Few times in life will you find a company slogan more properly suited to a company’s products than that of Saddleback Leather Company. Their tagline reads: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”
That sets the scene for the immaculately built, heavy duty products that Saddleback Leather Company offers, with its 100-year warranty in tow.
Handsome Leather Luggage
When you travel, you need time-tested, quality luggage to ensure you don’t have a breakdown during your trip – you also want to look great without being ostentatious during your vacation. Rather than attract thieves, Saddleback has managed to accomplish both and make a couple of bags (and an accessory item) that simply look too good to be mainstream production pieces and are too functional to be compared to the rest of the field.
But you may not have seen them before during your travel – because they are basically handmade bespoke pieces marauding as a true retail piece. They take a significant amount of what many consider to be the best leather in the world, and the sheer scale of the build is epic. These are not a machine-made piece you can find in any big-box store.
When you look at the “Water Bag” and the “One Piece Leather Duffle Bag” by Saddleback Leather, you realize you’re beholding something truly special. They aren’t priced for the mass market. They are simple and built to be durable. But what you can’t get past, is how evocative they are of the top tier leather pieces around the world (Think Louis Vuitton and Ghurka), and yet, how well priced the Saddlebacks are, comparatively.
The more important thing you realize is this: the bags are functional and meant to be used. They are not some dainty, send-back-to-factory-to-have-restored-every-season pieces of travel kit.
The Perfect Carry-on Statement piece
This is probably the best looking all leather bag money can buy. That said, with the fact that iconic bags like the Ghurka Examiner No. 5 in Chestnut Leather ($1495 USD), and the Kilburn RS No. 252 in Vintage Chestnut Leather ($2495 USD), and the Louis Vuitton Keepall Bandouliere 50 ($5400 USD) exist.
It has a certain masculinity to it that makes it maybe a bit less approachable for some women, but it’s as good a fit for females as it is for males. It is a truly underrated and under-reported travel accessory that anyone can find utility and good looks in.
There isn’t much to say once you have seen the picture of this bag, but to help you get an idea about the philosophy of the company and the way they build products, we highlighted some of the “whole picture” below when showcasing the Leather Duffle Bag.
Suffice it to say that if you are as smitten as most people when you see it, you will covet this bag until you finally buy it. It simply exudes, class, sophistication, utility, clean lines and expert craftsmanship in a footprint that doesn’t overwhelm the user and allows you plenty of space to carry gear, keepsakes and travel items.
14″ (wide) by 18″ (tall – unrolled) by 9″ (deep) makes this easy to carry around despite its 4 lbs. unloaded weight.
The shoulder strap can be adjusted between 34″-59″.
Road Trip King
While it is technically possible in the normal and more compact configurations, to make this into a carry-on sized bag, it’s not necessarily meant for that, and most airlines will have too rigid an interpretation of the baggage rules to make it make sense. So, to enjoy it is its true majesty, leave it uncrumpled and full of all the stuff you need on the road. But… If you want a bag that you know will turn heads and travel frequently with an airline that will accept max dimensions, this is a stunner.
As a side note: it’s not our favorite bag to check-in either (if your airline is one that sticks to the cage test instead of the linear measurement test for carry-ons), we think this one deserves better treatment than the TSA is going to give it, anyway. This one certainly has the durability to withstand such harsh treatment, but if you don’t have to, maybe you shouldn’t.
Where does it look amazing? Everywhere, but particularly good on the backseat or in the trunk as you arrive at your hotel for a romantic weekend. It also looks really good carrying picnic supplies and a blanket on a canoe. Another place it looks great is on the rack of your restored Porsche Speedster on your way up the California coast to Pebble Beach for the Concours d’Elegance. This kind of visualization could go on forever – note: it looks great everywhere.
How it’s made
The outer leather is full grain boot leather from cows. It’s thicker than boot leather though. And that’s mostly for looks and to make sure it won’t be easily broken down. The bag is built from a single piece of this leather. It makes it look incredible and improves weather resistance and durability. The lining is made from pigskin – stronger than cow leather by the way. 316 stainless steel, which is known for its good looks and incredible toughness, not to mention its ability to resist rust, is the material of choice for the hardware.
The company utilizes a stout 5 stitches per inch, which allows more leather between penetrations, so you won’t have a seam fail, ever. You can transform the duffel into a backpack if you need to use it that way, and it doesn’t feel oversized or too unwieldy, despite its impressive interior capacity.
It weighs 7 lbs. unloaded, so it isn’t lightweight. But you don’t buy this bag for technical backpacking, you buy it for peace of mind, the aesthetic and the quality of craftsmanship.
The unfolded dimensions are 20″(long) by 18″(tall – unrolled) by 9 inches(wide). So, the footprint is small, but the capacity is large. When folded it is slightly smaller than a MED/LARGE mass market duffel bag.
The shoulder strap can be adjusted between 34″-59″.
It’s very nearly waterproof, but there are obvious openings, so it’s not meant for technical river rafting or exposed downpours. But you weren’t considering that anyway. The water resistance is impressive when the top is rolled, though, and leather, despite what many people believe, is perfectly ok with being wet, as long as you dry it and condition it properly over the years.
The standout colorway is tobacco which is a lightly tanned color that shows the depth of the hide, but also gives a rustic look without looking too ancient. 3 other colors are available too: dark coffee brown; chestnut and black. But these colors are much more subdued to fit different lifestyle needs or environments. The through dying and quality of manufacture means you don’t have fading and color drifting issues like with cheap leather products.
The maker uses reinforcement that you cannot see, but which minimizes stretch and wear over time, including polyester strapping withing the straps of leather. It’s made with a philosophy that minimizes (negates) breakable parts. There are no zippers, buttons, or other things that can separate or break. The hardware that exists is basically bulletproof.
Every Day Carry
For those devoted to the theme of these bags, the “Big Mouth Leather Toiletry Bag” is a perfect accessory piece. On its own or with the others, this is a piece that demands attention and WILL start a conversation organically.
The bag is perfect for a moderately sized makeup bag with it’s rich leather evoking equestrian and cowgirl vibes. But you can easily use it as a man, with the rugged western feel and the plenty of room for a couple weeks’ worth of shave equipment, sunscreen, toothpaste and the rest of what you need while on the go.
The Big Mouth Leather Toiletry Bag is $189 USD and worth every cent – especially as a gift to a loved one, who, rest assured will never want or need a replacement.
The Token Utilitarian Piece
If you’re already set for travel or can’t justify the price point yet, but love the aesthetic of the bags shown above, you might consider the much lower price of entry attached to the gorgeous utilitarian “Leather Organizer Bag” which is perfect as a clutch at a casual event, or as a small bag to keep certain items separate in a bigger bag. It’s beautiful.
The Saddleback Leather Company Leather Organizer Bag is only $49 USD.
This article has showcased some of the most travel worthy pieces in the Saddleback Leather Company Portfolio, but it is just a tiny sampling of what is available. The entire collection is stunningly well built, daily-use capable and made from gorgeous leather as legacy pieces to be cherished, until they fight over it when you’re dead. If the thought of posthumous conflict for your family bothers you, you should look elsewhere.