The Nevada City, CA based Copper River Bag Co. create rustic feeling, sturdy bags right in their hometown and inspired by the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains. They offer a fairly broad selection of camera, laptop, and everyday bags all with a foundation of traditional styling and simple construction. We recently got the opportunity to use their 14” Courier Mail Bag, an affordable leisure option to keep with you on the day-to-day. Note that ours does feature an all leather shoulder strap (as opposed to a cotton one), an addition that will cost you $58 on Copper River Bags’ online store.
Simple construction lends itself to toughness in the case of the body, where four main pieces comprise the structure of the bag and each of its joints are single stitched with medium sized polypropylene thread. The flap’s buckle closure and adjustable belt-end are both riveted to the main body, whereas the top handle and width adjusters are sewn on. The top handle itself is one of the few problem areas; it feels flimsy and is uncomfortable to hold. The shoulder strap is the other issue, feeling a little unsubstantial and awkward at times, although the leather on the body is much thicker and satisfying to use.
The rawness of the design can make the bag feel more rustic than it intends to be. Your objects will likely collect bits of the nappy underbelly from the unlined interior, the shoulder strap is a bit thin which comes into play when you are carrying lots of bulk, and there is no laptop sleeve which is often required when purchasing a messenger bag nowadays. Sometimes small items can get smashed or mangled if not properly padded, though that is common in any bag made of such thick leather. Despite any of these shortcomings this is a very simple bag, and better constructed (due to the rivets and thick leather) than many of its price-range counterparts. It stands up well to bad weather since its oiled leather is water-resistant and can hold a considerable amount while still being easy to close.
This messenger looks great, with one of the more classic looks I have seen in this price range. Full-grain oil tan leather makes the front flap and back sleeve look attractive and rustic and the simple nickel finish on the brass hardware would be hard to beat. It is available in five other finishes, from bright yellow to plain brown, though I can’t imagine any would look better than our distressed tan version. This is the kind of bag that makes friends and strangers curious enough to ask where you bought it.
The most obvious issues with the mail bag consist of the thin and occasionally uncomfortable straps as well as the unlined nappy interior, but it looks great, fits a lot of personal items, and (with the exception of the overpriced shoulder strap) comes at a notably good price point. Although it does have some issues, the Courier Mail Bag is great for a paltry $138 and is likely to exceed the quality of most other offerings in that price range.
For more from Copper River Bag Co. check out their website: http://www.copperriverbags.com/