Leather – it’s been part of daily life for so many people for thousands of years. You’d think by now that creative uses and designs that implement leather would be tapped out. Well, my friend…it seems that we’re not even close to reaching the creative limits of how leather is used to complement life. We’ve had our eyes on one particular company for a couple of years now that is combining the rich heritage of quality leather goods production and innovation. Now, we have the privilege of reviewing several of their leading products and we’re very excited about it.
About Colonel Littleton
Colonel Littleton was founded in 1987 in Lynnville, Tennessee. Since its inception the Colonel’s leather products have been sought after and are considered heirloom quality. The Colonel himself designs all of the products. To me, it seems that they all combine a bit of history, nostalgia, and a little bit of a twist on regular, conventional thinking…all of which combine to create unique, signature pieces.
Each Colonel Littleton piece is a combination of two great things: expert craftsmanship and high quality materials. And, as a bonus they’re 100% made in the USA.
“The leather from which most of our products are made is from full-grain American hides hand-tanned especially for us at a small, local tannery. They know I don’t want to see leather from what I call “condominium” cows . . . leather that is almost antiseptic in its perfection . . . citified and devoid of character. I want leather from rugged, Americana, John Wayne kind of cows – cows that have rolled in the dirt and kicked up their heels in the herd. Give me scrapes and nicks and insect bites and barbed-wire scratches. Show me some spirit.” The only leather not American-sourced is that which is used in their belts, which is Italian Bridle Leather.
Many of the pieces of hardware are manufactured right on site too. Check out this short little video where the Colonel discusses how he makes the signature latch you see on the featured No. 40 Campaign Bag. The video here is for another bag, but he shows how he uses an antique kick press to make part of the latch…pretty cool!
The construction of the No. 40 Campaign Bag is impeccable. This bag is designed and built to last forever.
The Colonel Littleton No. 40 Campaign Bag is essentially a vertical messenger bag. In spite of its vertical design, it will hold quite a bit. The inside dimensions of the bag are 14.5” high, 12.5” wide, and 3” deep. When opened you’ll find one very large leather organizer/divider that hangs down about 6” and has one large slot, a business card slot, and what appears to be a couple of pen slots. This piece snaps in and out of place. It provides a little separation, which is nice. I have a 13” MacBook Air and it will actually slide in behind the divider. That leaves plenty of room to slip in a charger, cables, my planner, and other assorted items.
If I had a larger computer, I’d just slip it in front of that organizer without issue. There is one slot pocket on the back of the bag too which works well for a magazine, notepad, or a book. At 4.2 pounds when empty, it’s not heavy at all – allowing you to load it up with your items and still transport it with ease.
There are 3 ways to open and keep the bag secured. You can use the single stud latch, unsnap the two straps, or unbuckle the straps – it’s your choice. I’ve found myself just using the latch on those occasions when I am off to multiple meetings and I need to be in and out of the bag several times in a short period. Not having to unbuckle the straps every time is a nice feature. The brass snaps (and all of the hardware) feels very sturdy and should last a long time.
The copper tube that anchors the strap and handle provides a nice, stable, sturdy carry platform. The handle itself is thick and comfortable. The shoulder strap is beautiful and easily adjustable however, it’s just a little too short. I’m a tall guy and will easily acknowledge that without issue. I have the strap on its longest setting and it’s just fine. However, folks shorter than me will find it impossible to adjust it to be long enough to carry the bag cross body. It would be great to see the strap have a few more inches of adjustability.
This is a beautiful bag. The leather is supple and the vintage brown color is great. When you combine this great looking leather with brass and copper hardware, it creates a stunning bag that people everywhere notice every time you carry it. Seriously – every time I have had this bag out with me it has generated questions and interest.
The brass monogrammed shield on the front and the pommel shield on the back with the serial number speak to the dedication Colonel Littleton has to creating heirloom quality pieces that can be handed down for generations to come.
I can see myself carrying the Colonel Littleton No. 40 Campaign Bag for several decades to come. And, my three sons are already vying for who is going to get it when I decide to stop carrying it. Hopefully I get to choose when that date comes – but, even if I don’t and my Maker chooses for me, the bag will still be looking good and fully capable of performing its job for one of my boys and probably one of their kids as well.
The No. 40 Campaign Bag isn’t cheap. At $809, it is an investment. But, rest assured, this is a Buy It for Life item. As the Colonel says, “There are only two things that determine what things are worth – the time it takes to build them and the materials from which they’re made. So, if you want to make it cheaper, all you have to do is put less time and cheaper materials into it and quality suffers. We don’t cut corners to make it for less . . . that’s not what our customers expect from us. They are looking for something of value that is genuine and long-lasting. Many years down the road when someone comes across a product that says “Col. Littleton – Made in Lynnville, Tennessee USA” my goal is that it retain the character and beauty it had the day it was made, and my hope is that people will know that a lot of heart and soul went into it.”
So, buy with confidence from Colonel Littleton. You’ll enjoy your investment and so will the folks who inherit it from you later on down the road.