Editor’s Note: Dappered correspondent, Ben Madeska, has owned his Saddleback thin briefcase for four years now. Head here for the growing archive of these annual updates. You can follow Ben on Twitter here.
This is the fifth review of my Saddleback briefcase, and like any franchise entering its fifth installment the cracks are starting to show. Not in the briefcase. That thing’s holding up like a champ. But I’m afraid the reviews are getting a little stale.
Rather than breaking new ground these reviews are starting to be retreads of past successes and old catchphrases. How to satisfy longtime fans while engaging new readers? At this stage we need some briefcases parachuting out of airplanes. Or we need to get The Rock involved somehow to inject a little life. And don’t get me started on the tacked-on romantic subplot. That never should have made it past the first draft.
To reintroduce the main character for those who haven’t been keeping up with this saga, this is the Saddleback thin briefcase, medium-sized, in dark coffee brown. It features a basic, no frills design that emphasizes durability and ease of use. Features include two main compartments, one larger pocket and two pen pockets, and a strap with a key ring. The shoulder strap is detachable and easily converts into backpack straps.
It’s a big, solid bag. I’m 6’4” and I think it’s the ideal size (approximately 15″ x 11 ½” x 4 ¼” and 4 ¼ lbs), but some people do complain about the size and weight of it. After four years of pretty regular use, this bag suits most of my needs. It works for commuting, meetings, conferences, and day trips. Basically, it works best when I’m actually using it as a briefcase. My laptop fits in it perfectly with room for a few files, books, and extra odds and ends. It’s great for taking to the coffee shop on days off.
As I mentioned last year, I think it’s too small for some of my needs. I can cram my Nikon DSLR camera into it, but it’s not a good fit. A bottle of wine or two fit in, but don’t leave room for much else. It’s definitely not a bag for weekend travel. I wouldn’t upgrade this to the large size, but I think the bigger, classic briefcase would work better for me in certain circumstances.
That aside, four years in and the bag is still breaking in. The leather continues to soften and become more pliable while maintaining overall shape and structure. It’s developing a fine patina through use. It gets scuffed and marked up through daily use, but the occasional conditioning works those out. I condition mine every few months. No major faults have emerged.
Anecdotally, this morning while getting coffee before work, vaguely thinking about how to write this review this evening, I was asked what brand this briefcase was. I told her, opened it up and explained it a bit. When I said it was more than four years old she responded with genuine astonishment. It just looks damn good for four years old.
Saddleback has a well-earned reputation for quality and each year of use confirms why. By this point, this briefcase has gone through car, train, and plane travel, a few career changes, moves to different cities and states, and pretty much every type of weather imaginable, and it hasn’t failed me yet.