Briefcase or Backpack – Which Is Better?

man backpack

When to use a briefcase or a backpack

Deciding between a briefcase and a backpack is a difficult decision. Most men will just take the easy route and pick up both. For some guys, their backpack or rucksack does it all. It’s what they take to work, to the gym, and everywhere in between.

A briefcase makes a statement though, a different kind of statement. Carrying a briefcase evinces a certain level of maturity. You carry a briefcase for a specific purpose and their style reflects your professional outlook on life.

Can you replace your briefcase with a backpack? Some people feel that a briefcase is antiquated, and they carry backpacks to work instead. In some cases, a backpack easily replaces a briefcase, but rarely does it work the other way around.

Getting the Job Done

A briefcase and a backpack serve the same purpose – to carry stuff. The main issue with the briefcase is that you always have to hold it while it holds your stuff. You carry the backpack on your shoulders and have free usage of your hands.

The backpack gets the job done and you can perform other tasks, too. So, you can hold a coffee and open a door at the same time. The briefcase needs to be set down to use both your hands and you run the risk of banging your laptop on the concrete if you’re out and about on the streets.

Here are some backpack ideas from Amazon to consider.

Usage of Space

When it comes to usage of interior space, both carrying cases perform well. So, you need to pay close attention to the layout of interior space and the overall design. Some briefcases have a single space for carrying your belongings, but in our modern world of tablets and smartphones, that design doesn’t serve well. So, most modern briefcases have several pockets and slots for different types of items.

Now, the backpack has always had more pockets and slots. Backpacks tend to have more volume, too. The interior space is more cavernous than a briefcase because backpacks were designed to carry a variety of items. You can put a sweater, a laptop, and all sorts of miscellaneous items without having to conform to the slim interior space of a briefcase.

One point – backpack

Easy Access

When you finally get to where you’re going, you’ll need to pull out your stuff. So, determining how easy you can access your belongings is an important metric for determining which carrying case is better.

Now, a briefcase can have a zipper, magnetic clasps, buckles, or any variation of these types of fasteners. When you’re shopping for a briefcase, this is one of the key things to look for. The fasteners need to be well-crafted and easy to use.

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With a good briefcase, you set it down on a table, open a simple fastener, and pull out exactly what you need. Because of the briefcase’s design, all the items inside are arranged in the same orientation. There’s little room for jumbling.

That’s not the case with a backpack. Most backpacks have zippers. There’s less variety when it comes to the fasteners of a backpack. Then, there’s the orientation of your objects. Everything is just piled in there together and you often have to dig for what you want. So, a backpack doesn’t have easy access when compared to a briefcase.

One point – briefcase


The briefcase might lose the battle when it comes to practicality, but it trumps all other carrying cases in terms of formality. Briefcases are classic and professional (period). A briefcase says that you’ve grown up without having to actually say a word. Therefore, a well-crafted briefcase is the perfect accompaniment for a well-tailored suit.

Backpacks have become more executive in recent years. You can find a backpack that looks just as professional as a briefcase in terms of materials and design. Some people think a backpack instantly conjures up images of school children and going off to college, but with the modern backpack that’s not necessarily the case.

If you show up to the office on a street bike, then you might be partial to a rough and tumble rucksack. However, if you’re wearing a suit and tie for the whole day, then you’re probably going to want a handbag or briefcase that reflects your style and attitude.

Which is Better for Your Back?

When you carry a backpack or a briefcase, the load can shift your posture and potentially hurt your back. It all comes down to how your bag handles its weight. When you put on a backpack, the weight is distributed evenly. However, a briefcase is often carried singlehandedly.

Sometimes, there’s an over-the-shoulder strap and that shoulder strap can really dig into your flesh if you’re carrying a heavy briefcase and walking around. The weight is centered off to your side and shifts slightly with every step.

There was a study back in 2008 from the University of Illinois at Chicago that took a close look at how briefcases and backpacks shift a person’s center of gravity. In the study, researchers found that if you’re carrying 20% of your bodyweight in a briefcase, that load affected your posture and center of gravity the most.

Backpacks have adjustable straps, too. You can raise or lower the weight across both shoulders to fit your comfort. You can also pull down on the straps with your hands to take some additional weight off your back. So, backpacks are better for your posture and back.

The results – 3 points for backpacks and 2 points for briefcases

This wasn’t a definitive study, just a casual debate about which carrying case is better. You can still find some amazing briefcases and you can easily crap out on a cheap backpack. In the end, it all comes down to your own preference. However, you can use this as a guide.

For help in finding the best briefcase, check out this video.

If you’re looking for an upscale backpack, then pay close attention to the material. Try to avoid obvious logos and unnecessary fasteners. This will make you look immature in a professional setting. A backpack wins out when you consider its practicality, so pay close attention to its interior volume and dividers.

We hope you enjoyed this comparison. Be sure to share it with your bros.

About Freddy Blackmon 107 Articles
Freddy Blackmon is a freelance writer and journalist who has a passion for cars, technology, and fitness. Look for articles on these topics and more. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.