luv them

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Bruce it’s awesome, I always feel so on top of things when I carry it. It is different than carrying a messenger bag. I can’t wait for it to get all beat up like the Reddit picture. So Indiana Jones.

  • http://www.hendrickspark.com/ Aydika James

    Sharp find! It’s hard to find a handsome leather case that doesn’t cause back issues — or compromise your look. LOVE the “Indiana Jones” style class. We’ll be sharing this recommendation with our clients — thanks Andrew!

    Aydika, Hendricks Park Style Expert
    http://www.hendrickspark.com/

  • John S.

    If I had read this review just a week earlier, I probably would have bought this. I recently came into about $450 that I decided would be spent (at least most of it) on a briefcase. I looked at this one kept going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to make the investment. I never pulled the trigger.

    Instead I bought a Filson Original Briefcase, a Saddleback Kindle pouch, and a Kindle to go in it.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

      Hey John,

      The Filson is a classic! I’ve never used one myself, but they are very well-respected. Sounds like you made out ok! Now if only I could figure out how to come into $450 like you did!

  • John S.

    Andrew,

    Have a birthday and college graduation right around the same time.

  • http://whyietc.blogspot.com Daniel

    As a college student with a lot of bags/backpacks/messenger bags/ etc. I probably wouldn’t use it just yet, but I think I would completely love this once I enter the slightly more professional world.

  • Larissa

    Great briefcase! I’m gonna get one for my husband :)
    Thanks!

  • http://travelwisconsin.us/ Grace Blando

    I really appreciate this businessman toolbox you have shared, I would like to buy this for my husband.

  • http://www.kangalex.com A Kang

    That is one GREAT looking bag! Price is a bit out of my range however =\

  • nick

    how do you think this bag would look while wearing black shoes and a darker suit?

  • Sugar

    Hey what is the height and weight of the man who is holding the briefcase in the first picture?

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      I’m 5’10″.

  • http://Www.primerMagazine.com Andrew

    Hey I’m 5 foot 10 and 170 pounds

  • Walter

    I’m a tad late in responding to this thread but I must say this is a good review and had. I have been wanting for quite a while to purchase this exact bag. I’m torn as I do not wear suits to work. I mostly wear khakis, jeans and my trusty Barbour Bedale jacket with my Rew Wing 1907′s.
    I currently use a Filson 257 that has been my amazing goto bag the last 4 years but now i am looking for a cleaner looking bag. Do you think this bag would look great out of a suit? I was also looking into the Orvis Bullhide Briefcase to match my Orvis Bullhide weekend carry on but this saddleback is calling me and would go well with it.

  • http://web.utk.edu/~nevence Nick Vence

    I’ve been eyeing this for a while and when I finished my PhD, I got it as a graduation present for myself. I bought several styles from Saddleback and returned all but the Medium Thin Briefcase. It fits my 15″ laptop perfectly, and while I thought I wouldn’t have enough room for all my stuff, I found that I had been carrying around a bunch of junk that I never used.

    One problem was fishing for stuff at the bottom of the briefcase, so I asked my mom to make me some drawstring bags. Now I remove the bag pull out my USB drive and am in business.

    I feel like I’ve leveled up in life.

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  • http://www.themodestman.com The Modest Man

    Sick! I like that it converts to a backpack for casual carrying. BTW is that an Indochino suit you’re wearing in those photos?

    -TMM

  • Walter

    Any chance you could do an update piece on your bag to see how’s it holding up

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Hey Walter,

      I just added some updated photos.

  • Ian

    Indeed. Please update us – I have a birthday coming up.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gomeznick Nicholas Gomez

    What’s the colour of the briefcase shown here?

  • Chris

    I am personally a fan of the tough rugged man bag look. I have one myself but it is not a saddleback bag. I had bought mine from a site called VagabondTraveler.com, they’re just as nice. I live in Florida but I don’t think that I will be testing out my bag this way, haha. I love how man bags are starting to look more like man bags, and are not all dolled up with million dollar price tags and anorexic male models. I want a bag that says “I’m a man” not “wheres my eye liner??”

    • Ruben

      Andrew,

      Any chance of an update on how the bag is holding up? Really great looking back. Also, any reason why you opted for the thin version as opposed to the classic version? Thanks.

      • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

        Hey Ruben,

        I’ve just updated the article with some current photos to see how it wears.

        The thin briefcase is a more simple style, and a good bit thinner than the full-size briefcase.

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  • Alex K.

    Hi Andrew, are those photos of the man holding the bag of you? Alternatively, do you know if those photos are of the large or medium size briefcase? I’m having difficulty deciding on sizing. I have a 13 inch laptop, but I imagine in the future I may upgrade to a 15 inch.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Hey Alex,

      Yep that’s me. I have the medium. It’s 15 inches. The large is 17 inches.

      • striklan

        Hi Andrew, I was scrolling through these 2 year old comments looking to see if this question was answered, found this, and now I’m confused – here, you said you have the medium, and in the review, you said: “I chose the large thin briefcase in chestnut leather. I opted for this size based on my laptop’s dimensions. The large is 17″ long, big enough for my Macbook Pro.” So, I’m wondering which of these is true – is it a medium or a large?

        • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

          Crap, you’re right. I just measured it, it’s the large.

          • striklan

            thank you!

  • Nick

    Hi Andrew,

    What shoes are you wearing in the top photo? Love how well they match the briefcase…

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Hey Nick,

      They’re the Allen Edmond Strands. I love ‘em, and get compliments on them every time I wear them. They’re a bit pricey but they’ll last you the rest of your life, and will likely still be in style. You can check out the piece I did on them here:

      http://www.primermagazine.com/2010/spend/your-gray-suits-new-brown-shoes

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  • http://www.iamchris.ca/ Chris Jones

    What shoes are you wearing in the first photo?

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew
      • http://www.iamchris.ca/ Chris Jones

        Thanks man, I thought they were Strands but wasn’t sure. What color are they? I always have a hard time matching the colors on the websites to photos of people wearing them. I like that particular shade.

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