I’m always a fan of simplicity…with a touch of uniqueness. It seems to me that the designs from Colonel Littleton combine those elements well. Purpose built products with a bit of flair and a touch of “yesteryear” to them. It’s always a pleasure when we get the opportunity to feature one of their products here at BestLeather. Today we’ll be taking a look at the No. 16 Document Bag with Strap, a thin document case with an adjustable shoulder carry strap.
ABOUT COLONEL LITTLETON
Colonel Littleton is a small operation out of Lynnville, a Tennessee town about an hour south of Nashville, home to a whopping 327 residents. The Colonel started out by selling vintage cufflinks in 1987, which sparked an interest in creating unique, heirloom items. Now, 28 years later, Colonel Littleton makes bags, belts, hats, wallets, knives, cologne, and more, all with a unique Tennessee flair. Colonel Littleton has amassed a pretty dedicated following over the years, in part because their products have a unique, nostalgic feel, but also because their products have proved to be extremely well-crafted. Over the past two years, we’ve reviewed quite a few Colonel Littleton items and found them all to be top-notch. You can read the archives of our Colonel Littleton reviews here. You can also watch a short video about the Colonel Littleton story here.
This document case is made with Colonel Littleton’s dry-milled full-grain American leather, which is always very soft and flexible. The bag is around 12”H x 17”W x just 1.5″ deep, making it quite thin but leaving plenty of room for legal and standard sized documents. While not made as a laptop bag, you could feasibly fit a MacBook Air or similarly thin laptop or tablet in a pinch. The inside of the bag is unlined, leaving a soft grain on the inside. Expect a few little pieces to come off at the beginning until the grain smooths down a bit with use.
The bag is closed with two solid brass snaps, attached to leather straps that circle the entire bag. There are two snaps on each strap, allowing for some expansion to the bag when you need to load it up a bit more than usual. There is a copper metal tube (common to many Colonel Littleton bag designs) that runs across the back of the bag. The leather padded handle and shoulder straps are attached to the tube, which is held onto the bag with brass rivets. This gives the bag a strong backbone and helps keep the bag flat when storing documents.
The shoulder strap is adjustable from 34.5 inches to 42.5 inches, and can be removed via brass pegs if needed. Colonel Littleton offers a strapless version of the No. 16 Document Bag if you feel you don’t need a strap. However, the strapless version doesn’t have the copper tube or carry handle, though it is $200 cheaper.
For me, this is a great bag to use for local meetings and outings. It’s easy to grab this bag, drop my laptop in, throw my journal, notes, earbuds, and a couple of pens into it and take off. To date, that has been the primary role of this bag. It’s ideal when I don’t need to carry a full mobile office with me. I don’t foresee myself carrying this bag on multi-day business trips. In my opinion, it’s simply not designed for that purpose. My No. 40 Campaign Bag is a much better choice for those occasions.
A side note – my No. 16 Document Bag came with one of the Colonel’s full size No. 18 Portfolio legal pads in it. I’m forever changed on my choice of legal pads now. You can get 3 of them for only $13.50, which I consider to be a great deal.
The No. 16 Document Bag is very eye-catching, and has that nostalgic flair that Colonel Littleton has mastered in their product line. This bag is the Saddle Tan color, but it also comes in brown and black with brown trim. This is a document case, so it lays quite flat against the body. So far it’s functioned perfectly in meetings, and makes a very good first impression. As with most Colonel Littleton products, you can have your initials engraved on the metal plate for a small fee of $9.
Expect to get stopped frequently when carrying this bag. It always catches people’s eyes and incites questions. I’ve even had a couple of folks ask if they could touch it and hold it while I was working from one of my favorite local coffeehouses (shout out to Strada Caffe’ of Coeur d’Alene!).
The No. 16 Document Bag with Strap is yet another impressive product from Colonel Littleton. If you’re looking for a simple document case for meetings, this is an excellent choice that will serve you well and certainly get noticed wherever you go. It’s a pleasure to carry. It’s easy to use and access. The leather is superior and will age well with time and use. In the months that I’ve had my Document Bag, it has already started to darken a bit. It’s definitely a Buy It For Life item that you’ll appreciate the entire time you use it. Then, when you’re done you can pass it on to the next generation.