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Drive By :: CONTANGO Axton

Drive By :: CONTANGO Axton

by , September 9, 2014

It’s that time of the week again; Monday morning and I’m off to work. I quickly throw my stuff in…oh wait! I’m testing the CONTANGO Axton. I slowly decide on a lot of stuff NOT to bring and put the marginal remainders in the Axton. Hey…wasn’t my bag at least three times the weight and volume last week?



This story starts with the moment I picked up the CONTANGO package from the post office, rushed home and ripped it open. There’s nothing special about another cardboard box flown over the Atlantic with a lot of customs tags on it. But CONTANGO sure put some effort into treating me to an unpack party. The bag comes in a linen sleeve, is wrapped in black paper and comes with a thank-you note. That was probably when I started to feel a lot better about a bag with a really simple design and a “slightly unmodest price tag”. For a brand with any marketing ambition, the unpacking experience means a lot to customers. There’s a huge difference between just “throwing a bag over the wall” and (okay, I might be exaggerating a tiny bit) making you float away to urban hipster dreamland, where everyone is beautiful and superb espressos are always within a hand’s reach.


NYC-based CONTANGO Goods are a young and small company, founded by Scott Lee. The company started out from Scott’s frustration with clunky, overly casual or overly conservative briefcases. Scott’s background is actually in finance and technology, but he’s always had a passion for design and making things with his hands. The Axton is CONTANGO’s first product and it comes in tan and black. The materials are sourced from American suppliers and the bag is put together in New York.



The body of the bag is made of natural pull-up leather, which provides a beautiful distressed look. The handles are stitched English Bridle leather typically used for equestrian harnesses. The bag’s frame is held together by industrial grade nylon thread, solid copper rivets, and a heavy-duty No. 8 Excella two-way nickel zipper. It weighs 635g/22.4 oz.


So…in terms of pockets, high tech materials, brand history or specialty uses, this is not a review that can go on for pages and pages. It’s “just” a slim laptop bag, made out of great quality materials. You could say it’s a lot of money for such a simple design. For the provided volume we’ve found it surprisingly useful, the leather has a gorgeous patina and the lack of a shoulder strap and pockets is refreshing. Chicks dig it man…


The CONTANGO Axton is sold for $375 with free shipping inside the US.

We like the Axton, and we featured it in our guest post for The Versatile Gent on best luxe work bags. Go there for some more great stuff.

The downsides

There is no Carryology review without the downsides. First, there’s the price. $375 can be pretty steep for a briefcase. We’re going to have to relate that to the competition, and competition for slim briefcases is huge. Here’s a selection of what other brands offer, but you’ll see the price of the Axton is right there in the middle.

Filson tin cloth original briefcase $325
Knomo Henderson slim brief $325
Johnston & Murphy portfolio briefcase $325
Tumi Beacon Hill Irving slim leather brief $495
Jack Spade luggage nylon slim brief $378
Jack Spade dipped leather slim brief $498
Jack Spade Reed leather Thomas Brief $598
Treesizeverse briefcase on Etsy $119
Tumi Beacon Hill Branch Slim Laptop Leather brief $425
Trafalgar Murray Hill slim brief $375

The next biggest thing to discuss is the volume: you’re going to need great battery life on your notebook and to not bring your power adapter, you’re going to have to go out for lunch (unless you can live on a granola bar), BUT you can probably squeeze in a Business Week or The Economist. Then again, you could always choose to carry multiple bags if you need to bring more stuff. It’s quite common among certain demographic groups. Plus, a slim briefcase is not a bag, it’s a lifestyle!


Finally, ’cause we’re kinda picky: although the wool interior is tasty, it’s also subject to stains. Luckily there’s not much stuff inside to get stains from…


[Editor’s Note: The bag utilised for this drive by was supplied by CONTANGO Goods]

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