Briefcase Essentials: The Saddleback Leather Company Giveaway

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 20, 2009 · 1,215 comments

in Dress & Grooming


One thing I’ve noticed about men today is that they carry around too much crap in their pockets. If you need proof, take a look at these pics detailing the contents of AoM readers’ pockets. While I understand the desire to have the essentials on you at any time, stuffing our pockets until the seams are bursting probably isn’t a good idea. For starters, it just looks bad. Second, it’s bad for your clothing. The more stuff you cram in your pockets, the more wear and tear you put on your pocket seams. You can ruin a good pair of pants by doing this. Third, it can be uncomfortable. I hate that feeling when my pockets are weighed down with too much crap.

But what’s the modern man to do when he needs to carry his essential items? Enter the briefcase. If your grandfather was a corporate warrior, he probably lugged around a briefcase. While the briefcase went out of style along with gray flannel suits and hats, we at the Art of Manliness feel its high time for a briefcase renaissance. The reason the briefcase doesn’t currently enjoy more popularity is that too many men associate it with some boxy, chintzy, metal latched, 1980′s version of it. Who would want to carry around something like that? You need a briefcase as manly as you are.  A briefcase that will put so much hair on your chest that it doesn’t matter how high you’ve got that dress shirt buttoned, those tuffs are still going to show. You need a briefcase from the Saddleback Leather Company. And lucky for you, they’re giving one away to a very lucky AoM reader. To find out how you can get your hands on one, continue reading.

What a Man Should Carry in His Briefcase

So a briefcase can save our pockets from potential ruin. But in addition to your cell phone and maybe your wallet, what other essential items should a man carry in his briefcase? Below we compiled a quick list of items every man needs in his briefcase:

A Good Book

You never know when you’ll have some down time. Instead of wasting it away watching the TV in a lobby or staring at people in the subway, crack open a good book. By reading during your free time, you can easily polish off a few books a month. Your brain and soul will thank you. For suggestions on which books you should carry with you, check out our 100 Must Read Books for Men, 50 Fiction Adventure Books, and 50 Non-fiction Adventure Books.


The weather can go from sunny skies to dark and cloudy in a matter of minutes. Don’t be caught out in the rain without an umbrella. Even if you’re not a big umbrella guy, at least have one with you so you can cover the head of an unprepared lady. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do.

Extra Cash

It’s always a good idea to carry some extra cash with you. It’s good for paying for emergency roadside assistance, buying a hot dog from a street vendor, or greasing the palms of a helpful bell hop.


Been wanting to start a journal, but just can’t find the time? Or maybe you get million dollar ideas, but forget them because you don’t write them down. By keeping a durable notebook in your briefcase, you can solve both of these problems. Whenever you have a spare moment, bust out your notebook and make a quick journal entry. Or if you read or hear a memorable quote or get a killer idea for your business, write it in there, too. I also like to have my notebook handy so I can go back and read through it whenever I have a moment.

Simple Stationery

Having a set of classy, yet simple stationery in your briefcase can do wonders for your career. After a job interview, whip out a card, write a handwritten thank you note, and drop it off with the secretary. If a fellow co-worker receives an award, write a short congratulatory note. While it’s a small gesture, it can reap huge rewards professionally.

Calling Cards

A calling card can come in handy in any social situation in which you want to exchange your personal information with someone. It’s an essential networking tool. Meet a potential lead for a new job? Give them your calling card. Talk to a lady that meets your fancy? Boom! Calling card for her. Not only is the calling card an effective tool to share your email or Twitter address, they’ll set you apart from the millions of men who are still using plain old business cards.

Mixed Nuts

A man’s got to eat, so be prepared for when hunger strikes. Mixed nuts are the perfect man snack. They’ve got fiber to fill you up, are filled with protein, and have lots of good fats to help increase your testosterone.


We hear a lot about the death of the newspaper industry, how the web is the way of the future, and that we’ll be getting our news on our cell phones and other do0-hickies. But I still think good old fashioned newspapers beat digital news. First, it’s more durable. Spill water on your Blackberry, news source is gone. Spill water on newspaper, you can still read it, it will just be wet. And a newspaper never needs to be charged. Second, it’s easier to read. I don’t know what it is, but I have a hard time reading large amounts of text on a computer screen. If that screen is on a mobile phone, fah-get about it! I’m not reading. Third, you can mark it up. You can’t take a pencil to a computer screen to do a crossword puzzle. Finally, I just like how newspapers and magazines feel. What can I say? I’m a tactile guy.

Altoids Survival Kit

A manly man is a prepared man. Be prepared by stocking your briefcase with this handy survival kit you can store in an Altoids can. Field and Stream gives you a step by step guide on how to cram all your survival needs into a single Altoids can. I’m not sure when you’d need a Commando Wire Saw during a commute to the office, but I guess you never know.

USB Keychain with Your Resume on It

Imagine this scenario: You show up to a job interview. You’re dressed to kill and have your confident handshake down pat. You look into your manly Saddleback briefcase to pull out the resumes you printed off this morning and…. NO! You took your kid’s homework instead! A simple tactic you can use to avoid a situation like this is to carry a USB drive with your resume it on it. If you ever forget yours, you can always plug your USB into a computer and print a new one off.

The Prize

So we know what we need to carry in a briefcase. Now we just need to get our hands on one. The Saddleback Leather Company is giving away the uber manly dark coffee brown large leather briefcase. Just looking at this fine piece of leathermanship makes you feel more manly. Saddleback’s briefcases are the creme de la creme. When you die, your grandchildren will fight over who gets it. The large briefcase retails for $535.

How to Enter

So how can you get your hands on this awesomely manly prize? You have 3 ways to enter your name in a random drawing for a Saddleback man bag:
  1. Leave a comment under this post sharing what you think are the essential items in a man’s briefcase.
  2. Join the Art of Manliness Community’s Man Bag Group. In order to join the group, you have to be a member of the AoM Community.
  3. Share this post with your friends using the “Email Story to a Friend” button in our “Share” Box at the bottom of the post. For each friend you email this post to, you’ll receive one entry in the contest. This means the more friends you share it with, the more entries you get. You can only send 10 at a time, but feel free to come back and esend some more.

Deadline to enter is Thursday, July 30 at 11PM EST. Enter early and often.

1201 Jamie Queen July 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm

This will be a bit of a repost, as I just listed what’s in my bag over on the “Man Bag” forum. Oh well…

Guitar stuff:
– 1.5 inch binder FULL of guitar music
– capo
– digital tuner
– keychain strobe tuner
– handful of guitar picks

– several USB thumb drives
– several memory cards (SD, microSD, CompactFlash, etc)
– adapters galore (never know when you’ll need any of them)
– multi-card reader
– mobile phone charger
– two PocketPCs (one personal, one business)
– digital voice recorder

Church treasurer stuff:
– check binder
– money bag (for postage stamps, check stamp, and deposit slips; sorry, no cash)

– paperback novel
– check book (with a few past registers for balancing)
– cheap pocketknife
– various paperwork and receipts
– Altoids tin filled with Aleve

…and YES, it’s all in there, all the time. When on trips, I usually leave the treasurer stuff at home and replace it with my laptop and charging cables.

1202 Brian July 29, 2009 at 6:20 pm

cell phone
a good book/newspaper
usb thumb drive
pen and pencil
leatherman knife
ipod and headphones

I like the idea of a spare shirt, but i think that would be too bulky. I like to try to travel light.

1203 Johnny July 29, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Pit stick. End of the day, perhaps you’ve been invited out for quitting time libations, and your deodorant has worn out. Essential to keep a spare stick on hand . . . .

1204 Chris Gensheer July 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm

How’s about:
1) Cell phone charger – so you’re reachable either for your family, or that mission critical business deal. Normal wall outlet or car (international adapters when relevant)

2) Emergency business cards – in case you run out of your regular stash and need to leave something in a new contacts hands.

1205 Jeffrey Michael July 29, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I find having the following items extremely useful

-at least 2 extra pens
-USB drive
-business cards
-Snickers bar
-small notebook
-digital camera
-smart phone (time to give up the flip phones and grow up)

1206 Allan July 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm

I also am an audio engineer and keep a few job specific items in my briefcase:

An SPL meter, a iPhone/iPod to xlr adapter and xlr to RCA to 1/4″ adapters, good headphones, ear plugs, some gaff or duct tape, and of course, a sharpie.

I also tend to carry a hiking 1st aid kit, lighter, knife, and an iPod charger cable…you can find USB ports most any where and they don’t take up much room.

1207 Matthew July 29, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Essentials for the breifcase.

- Cash
- Pen and paper
- Cellphone
- Resume (It’s a briefcase after all)
- Swiss army knife
- Matches
- Gum
- A quick snack and bottled water

1208 Sean Evans July 29, 2009 at 10:11 pm


In my line of work, as a fundamental middle school science teacher (biological,physical,chemical), I require a spacious, secure and rugged briefcase able to carry a multitude of items and equipment (and survive the everyday). Daily, I need to carry the following items at least:

-files/papers to grade/lesson plans
-awards/achievements/prizes for my students
-organizer/day planner/address book
-business cards
-spare I.D.
-small, basic first aid kit
-hand sanitizer/hand wipes
-digital camera
-mini-screwdriver kit
-trial mix
-business cards/resume
-spare handkerchief
-spare money/c.c.
-portable toothbrush/paste
-my current leisure reading (book, newspaper, etc.)
-spare clothes for outside labs
-any miscellaneous items needed to conduct/construct my labs for that day (nuts, bolts, string, cord, nails, etc.)

Most of these are items that everyman should have need for on a daily basis, but the rest are my burden!

Thank you for this opportunity!

1209 Matthew Hunter July 29, 2009 at 10:18 pm

A man really just needs an extra copy of his resume, his Bible, a book to read, and some deodorant.

1210 LeeJay July 29, 2009 at 10:19 pm

In my bag right now:
- Laptop
- USB Hard drive
- Binder with paper
- Notepad
- Ipod
- Digital camera
- Wallet
- Multi-tool
- Phone charger
- Reading material of some sort.

1211 Michael July 29, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Duck Tape
Survival Knife
Iodine Water Purification Tablets
Flair Gun
Work Gloves
Lock Pick Kit
Beef Jerky
Smoke Grenades

1212 Taylor July 29, 2009 at 11:40 pm

-Rite-in-the-rain Notebook
- SOG Multitool
-Surefire Nitrolin Tactical Flashlight (or Pentagon Porcupine)
-Small Can of WD40
-Small roll of Duct tape (they sell it without the cardboard)
-Pen/Pencil combo
-Notebook Computer
-USB Drive
-Cell phone/MP3 player
-Small first aid kit
-business cards
-Extra Cash
-Mint Gum
-Small spray on deodorant
-A folder (for storing any papers/documents without it crumbling)
-Cigar Cutter/Cigar

1213 Octavio Saenz July 30, 2009 at 12:21 am

I have longed ditched the backpack and opted to use a saddlebag made out of canvas that I got at a National Broadcaster Association forum. Inside this “friendly sidekick” I carry items that I need, will need and hope I need.

1) Laptop
2) Laptop Charger
3) USB cable to turn phone into modem if there is no WiFi
4) Altoids
5) At least a dollar in change
6) USB drive (the resume addition is brilliant)
7) Business cards
8) A good book
9) computer mouse (in case the urge strikes to play GTA)
10) GTA CD-Rom
11) Cross pens (at least two)
12) If single, two condoms in the most hidden of compartments
13) Eye drops
14) Small sewing kit
15) Small container of body spray
16) Contact lense case and saline solution (travel size)
17) Foreign Policy or Texas Monthly magazine

1214 Jerry Nguyen July 30, 2009 at 1:25 am

Briefcase essentials:
1. A book. Hopefully it’s good.
2. Notebook. Of the Moleskine variety.
3. Pen. Black. Multiple.
4. Pencils.
5. Excedrin. I swear by this headache medicine.
6. Calling card. Not to be confused with business card.
7. USB key. Decent size and speed.
8. Breath mints/Gum
9. Digital camera
10. Handkerchief/Tissue

I think those would be briefcase essentials. I feel like phones go in the pocket for much easier access. Pocket knives should also go in the…pocket.

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