There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to choose:

Briefcase or backpack?

You might not have given much thought to which style of bag best suits you. After all – it’s just a bag, right?


Guys, in the 21st century, a man’s choice of bag is just as important as his choice of shoes or his choice of suit.

Do you go for a professional briefcase and risk looking overly formal or do you opt for the versatile backpack and risk looking too casual?

It’s important you get it right the first time around, gents. Bags can be expensive and making the wrong choice can cost you dearly.

So which style of bag best suits our daily lives as men? Backpacks and briefcases are totally different and suit completely contrasting situations. You need to know when these bags are appropriate to use and when they’re not.

Making the wrong choice will present you as a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Guys, listen up. I’m about to take you through a detailed breakdown of both styles of bags so you can make an informed choice about which one is going to suit your life the best.


Click here to watch – Briefcase vs. Backpacks (Which One Should You Carry?)

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What Are The Differences Between A Briefcase And A Backpack?

Before we get into the finer details of these two types of bags, it’s important that you first know the main features of their design.

So – what is a briefcase and what is a backpack?


Typically, a briefcase is rectangular and quite flat in its design, making it ideal for carrying books, laptops, and papers.

The term ‘briefcase’ derives from their original use by Lawyers who would use these bags to carry ‘briefs’ that they intended to present in court. Hence the name ‘brief-case’.

In the modern-day, briefcases are a staple item within office culture that demonstrate professionalism and status.

Depending on the design, some briefcases may only have a single internal space for storage, while others leverage multiple internal and external pockets to provide the maximum storage space possible.

In modern designs, briefcases may have padded sections ideal for carrying laptops and other electronic devices to work.


In its most basic form, a backpack is essentially a cloth sack with two adjustable shoulder straps.

Other names for this stylish men’s bag include knapsack or rucksack.

Most commonly, hikers and students utilize backpacks for carrying heavier loads to and from school/their hiking route.

Backpacks can cope with more weight for longer periods of time due to their dual strap support.


Briefcase vs. Backpacks: Which Looks More Formal?

Appearance and formality are a big deal in knowing how appropriate bags for men are for different situations.

bags for men

Briefcases Are More Formal

When we think of a briefcase, we typically imagine a bag that is more formal and professional looking in its aesthetic.

This has a great deal to do with the fact that briefcases tend to be made from leather and other high-quality fabrics.

Business briefcases feature a solid box design made of high-end leathers. Businessmen tend to carry this form of the briefcase to maintain a professional appearance suited to their work environment.

The term ‘briefcase’ can refer to a wide range of bag sizes and types. To be more specific, we can divide the term ‘briefcase’ into 3 different categories:

Men’s Portfolios

Portfolios are small, handleless, and fit in hand or under the arm. As a result of their size, portfolios are useful for carrying papers to a meeting.

bags for men

They look far more professional than a simple folder but serve a similar purpose. Some portfolios contain small pockets for credit cards and pens.

Men’s Attaché Cases

The attaché case is what many men would consider the ‘briefcase’ – a box-style case made of leather that is fitted over an internal frame. These cases have a solid design and look very ‘Wall Street’ in their finish.

bags for men

Traditionally, this style of the briefcase was carried by a Diplomatic Embassy Officer called an Attaché – a French term that translates to ‘attached’ – symbolizing how the officer would be attached to his embassy in a foreign country.

Men’s Satchels

Satchels (or messenger bags) are a slightly more informal briefcase with a softer design. Typically, they feature an over-the-shoulder strap design, and soft leather/fabric make up.

Many students opt for satchels over backpacks, and men who work in a more contemporary office environment may also choose a satchel so as not to look too old fashioned.

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MAHI’s Messenger Bag is a great option for carrying laptops, books, and notes on the go.

The satchel is rapidly becoming the bag of choice for many men who want to look professional but still appear to be forward-thinking in their style and appearance.

Backpacks Look Casual

Generally, backpacks tend to fall into one of four categories:

  • Frameless – a backpack with no supporting frame.
  • External frame – a backpack with external frame support.
  • Internal frame – a backpack with internal frame support.
  • Bodypack – worn on the chest.

In many countries worldwide, backpacks tend to be associated with students who use them to transport books and other educational items to and from school.

However, this doesn’t mean that these bags for men need to be plain and boring in their design. A common back to school ritual for many students is to purchase a new backpack – one that exceeds last year’s model in style, functionality, and comfort.

As with many things in school – if you don’t own what’s on-trend, then you’re going to have a hard time fitting in.

Consequently, backpacks are often considered a fashion accessory that can determine class, style, and status among young people. Even top-end designers like Louis Vuitton sell backpacks – after all, the super-rich need a convenient way to carry their stuff around all day too!

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Specialized bags have many different compartments for storing equipment

Aside from fashion accessories, some backpacks are specifically designed to carry certain items.

Examples of functional backpacks include those specifically designed with padding to hold camera gear or expensive musical instruments.

Fun fact: To supply these devices with electricity, some functional bags for men are equipped with solar panels to allow easy charging while on the go.

Outside of civilian life, backpacks are a standard issue for soldiers who need to carry military equipment over long distances. Infantrymen commonly use tactical backpacks and webbing for storing field gear and ammunition.


Briefcase vs. BackPacks: Which Is Best For Your Back?

If there’s one thing that should come above all else when considering buying bags for men, it’s comfort and safety. If a bag will cause your body damage through continued use, then that’s not a bag you want to spend your hard-earned cash on.

To help break this down, I’ll be covering the different ways that briefcases and backpacks support the weight you carry in them.

Briefcases Don’t Distribute Weight Equally

Although a briefcase might look professional, when you carry a briefcase in your hand or over one shoulder, the added load can change your walking posture and damage your back.

Ultimately, the level of discomfort will result from how your bag handles the weight held within it.

In 2008, the University of Illinois found that carrying a briefcase shifted the wearer’s center of gravity. The study concluded that:

Briefcases have a big effect on a wearer’s center of gravity. The largest effect on balance will be had if the wearer is carrying roughly 20% of their body weight in their briefcase.

The unfortunate thing about a shoulder strap is that it will almost certainly begin to feel uncomfortable when the strap digs into your shoulder over a long period of time.

Backpacks Allow For Even Distribution Of Weight

Unlike a briefcase, the carrying weight is distributed evenly across the shoulders and back when wearing a backpack correctly.

A great thing about backpacks is their adjustable straps, allowing the wearer to balance weight just right according to their natural posture.

bags for men

Adjustable straps are a must for backpack comfort and safety – the MAHI City Backpack has got you covered.

The wearer of a backpack can raise and lower the pack’s height on the back and vary the pressure felt on either shoulder using the strap adjusters.

There is also the option to pull down on the straps with your hands – distributing the weight of the pack to your arms and your shoulders, which will help provide not only comfort but also stability while walking.

Briefcase vs. Backpacks: What Are They Made From?

A bag should make your life easier and your belongings more secure.

But which type of bag is more likely to offer you great security and higher quality? Let’s find out.

Briefcases Leverage Better Materials

A great quality briefcase should be made from high-quality leather. In short, this means two things:

  1. Your bag will have a very professional aesthetic suited to office environments.
  2. Your bag will last a long time as leather is a very durable material.

However, as we all know – quality bags for men come at a price.

In general, briefcases tend to cost more than backpacks.

bags for men

A top-quality briefcase will be made from expensive leathers like Calf Skin

Briefcase manufacturers intentionally design their products with higher-end materials to add value to their products. Briefcases also typically leverage great quality metal buckles and clasps or even lockable mechanisms, which provide better security for the bag’s contents.

Regarding functionality – leather and fabric briefcases commonly feature external pouches and an internal storage area. However, this is less common in briefcases than it is in backpacks.

The Average Backpack Is Made From Inexpensive Materials

The average backpack tends to be far cheaper than the average briefcase. Among other elements, this is largely down to the synthetic and/or fabric materials used to make them.

A company can use many synthetic materials to manufacture bags for men, but typically most manufacturers will use one of the following.


Nylon is made from a broad range of plastics (Polyamides) that can easily be melted down and then reformed into fibers. These fibers are used when creating backpacks as they are woven together to create a strong and weather-resistant material.


This synthetic material is very similar to Nylon – it’s plastic-based, and it’s weather-proof.

Polyester is also rapid drying, making it a popular choice for garments that could face the elements. Likewise, it is also relatively wrinkle-proof and can be very strong.


It’s less common to see backpacks made of Polypropylene – however, some manufacturers consider it their material of choice.

Like other synthetics, it is very resistant to water. However, Polypropylene is also tear-resistant. It’s a great option for bags that will see a lot of action as it takes a lot of punishment to wear this plastic out.


Canvas is the most traditional option for backpack manufacturers to use.

Modern canvas can be made from a variety of different fibers – resulting in a material that is quite heavy and very hard-wearing.

bags for men

Synthetic materials can make backpacks look cheap and ugly

Overall, synthetic materials tend to make bags for men look cheap.

For the most part, backpacks made from synthetic materials are not suited for an office environment where appearance is important.

Wearing backpacks with a work suit isn’t considered very stylish. The bulky nature of backpacks tends to contrast too heavily with the ‘clean-cut’ look of a well-fitting suit.

Not only that, but the shoulder straps can actually damage the padding in the shoulder of a suit jacket.


Briefcase vs. BackPacks: Which Carries More?

You Can Get More In A Backpack

Typically, Backpacks have a greater carrying volume than your average briefcase.

The purpose a backpack holds usually has a big influence over the amount it can carry. However, most everyday-use backpacks hold 20 liters to 35 liters.

Backpack on the smaller end of this range would be sufficient for casual use, whereas the larger 35-liter packs are designed more with longer trips in mind.

For those wanting to haul more weight around daily, many backpacks are designed with waist straps to help accommodate a heavier load.

Waist straps help to lighten the shoulders’ burden by taking on a lot of the backpack’s weight. By doing this, less weight is put on the shoulders, and the shoulder straps act more as stabilizers than load bearers.

For those gents that don’t want to carry their backpacks all the time, the rolling backpack might be the bag for you. These bags feature wheels at the base and an extending handle that allows the wearer to push or pull his backpack rather than carry it on his body.

Rolling backpacks are most commonly used while traveling by airplane or train.

Briefcases Are Smaller And Have A Rigid Shape

Like in the movies, the volume of a briefcase can be measured in dollars!

An average briefcase, measuring roughly 25” by 18” by 4” could just about contain US$2,400,000.

Don’t quite have the funds to fill it? Fear not – I’d advise you to go a bit smaller then. Opt for an attaché case, on average measuring 18” by 12” by 4.5”. One of these smaller briefcases could fit around US$1,000,000.

That’s a lot of cash!

For your spare change, leather and fabric briefcases may also have external pockets that will slightly increase the bag’s overall volume.

However, considering briefcases were originally designed for carrying folders and papers, they are almost exclusively used for carrying flat items. Think about laptops, books, and folders.

Rounder and bulkier items are simply not suited to briefcases. You might get away with packing an apple for lunch, but anything larger than that, and you’ll likely struggle.


Briefcase vs. Backpacks: Which Costs More?

Briefcases Are More Expensive

There’s no real limit to how much a briefcase can cost, to be honest with you guys. The more luxurious the materials, the more it’s going to cost. Honestly, the sky’s the limit.

However, to discuss realistically priced bags for men, I’m gonna break down some high, medium, and lower-priced options you might want to consider.

The lower end of the price point is around $100. For this price, it’s unlikely you will be buying a briefcase made from real leather. However, despite the cheaper look, a bag of this price point may have – you will still be able to buy a functional and reliable bag for this price.

Middle of the range briefcases would start at around $500. For a slightly higher price, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be buying a bag made of good, soft leather.

At this price, some internal structuring may be included; however, the quality and durability of this structuring may be questionable. A bag of this price should also have good functionality with varied pockets and compartments.

bags for men

High-end briefcases feature both functional compartments and high-grade leathers

For those looking to spend the big bucks, the top-end of briefcase buying price point is around $1000-$2000. For this lux price, you should really be investing in a designer briefcase.

Typically, designer brands will make their briefcases from the finest leather and will likely pride themselves on their bag’s hand-finished qualities.

If you want great security and lux hardware, this price point is the one for you. For over $1000, you can expect the metal components of your briefcase to be made from brass or even gold plated metals.

A lux briefcase is also more likely to feature ‘specialist’ designs that machines cannot make, such as engraved clasps and buckles.

Backpacks Are Cheaper

Overall, backpacks are the cheaper style of bags for men – costing anywhere between $30 and $350 for a basic fashion bag.

At the cheaper end of the scale are store-branded bags. These bags are great options for young students who just need a bag to carry their books at school.

Hiking brands like Osprey and Northface will produce some bags on the upper end of this scale – however, for truly reliable hiking backpacks, you will have to pay more money.

For specialized hiking bags, you can expect a price point of over $400.

Although these may be a pricier option, this cost will bring a higher quality of material and carrying support.

High-end backpacks will feature clever clasps and pockets

Ultimately, the price of these more expensive backpacks depends on:

  • Material – Strength and technical qualities like waterproofing.
  • Capacity – If a bag holds a lot, it can cost a lot.
  • Weight – With backpacks – the lighter the better. Thin and strong materials cost more to produce and design.
  • Frame Design – Does the bag have an internal frame that will help support its contents? If so, how strong is that frame?
  • Accessories attachment – Top-end backpacks will have dedicated pockets and clamps for holding anything from keys to spare hiking boots.


Briefcases vs. Backpacks (Which Is Best For You?)

Whether you’re a commuter or a stay-at-home dad – you must consider purpose when buying bags for men.

A good bag will last you a lifetime and will significantly increase your every-day quality of living.

Bags are functional, stylish, and can keep your belongings safe. However, if you don’t do your research and think twice about your needs as a man, you could end up wasting your hard-earned money on a bag that just isn’t right for you.

Always weigh up the pros and cons – backpacks and briefcases both have their merits, but it’s important to assess which choice will be right for you.

Need a bit more guidance on which bags for men would be right for your needs? Check out my Guide To Luggage And Bags to learn more about the options that will best suit you when buying bags for men.

The post Briefcases vs Backpacks (Which Is Best For You?) appeared first on Real Men Real Style.

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By: Antonio
Title: Briefcases vs Backpacks (Which Is Best For You?)
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Published Date: Thu, 03 Dec 2020 13:00:02 +0000