So a bag review. This is a first for me, and up front I want to make it clear that I am in no way whatsoever a "bag geek," meaning that I am not an expert in - i.e., "know next to nothing about" - bag design, materials, manufacture, and everything else that people might obsess over. Here I am going to review a briefcase that was sent to me purely from a general "looks and usability" perspective, both of which are subjective and necessarily colored by my own daily needs in a briefcase. With that out of the way, let's dive in.
A couple of months ago, Hassan of Toffee Cases in Sydney, Australia reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their "Lincoln" slimline briefcase. Toffee has been around since 2004, and while I've heard the brand mentioned in various Apple/Mac publications, I've not seen their goods in the U.S. Per their website, Toffee designs its products with an eye to both style and functionality, and "functional and stylish" is a great way to describe this bag. "Deceivingly spacious" is another good one, and is probably the main reason that I like this briefcase so much. I can easily carry my 15-inch Macbook Pro, a 10.5 inch iPad Pro, a pad of paper or notebook, a planner, and some pens without losing the slim profile.
The Lincoln would be a good option if you're intrigued by other minimal briefcases such as the Nock Co. Lanier, but need a dressier look, slightly more space, and/or a shoulder strap. While the Lanier is great for short jaunts to the coffee shop when all I need is my iPad and a notebook, those occasions are rare for me. I also find it hard to go without a shoulder strap, and I absolutely love that the Lincoln's strap is made from a canvas/fabric material with a comfortable pad. What, not leather? Nope, and I think it's amazing. I hate leather shoulder straps, and in my personal universe, there is nothing worse than running through an airport with one or more heavy briefcases/suitcases and a leather strap digging into your shoulder. Personally, I think the black canvas strap matches the bag nicely.
If I had any quibbles with the Lincoln, they would involve the interior. While the cotton blend pinstripe lining is extremely soft, and looks nice, I do have some minor concerns about durability over the long haul, especially if you tend to manhandle bags like I do. The stitching on the cotton lining, specifically the "quilted" area, has developed a few loose threads and "pulls" from where I've carried things such as three-ring binders and spiral notebooks, which can snag. That said, I am something of an outlier in terms of how hard I can be on briefcases because I travel a fair bit and sometimes have to overstuff them. Moving to the iPad Pro (and, briefly, a Microsoft Surface) reduced the number of binders and clipped-together papers that I have to lug around, but this is an unavoidable problem in my line of work. For the majority of people, I suspect the interior will hold up just fine. I also would have liked to see a couple pen slots, but fortunately the zippered interior pocket is deep enough to hold a Nock Co. Sinclair or Lookout pen case, which is what I typically use anyway since I move between bags frequently.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
Slimline or "minimal" backpacks and briefcases generally don't work for me, but the Toffee Lincoln holds just enough gear to let me do my job without looking like I'm carting around the nuclear football. It's an attractive, versatile leather bag that I've used daily, and I regularly receive compliments on it at work. For reference purposes, I've included pictures comparing the size of the bag to two others that I use regularly, a Filson standard briefcase (left) and the Nock Co. Lanier (right).
You can purchase the Toffee Lincoln directly from Toffee's website, with free shipping on orders over $75. The Lincoln comes in both black and tan leather, with the price running $280 USD for the 13-inch size, and around $290 for the 15-inch pictured here. (Pricing may vary depending on the exchange rate.) While I haven't done a full market survey, the pricing seems competitive compared to what I've paid for nice leather briefcases in the past, and sits just below the price-point of an entry-level Filson. If leather isn't your thing, or you're looking for a bag at a lower price point, Toffee Cases has a full line of backpacks and messenger bags, including canvas options.
Note: When I checked the Toffee website, I noticed that they are currently running a 48-hour Flash Sale offering 20% off the entire range, using the coupon code FLASH20 at checkout. That would knock nearly $50 USD off the standard price of this bag.
Disclaimer: As noted, Toffee Cases sent me this bag free of charge for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated for this review. Pricing and availability is current as of the time of the initial publication.