March 5, 2024

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Review: Pad & Quill’s $495 Gladstone Leather Briefcase is an Ultra Luxe MacBook Bag That Could Use a Bit More Document Organization

Pad & Quill is a company known for its leather accessories, crafted mainly with Apple devices in mind. The company offers iPhone cases, iPad sleeves, Apple Watch bands, and even paper journals and full leather bags and briefcases.

For the past week, I’ve had a chance to check out Pad & Quill’s Gladstone Leather Briefcase, which is priced at $495.00 on the company’s website (although you can get it for 15 percent off with the coupon code PQ15). The accessory is made of full-grain, American-sourced leather with a Herringbone fabric lining and a classic ultra-wide briefcase-style hinged opening.

In terms of space for accessories, you’ll find a pocket that can hold up to a 15-inch laptop, a slightly smaller zipper pocket, two accessory pockets that I found to be perfect for portable batteries, and two pen holders. The outside holds a slip pocket on the rear that can fit a few papers, while the front has a smaller pouch with a secure buckle fastener.

Overall, the Gladstone Leather Briefcase is exceedingly luxe, with a super sturdy construction and high-quality stitching on everything from the included shoulder strap to the barely-seen internal accessory pockets. I’ve carried numerous messenger bags and backpacks around over the years, with an endless array of material construction, but this is easily one of the most handsome and eye-catching that I’ve ever owned.

The optional luggage strap attaches to the rear of the case and helps secure the briefcase to rolling luggage, available as a $39.99 add-on

Day-to-day use has been solid so far; I’ve found the Gladstone’s interior compartment offers a nice balance between being spacious and compact. I was able to fit my 12-inch MacBook, ‌iPad‌ mini, AirPods, book, Beats Studio3 headphones, chargers, and still have some room on the bottom of the bag left over.

Because it’s a briefcase-style case, the bag sports a solid six-inch footprint, and measures 12 inches tall and 16 inches wide. The leather construction, rigid paneling, and eventual interior contents add up to a bag that isn’t entirely light to carry around, but over short distances this wasn’t too big of a problem for me.

The biggest issue with its weight comes in how it’s distributed when using the shoulder strap, which is hooked to the back of the briefcase instead of directly at the center top of the bag. This means that when it’s full, the bag becomes slightly top-heavy and tilts forward away from your body, making it easier to bounce against your torso as you walk. It’s not a huge issue, but when you carry it around daily it’s something you quickly become aware of.

The briefcase sports a swivel opening that uses hinged copper rivets for a smooth, easy-to-open central compartment. I found that the bag was a bit tough to open at the start, but over the course of a few days the leather and the hinges became a bit less stiff, but still retained enough rigidity that I felt like it would never open on its own. If you still want more security, the main compartment also includes a second line of defense with an overarching buckle and notch strap.

If you like the look of classic briefcases you’ll be able to quickly get over how it takes ever-so-slightly longer to open Pad & Quill’s bag to get to your contents. If you prefer your work bags to be more economical with your time in a sacrifice to style, you’ll likely wish for a simpler zipper system, which would also make the bag easier to access when it’s placed on its side.

The other issue I had with the Gladstone Leather Briefcase was its overall lack of interior dividers. There are thousands of leather briefcases on the market that hit below Pad & Quill’s $495.00 price tag and offer a bit more focus on work documents over housing electronics. It’s big enough to house legal-sized papers and roomy enough for a lot of documents to fit inside, but it can quicknovodasoftwarely become messy without proper built-in organizational pockets.

While it’s obvious that an Apple accessory company would likely lean toward securing placement of your MacBook or ‌iPad‌ (a strategy all of Pad & Quill’s leather bags use), I would have preferred a bit more balance between the two. As it stands, the Gladstone Leather Briefcase doesn’t offer any specific placement for paper documents, outside of ones you might be able to stuff next to your MacBook on the internal compartment, or feel safe enough placing in the external rear compartment (which lacks any form of latch or security).

The briefcase is big enough to slip in a few folders of your own between the MacBook slot and accessory pouches, however, so it isn’t an insurmountable problem. But people with a job that relies on extensive organization of paper documents might find the accessory to be insufficient.

Bottom Line

Thanks to an attractive design, adequate interior compartment space for electronic devices and accessories, and leather construction that’s sure to age well the more you use it, Pad & Quill’s Gladstone Leather Briefcase makes for a reliable and striking laptop bag.

It does have a few downsides: the high price and lack of truly spacious paper document compartments mean you’ll have to be on the hunt specifically for a high-quality MacBook bag that has room for a few accessories and a small number of work-related documents, but not much else.

How to Buy

You can purchase the Gladstone Leather Briefcase on Pad & Quill’s website for $495.00 in Chestnut and Whiskey. Use the code PQ15 to take 15 percent off and get the bag for $420.75.

Note: Pad & Quill sent MacRumors one Gladstone Leather Briefcase for the purposes of this review, and no other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Pad & Quill. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.