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.

1101 Ty Myrick July 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I think the suggestions you presented were excellent. Everyone should have a book, and the stationery is inspired. Also, carrying an emergency contact list is a good idea, as well. Don’t just add numbers for your family, keep numbers you don’t usually put in your cell phone, like the electric company. It can be handy for you, and, in an emergency, it will probably be easier for someone to use than trying to search through your cell phone. Also, some good samaritan may use it to return your briefcase if it is lost.

1102 Ryan McKinnon July 27, 2009 at 12:43 pm

The new portable toothbrush with built-in toothpaste — called Wisp — would be a new essential for me.

1103 Josef Busch July 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I like to keep a carabiner or two clipped to the strap on my current bag. I can clip on my keys and/or water bottle or use them as an easy way to carry bags on my walk home from the store.

Thanks for the chance to win this amazing bag!

1104 Tim Lebsack July 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Courtesy whiskey
Reading material
Small gift for the loved one

1105 SP Cox July 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Young Living’s Thieves spray (disinfects everything, boosts immunity, smells like christmas, doubles as a mouthwash)
L’Occitane’s BAVX
a deodorant crystal (will not leak on your stuff)
a Moleskine Journal

1106 Jonathan Creekmore July 27, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Pen and notebook
Post-it notes
Business cards

1107 Greg July 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

A pen, a moleskin notebook, a Bible and a hardback volume of Hemmingway’s “Old Man and The Sea”

1108 Mark Helm July 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm

My travel is up now that I work at home, so these are my essentials for flights and strange cities:
* leatherman – check it so i don’t lose it to the TSA
* My just under requirements water bottle loaded with ice
* Granola bars – 2-5 depending on mood and flight times
* Almonds
* A nice pen, stored comfortably
* A #2 pencil about 2 inches long with a good eraser
* Brain vacation book – good for getting your a bit of a rest
* Challenging book – currently Gravity’s Rainbow – Pynchon
* Moleskine with calendar insert
* Cell phone charger
* Cash – hidden in at least two places in the bag and one on my person
* Essential toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, cheap disposable razor, deodorant
* Chewing gum for ears
* Pocket pack of tissues – good for a sniffling seat mate
* Cough drops

Whatever my daughter happens to include – pictures, drawings or once, her favorite (dry) bath toy to keep me company.

Thanks, this bag looks very nice.

1109 Chris W July 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

moleskin notebook, pen, pencil, good book, ipod, notecards, psp

1110 David B. July 27, 2009 at 3:44 pm

So this variety has gotten me through three years of college thus far:

- pleasure reading book
- iPod & headphones (good for walking to class or wherever)
- few quality pens and pencils
- to do list (i prefer a pad for handwritten lists)
- laptop
- cell phone
- necessary chargers
- couple legal pads
- usb flash drive
- bible
- multi-tool
- umbrella (although often left out for it’s size and rarely needed in Southern California)
- earplugs (good for plane rides and those unseen loud situations)
- carmex or other lip balm

1111 Matt July 27, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Essential for a bag or briefcase?
– Moleskine notebook
– Pens
– Handgun of choice (recommend Springfield Sub-compact XD in 9mm)
– Laptop, PDA, iPhone, or Jumpdrive
– Bible
– A good book
– Multitool (such as a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife)

1112 Andrew M. July 27, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I agree with your list, but I would also add a few things of my own:
-Address book (because the cell phone will eventually die, along with all your contacts stored in it)
-Pocket knife or Leatherman
-My load of books for class
-Parker jotter pen
-Tide to go pen (for the inevitable coffee drip on my trousers at the most inopportune time)
-A Moleskine weekly planner
-Vitamins (for when I forget to take them in the morning)
-Travel-size mouthwash
-Travel-size deodorant

1113 david cooper July 27, 2009 at 8:17 pm

in my bag I carry:

old school leather portfolio
electronics cords
business cards
chewing gum
the book I’m reading
the book I want to read when finished with the current one

1114 alexander July 27, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Thank you for the wonderful post!

I have been made good fun of for carrying a briefcase quite similar to (but not nearly as quality) as the one being given away here. I too am of the “carry in a briefcase and not in the pockets” kind of habit so I carry all of the vital pocket stuff (wallet, knife, cell phone) in my briefcase, but I also augment my space with:

a very modest first aide kit, one for personal use to include lipbalm, eye drops, sun screen, and asprin; and another for others who may need a little saving on the way,you never know when you could be needed to help;
Breath mints, a friend siad to me once that there is nothing worse than a bad first impression;
a good book, a national geographic, and somehting for study;
a lighter, always be prepared;
a few coins and a little extra cash;
a local map;
a great pen, pencil and note pad;

and last, but almost more important than everything else combined is my Airmans coin. I worked blood, sweat, and tears to earn that coin alongside my brothers; I carry it everywhere I go.

There could be other things that would be required depending on local conditions but this is what I need for now.

1115 APietrash July 27, 2009 at 8:20 pm

LED light

1116 Matthew July 27, 2009 at 10:55 pm

I travel prepared but light. . .since I ride a bike most places it pays to have stuff with you, My list is as follows:
I Pod
Small Toiletry/First Aid Kit
Flash Memory Card
Pens — Sharpie Marker — Pencil
Business Cards
Umbrella (Seasonal)
That’s about all that I have in my bag at the moment. Currently I carry a TimBuk2 Small Messenger bag and it has been the best bag I have ever owned! But that’s not to say I wouldn’t trade it in a second for that beautiful piece of leather goodness!

1117 Daetan Bayar Huck July 27, 2009 at 11:24 pm

I’ll be studying abroad in Istanbul, Turkey this coming September. Anyone have any ideas on what some good items to carry in your bag would be? A digital camera, pen and paper, and your identification come to mind (though perhaps identification documents should be kept on your more immediate person!). Should I carry more than one type of currency, for example?

1118 Jim Fields July 28, 2009 at 12:07 am

On important addition would be several print copies of your favorite Art of Manliness articles so you can share them with your friends.

1119 Robert July 28, 2009 at 2:15 am

I don’t carry a briefcase but I do carry a bag with me to work. I’m in the field getting dirty when I work. I do carry a laptop and a few odds and ends in my duffel. A small first aid kit, rolaids, a good book, some magazines, energy bars, etc.

1120 Mike July 28, 2009 at 2:15 am

Toilet paper, bottle opener, cologne, iPod, and a 1911A1 Pistol with 2 full mags.

1121 Scott July 28, 2009 at 2:47 am

Your little black book.

Always have your little black book.

1122 WEKM July 28, 2009 at 3:49 am

Something that can provide a multitude of uses in a pinch, a full sized trash bag.
There are so many things that can be done with it, from an emergency raincoat, ground cloth to lay on, a sun shade, to even being used as a trash bag.

1123 Mark Scheithauer July 28, 2009 at 5:06 am

I carry mostly books and journals in mine, but in addition, and for the well-rounded and well-prepared manly man, I suggest:
A small but effective pocket knife (I like Spyderco)
A multi-tool (Leatherman or Gerber for improvised repairs)
A nail clipper (some things just can’t be slashed or pliered)
A small flashlight (it’s darker in more places than you think)
Several pens, one good, the others disposable (you can give them away)
A few small safety pins (how many times have you wished you had one when you needed it?)
A local street guide (not for you, since a man always knows where he is and where he’s going, but to aid out-of-towners in need)
Book (short stories, so you don’t have to always worry about picking up where you left off)
Legal Pad or notebook (you find yourself writing down more things than you imagine)
Mints or gum (sometimes you forget about the onions on your sandwich)
A snack (nuts or a granola bar, no need for a man to go hungry )
A few loose bucks (for odds and ends or to drop in a homeless guy’s cup)
A few Band-Aids (not so much to treat the injury but to keep blood off your clothing; can be used in liew of tape in a pinch)
A pocket Bible (like the little New Testament the military guys have)
A crossword puzzle (it keeps a man’s brain active and teaches him even more new words for his manly vocabulary)
A few paper clips
A small assortment of medicaments (Tylenol, Tums, and Kayopectate cna be VERY handy)
A spare handkerchief
A small reminder that even on your crummiest days, life is great! (I have a photo of my wife and daughter, but any sort of reminder that bucks up a flagging spirit will do)

1124 Gino July 28, 2009 at 5:13 am

I’d carry one of those new netbooks – they are light and give you access to books, music, video, etc!

1125 John Armitage July 28, 2009 at 8:10 am

I currently have a Timbuk2 bag, but would love a nice leather one! At this point I’m just duplicating what has already been posted, but here’s what is in my bag almost all the time:

- laptop
- ipod
- thumb drive
- jackknife
- book (currently Clean Code)
- work papers
- nail clippers
- gum
- lip balm
- aspirin
- one band aid
- pen (cheap bic)
- pencil
- small notebook
- handkerchief
- car keys
- umbrella (when it looks like it may be needed)

1126 Zachariah July 28, 2009 at 8:18 am

There are way too many items on these lists.

Seriously, you guys are carrying purses!

Besides keys and a phone, you should have a book, a hankie (summer) or chapstick (winter), and a small knife/set of fingernail clippers. Though, a knife is getting harder and harder to carry these days what with metal detectors at every building entrance here in DC.

1127 David R. July 28, 2009 at 9:10 am

Your lawyer’s business card.

1128 Jonathan Davis July 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

I like to keep it simple:
-laptop – since I work in IT, this is a must.
-encrypted usb drive – this is where I keep important documents, including a resume
-give-a-way flash drives – I am often given cheap flash drives. I then copy some basic open-source or free tools onto them, which average users can install. Each program is copied into it’s own folder along with any specific install directions. I also include a copy of my resume on these. It makes an easy way to share contact information.
-floss – has a million uses
-ink pen
-extra cash
-breath mint
-small very bright LED flashlight

My iphone takes the place of a notebook, paperback, ipod, etc.

1129 Mike July 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

Writing material of all sorts, baby wipes, sunglasses, sunscreen, Leatherman, basic tool kit, basic grooming/cleaning kit, 5ml sized cologne, iPod, a deck of cards, emergency cash.

1130 Sam Jones July 28, 2009 at 10:53 am

A spare car key would not go amiss.

1131 Abe July 28, 2009 at 11:19 am

I agree with everything listed, and would add a pocket knife, spare key, sewing kit, travel toothbrush & paste, and a lighter.

1132 Tim Snead July 28, 2009 at 11:40 am

i agree

1133 Mike July 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm

My needs change on a day to day basis, so I can’t say what I’d put in there. That’s why I’d like to start with a good bag and go from there.

1134 Colm July 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm

My first child is due in about 3 minutes (due a couple of days ago), so I may have to desecrate this beautiful satchel by adding a diaper or two to all the cool stuff already suggested above.

1135 DougB July 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Good ideas thus far, this is also something every man graduating college should read, too. Mine, in no particular order, are:

–Extra handkerchief
–Flash drive
–Business cards
–Writing instruments (2 pens, highlighter and pencil)
–Small journal for jotting down numbers, names and ideas
–Small book of brain teasers and puzzles
–Deck of cards
–Cigar cutter & lighter
–About $40 cash in various denominations
–Travel toothpaste & toothbrush
–Several golf tees (not only because I golf, but also because they are excellent as emergency / replacement collar stays)
–In the hidden compartment: small amount of cologne (sample size) and one condom (hopefully not sample size) for meeting up with that special lady friend

Optional: Pocketknife, depends on if I’m going through the airport or not.


1136 Braden July 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm

I’ve certainly found that carrying a quality bag, and giving some thought at the beginning of each day to what you’re carrying in it is a great way to set yourself up for a productive and successful day. Just as dressing well can change your whole attitude, carrying a nice leather briefcase makes you feel like you mean business, and that’s bound to be communicated to others who will respect you for your professionalism.

1137 Jeff Angcanan July 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm

It will be a good replacement for my torn, beaten up un manly laptop bag. Picture available upon request. Thanks for the opportunity!

1138 CAPT irving Elson July 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Since I do a tremendous amount of travel for work, to your already comprehensive list I would add:
- small packets of “Shout Wipes” for those small stains
- a shoe polisher, like the kind you find in hotel rooms
- a wi-fi signal detector
- a classy pen!!


1139 Alan Rosenhan July 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I believe the essentials of a briefcase should be:
A fountain pen
A mechanical pencil
A pad of paper
A stack of 3×5 cards
A tie
$20 in 1 $10, 1 $5, and 5 $1 bills

These are the basics that every man should have. The rest, up to the person’s lifestyle and occupation.

1140 Craig July 28, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I think the most important items in a briefcase should be:
-flashdrive with portable apps and NB documents
-Notepad and pen
-book to read and/or puzzle book
-business cards
-picture of family
-deck of playing cards

Other items might change depending on the events of the day.

1141 Derek July 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

A Tide (TM) Stain Stick….

1142 Jared Phillips July 28, 2009 at 3:18 pm

The jump-drive is an incredible idea! It can hold your resume, some of your favorite pictures (to show off your wife and kids). It will hold any projects you are currently working on as well.

I like to carry (with some repeats from your article)
-a small flashlight
-a Gerber multi-tool
-book (paperback)

I’ll be adding a usb jump-drive. I tried it on my keychain once, but it added too much bulk and eventually broke off

This bag would be AMAZING!

Thanks for the opportunity

1143 Chris July 28, 2009 at 3:26 pm

My iPod Touch is essential to my daily life with all of its various apps
Flash drive
USB cables of varying types
floss or toothpicks
Sketchbook (for sketches or notes or anything)
Multi-pen for said sketchbook
A book (although I never get around to it)
Laptop if space allows
Digital Camera and back-up battery for life’s best moments.

1144 Chris Bacus July 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm

I never enter these contests, but this one I could not resist. I carry at least one cheap bag every day to and from work. I’d much rather carry this briefcase. It looks fantastic and is obviously utilitarian all at the same time.

1145 Mark July 28, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I have alot of the stuff listed above, however my list also includes a broader category of items. I call them “things I don’t want the wife and kids to lose” i.e. my swiss army knife, sharpie, cross pen and pencil set, a wallet crammed full of credit cards, small screwdriver for my glasses, moleskine notebook, work schedule, mail that needs to be tended to, ear buds, etc. Also whatever book I am reading, flash drive, house keys and chewing gum. I don’t usually carry a laptop, but like to have the space there when I do.

1146 Jose Luis Jovel July 28, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Never be without:
* A pen
* Something to write on
* A book (even if you carry an e-book reader)
* A handkerchief.
* Mints
* Etc.
* Most important, a memento or small token from a loved one. I used to carry a small yo-yo my nephew gave me. Now it’s a Superman key chain my gal gave me.

1147 Justin July 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Currently in my bag:

Canon a590is
pocket journal
copy of Photographer’s rights
model release forms
swiss army knife
Trident Bubble Gum
Business Cards
3 x Pilot G2
Microfiber Cloth
AAA and AA Batteries
Small Tin w/ Headphones, aspirin, q-tips.
Mini Flashlight

I have all that and enough stuff to fill, say…. a Saddleback Leather Briefcase?

1148 Jon July 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I agree with most of what you guys have to say, but when did we all become chicks? This is a man’s bag. All you need is your business cards, laptop, mouthwash, cell phone, Advil, and hundred bucks. Oh, and a picture of my wife and dog, Carlos.

1149 Mike L. July 28, 2009 at 9:13 pm

After a laptop, the weight of all the other crap is negligible.

1150 Matt July 28, 2009 at 9:38 pm

My bag’s contents might be a bit different as a Firefighter…….
Sigg Bottle
Mini dopp kit
Nissan Thermos coffee mug
digital camera
Leather notebook for classes
Business cards
Electric Razor
Emerson Super SOCFK
Extra carabiner
Protein bars
USB drive
Flash cards for studying
Fenix flashlight
The bag looks indestructible. I normally run through nylon bags every 3 years. Great site!

1151 J D July 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Cheap Vinyl Freebie Bag with a shoulder strap
-Moleskine weekly planner
-Moleskine notebooks
-Index Cards
-Flash Drive
-File Folders
-Leatherman Wave
-Mini Mag LED
-Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss
-Mini First-Aid Kit

1152 Adam Smith July 28, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Great contest gentleman. Here’s my list of what I keep in my satchel today.

Red pen
Sketch book
Trash book
Non-fiction book
Beer opener
small cigar case with 2 Cubans
business cards

1153 Steven Dresen July 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I like the list but would have added a mini maglight.

1154 Steven Dresen July 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I like the list but would have added a mini mag light.

1155 Collin July 28, 2009 at 11:08 pm

I would add a flash drive with important documents on it. I would also bring a journal. A small to mid size folding pocket knife can always be handy as well! Maybe even a flashlight. A small one of course.

1156 Sacco July 28, 2009 at 11:41 pm

- A pocket Bible
- Some tracks
- Sales literature
- A laptop
- A toothbrush
- Deodorant
- Pens & Pencils
- Notebook
- Business cards

1157 Joshua Humphreys July 29, 2009 at 12:15 am

Booze… a small flask of great vodka.
A lighter, whether or not you smoke, it will come in handy.

1158 Jared July 29, 2009 at 12:16 am

Small book
Moleskine notebook

Everything else I can use my phone for (like reading the news, etc).

1159 Joshua July 29, 2009 at 12:21 am

Vodka, Bible, Computer, Calculator, Lighter, Pencil, Pen, newspaper, and a picture of a naked women.

1160 Abraham July 29, 2009 at 12:24 am

These are a lot of great suggestions and interesting lists. It’s hard to really add to what has been said so far, but here is what I always carry in mine:
-Laptop/Netbook + accoutrements
It’s small and will make me blind but it was affordable and suits my mobile internship/student needs
-Small notebook for GTD and Dayplanner
No need for fancy moleskins here; paper is still paper
-Pen, Pencil, Highlighter
-POS Umbrella
Aint a looker but keeps me dry
-Sailing gloves
The only interesting/unique thing I carry around, but I try to sail twice a week so carrying it around everyday ensures I don’t forget it.

1161 Chase July 29, 2009 at 12:54 am

Portfolio, pens/paper, laptop, phone/charger, pocket knife, sunglasses, eyeglasses, ipod for the car, notepad, and a pack of gum

1162 Chris H July 29, 2009 at 1:06 am

A lot of fantastic ideas here, and there seems to be a general consensus of what is “essential”. So my input is:

– Multitool
– Personalized notecards/stationery
– Personal journal/notebook
– collection of pens, fancy and everyday, as well as a couple of good old #2 pencils
– deck of playing cards, for both games and the occasional sleight-of-hand demo
– two current magazines, along with a well-loved paperback that you don’t mind reading in short bursts, perhaps weeks apart
– power cord with different adaptors for electronics charging
– a battery run digital frame, fully loaded with current family photos
– LED flashlight
– sturdy magnifying glass (for looking, or, if need be, fire-starting)
– a roll of duct tape, because seriously, it’s duct tape…
– an insulated travel cup. water bottles are OK, but enviro-friendly is better

1163 Kevin Y July 29, 2009 at 1:20 am


cheapo notebook
a plethora of pens
sticky notes
a good book to read

I think that’s about it. I carry 2 notebooks because I can’t stand filling up the $15 Moleskine with random scratch notes and lists I make and throw away.

BTW – I’ve been coveting those saddleback bags forever, since the first time I saw them here. I’ve considered selling a kidney to pay for it, but I figure I’ll just try and win a contest instead….

1164 Michael Halbrook July 29, 2009 at 9:31 am

This’d be a great win, but I’ll be happy for whomever is lucky enough to get it.

Here’s my list for my case:
-Calling Cards
-Small bag of quarters (parking, tolls, etc.)
-Flash Drive
-iPod & earbuds
-Mints & small bottle of mouthwash
-Small wallet of loyalty cards
-Laptop & travel accessories when needed

1165 William July 29, 2009 at 9:36 am

Gibbs Rule #9: Always bring a knife.
It doesn’t matter what kind. SAK, multi-tool, Small Buck folder, all are appropriate.

Shoestrings. The string breaks on your shoes and you limp around all day looking most unprofessional. Plus, you never know when you’ll need to set a snare.

A piece of hard candy or lollipop. Whether your blood sugar is low or your diabetic friend’s, it’s good to have. Plus, what kid doesn’t think it’s neat to get a lollipop from a gentleman?

1166 Jeremy Gross July 29, 2009 at 9:37 am

The books I’m currently reading
Digital music player and headphones
Things I need to mail
Small portable speakers

1167 David R. July 29, 2009 at 9:41 am

I forget: can one enter more than once? I’ve told all my friends–and they’re sick of hearing about it!

One more item worth considering:
A spare phone battery (or, heck, a spare phone).

1168 William Wright July 29, 2009 at 9:59 am

This is my essentials list:

- iPhone & cable
- Moleskine
- Fountain Pen
- USB Pendrive
- Earphones
- Book (at the moment: “Will – Christopher Rush”)
- Swiss Army Knife (Climber in my case)
- Maglite Solitaire
- Pocket Umbrella
- Raybans and Case

Please let me be the lucky one!

1169 Ben C. July 29, 2009 at 10:05 am

I think that in my case, I’d need: A note book, a pen, a novel, a small umbrella, a usb drive, and a voice recorder of some sort.

1170 A Strong July 29, 2009 at 10:14 am

I always carry mints or gum, handkerchief (or at least a paper towel), and of course a notebook and pen.

1171 Derek Taylor July 29, 2009 at 10:18 am

My essentials would be:
-something to write with and something to write on
-fire (lighter)
-knife of your choice
-phone charger and headphones
-cigar cutter
-extra cash
-travel guide

Thanks guys- love the site!

1172 Brent July 29, 2009 at 10:25 am

A few good books (in case you change your mind)
A notebook
Some good pens
Business cards
Pipe and tobacco
Water bottle

I don’t travel light!

1173 ChrisD July 29, 2009 at 10:25 am

I travel *a lot* and carry a Filson briefcase. Since I fly so much the contents of my briefcase need to be airport security friendly. Here’s my standard loadout:

Laptop + charger
Cellphone charger
USB stick with my laminated business card attached to the lanyard
Ethernet cable (for hotels w/ no wireless)
Business cards
iPod & headphones
Passport & Immunization record
Moleskine notebook
Spare change in multiple currencies
When flying I also pack my toothpaste and eyedrops (for overseas flights) in a small baggie and place it next to my laptop. That way I don’t forget to take it out at security.

1174 Drew Thiesen July 29, 2009 at 10:43 am

I enjoy the AoM site greatly. As much as I would love to sit here and write about all of the things that I would put INTO my Man Bag, I would rather write about the things that I would TAKE OUT of my Man Bag.

-Cell Phone: To assist the stranded traveler in a time of need.
-Cell Phone Charger
-Pen/Pencil and Paper: To give directions to the lost.
-Snack(s): To give to someone who is hungry.
-Extra cash: To give to those less fortunate, especially right now.
-Business Cards: To hand out to those who need you.
-Thumb Drive: To repair the computer of someone who is searching for employment.
-Pictures: of your loved ones to remind you of how lucky you are.
-Calling Card: just in case
-Small first Aid: to provide care to those who may not be able to.

I realize how idealistic this all sounds, but think about it. How many of us carry around pictures of family? I do. I dont live near my family, so I need them. How many of us carry cell phones to make mundane business calls, but also have it available when we witness an accident?

Reading the posts today makes me think about what I would put into my Man Bag. More importantly though, it has made me think about what I could take out of it.

1175 Jamie July 29, 2009 at 10:47 am

A book – for me preferably the story of a WWII battle, eg Monte Cassino, Stalingrad etc – inspiring, graphic and makes you appreciate 21st life; a leather notebook – tough and long-lasting; gel pens – more practical than fountain pens, write better than a biro; digital camera – when you need pictures to go with the words in the journal; pocket tools – for me a Leatherman (knife, pliers, scissors etc), and my bike tool which has hex wrenches and screwdrivers; iPhone – contacts, photo album, diary, countless useful apps, and dozens of classic books to dip into for a different read; Kendal Mint Cake – tasty, small, packed with energy – what more do you need…; USB keychain – all your important documents and media files together; AO Pilot Sunglasses – look good with a suit or with jeans and a t-shirt, and you never know when the sun will be shining; Altoids tin (mini-torch, needle and thread, headache pills, a couple of spare batteries, my old Zippo lighter); in winter, a navy watch cap and a pair of leather lined gloves I bought in London.

1176 Trevor July 29, 2009 at 10:50 am

Keys (Car, House, Motorcycle)
Motorcycle gloves, sun glasses and bandana
Moleskine notebook (hard cover black)
Moleskine ruled notebook (soft cover brown)
Space pen
Disposable bic pens
No.2 Pencil
Pencil sharpener
Flash Drive
AV and S-Video cabels for laptop
VGA and DVI monitor cable
SATA/IDE to USB drive adapter
Cat5 and Cat6 cables
Emergency cash
Spare change (for parking meters and tolls)
Churchwarden pipe in case
Blend of pipe tobacco
Pipe tamper
Pipe lighter
Book of matches
Emergency kit
First Aid kit
Small warm hat
Flash light
Multi tool knife
Spare magazine for my carry pistol
Copies of drivers license and pistol license
Hand sanatizer
Spare deodorant
Spare cologne
Pocket dictonary
Good reading book
PSP (Play Station Portable) + Charger (music, games, share pictures…)
Business cards
Card holder for keeping recieved business cards organized

1177 D.A.S. July 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

Today there is a need for some electronics in a briefcase, and these are often the heaviest things to get out of pockets as well.
~ laptop
~ paper notebook (graph paper)
~ fountain pen
~ USB key
~ book or magazine
~ agendas for today’s meetings
~ dry erase markers (you’ll be a presentation star when you can stand up and start using that board that everyone else avoids because there are no pens)

1178 D Lewis July 29, 2009 at 11:02 am

I never leave home without:

Pen & Paper
Flash Drive
Pocket Knife
Cell Phone
Business Cards

1179 Robert July 29, 2009 at 11:25 am

mechanical pencil
cell phone
chargers for laptop and cellphone

1180 Samuel K July 29, 2009 at 11:29 am

What I carry, and what I carry it in varies day to day, but I always have:
- Moleskine squared (my GTD solution)
- Lamy Safari pen (with Noodler’s Polar Black ink; a joy to write with)
- Sharpie (you never know when you will need to mark something)
- Highlighter (to mark up my books)
- Current issue of a magazine (I subscribe to National Geographic Adventure, Relevant, Neue, BusinessWeek, Leadership, and occasionally the Economist)
- Book I’m Reading
- Eyeglass case/cleaning cloth
- Altoids survival kit
- USB key (I use PortableApps)
- Surefire L4 flashlight with extra batteries
- Leatherman Squirt S4
I work as a paramedic, so my “work” bag also has an extra change of clothes, a mini version of my Dopp kit, chargers and extra batteries for my electronics, and a small sewing kit. Just in case I get held over or run into problems on shift.

1181 Brian Rappe July 29, 2009 at 11:32 am

In my bag I always have;
-Zippo lighter flash light
-Swiss army multi-tool card
-Palm pilot
-Spare house and car keys
-cell phone
-Members Directory Mn Legislature
-In brief Roberts Rules of Order

1182 Nathan L July 29, 2009 at 11:41 am

I think most everyone has added the few things that I would add to the post as “must-haves” for one’s briefcase. The ones that I would need are some good spare pens and pencils, my laptop, and I would probably find a way to include a thermos of coffee (good quality a must, so as not to spill on my work and laptop!)

1183 Steven Carr July 29, 2009 at 11:53 am

Essential man bag items:

not a pocket knife, that goes either on the belt or the pocket.

In the bag:

Water bottle
Books that you are reading to expand your mind
Pencils (mechanical) for writing in notebook and underlining in books
Granola bars are for sissies. Put a log of summer sausage that you can cut up with your knife.
Shaving kit
Emergency sewing kit (Men DO know how to sew)
First aid kit
Playing cards
Various papers, products of your fruitful mind
Well-earned Resume

1184 Frank Pettinato July 29, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Essential Items needed in a man’s briefcase:
1. Folding Knife (remove before flying)
2. Laptop
3. Ethernet Cable
4. Snack(granola bar, almonds)
5. Sunglasses and case
6. Eyeglasses and case
7. Personal Digital Assistant
8. Badge or ID
9. Check book
10. Important home /work papers
11. A good paperback – Currently I am reading “In a Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day”
12. Laptop Power
13. USB / Flash Drive
14. Pens/ Pencils
15. A pad of paper or notebook
16. Cell phone
17. Cell phone charger
18. Bluetooth devices and case
19. Keys
20. Wallet
21. Meds (aspirins, ant-acid etc..)
22. Air Card or Wireless Card
23. Small Headphones
24. Chargers for Ipod
25. Nail clippers
26. Small Flashlight
27. Leather bound Journal
28. Small first aid kit
29. Travel bottle of cologne
30. Breath Freshener

1185 Jared July 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm

The essentials of a Man’s Briefcase.

Cell Phone
Wallet (maybe. Back pocket is usually better)
Laptop with charger
Water Bottle/Beverage (the briefcase must have a place for this which separates it from the electronics)
Pen (specifically the Zebra F-301 Steel pen)
Business Cards/Calling Cards
Small pocket knife
A paperback for travel. I’m always reading something for school, something for fun, and something for intellectual stimulation all at once, so the briefcase would probably hold the fun book.
Moleskine journal
Moleskine notebook (so you never have to remember everything)
USB Flash Drive of at least the 2gb variety and preferably solid and not plastic
Money, change and bills
Emergency Contact info
Mints, especially with my sinus breath

1186 Juan M. July 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I only need my wallet, cellphone, Ipod, pocket knife, lighter, pen, some gum, hand sanitizer, a folded paper towel , my keys and my HP 49G graphic calculator.

1187 Chris B. July 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

As an ER male nurse, I find my own saddlebag a necessary part of my daily uniform. My scrub uniform only holds essential medical equipment , so my bag holds everything else. It’s stocked with my reading book for long nightshifts, pen, pencil (antiquated but useful still), highlighters, wallet, comb, Leatherman multipurpose tool, emergency meds (ie; Motrin, cough drops, mints) USB cable, check book, my favorite music CD, note paper, tissues, a backup energy bar, gym membership card, handkerchief, hand sanitizer and tiny flashlight. Trauma sheers always find a place as well. A small personal dopp kit helps in a pinch if I’m needed to stay over.
Beautiful bag. I can’t wait to fill it, scuff it, and make it my own.

1188 Gregg July 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Every briefcase should have the following:

A book
A flashlight
A Pad and Pen
A multi-tool
A netbook
A snack

anything else is bonus.

1189 Cooper Melgreen July 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm

a pocket knife
a notebook
a pencil and a pen
laptop, if you need it

1190 Jeff July 29, 2009 at 1:47 pm

It’s hard to think of anything to *add* to the list, but perhaps a comment is worthwhile regarding: notebook/pen – flash drive – laptop

I’ve listed these in order of necessity. I’ve found that having a notebook (yes, I prefer the Moleskin notebooks and fountain pens…) and pen for jotting stuff down is the primary need. Having a computer does not obviate the need for a flash drive.

My other suggestion would be to make a complete list of what you might carry and keep it handy. Have separate sections for circumstances like Air Travel, etc. and then you can quickly ascertain whether your bag is ready to go.

1191 Jeff July 29, 2009 at 1:50 pm

In my prior post I suggested a master list, with sections for things like Air Travel. You can also put exclusionary items on that list, too. For example, I don’t think TSA will let you through with a multi-tool in your bag. So under air travel, list that as an excluded item so you remember to take it out.

1192 David Hust July 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

The Essentials for a Man’s Briefcase:

-a handkerchief
-at least an 8gb USB Hard Drive with crucial files & resources on it, such as your resume.
-a Macbook Laptop. (It’s functionality is far superior to any Windows based PC and thus allows a man to pursue any avenue in life he wishes.)
-a Sharpie permanent marker
-2 pencils (1 mechanical. 1 old fashioned.)
-4 Pens (1 blue, 1 red and 2 black)
-Universal Charger. One that can charge a Phone, PDA & Laptop computer. (No Man today can truly be able to shape the world through his manliness unless he is able to fully stay connected to it.)
-Business cards
-NewWhey 42g Protein vial; for the weight lifting man on the go.
-a “5 hour energy.”
-Hygiene kit. (comb, tooth bruth, tooth paste and floss)
-Oxy-Clean & Tide-To-Go pen
-a small pocket knife; preferably a Gerber mini-tool.
-a small flashlight
-a small travel roll of duct tape

& Last but definitely NOT least….
-an iPod Touch.
The reason is that nowadays, provided one doesn’t already have an iPhone, the iPod Touch is the ultimate organization tool for a Man.
It is not just a means to listen to music & watch videos. More importantly, it could be considered the ultimate Man-tool.
With it, a Man can:
-Organize his life and schedule.
-Organize his contacts
-Write out emails when he is sitting somewhere waiting, thus optimizing his time.
-Take notes.
-Record meetings via the voice recorder.
-Check the weather.
-Organize his budget (via apps like iXpenseIt & PocketMoney)
-Keep up with news & interesting articles by following people on Twitter such as the Art of Manliness & the Drudge Report
-Read books via the Kindle App.
-Read previously saved news articles, PDFs and Word documents with apps like ReaddleDocs.
-Keep a food diary & workout routine with apps like iFitness & AbsoluteFitness
-Tell his DVR to record a television broadcast, such as a Press conference that is currently going on. That way the man can watch it later and be a well informed part of society.
-Have his daily prayers on apps like iMissal, iRosary & iPieta.

Lastly, and this is probably the most important reason why the iPod Touch is THE man tool needed in any man’s briefcase
-to possess contact information about all his Congressmen, Senators & the President with apps like “CongressPro” & “President in my pocket”. That way the Man, as a responsible constituent & citizen, can contact his Representative and be an active part of his country & its betterment.

1193 Richard W July 29, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I think every possible accessory and necessity has been covered. My suggestion (in agreement with many before me) is to always carry an extra shirt and socks, a few books of matches for those moments during your after work cocktail, a hidden credit card and extra cash, business cards, extra phone battery (or charger), and photos of your loved ones.

1194 Adam July 29, 2009 at 3:01 pm

I carry my glucose meter among many of the other things mentioned in my Cole Haan bag.

1195 Rick Derks July 29, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I agree with most of the essentials above. I think some essentials I would have are:

1. A book or three(great idea I’m always reading)
2. Mints
3. Hard copies of your resume in resume folders
4. Contact case and lens solution
5. Moleskine
6. Copy of The Havamal
7. Deodorant (never know when you might need some).

1196 Gunn July 29, 2009 at 4:21 pm

1. laptop
2. notebook (for meetings where oepning thelaptop would be a distraction)
3. Shout wipes (nothing is more annoying than a small stain from lunch right before an afternoon meeting. Even if they don’t see it, you know its there)
4. target pistol (if I’m going to the range after work)

1197 Eduardo July 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Here are the things I keep in my current (worn out and depleted) bag I use for grad school:

-my Case pocketknife given to me by my father on my 18th birthday

-Leatherbound Franklin Covey Day Planner I received as a gift

-2-3 pencils, one blue pen, one black pen

-small notepad of some sort

-advil (believe me, this gets refilled weekly)

-2 packages of instant oatmeal (non perishable and you can always find some hot water)

-my creditcard ( I keep it hidden in the bag in the event I lose my wallet or get jumped—this could be a problem though if I win the saddleback because I’m sure the bag would get stolen as well!)

-ipod shuffle

- a pocket sized copy of the U.S. Constitution

- a pocket sized copy of the King James Bible

-and unfortunately more law school books than I care to carry (or read)—


1198 Brew July 29, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Carry your case equipped for any jungle, corporate or traditional.

- keys
- multitool (Leatherman Wave)
- food (peanuts, jerky)
- mini flashlight
- water bottle
- notepad (Moleskine) and three writing utensils: Sharpie, pen, pencil
- duct tape mini roll
- all-weather matches and butane lighter (one may fail)
- small roll of nylon string or thin-gauge steel wire
- cell phone
- emergency money
- address book (PDA may cover it)
- business card case
- pocket Bible
- newspaper, magazine, or a “spare time” book

…and if you carry them only when legal:
- extra, larger knife with glass-breaking feature
- backup handgun (see the Bond Arms derringers)

1199 Natros July 29, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I would include the following items in my bag:

Mechanical Pencil
Pens (black, blue, and red)
Chewing gum and/or breath mints
Mixed nuts and/or raisins for a quick snack
Business Cards (if employed)
MP3 player
Book–whatever I’m reading at the time
Notebook or pad of paper for notetaking
Laptop computer
Audio/Video cables–I like to carry an assortment so I can quickly connect my laptop or MP3 player into a projector, stereo, or TV wherever I am.
Flash Drive (with resume–great idea!)
ibuprofin tablets
$5-10 cash, tucked away for emergencies

1200 Ray July 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

A Hobo made by WR Case & Sons
A collapsible drinking cup
A handful of heavy duty paper clips

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