I’m working on a post which was inspired by Till Richter’s Forum thread entitled “Small Hacks – Big Effect,” and it’s taken a bit longer to pull together than I expected; I hope to publish it tomorrow or Wednesday.

In the meantime, I wonder if any of you have purchased from Saddleback Leather Company.  The firm offers a number of heavy duty, handmade leather goods – briefcases, laptop bags, duffels, backpacks, and overnight bags – all of which look quite handsome, and which also feature a “100 Year Warranty.”

A word of warning:  all this goodness doesn’t come cheap – the overnight bag is a bit north of $500, and that’s typical.  The firm does off a number of wallets and even a luggage tag, and these items command much lower tariffs, of course.

If you go for that classic leather bag look, you can engage in some serious bag lust at the Saddleback site (see link in the 2nd paragraph of this post).  And if you have one of these products, I’d love to hear about your experience; please comment.

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15 Comments on Saddleback Leather Co. – bag lust redux

  1. Miguel Marcos says:

    Those bags are very nice and tempting. But keep in mind the weight. Leather bags are heavy. Their overnight duffel is very roughly comparable to the Tristar in volume. It weighs 12 lbs. That’s close to the carryon weight limit of some airlines.

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    Kevin Reply:

    Miguel,

    Bingo. I’d noticed that, and that alone is a deal killer for me – as far as that particular bag is concerned.

    There’s always the briefcase, though… ;-)

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  2. Till says:

    Yep, absolutely gorgeous bags and built like tanks which is reflected in the weight. Just not a very viable solution for air travel. If you are going through the desert and got your own camel to carry it, no problem :)

    I have long had an eye on the Mulholland Brothers Longhorn in Latigo Stout leather. It is a bit lighter and even more beautiful but the price has kept me from buying it as well as the weight which is still upwards of 7lb.

    My Andiamo and Briggs Riley bags are as heavy as I’m willing to put up with for serious travel.

    For a romantic weekend getaway the leather holdalls would be very stylish but then you have to do a romantic weekend in the first place …

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  3. Ozone says:

    I own the large, dark brown leather briefcase, the leather pouch, and have a large satchel coming in the mail. I’ve used the briefcase almost every day for the last two months.

    It is heavy. Having used a Tom Bihn for the last ten years for daily work commutes, the Saddleback briefcase is heavy. I would not recommend it or other similarly large SB bags for flights and one-bag travel per se. It does however convert into backpack mode and while is not a great backpack, it is reasonable.

    The bag SCREAMS quality, workmanship, and classic design. I get numerous compliments (mostly from women interestingly) about the bag, and longing looks (not for me, the bag). It is a unabashedly a STATEMENT, and that’s why I bought it, particularly for work/professional use. If that’s what you want a SaddleBack bag for, frankly, nothing else compares.

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  4. Ray says:

    by far the most rugged bag i’ve ever seen – i’ve owned the briefcase in medium chestnut for about 4 months now. tons of compliments but not very practical for air travel. it is beautiful though…

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  5. Marty says:

    @Miguel and Kevin,

    What airlines are you guys flying on? Domestic airlines have very liberal weight limits for carry-on luggage. Most are 40 or 50 pounds if they have a weight limit at all. Here’s a link:

    http://thetravelinsider.info/t.....wances.htm

    Not viable for air travel? We really have become a country of girly men when we are bitching about 12 pounds. Man up guys! For crying out loud most American men are carrying at least double that on their mid section.

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    Kevin Reply:

    Marty,

    I can’t speak for Miguel, but I’ve thrown my back out 2 or 3 times after putting an 18 to 22 lb. (or less!) bag on my shoulder and walking long distances through airports. My preference is to travel as light as possible. Most of the bags I use that employ shoulder straps or backpack straps weigh less than 4.5 pounds, and that’s my personal point of comparison.

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  6. Jay says:

    I had the medium briefcase in chestnut brown. The thing was built like a brick and about as heavy as a bag full of them.

    The quality was more or less even, and I believe they are what a leathermaker would create if he was going for an old school version of a Red Oxx bag. Think function over finesse.

    There are two open topped pockets inside the front compartmentof the bag. They are just big enough to hold a blackberry or iPhone sized smartphone. There are also to smaller pockets inside the front compartment at each end. These are slightly wider and I used them to store pens and travel flashlights. The catch is that they are exactly opposite to the two exterior side pockets and they are usually bulged in when you put a (small) water bottle inside of them. The “hidden” pocket is an extra flap of leather at the bottom of the bag that can only be accessed after taking everything out of the bag.

    Was this bag a good everyday travel bag? No. It was very heavy and stuff would fall out of the small interior pockets (open topped). I ended up putting a bunch of stuff in a bunch of smaller bags and then sticking them into the briefcase. Also, you have to unbuckle the top flap to get inside of the briefcase for anything, and I that meant that the two extra straps never got used. In fact, those straps and extra d-rings on the bag wound up getting stuck on the underside of the seat infront of me when I stored the bag on a plane.

    Final analysis on Saddleback? Beautiful bags, but not very travel friendly for really savvy travellers. If Indiana Jones had to choose between a Saddleback Briefcase and a Red Oxx CPA, he would look at the two, then think about all of his falls, jumps, stumbles, and the weird heavy stuff he would have to jam into the bag one handed, and then he’d push his hat back and scratch his beard. My gut feeling is this: he’d go with the CPA.

    [Reply]

    Jay Reply:

    Edit: Typing on an iPad…

    Having to unbuckle the front flap, and then reach inside one handed to access the zipper on one of the smaller bags inside the briefcase was very difficult two handed. Trying it one handed while walking and pulling a drag wagon roll aboard was purty hard to do. I never used the bag when travelling outside the country (I use a Maxped backpack and a hidden security wallet for that) and eventually ended up replacing the Saddleback with a Filson Brief for domestic business travel.

    Nice bag, not so nice as an everyday travel bag.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Jay,

    Thanks for a great comment – you’ve confirmed my suspicions. Thx again.

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    G Reply:

    Another business class girly-man…yes, indeed, you clearly bought the wrong bag…i typically don’t take the advice of overly anal people, because they invariably lead others down the wrong path. And to invoke the thoughts of Indiana Jones is laughable. Be that as it may, your “review” helped me make my final decision to buy the SBack Large Coffee Briefcase.

    I wouldnt waste my money on Filson or Red Oxx….they look like the complimentary Adidas bag you might get along with a pair of sneakers. They may be rugged, but they are undoubtedly boring. I am not a boring person who complains about the time it takes to walk across an airport, nor do I waste my breath with a story about my bag once getting stuck on an airliner, or how the D-rings aren’t useful or satisfying enough, or that you never use it in backpack mode.

    So, that being said, let me speak for Indian Jones…I heard him say: “The Nazis would laugh at me if I were to pull myself up from the the bumper to the hood of a soldier transport vehicle going 50mph…I am not a pussy…I will carry my golden idols in a Saddleback.”

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  7. I love the classic leather Duffel bag. Great quality that will last for along time. Good job guys!!!

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  8. Margaret says:

    Another option surely worth looking into might be Glanor. They are making some really nice looking briefcases and backpack quick similar to SB. Their website is http://www.glanor.com but are currently only selling through authorized resellers or brand name brick and mortar stores.

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  9. Samatha says:

    I am trying to decide which leather briefcase I should go with! I just found this company http://www.crazyhorseleather.com has anyone heard of them?

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  10. Killshot says:

    Have had the dark brown duffel now for 2 years — perfect for the 2-3 day junket. Heavy? Sort of. But unless you are a real wimp, it’s nuthin fully loaded. And it will last forever. I carry it and a separate smaller laptop satchel thru many airports with no problem.

    You must check it for commuter flights as it will not fit in the overhead. Nonetheless, it is perfect short term luggage. I have even rigged it as a backpack — though it takes a little engineering. But it works.

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