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The Backpack vs Briefcase Debate

12/08/2021 | Moiz Hasan

Perhaps the two most widely used designs of work-bags in the contemporary era, the backpack vs briefcase debate has its own merits. You would not want to waste money on something that becomes painful to use or doesn't quite match your position and image at the work place. After all, your professional persona is of precious significance to your career prospects and the way people deal with you. Similarly, you don’t want to have things that are classy in look but highly uncomfortable or not serving the function they were intended to serve.

In any case, a choice is to be made, which is just as important as your choice of other things you wear to the work place. What we don’t intend to do here is to discuss the very obvious of the two bags i.e. the shape, basic function etc. instead we will venture into the settings where they can be used, what wardrobe to wear with them, how they can add to your gravitas at work and how much versatility you can eke out of them functionally.

backpacks vs briefcases

The Formal vs Informal and The Widening Semi Casual

As you must have heard before, briefcase originated with lawyers carrying them to handle briefs at the court room and afterwards. Briefcases are serious and fall in the `classic` formal. As they`re often manufactured with leather, you may often find them in sober black and brown color.

Formal briefcases suit the senior professional and adults. Someone who has been through the highs and lows of professional life. A briefcase`s younger cousin, Satchel or a messenger bag on the other hand is rather more compact and suits the younger professionals much more who might look too formal with a no nonsense briefcase, given the young age and appearance.

At the other end of the spectrum is the casual backpack which has greatly increased its acceptance in almost all walks of life, not just work only. Starting out as a weight carrier for students and hikers, we now find many different backpack designs that look quite sound professionally. Much of this acceptability has to do with the fact that backpacks can now hold laptops with separate laptop compartments which has made this bag a staple for the booming tech & IT sector along with a range of other different creative work segments. At the same time, backpackers feel comfortable carrying this work-bag to other commitments in their life apart from work as well.

However, if you belong to a highly solemn work environment and dress up accordingly, a backpack might be an odd fit with its casual, semi casual leanings.

What lies in between these two ends, is the Satchel & Messenger Bags that can be a solution to the conundrum between going too formal or too casual. A similar bag to the briefcase, a messenger bag or satchel is rather more contemporary and less burgeoning as compared to a briefcase. For young busy professionals who are working in house and outdoors all at one time, this crossbody or shoulder carrying bag can be a great match.

The Different Attires & Work Environments With Backpacks & Briefcases

Bankers, lawyers, executives at financial institutions, customer service managers and businessmen with regular high profile customer interaction normally comprise the audience Leather Briefcases looking to maintain a solid and impactful appearance. Black is powerful and leaves a strong impression. When looking to exude authority and control in a board room environment or investor presentation, an audience black leather briefcase with measured design & smooth finish with a be spoke black suit, Rolex and matching shoes can speak volumes on your behalf.

Similarly, leather briefcases or leather satchels in different variations of brown with vintage or clean finish are an all season match with different formal and semi formal attire. Imagine wearing a grey jacket on top of a white shirt with khaki brown pants and brown shoes all the while your Vintage brown leather messenger bag hanging by the shoulder. Hope you get the vibes…!!!

At a contrasting end though, we see professionals from advertising, brands & marketing, tech, logistics, consumer sales and different other contemporary sectors use backpack as their favored pick for work as it gives them the freedom to function in casual, semi casual attire and share work space which is more relaxed and use the same rucksack for activities after work and on the weekends as well.

Your favorite jeans and T Shirt (My preferred combo is light blue with white), smart watch and a pair of stylish leather boots with your trendy yet professional Leather Backpack on your back should give you positive vibes for a busy day`s work. Just the kind of combo that gives you the freedom to do a million things after you get off from work as well with the same workbag by your side. Modern designs with multiple organizing options allow for packing just about everything that comes to mind so you can realistically live your professional and leisure life in perfect harmony with just one backpack holding all your professional, personal stuff together at one place.

Now let`s get a hang of this everyday smart make over. A management professional or production manager in his mid 30`s wearing a smart dress shirt under his preferred blue sweater with a pair of black jeans and shoes heading off to work with a vibrant black leather backpack on his back that`s enough to pack a day`s worth of work stuff with additional options to put sweat shirt, socks, water bottles etc. allowing him to take a healthy long walk back or exercise is just what makes backpacks favorites among a large section of professionals. Wear your favorite deodorant again before a casual stop over with friends where you check on the late evening emails just to avoid second thoughts.

Being a fair observation, a large chunk of modern professionals with busy schedules are quite often juggling different activities and responsibilities at one time which makes backpacks even more feasible to have.

Consider your age, think of the people who work with you and the unwritten norms of your work environment. The feel of the cafeteria where you hook up with colleagues to sip coffee during work breaks and imagine which workbag best compliments your image and professional persona .

Choose The Best Mix

Although, carrying a leather briefcase or attache case in your hand has a distinct powerful charm, we now see a range of different briefcases that can be hanged by the shoulder strap. Adding to it is the compact sized crossbody satchel and messenger bags that are designed to wear crossbody or for hanging by the shoulder but this can become burdensome on the shoulder if you tend to walk or travel longer distances to work. Backpacks are perfect in this scenario as they divide the weight evenly between both the shoulders and can handle heavier weights with efficiency.

Does this leave briefcases at a disadvantage? Talking literally, we will have to accept this drawback but then it`s like expecting your vintage Volkswagen to do the work of a Hatchback. Think before making your purchase for a professional work bag and don’t just buy following passing fads or thinking hey it`s just a bag. Think long term when buying work bags rather than short term.

The durability aspect can be addressed by choosing leather for both kinds of bags as it’s the most durable and high end material. However, even if functionally behind, in terms of handling, a leather briefcase is still a professionally superior option to have once you start graduating to next levels of the corporate ladder and much convenient in terms of space and packing options if you travel for professional purposes frequently. Your leather briefcase can be the single most powerful tool you have that communicates to anyone you’re the real deal. If researched well, before purchase, you can get the required options with your briefcase.

On the other hand a backpack can be multi purpose and multi functional yet professionally sound in appearance, a good mix for professionals who are juggling anything, everything as is quite often the case nowadays with many people.

On a Concluding Note

The only constant in modern work environments is extreme competition. Surely, you can avoid being the butt of all jokes by avoiding work bags that just don’t qualify to be professionally acceptable. Take a deep breath before finalizing your next professional bag. Put your money to good use by choosing leather work bags at our home page.