The word briefcase is made from two other words — brief and case — with brief (originally from the Latin, brevis) referring to a legal document that lawyers use to help make a case in court. If a lawyer is carrying a short merit brief he might do just fine with a simple portfolio; if, on the other hand, he has a stack of amicus briefs he might need something bigger, like an attaché case. Lawyers still use fax machines, mind you, so let’s bet on the latter.
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The point here is not to discuss the contents of lawyers briefcase, though that’s not a bad way to pass an afternoon if your options are between that and reading the Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States, Rule 24, Briefs on the Merits, which gets dense right around section 1 (d) — citations of official and unofficial reports — but then gets fun and interesting in section 6, which encourages logic and strictly prohibits scandalous matter. The point is that the bags we carry tend have very specific purposes, or at least they once did, and that original purpose and history is built into their names. Think of messenger bags, suitcases, backpacks, laptop bags and, what the hell, money bags. Each endowed with a purpose.
For day to day use, most of us need a bag with a general purpose; if we use one with built to achieve a narrow function, we run into some problems. Let’s take our lawyer, who will no doubt get hungry after a morning in court; if all he’s got is a slim portfolio stuffed with briefs, you can bet there’s no room for a lousy pear, let alone a good sandwich with some meat in it. Whatever industry we work in, the ideal bag has room for the basics — computer or tablet, phone, wallet, glasses — plus room for the occasional sandwich, book, portable bluetooth speaker, bottle of beer, and so on. For those of us who live in cities or take public transit instead of cars, we might also need toiletries to clean up for dinner or in the morning if we spend the night at away from home.
Without a good day’s worth of gear it’s almost too light for its 16″ x 12″ x 3.25″ dimensions; with a point-and-shoot camera, a change of clothes and an iPad, it has just the right amount of heft.
You might say, well, a backpack solves that problem, or, just carry a second bag and a third for lunch. We appreciate a good day pack as much as the next guy, but nobody can pull off the suit with a backpack look, no matter how much leather and wool is involved — plus suits are cut for looking dapper, not throwing things over your shoulder. And as far as multiple bags are concerned, there’s a direct correlation between stress and the number of bags a person carries, and an inverse correlation between a person’s sanity and the number of bags he carries. Go ahead and graph it.
And so we get to the humbly named TravelTeq Trash ($850), a very contemporary bag from the Amsterdam-based design company TravelTeq. The Trash meets an extremely wide range of needs and wants, and also includes features that you may not need or want — but you can’t argue that they’re pretty cool. Needs and wants include: a total of 14 pockets and compartments; one that’s shock-resistant and houses a 15-inch laptop; at least one for phone; one for sunglasses; lots of spaces for business cards, credit cards, ID(s); and an outside pocket for a plane ticket. There are also leather loops for a shoulder strap and an outside leather strap for attaching the bag to rolling luggage. You don’t need its built-in cigar case, but you want it. The compass is just unnecessary.
This bag begs, like a trashcan, to be stuffed. Without a good day’s worth of gear it’s almost too light for its 16″ x 12″ x 3.25″ dimensions; with a point-and-shoot camera, a change of clothes and an iPad, it has just the right amount of heft. It’s a bag with a sense of humor (it’s called a trash bag, come on), and at the same time it’s made of zero-joking-around, vegetable-tanned Italian Vachetta leather, the color of espresso gelato, made in Italy. It is both briefcase and luggage, messenger bag and attaché case, folio and tote.
It is, as Rule 24 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States, Briefs on the Merits, requires: “concise, logically arranged…free of irrelevant, immaterial, or scandalous matter.” The perfect bag.