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Suggestions for a smaller briefcase with the durability and organization of a Tumi... but does not l


Apr 15, 2012
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First post, so if this has been discussed before, I apologize... I'm looking for a casual briefcase with the durability and functionality of a Tumi that perhaps looks a bit more fashionable... You know, not so much the plain black ballistic nylon featureless lump.

I've been looking for awhile both online and in Los Angeles, and so far the fast and loose rule seems to be that if you go with Tumi (or Briggs & Riley for that matter) you get great rugged construction and superb organization, while if you go with some of the more fashion-oriented brands, you're often looking at excellent construction as well, but the organization aspect goes out the window... Generally a phone pocket, a couple of pen slots, a few other random pockets and you're done. No dedicated compartment or insert for a laptop power cable, compartments are generally enough for about half my junk, while the rest is either tucked where it's not really supposed to go (which causes unsightly bulging and strain on the stitching), or just floating on the bottom of the bag.

Let me point a few things that are deal-breakers for me. I don't like bags that secure with buckles. Saddleback is out. I think it looks nice and all that, but I prefer the ease and immediate access of a zipper. I'll also do a flap with release or turn-pins. I want a handle/s on the top, as well as a shoulder strap. The bag will generally be carried on a shoulder strap, but handles are convenient. I want a dedicated compartment for everything- this is something the Tumis and B&R's do very well. Whatever I get has to be insanely durable. Bulletproof. I travel a lot, and I am not easy on my bags.

I'd like it to be TSA-compliant for the laptop, but if the bag checks all the other marks, I can do without this feature.

My kit includes: Macbook Air 11" with Apple power brick cable, iPhone, iPod Nano, Klipsch headphones in small case, small spiral-bound notepad, Barnes & Noble Nook in a book-type case, sunglasses, two pens, business cards, keys, and a passport. Additionally, I'd like room for standard 8.5x11" papers in a sleeve. Exterior passport and ticket sleeve/pocket is perfection.

The brands I've looked at thus far include Filson (the passage slim laptop brief), Jack George (university), Jack Spade (multiple models) Bloomingdales, John Varvatos, etc. etc. Thing is, I know there are a ton out there, I'm just ignorant.

I actually bought a Tumi Alpha T-Pass small screen expandable laptop brief on Friday, and while I love the quality and the fact that it fits everything in it's own place perfectly, I still haven't taken the tags off it, in the hope something more girlfriend-pleasing will present itself. I personally don't mind the Tumi look... I'm sure it's played to death in most of the United States, but in LA, where the average Starbucks interior is a like a hipster bag showroom- (fashionable messengers proudly displayed on every tabletop, owners posing behind iPad keyboard cases) the Tumi is actually unique in its plain functionality. That said, the girl hates it and my friends think it's boring:


As far as my tastes go for a more fashionable bag, I like simple, elegant functionality. The Jack Spade drill nylon folded brief is awesome, just doesn't have the organization I need.

Anyway, you guys seemed the folks to ask... Ideas?
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