Basader Handmade Classic Messenger Bag with Gusset Review – $400

Since began reviewing products a few years ago, we have watched Basader grow from an Etsy store into one of the mainstays of the leather goods market. Based in Brooklyn, founders Philip and Elin Antonelli come from a fashion background, which is evident in their stylish products. All of their products are dyed, cut, and assembled by hand in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In 2013, we reviewed their Messer Leather Briefcase, and posted an interview with Philip. Since then, they’ve sold quite a few messenger bags to customers who have broken them in and given them feedback. Thus was born the Handmade Classic Messenger Bag with Gusset, a customizable combination of everyone’s favorite Basader features.

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Crafted from 7 oz bridle leather, the Classic Messenger Bag is durable yet soft. It hasn’t lost its shape after daily usage, nor will it ever. The inside of the bag is smooth and supple, and the divider is made with raw leather. This medium brown color option is a rich reddish-brown, with a subtle luster that looks very sophisticated. The bag comes in three different color options: medium brown, dark brown, and black. Even the edge color is customizable in four colors: dark brown, medium brown, black, and natural. To get a better feel for the color options, check out the color guide on the Basader blog.

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The construction of the Handmade Classic Messenger Bag is immaculate, with clean double-stitching and sturdy brass hardware to hold it together. The bag has minimal seams on the front and back, giving it a very sleek, understated look. The standout feature on this bag is the gusset. A gusset is a reinforced seam that provides structural strength or reinforcement. In this case, it does both, while simultaneously adding a divider that runs through the middle of the bag and provides two pockets and pen holders. The thick divider is a great feature for laptop users to keep their computer safe and scratch-free. This 16-inch, 4.5-pound bag keeps a 15″ laptop nice and snug without killing your shoulders. The size is functional for every day use without being clunky or in the way.

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The top handle has an extra leather covering for additional comfort. The removable shoulder strap is attached with D-rings and lobster-style clasps. Of course, the metal hardware is customizable as well, in three finishes: brass, nickel-plated brass, and nickel-plated matte.

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There is the option to add an adjustable backpack strap, which attaches to three O-rings that are added onto the back of the bag if you select this option. You also have a choice when it comes to the two front buckles. You can stick with the classic buckle or upgrade to faux buckles with hidden tuck locks for quick and easy access, a feature that is great for the less dextrous.

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The Handmade Classic Messenger Bag with Gusset ranges from $400-450, depending on what features you choose. It’s $20 to size up from 14.5″ to 16″, $20 to add a backpack strap (and necessary hardware), and $10 to upgrade to the hidden tuck locks on the front buckles. This is a very, very nice bag that will last you a lifetime due to its high quality materials and superior construction. It’s worth every penny; possibly more. It’s American-made from high-quality leather and handmade exactly to your specifications. The simple and timeless style will never go out of fashion, and the leather will get even more beautiful the longer you carry it. What more can you ask for?

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  1. If I may ask, what’s your height and weight? I’m trying to gauge if the bag won’t look comically large for me (5’8, 155 lbs).

    • I’m about 5’8 as well. I ordered the 14 inch for myself (coming in tomorrow). If you want to carry it with your handle more, then 16 inch would be OK. Otherwise, I think the 14 inch would suit you better.

      • Ah… Could you take pictures of it when it arrives and share it here? I’d love some perspective.

      • I’m about 180 pounds, so depending on whether you work out, I might be wider than you are. Keep that in mind. Best of luck.

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