He can have five browser windows open at once, but he can't find a briefcase that's big enough
October 13, 2011 4:09 PM   Subscribe

Mr. enlarged is about to start work as a professional, and he needs to look the part. His laptop is enormous. What briefcase should he buy?

Here are the features he says he's looking for:

- Must fit a very large laptop (16.5" x 11" x 2" at thickest point)
- Leather
- People who know about fashion and designers and so forth would not look down on it
- Status-conscious professionals (i.e. his bosses) would not look down on it
- Modern style will not shift out from under it anytime soon
- Large external pouch or pouches, not blocked by the bag's straps or handles
- Durable
- $200-$400 range, give or take
- Highly rated by more than just one reviewer

Says Mr. enlarged: "I'm no good at this kind of thing; any and all help is appreciated. Thanks in advance."
posted by enlarged to show texture to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
TUMI is a good starting place for all those requirements. I'm not a fan for the same reason I think he might be one.
posted by kcm at 4:23 PM on October 13, 2011

The Waterfield HardCase might fit the bill. I think it hits the high-notes: a fashionable, minimal aesthetic; leather front; plenty of storage; properly sized; super-durable; highly-praised; $250. I don't have this particular bag, but I exclusively use Waterfield stuff and have always been completely satisfied.
posted by JohnFredra at 5:18 PM on October 13, 2011

You have described Tumi. Briggs and Riley might also work.
posted by twblalock at 5:25 PM on October 13, 2011

Does it have to be all leather? Tumi briefcases while fitting many of your criteria are out of that price range in all leather.
posted by oneear at 5:32 PM on October 13, 2011

I know you said leather, but would he consider something not fully leather? It may be practical not to have a full leather case in case of rain.

As most have suggested, Tumi, I like their products, but it gets a bit pricey for something you may beat up a lot and decide to change in a couple of years.

Brooks Brothers has a beautiful new case that is small enough (perfect overhead compartment dimension for domestic and strict international carry on restrictions) and has compartments for clothing in case of travel. It is on wheels so you don't always have to carry it...your back will thank you. And a great price of $298! Most corporations will have a deal where Brooks Brothers will give you 15% off on all full price purchases. Ask about that when (IF) you make this purchase. I have a card for that if you can't get it, mail me and I will give you the number to get the discount.

posted by Yellow at 6:21 PM on October 13, 2011

Depends on what counts as a "briefcase", but I sure like Filson.
posted by hades at 6:41 PM on October 13, 2011

A followup re: leather. Mr. enlarged will be working in a rather traditional white-collar setting, where self-presentation is pretty important. Our understanding is that non-leather bags are not nearly as formal and professional looking. He's looking for something in a more classic style. (If he'd bought a 15" laptop he'd have his pick of hundreds, but alas, he prioritizes screen real estate over most other things.)

Side question: if he'll be wearing black shoes pretty much all the time, should he get a black bag, or does the whole bag-shoe matching thing only apply to women?
posted by enlarged to show texture at 7:20 PM on October 13, 2011

I'm a consultant, and I want to second hades' suggestion. I've got the 256, and it fits a Dell Latitude E6510 (14.74" (W) x 9.97" (D) x 1.1~1.3" (H)) reasonably easily. However, both the 256 and the 257 lack padding. The 258 is a behemoth, has padding, and may fit the laptop in question.

I'm a huge fan of my Filson. Lifetime guarantee!

It might not be hugely traditional, though. The dark brown one will likely be the more formal of any of the colors.

FWIW, in terms of shoes and bag matching, I see men in suits on the subway all the time with briefcases differing in color and tone from their shoes.
posted by jangie at 7:28 PM on October 13, 2011

Well, there are leather bags that may suit his needs with Brooks Brothers. It's also a brand that is very well liked amongst traditional white-collar settings.

As for color, I've been in NYC my whole life and black goes with everything. I have black everything and sometimes I look like a funeral director, so maybe you want to brighten things up with brown. : )
posted by Yellow at 7:37 PM on October 13, 2011

That HardCase is nice.

I carrry my laptop in a Saddleback Leather thin briefcase.

I don't think shoes matching the bag applies to men, at least not in professional settings. You aren't expected to have multiple briefcases and swap them to match your shoes.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:55 PM on October 13, 2011

Classic, timeless leather briefcases can be found through Narragansett Leathers. Though they lack an external pocket and the largest listed has a width of 16", they state the following:

Numerous changes and additions are possible. Several different pockets can be added front and back. The flap shape can be changed to round, square or what have you. Dimensions can be changed.

I'm sure that they would be able to work with Mr. enlarged to design a bag that is within his price range.

The come in a few shades of brown and black, and would without doubt be durable. The hardware is brass. It would be perfectly appropriate in his work settings and fashion conscious and designer types would be envious of such a bag.

Whatever you choose, I agree that leather is an absolute must. I would also stick with black.
posted by nathaole at 8:18 PM on October 13, 2011

Would this bag from levenger work?
They seem to have several that are longer than 17" which have exterior pockets.
posted by oneear at 8:21 PM on October 13, 2011

The exact bag (and color) I have is this red on black Belkin bag.

God do I love this thing. Uber-durable, plenty of pockets inside (including a zipped one), and velvety soft padding for the laptop itself. I have an Alienware M17x that is my personal laptop that I bought the bag for and that it barely fits, however my 15 inch work laptop fits with plenty of room to spare. Specs of my Alienware are as follows:

Height: 51.31mm to 53.59mm (2.02 inches to 2.11 inches) – Front to Back
Width: 405.89mm (15.98 inches)
Depth: 321.31mm (12.65 inches)
Weight: Starting at 5.3kg* (11.68 pounds)

Leather is overrated. It scratches easily, especially when here is a very heavy computer inside to add more weight/pressure when it knocks into something, and isn't weather-resistant the same way a nylon bag is.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:40 PM on October 13, 2011

How big is *he*? I'm a bit worried that by the time you get something that holds that laptop and meets the other criteria (durable / big pocket(s) / leather) it's going to look goofy-big on him.
posted by madmethods at 10:00 PM on October 13, 2011

Coach have a decent range of men's work bags, and it's usually worth phoning up your nearest outlet to see what they have in stock. Other designers/retailers with bags in your specified range include:

Jack Spade
Ted Baker
Moore & Giles
Ben Minkoff
Marc Jacobs

It's above the price range you stated, but the good doctor likes his bag from Travelteq.
posted by evoque at 10:01 PM on October 13, 2011

People in traditional office environments carry nylon laptop bags all the time. Leather is not really a requirement.
posted by twblalock at 1:43 AM on October 14, 2011

May I suggest that he gets the cheapest case he thinks he can get away with in the next six months even if it is unlikely to last a lifetime...perhaps it's just me but my expectations about what I will need and the reality of what I actually need always seem to differ considerably whenever my work environment changes. Same goes for my expectations about what everybody else does or doesn't do or considers appropriate...so I invariably end up resvisiting this kind of purchase after a few months and buy something that actually works. This is more likely the bigger the change in role and environment and you're making it sound like a big change. 2ding the wheels...with laptop that size you really do not want to carry it very far.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:18 AM on October 14, 2011

Secoding Ad hominem. Saddleback Leather makes amazing stuff.
posted by DJWeezy at 8:46 AM on October 14, 2011

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