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.

901 Chris July 24, 2009 at 2:31 am

I would definitely include a nice, unique pen that captures your personality and sets you apart from everyone else.

902 Richard Haefner July 24, 2009 at 7:57 am

- Thumbdrive
- T-shirt
- Deodorant
- Pocketknife
- Headphones
- Moleskin
- Umbrella
- Cellphone Charger
- Glasses
- Sun Glasses
- Pen
- 3×5 Index cards

903 Ed July 24, 2009 at 8:16 am

I’ve been playing around with what I keep in my bag, mostly because it was just starting to get too heavy to be comfortable carrying around all day when I’m out and about.

Right now I’ve got it down to these:

A good book – I read when I commute or if I’m waiting on a friend or the such.
A bottle of water – it’s summer time and it’s hot (in theory anyway!)
iPod and earphones
Two fountain pens and a pencil – a Lamy 2000 with black ink, a Faber Castell with burnt orange ink, and a Faber Castell pencil. I always prefer being able to pull out a decent pen than fish around for a ball point.
Mints and Gum – both to freshen my breath through the day, and the mints are good for when you’ve just eaten and feel a bit bloated.
A Braithwaite Wallets Vagabond with a small Molkskine and a fountain pen in it – I can slip it into a jacket pocket if I just need to slip out the office and need to keep a shopping list or what have you with me.
A Canon G10 Camera – I love to take photos and the camera on my iPhone just doesn’t cut it. It’s hard to take the perfect picture if you’ve not got a camera on you!

904 Matt July 24, 2009 at 8:43 am

Essential to carry a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in a briefcase. And these things don’t take up much room at all! How many times do you go out for a business lunch with a client or co-worker and come back to the office just to run to another meeting? Sure, “Luigi’s Italian Ristorante” might have the best food in town, but it doesn’t smell that good on your breath. Polishing the pearlies and making sure you don’t have any spinach in your teeth is key.

905 Greg July 24, 2009 at 9:58 am

I’d stow my laptop, thumb drive, planner, legal pad, and the latest National Geographic in my briefcase, along with any current projects and paperwork. A tin of mints, a handkerchief, a couple pens, and business cards round out the list of cargo.

906 Captain G July 24, 2009 at 10:06 am

The Saddleback reminds me of my dad’s old leather suitcase. Not that they look anything alike, but that suitcase is every minute of 60 years old and I still use it. I’ll give it to my son someday. How much more to me does that mean than some $10 Walmart nylon duffle that I’ll forget about an hour after it rips? I can’t spring for it right now, but that Saddleback would be worth it just for that reason.

907 Mike L. July 24, 2009 at 10:07 am

I also like the idea of a resume, but if I already had my laptop, I’d already have it. A few others:

flash drive, or two
business cards

908 Mark July 24, 2009 at 10:11 am

I think there are a few things that would be handy, alot already mentioned (Tylenol/Advil was my first thought, but thats been covered).

I think 1-2 cheap USB drives (1GB/2GB). Something that might have a variety of freeware tools you use on it. The idea being you could use them if you needed to get something. If you have a PC (office or laptop brought in bag) you can dump data on their for someone that might not have a USB drive handy and data that wont fit on a CD or have a CD handy.

Low tech, Id have a few binder clips ( of various sizes. Small ones are useful for a variety of things (

And definitely a magazine to read. Never know when might get stuck somewhere.

909 Chris July 24, 2009 at 10:13 am

Essentials for men:
Small screwdriver/tool set. Multi-tool works.
A thumb drive with various utilities
Spare USB cable (you’d be surprised how often you use this)
A small package with aspirin, bandages, anti-biotic cream, Benadryl
Pack of gum
Pen AND Pencil
A good book

Added in mine:
A CD carrier with Operating Systems and essential computer programs
Laptop (a 10″ netbook is perfect)
MP3 player and headphones

910 Mike L. July 24, 2009 at 10:13 am

Oh, and Lynwood, your list scares me a little bit!

911 Jared C.W. July 24, 2009 at 10:27 am

If I were to win this most glorious of briefcases, I believe I would carry the following:

-Current book
-Machinist cheat-sheets and other school supplies
-Small Moleskine planner
-Extra change (emergency coffee runs)
-Spare shirt
-Legal pad (for quick notes or sketches)
-Leatherman Wave
-Spare handkerchiefs
-Playing cards
-Small flashlight

912 John Kemp July 24, 2009 at 10:34 am

Things to carry:
* Magazine
* Half-way read book
* Business cards
* USB key
* Laptop/Netbook
* Bible
* A few due bills
* Steno pad
* Pens/pencils
* Headphones
* Energy bar
* Extra cash

913 Richard B. July 24, 2009 at 10:54 am

I’ve been surprised at how few people listed sunblock and/or insect repellent! In Houston, both of these are required on a regular basis.

914 Jon Gaffney July 24, 2009 at 11:01 am

Briefcase Essentials:
-Notebook: Being able to jot down everything rattling in your head is key. One pocket size and one larger is a good idea if they’ll fit.
-Fountain Pen (&spare ink): Be sure to remove the ink on flights, other wise your briefcase may gain some unwanted “character”
-Dixon Ticonderoga(s): Best pencil hands down, good for impromptu sketching and writing on planes when the Fountain Pen is out of commission
-Small Pencil Sharpener: Preferably the metal art kind
-Book: Preferably not the Twilight series, these make men’s briefcases cry.
-Pocket Knife: Once you start carrying one you’ll realize how much you needed it, and feel naked without it. Benchmade is a great place to start.
-Business/Calling cards: Much better than writing your info on a torn scrap of paper.
-Stationary: Handwritten goes a long way in this day and age of pixels
-Point and shoot camera: You’ll be glad you had it when that perfect sunset presents itself.
-USB Stick:
-Multitool: So convenient

915 Curtis July 24, 2009 at 11:09 am

A book, a flask and a pipe. With those you’re always ready for a trip to the park and who doesn’t need a trip to the park?

916 An July 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

a zippo
a pocketknife
a clip of cash
a clean dress shirt

917 Adam July 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Since the laptop thing came up something I bring, aside from dongles and a lock, etc, is a portable power strip, whether you’re charging your phone or computer, it would suck to lose it all due to the crappy electrical system wherever you are.

I’m also somewhat surprised no one mentioned music/headphones. If you have to commute to meet someone, and you need to unwind in a situation where reading isn’t appropriate (or you want to center yourself in a more isolated mental space), a pair of decent noise-blocking headphones are a lifesaver.

918 Steve July 24, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I carry
a couple of notebooks (large Moleskine and a cahier–the perforated pages in the back are great for notes);
a small canvas pen bag with several colors of Pilot G-2 pens, a sharpie, a couple of thumb drives, a couple of pencils, and a small mirror (just big enough to make sure there’s nothing in my teeth);
an old Palm Pilot used mostly for phone numbers now;
eye drops;
a large padfolio for meetings; and
a pocket-sized version of the U.S. Constitution that I acquired years ago.

I’m going to add a few more tools based on the comments above, like my pocket knife (usually left at home in favor of the tiny version I actually keep in my pocket) and a small sewing kit, along with a few other items.

919 Jeffrey July 24, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Other than the many items already mentioned above, as a fully trained first aid responder, I believe that a small first aid kit should also find a small niche in the leather briefcase. There is nothing more manly than being able to save a life, whether it be a bandage or a pair of emergency scissors to cut the laces of a childs shoe stuck in some train tracks!

920 Bob July 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Another smaller briefcase for a quick getaway, filled with the best of the items listed above. : )

921 Jon July 24, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Tend to use a backpack during summer months since it’s easier to ride my motorcycle with. Contents similar to those mentioned above: a few books, journal, spare cash, multipurpose pocket knife, condoms (because a man should always be prepared), extra deoderant (ditto), gum and several granola bars.

922 Martin Paul July 24, 2009 at 2:06 pm

In my (really it’s ready for the bin) manbag – latest John Connolly book “The Lovers”; Nokia E71 phone; moleskine-clone notebook from Staples; swiss army knife (Leatherman too risky in the UK; Creative X-fi mp3 player; antiseptic handwash (swine-flu prevention); and mints and Werther Original toffees.

923 Jared Schlieper July 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Found in my bag are the textbook for the class(es) I am currently teaching, another math book I am reading (Math Finance), class notes, and possibly graded assignments to return. I also have several pens, whiteboard markers, 2 thumb drives, computer cable, a 4.5 x 3.25 composition note book, and some spare change for those times I run out of coffee between classes. Occasionally, my laptop is in there as well.

924 Matthew July 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I always carry
pocket knife and a small toothbrush i.e. wisps

925 David July 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

iPhone, MacBook Pro, thumb drive, leatherman, LED flashlight, cat5 ethernet cable, USB cable, notebook, pens and chargers for all of your gear.

926 Mike L. July 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Calculator and compass would be a good idea, also.

927 Norm July 24, 2009 at 5:00 pm

How about a stainless steel waterbottle (or flask), kindle or other e-reader, pocket reference by Thomas Glover, extra 30rd mags for a Glock 9mm, pictures of your kids, power bars, Flash Drive, Leatherman, Surfire LED light, laptop, cell phone carger, Surefire pen 2, first aid kit with quick clot, small toiletry kit, benchmade knife…I could do this all day..

928 Gabe July 24, 2009 at 5:22 pm

A very small (pocket sized?) lint roller
A pocket knife or multi-tool
Chewing gum and dental floss
A travel-sized electric shaver (if you’re man enough to grow stubble that fast)
This week’s issue of the Economist

929 Anthony Ratley July 24, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I ride a Harley-Davidson Streetglide and I’m constantly wearing my Leather Chaps,Jacket and Riding Vest with all my ride pins on it. This leather briefcase would be the perfect standout “eye catcher” for my already cool riding outfit with plenty of room for my Surefire Flash light and my .380 pistol. Would love to have this briefcase and be able to show it off to my many riding friends. Live to Ride, Ride to Live.

930 Joe July 24, 2009 at 5:54 pm

I think that the essential items in a man’s briefcase are:
*pen/writing utensil
*cell phone

931 Forrest July 24, 2009 at 6:43 pm

-Business Cards
-Good Book
-Extra Keys
-Clean Shirt & Tie

932 Mary July 24, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Nice briefcase! Here are the suggested contents for a man’s briefcase:
-cell phone
-pens & pencils
-legal pad
-flash drive

933 Raimund July 24, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Things I always try to carry, either in my messenger or pockets
- My Leatherman keychain attached to keys
-flathead, Phillips, bottle opener, knife
- Copy of resum
- Current book
- Collapsible umbrella
- Laptop charger
- Pens/paper
- A spare handkerchief
- Calling cards
- Some sort of Camera (I met Joe Biden on a train a few weeks ago and was furious that my phone wouldn’t take a good picture)
- deck of cards

934 Ray July 24, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Things I always try to carry, either in my messenger or pockets
My Leatherman keychain attached to keys
flathead, Phillips, bottle opener, knife
Copy of resum
Current book
- Collapsible umbrella
- Laptop charger
- Pens/paper
- A spare handkerchief
- Calling cards
- Some sort of Camera (I met Joe Biden on a train a few weeks ago and was furious that my phone wouldn’t take a good picture)
- deck of cards

That’s all I’ve got in my bag. Though if I had one of these leather satchel ones I could hold a lot more.

935 AF Medic July 24, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Keep in mind that I am an Air Force medic, so my list might be a little off the norm, but still:
CAT touniquet
2 Rolls of coban
2 Rolls of roller gauze
SAM Splint
2 crevats
Leatherman Wave (love it, never go anywhere without it)
Lensatic compass (oh yeah, like you’ve NEVER gotten lost)
Zippo lighter (I don’t smoke but it’s still a very handy thing to have)
4 G thumbdrive (medical manuals, medication tables, e-mails from my wife for while I’m deployed)
Digital camera (really handy for photographing rashes that I haven’t the foggiest idea what they are so I can e-mail them to the doc and find out what to give the poor afflicted person)
Write in the Rain tablet and sharpie marker
survival role of 100 mph tape
550 cord
A few “twinkies” (you call them power bars, I call them twinkies)
That’s about it. Believe it or not I can cram all of this stuff in my current bag which is the medium E&E bag from London Bridge Trading company. But there is room for little else.

936 Kal July 24, 2009 at 8:24 pm

I currently use a man bag that is about the same size as a 1950′s era camera bag. I currently carry
a 3 x 5 card jotter (Levenger shirtpocket briefcase equivalent)
extra 3 x 5 cards in several colors
a 5 x 8 notebook or similar size moleskine
pens–at least two different ink colors
dry highlighter
a small emergency kit with antacid, aspirin, needle/thread, duct tape, band-aids, $20, and a small flashlight
Leatherman Micra and Squirt P4
tide pen
chargers and power strip with usb charge ports
8 gig usb drive with portable apps installed
MP 3 with ear buds
cell phone
glasses case with sunglasses and cloth to clean
current book
water bottle clipped to the outside
mints or gum and bag of nuts/energy bar

I currently use an old messenger bag to carry paper files from work, newspaper, etc. This briefcase would eliminate the need to double up.

937 Johnny July 24, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Great list, you will survive if you travel by these words:
Best to have and need than need and not have

938 Tarl Hutchens July 24, 2009 at 10:04 pm

moleskine notebook
waiter’s corkscrew (you never know)
business cards
card holder
spare undershirt(if space allows)
small screwdriver set

939 mark payton July 24, 2009 at 10:53 pm

As an artist my list may be a bit different;
travel watercolor kit
my drawing kit – mechanical pencil and spare leads
kneadable eraser
technical pen
art eraser
Small pack of colored pencils
pencil sharpener
Art journal
A Good Book
Mints or gum
Flash drive
Lightweight jacket(I do a lot of hiking)
Water bottle
Small flashlight
Digital Camera
Business Cards

940 Harry July 24, 2009 at 11:08 pm

dental floss
sewing kit
business-card-size magnifier
razor blade
post-it notes
Pocket Ref – It’s a little book with boatloads of statistics, formulae, etc. Especially useful for engineers.

941 Andrew Mac July 25, 2009 at 12:09 am

Great list guys,

I’m still stuck with the college typical backpack and haven’t been able to afford a briefcase. If I had one I would include these:

Laptop and streamlined charger
Cell phone charger
Ipod, earbuds, and usb cable to charge through my laptop
Sudoku book and pen
Small notebook
Thin novel
Variety of On-The-Go packets when all you can find is water
Business cards
Neutrogena Men Triple Protect Face Lotion (wakes you right up)
Spare house key
Travel sized box of ibuprofen and antihistamine

I wouldn’t keep a pocketknife because it would be to easy to forget it’s in there and hit airport security and suddenly you’re out a good knife, and besides, they belong in your pocket.

942 Michael July 25, 2009 at 12:40 am

breath mints,
cutting tool
sunglasses or clip-ons

If you are a fan of Douglas Adams, a towel

943 Michael July 25, 2009 at 12:41 am

hand sanitizer

944 Joshua M July 25, 2009 at 1:52 am

A 8” x 11” notepad, pen & pencil, calculator, gadget chargers, small flashlight, sewing and survival kit, usb drive, couple handerchiefs, umbrella (if I move to a place where it rains enough), small book, smartphone(might end up in pants or jacket though depending on size), laptop and accessories if space allows, breath mints, spare undershirt, tech and retro tool kit, and I feel that it is also important to leave some space left over for the unforeseeable uses. So that’s what I would load up and good luck!

945 Bryan July 25, 2009 at 2:26 am

Many of the items previously listed I do carry with me in my bag of choice. I tend to treat what I carry with me as the bare essentials needed in case I am temporarily stranded somewhere.

- A small moleskine notebook which turns out I use far more often than I previously thought.
- Writing utencils. A Lamy Vista is my primary pen. A Pilot S20 my favorite pencil.
- iPod.
- Headphones.
- USB Drive.
- Multitool. Leatherman Skeletool.
- For those long nights.
- Gum.
- Book.
- Granola bar.
- Lighter.
- Flashlight.
- A Small toilitries bag with a travel toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, floss, asprin, deodorant, facewash, chapstick, bandaids, hand sanitizer.
- And of course a cell phone.

946 Brett Chapman July 25, 2009 at 3:36 am

Geez, most of my stuff has already been well covered
Here’s what I carry..
Laptop/Netbook (depending on the job)
2 x USB sticks ( 1 x Data & 1 x Recovery tools)
Mobile Phone
USB Cables (USB Power Chargers, Data-Sync USB and Mini-USB)
Business Cards
1 x travel pack of Tissue (ready to hand out)
3-in-1 Pen(Pen, Pencil & Stylus)
Mints or minty gum

and whatever job-specific stuff I need

947 Matt Weiss July 25, 2009 at 3:54 am

Seems most of this has been covered, but always a good one…
-9 volt Battery

As for the rest…
-Flash Light
-Ear Plugs
-Ipod Touch (or at least Thesaurus, Dictionary, and Planner)

948 K.C. July 25, 2009 at 5:42 am

Awesome giveaway, and great write up as well. The Saddleback bags/briefcases all look very nice, and a big thanks to AOM and Saddleback for this contest!

I don’t currently use a briefcase, but I’m about to graduate college and end up needing one, so I’ll put what I think should be in there, rather than what I carry daily.

I think your briefcase should include:

- Pen
- Pencil (mechanical so that you don’t have to worry about it being sharp)
- Small notebook (like a moleskine 4×6 or 3×5 roughly)
- Business card holder with some of your business cards and/or calling cards
- Laminated card containing any medical conditions you may have (just in case)
- Flash drive with resume and reference contact info on it
- Printed resume
- Laptop
- First aid kit of some kind
- Small sewing kit
- Small Purell bottle
- While I haven’t tried them, I think one of those tide stain pens would be a good idea for if you spill before a meeting, no good!
- Handkerchief
- $20 bill
- Multi-tool (the foldable pliers, screw driver, pocket knife, etc.)
- Depending on your commute, a newspaper and/or current book you are reading.

949 Mike July 25, 2009 at 7:39 am

A man should have in his briefcase whatever a man feels is needed. That can change over time and even day to day.

950 Curt July 25, 2009 at 8:20 am

The list of briefcase “musts” may vary according to the gentleman and his needs, but I’m fond of the following items:

-Hard-bound notebook/s, at least one of them small
-Business cards
-Stationery (great idea, McKays!)
-Metal water bottle
-USB thumb drive with CV and other pertinent files
-Breath supplies (toothbrush, paste, mints)
-Small electric razor
-Travel-size deodorant/antiperspirant
-Band-aids and small bottle of disinfectant gel (separate from first aid kit below)
-Book or Kindle
-Camera-Phone-Gadget (i.e. Nokia 97) w/ charger
-Flat first aid kit with scissors, nitrile gloves, etc.

Great contest!

951 Tim July 25, 2009 at 9:38 am

Don’t forget a spare tie, preferably a neutral color to go with any suit, in case of the unexpected coffee-spill stain. Also spare keys, so you never get accidentally locked-out of your car or home….And remember to actually leave some Altoids in the Altoids can!

952 Matthew McCoy July 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

Condom[s], you never know. and keeping them in your wallet is not an option it just ruins them almost immediately. How about a Kindle, with the new model you could have multiple books and a newspapers.

953 6sigma July 25, 2009 at 10:07 am

Congrats on the selection of Saddleback. Incredible craftsmanship. Makes one realize that there’s still a place in this country for finely-crafted goods. In fact, a return to actually making things may be our only long-term solution to the financial holes others have dug.

Great weblog!

954 Eli July 25, 2009 at 10:08 am

My name is Eli and I am 7 years old. If I win this bag I would put all my papers and dinosaur books in it. It looks like a great paleantologist’s bag. I would make sure my Spongebob notebook, pens, pencils and erasors are in it too. Also:
binoculars, pack of pencil crayons and markers, and a box of crayons.

955 Greg July 25, 2009 at 10:55 am

While some items come and go from my bag based on the needs of the situation, most are staples.

-minimum of 2 pens
-pencil, eraser
-stationery, envelopes, stamps
-1 or 2 books, magazines
-index cards bound by a clip (the hipster’s pda)
-phone charger (phone stays in my pocket for the most part)
-pocket knife (unless I’m headed to the airport)
-hand sanitizer
-spare car key, spare house key
-generic resume (you never know who you might meet)
-check book
-some string, twine, or yarn
-often a camera (though my phone is good enough in a pinch)
-thumb drive
-often my netbook (though when I don’t think I’ll need it, my phone gets me by)
-a couple band aides
-pain killer/fever reducer of choice (usually advil or similar)
-a couple carabiner clips (one small, one large) — I don’t know why, but they keep coming in handy
-in a larger bag, a spare shirt (on particularly hot or cold days)

956 Elie July 25, 2009 at 10:59 am

- Kindle (because a real man needs more than 1 book)
- moleskin notebook and/or planner
- leather folder from your alma mater: for stationary, copies of your resume, calling/ business cards and pen
- water bottle
- macbook air
- spare tie/ undershirt/ deodorant
- swiss army knife (for bear attacks)

957 gary July 25, 2009 at 11:48 am

Guys, guys-
This is a BRIEFcase. Origin of the term: a case in which to carry briefs. (The legal, not the underwear kind: you’re so obvious!) You are not running away from home with this bag, you’re working. (check out for heavy lifting)
So, in a bag like this you need:
>an excellent pen. Preferably fountain, but classy roller ball will do.
>a pad of paper for writing/note taking. Go for cream or blue pads: everyone else can use yellow.
>your actual work: files, manuscripts, your notebook computer
>post-its: they’re index tabs, annotations, and paper clip replacements in a bind
>business cards: to give and to identify your case if lost/stolen
You can add different items depending on your mission that day: extra reading material for delays, nuts/granola bars for depositions without lunch breaks, etc.

958 Matthew McCoy July 25, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Medium sized handgun and ammunition. Add that to my list.

959 Steve Watson July 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm

3×5 cards
nice pen
spare pen (for lending)
mechanical pencil
latest book
charger for netbook (longer trip)
usb flash key (resume, portable apps)
usb flash key (spare)
business cards
fingernail clippers
Fenix E01 flashlight
La Griffe knife (not for air travel)
Leatherman (not for air travel)
charger for phone (longer trip)
bluetooth headset
small first aid kit (band-aids, alcohol wipes, neosporin)
pill case (vitamins, Rx meds, OTC meds)
eye drops
chewing gum
extra cash
small digital camera
passport (for international travel)
power cable for airplane (for international travel)
presentation mouse/laser pointer
copy of presentation on spare USB flash key
empty ziploc bag

960 Randy W July 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I currently carry a Mk VII when I need a bag, while it’s nice and manly looking, it can be lacking in space, especially if you carry a larger bodied camera with you as I do when using a bag.

961 Kenneth July 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I’m probably a little biased since the contents of my briefcase would be/are based on my profession. So:

Laptop: essential for working on the train and at work (since I’m a freelancer).

iPhone: phone, quick communications (im, email, sms), and where I read most of my

Pen and notebook(s): I usually carry at least one Moleskine or similar notebook with me for notes, sketches, and as paper to tear out for giving information to others.

Business cards: again, since I’m a freelancer, I can never have or give out enough of these.

Snacks and Excedrine: handy for fighting off hunger and headaches, two things that can really cramp your day.

962 Steve July 25, 2009 at 2:12 pm

For essential Items keep it simple:
1. Keys (to house, to car, to office)
2. Wallet
3. 1 Manila Folder – containing current important items (receipts, instructions, mail, articles to read, to do list, etc)

963 Bill Kracke July 25, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I have to agree with those who point out that this is NOT a backpack or military field bag. My essentials for work life:

1. 3 Good pens (Namiki Vanishing Point, Tradio Pullman, G2 .38mm)
2. A good mechanical pencil
3. A good lead holder for sketching
4. Journal
5. Work Log/Notebook
6. Current Book I am Reading
7. Book I will always read (for me: Bible)
8. Business & Calling Cards
9. Small Collection of Note Cards
10. Thumb Drive with portable apps
11. iPod/PDA
12. Laptop & cabling if necessary

964 C.G. July 25, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Mementos from your sweetie.

965 Chris July 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm

A bag this nice should carry a MacBook Pro rather than a PC. As for the rest of the contents:

Assorted pens
iPhone charging cable and headphones
My current Netflix movies
Blank notebook for jotting down new story ideas
If I’m traveling, assorted books and magazines

966 Bryan B July 25, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Oh wow, that’d be *awesome* for college this next year.

967 Albert Garrett July 25, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Pencil, pen, notebook, Altoids survival kit, computer and accessories, imodium, asprin, antacids,fifty dollar bill,

968 Bill Drissel July 25, 2009 at 2:56 pm

small screwdriver of each sex, tiny crescent wrench, smallest Leatherman tool, Stanley knife, nail clipper, nail file, tiny LED flashlite, tiny stapler, pencil, pen, coiled length of monofilament fishing line, small notebook or 3 x 5 index cards

969 Tim July 25, 2009 at 3:01 pm

i like the idea of carrying a good book…but i’d be lost without my bible in my briefcase…

970 Randy Bradakis July 25, 2009 at 3:04 pm

A man’s carry-all should always have (except for TSA-restrictions and the like)…

Actually, I only speak for me. MY carry-all carries:

A data transfer device – USB thumbdrive
Writing implements – I prefer a mechanical pencil, eraser, Sharpie(tm) dual-point, and nice ball-point pens.
Note pad of some fashion.
Business & Calling Cards
Swiss Army Knife (prefer Cybertool)
Small First Aid kit – bandaids, neosporin, antihistamines, painkiller
Small mechanical aid kit – small quantity of wire twist-tie, zip ties, string, one-shot superglue.
And I always seem to have a pair of mini-bungies with me.

971 Wesley Sudduth July 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Small pocket dictionary.

972 Sunil Punjabi July 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I would add a tooth brush as well, great idea.

973 Radosevich2 July 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I always need a book to read, some notecards, notebook paper, and a good pen.

974 John July 25, 2009 at 4:01 pm

1. A Bible
2. Moleskine Planner
3. Moleskine Notebook
4. Leatherman Juice
5. Bible
6. Calling Cards
7. Cellphone
8. California Republic Pencils
9. Altoids

975 Paul July 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm

- Keys
- TIME or Newsweek
- Current book
- Laptop
- Small pic of wife and kids
- Journal
- Couple cigars (in case the opportunity presents itself)
- Playing cards
- Moleskine
- Business Cards
- Small Bible
- Cell

976 Mark July 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm

A quote or a set quotes that can inspire when the world gets a little too crazy. Look in Dale’s Carnegie’s Scrapbook – A Treasury of the Wisdom for the ages. For example – Do the thing your fear, and the death of fear is certain – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

977 Patrick July 25, 2009 at 4:24 pm

As long as there is room, it couldn’t hurt to have a cell phone charger as well (along with the aforementioned). It seems like batteries always run out at the worst possible moment…

978 Yet Another Mike July 25, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Things previously mentioned: travel deodorant stick, gum packs, mouth fresheners of doom, breviary and/or rosary (for the days I’m feeling devout), sudoku book, paperback novel de jour, paperback book with substance aka literature that will last for more than a few hours delay, $50-100 in assorted bills and locations, tissue packs, pens and pencils, notepad/notebook, index cards, quick acting Asprin powder packs, condom for the friend who will no doubt end up needing one, rechargeable led flashlight from the car dealership (they keep giving them to me), business cards. pictures of the wife and cats.

Things half mentioned: a USB drive but one that contains a bootable linux distro — probably dsl with qemu attached so that I can run if off of a computer that may not have the software (or security) I need.

Things not mentioned: heavy duty painkillers like extra-strength Motrin for the women around you who laugh at the concept of a single Asprin. It’s nice to be a gentleman and offer but it’s even nicer to have something she can use.

979 Nathaniel July 25, 2009 at 5:01 pm

1. Good Book
2. First-Aid Kit
3. Sewing Kit + Buttons
4. Shoe Polish and Acessories
5. Change of Clothes

980 Kevin July 25, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Railroader by trade so I have
Rule Books
Several pairs of safety glasses
Latest book I’m reading
Haz Mat Guide
Reverser … the key that runs the engine

981 Will July 25, 2009 at 5:51 pm

deodorant and a spare shirt is a must.

982 nathan miller July 25, 2009 at 5:57 pm

For me a well prepared bag would include:
-a Good book or two
-the Good book (Bible) [I made a funny!]
-Pen, Pencil, Sharpie
-Moleskin or other current thought notebook
-Flash drive
-Granola bar

983 Kevin July 25, 2009 at 6:33 pm

My briefcase has several manilla envelopes to help keep papers organized, my pda, pens, a note book, and allergy eye drops and allergy medicine. Always prepared.

984 James July 25, 2009 at 6:42 pm

For me, my essentials are:
-laptop or netbook
-bose headphone
-mp3 player
-a copy of the most recent The Economist
-documents that I can work on while commuting on the bus

985 Rob Pahlkotter July 25, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Three things for sure:

Something worth reading
Something worth writing in
Something decent to write with

986 Austin July 25, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I like the idea of the Altoids survival kit, but a tin full of actual Altoids is just as important. Halitosis can really ruin a man’s image; just pop in a breath mint though, and you are good to go.

987 Derek July 25, 2009 at 7:05 pm

This is a really nice bag – I hope I win the contest!

988 David Amann July 25, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Here’s what I keep

– Notebook, either a Moleskine or a Picadilly for notes
– Good book.
– Business Cards in a business card holder
– 3 or 4 pens.
– My Reading Folder with articles torn out of various industry magazines.
– Ipod Nano and head phones.
– Wall Street Journal or Financial Times
– Folder to collect documents and checks from clients
– Gum
– Snack of some kind
– Travel toothbrush

Take care.

989 Michael Cummings July 25, 2009 at 7:08 pm

I like the list, but I’d add a pair of nail clippers (seriously). In addition to the obvious use (which should be done in private, not in an open office unless its a real emergency), they can double as mini-scisors in a bind, helping nip a thread or similar in a desperate bind.

Or, go the MacGuyver route, and they can be used to clip wires. You know. Your call.

990 Joseph July 25, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Documents(something that can be worked on in cafe/train)
Business cards
A book for casual reading
Laptop accessories (mouse, charger, webcam)
Tide-to-go pen
Lint roller
A nice, small notebook. (moleskin)
My journal.

Depending on the weather, I may also throw in sunglasses and a deodorant stick.

991 Keith H. July 25, 2009 at 7:34 pm

The briefcase really does need to return. After almost 1000 comments, I don’t know what else I can add.

Personally I’d pack a newspaper, sunglasses, nail clippers (from above), a water bottle, a small umbrella, etc. I also like having a flashlight and small camera for when the mood strikes. The resume and a good book are probably the most important, especially given the current economic climate.

While not exactly essential, an important piece of the briefcase should be a printed and bound version of the How to Be A Gentleman guide. You never know when a moment of weakness may strike, or you could even teach a young rapscallion a valuable life lesson.

992 MMW July 25, 2009 at 8:40 pm

A man also ought to have a picture of his significant other in his bag. It’s been great for my self esteem to find my photo tucked away in my husband’s belongings.

I pray the gods of will smile favourably on me. My husband needs to stop carrying the Masculine-Diaper-Bag…and man-up for a briefcase.

993 griffin daniels July 25, 2009 at 9:41 pm

for the sweaters out there, a travel size stick of deodorant. Tide to go is also a must.

994 Eric July 25, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Men pack what they need to do what they want to do. So a workday is different than a day with your kids. For work laptop something to write on cell phone and a snack. For a day with the kids a cell phone and whatever your kids need. Snacks, books etc

995 Bob King July 25, 2009 at 10:02 pm

I carry…
Pen and pencil
Moleskine notebook gratefuls and another small one for my bucket list
Legal pad in a portfolio
A bit of stationery
The obligatory usb drive
Business cards
My old Powerbook, charger & mouse
Phone charger
A small 1st aid kit (bandaids, aspirin)
Spare AA batts
A couple of quart Ziplocks
Photo of my wife an daughter
A small magnifier & extra reading glasses

and when I travel:
A book
Extra set of travel docs
All the junk from my pockets minus the knife.

Since I live in the desert, I normally don’t carry an umbrella, but I may start since it’s monsoon here.

The biggest challenge I face is limiting what I try to carry with. If I could put the entire house and most of the neighborhood in, along it would all go!

996 Blake July 25, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Something written by Dostoevsky.
Something on which to draw pictures and write thoughts.

997 Andrew July 26, 2009 at 12:49 am

Lets see, the essential “Man Bag”

-scrap paper and pen
-some kind of time piece
-the celly/PDA
-a good book
-floss and minty freshness
-granola bars, fruit, etc
-the paper
-extra change

998 Tom July 26, 2009 at 1:47 am

My pockets are for carrying basic essentials such as wallet, money, keys, etc. A bag such as this deserves only the coolest items that I couldn’t fit in my pockets, such as:
–Survival Guide
–hatchet / hammer
–small pry bar
– bolt cutters
– screwdrivers
– local maps and road atlas (no GPS, I’m an old fashioned guy)
– electrical and duct tape
– bottled water
– granola bars and trail mix
– waterproof matches and fire starter kit
– first aid kit
– essential personal hygiene items
– flashlight and batteries
–glow sticks
– fixed blade knife
–poly rope
–notebook and pens
–road flares
–water purification tablets
–zip lock bags and garbage bags

I could probably think of more but the bag would probably be getting hard to carry by now.

999 Ian July 26, 2009 at 5:23 am

-Nice pen
-Extra shirt
-Leatherman tool

1000 J.M.J. West July 26, 2009 at 6:36 am

pocket watch, pocket knife, laptop, handkerchief, trail mix, hand cranked radio/flashlight

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