Saddleback Leather Co. Medium Thin Briefcase – $411.00
By: Arts and Culture Correspondent Ben Madeska
Joe Banks: No, I never really have.
Luggage Salesman: It’s the central preoccupation of my life. You travel the world. You’re away from home. Perhaps away from your family. All you have to depend on is yourself – and your luggage.
I’ve spent some time living out of a bag for days and weeks at a time, and there’s not much more frustrating than luggage failure. Saddleback Leather understands this, and after giving quite a bit of thought to the problem have arrived at a sort of over-engineered minimalism. They claim their products will outlive you and offer a 100 year warranty to back that up. How does their Thin Briefcase hold up after a month of – admittedly easy – use?
Inside there are two compartments partially lined with pigskin, a small pocket, two small pen pockets, a key strap, and there’s a newspaper pocket on the back. The shoulder strap is removable. It can easily convert from a messenger bag into something of a backpack, but I haven’t had much use for that feature.
Compared to some of their other bags, this briefcase is on the smaller side at approximately 15″ x 11 ½” x 4 ¼” (and 4 ¼ lbs). This is still kind of big, but is about perfect for my work and travel needs. I thought that anything bigger would be cumbersome.
- My ancient 14″ laptop and assorted cables
- Two notepads
- Small notebook
- Two pens
- Miscellaneous papers
And that’s about all that can easily fit in there. I can slip in a few other little items, such as keys, tape measure, iPod, small camera, etc, depending on the needs of the day. It was all a bit of tight fit when I first starting using it, but the leather has gained some flexibility. When brand new this was first bag that I worried would break my laptop, but it’s softened up a bit after a few weeks.
At $411 this is a luxury item for me, and I think it has a limited appeal in that market. It’s made to look rough and get rougher looking. The seams are unfinished. It has thick, fully visible stitching and monster copper rivets. As fully tanned, full grain leather, it is of course very durable, but the way the leather is finished it scuffs extremely easily. It’s developing a broken in look pretty quickly, so it’d be a poor idea for people that value clean and pristine. If you’re the type of person that buys deep-dyed Levi’s because you like the faded look of the knees and thighs a few years down the line, this is probably a good choice.
I feel like I’m letting the bag down somehow right now by only using it to carry my laptop on a 5 minute walk to work, but I’m expecting many, many years to put it through it’s proper paces.
Got any experience with Saddleback Leather? Leave it all in the comments section below…