The Killspencer Briefcase 2.0 is a classic briefcase fused with a tactical military aesthetic. The heavy front flap is a dual layer of gorgeous full-grain leather, secured by a set of twin 1-inch Cobra buckles. Every single material choice on the Briefcase 2.0 feels considered, from the interior nylon lining, to the mil-spec webbing that composes the strap.
It’s a bit ironic, but although it took me a few years to build a budget to purchase the Briefcase 2.0, I ended up buying it at the wrong point in my life. The gear that I want to carry with me in 2017 just isn’t a great fit for this bag.
But that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy with it.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
The Briefcase 2.0 doesn’t have a very unique shape or particularly ingenious set of built-in features. I can let this slide, however. Instead, the briefcase nails the execution of its form factor. I’m hard-pressed to describe the high level of craftsmanship of this bag.
Killspencer gear has the same level of craftsmanship as my Hard Graft 2Unfold, and exceeds the quality of my Isar Coated Canvas (which is probably factory-made). Killspencer brags that all of their bags are made in their own workshop in LA by a small team of experts. I believe them.
You see and feel the quality when you run your hands over the nylon lining, or when you tuck an iPad Air snugly into one of the large front pockets. This bag was made by people who were paying very close attention to what they were doing.
The bullhide handle is very comfortable in the hand, and doesn’t cut into your fingers as thinner nylon handles are wont to do. Even the zippered compartment, which is embedded in the front flap, is exquisite. The silver riri zipper actions smoothly, without any snag, and reveals plenty of space for an iPhone 7 Plus, earbuds, and even a thin wallet.
But in all honesty, this really is a briefcase, and it’s meant for a collection of relatively flat objects: laptops, notebooks, tablets, and chargers. Thicker objects, like the X-Pro 2, don’t play nicely with this bag’s dimensions. I could physically fit the camera in with the iPad Pro tucked away in the laptop slot, but the bag bulges as a result.
There’s one feature I really miss on this bag: expandability. Some sort of central zippered seam to increase the inner volume (like in Tumi’s expandable briefcase) could have made this a more flexible design that stays true to the briefcase profile, but would also allow it to carry larger, rounder objects without breaking the silhouette. However, there’s no false advertising or bad design at play here: this isn’t something the Briefcase 2.0 is meant for, but rather something I hoped it could do before buying it. Unfortunately there were no reviews online to inform me otherwise, so I’m hoping this article can help others considering this purchase.
If you play by the rules the Briefcase 2.0 was designed around — everyday office carry — then this bag brings organization in spades. You can fit a 13-inch or 15-inch MacBook Pro in the main laptop compartment, which is sealed by an elasticized strap and velcro. Just in front of the laptop compartment are two smooth nylon-lined pockets, big enough for a Moleskine or multitool. The main compartment is great for headphones, a hat, and a pair of gloves. A compact umbrella also fits in a pinch.
The front of the bag has two huge pockets, big enough to fit 9.7-inch iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard. If you pack a lunch, you can fit a flat tupperware or lunchbox bag. If you want to keep a lot in the Briefcase, it’s best to load up the front pockets with large objects so the bag keeps its clean profile. There is webbing along the front of the bag for Killspencer’s attachments.
I’ve never seen any pictures of these accessories attached, and I don’t think tethering a pouch to the front of this bag is a very good idea. The Briefcase 2.0 is at its best when its clean, crisp profile is preserved, so I really just used the webbing for holding my Leatherman or a few pens.
The thing to know about this bag is that all of that luxurious leather comes at a cost. Not just the purchase price of $575 USD, but in weight. The bag weighs four pounds when empty because of all of the leather and the all-metal Cobra buckles.
There’s no denying this is heavy, so I’m surprised by how well it is supported by the 1-inch shoulder strap. Most messenger bags use a thinner 2-inch wide nylon strap, but spread the weight across more surface area.
I don’t know what it is about this mil-spec webbing that Killspencer used, but somehow the strap and included shoulder pad are comfortable to wear — even with the bag loaded down with a laptop and tablet combo. It’s nothing you’d want to bring on a hiking trip, but I’ve gone walking for a few hours with this load on my shoulder, and I found the buoyancy of the strap worked very well to keep the load manageable. If you’d rather hand carry the bag by its awesome bullhide handle, you can easily unclip the straps from the side at any time.
There are a lot of great hardware choices for closing a bag, but Cobra buckles have to be amongst my favorite. These little 1-inch buckles are guaranteed to be the last thing that will ever break on the bag. They are, without a doubt, far too hardcore for a briefcase, and they’re heavy enough that they clank when you unbuckle them on a desk (pro tip: don’t open your Briefcase 2.0 over glass). Writing about it now, it seems silly to include the buckles at all, until you see how much they add to the overall aesthetic.
The Cobra quick-release system really lives up to its name. It’s a cinch to reach down and snap the buckles off, and it’s positively delightful to line them up and snap the two pieces into place. The female portion of the buckle is fastened into place by leather, but the male portion can be tightened with a quick pull on the nylon tail.
Whose Briefcase is this?
As I said in the introduction, this is a bag I had wanted for years, but by the time I got my hands on it, my interest in photography had grown enough that I was taking an A6000 or X-Pro 2 with me everywhere. These mirrorless cameras are not as big as DSLRs, but they are thick enough to make it difficult for me to use this bag.
Although it doesn’t fit my setup, the Briefcase 2.0 is still a great fit for a standard everyday carry involving laptops, tablets, and documents. The incredible full-grain leather is a real head-turner when you walk into a room, and will look at home with a jacket and jeans or your very best suit. The form factor is conservative, but the Cobra buckles give it a rebellious splash along the front that I really love.
The caveat is that the price has gone up a bit since I purchased this bag back in 2015. Killspencer is now asking $575 for the Briefcase 2.0, which is definitely a pretty penny. However, I’d say this kind of bag is a purchase that’s more about matching or enhancing an outfit, instead of a pure focus on carry. You’ll want to grab something from Peak Design for a highly engineered and efficient carry, but when you want class and premium leather to complement your look, Killspencer’s Briefcase 2.0 is one of the very best out there.