The Coronado Leather Company was established in San Diego, California in 1981. From a small assortment of craftsman committed to producing high quality leather bags, the company has grown to offer a wide assortment of quality goods. From leather bags to leather wallets, the focus at Coronado is quality. Coronado has created a niche for itself in the concealed carry leather goods industry (as in: a really cool, high quality leather item to conceal your firearm) for the responsible citizen and for law enforcement officers. You can find many of these bags on Amazon and on their website at www.coronadoleather.com.
We have previously reviewed their Swiss Military Saddlebag, a beautiful replica of the 1920’s to 1940’s saddlebag of the same name. In addition to sending us that bag to review, they included their Americana Large Duffel Bag for us to take a look at as well. As I initially lifted the duffel bag from the box, I instantly knew that this was a premium bag.
Coronado’s Large Duffel Bag is made from 5.5 to 6oz Horween Leather, a leather that Horween calls “Derby”. This leather is thicker than most all leather bags and gives the bag a very nice heft and feel. This is leather that is full grain, meaning that the top layer is not corrected or sanded down. Full grain leather is the prime cut, if you will, of a hide. It is the outermost layer, and therefore has the tightest grain structure. The particular leather for this duffel bag has quite a bit of marbling, which gives the bag a beautiful rustic, aged appearance. The leather is also dyed through (struck through for you leather aficionados), which means that the color in the middle of the leather is the same as on the outside. We at BestLeather love when we see leather like this. Accomplishing this requires significantly more time tumbling in drums, and results in a premium hide.
Horween’s Derby leather is also straight vegetable tanned, an old process that results in a leather that patinas beautifully over time and has more body. After the vegetable tanning, it goes through a process of being tumbled, fat liquored, and finished. It is the same process that Horween uses to finish their world famous Shell Cordovan leather. The result is leather that has both structure and softness at the same time, and looks rich and beautifully aged.
The Americana Large Duffel bag is made from only three large pieces of Derby leather–one piece for each side and then a piece for the bottom. The use of only a few pieces of leather for such a large bag (it measures 18” x 14” x 10”) means that the bag has fewer seams, which are the weakest links of a bag. Typically, the fewer seams a bag has, the better.
Another nice feature of the bag is that each end of the bag has a strap sewn and riveted to the top that you can fasten to a D ring on the bottom of the bag. This allows for a certain amount of expandability or contraction of the bag. If you are going for a three day trip and need to stuff a lot into the bag, then you unsnap the strap, which gives you more room, or vice versa. It is a nice feature that allows the bag to be a little smaller, when you need it to be.
The duffel bag also comes with an adjustable strap for carrying over the shoulder. The strap is made with two strips of Derby leather sewn together and is approximately three-quarters of an inch wide, by 11 to 12 oz thick. The strap feels hefty and does not seem to have any stretch to it, a testament to good quality, vegetable tanned leather.
Similarly, the handheld straps are two layers thick of Derby leather, with an additional strap sandwiched in the middle, for extra grip and aesthetic appeal. These straps are riveted twice to the sides of the bag, and then overlaid with another piece of layer, which is then double stitched to the bag. (Talk about over-engeering!) I think I could hook up the bag to the back of my truck and use it as a hitch to haul around my toys. I love this type of durability, when a bag is made to last generations and truly be an heirloom product. At $799, the bag is not cheap, but is well worth it.
Hardware is where many companies skimp and use what just looks good or will get by for a few years, but not Coronado Leather. For the Americana Large Duffel, they use an over-sized #10 YKK 2-pull brass zipper made in the good ole’ US of A. The zipper is another distinguishing feature of the bag. When you open and close it, it feels like you are opening or closing the door to a massive tent. It is not something you zip quickly open or closed. It takes a bit of effort, but you know that there is no way it is going to come apart.
Coronado also uses solid brass D rings, and solid brass ball rivets throughout the bag. The ball rivets give the bag another dimension and complement the leather nicely. There are also two sets of the ball rivets on the bottom of the bag, which help protect the bottom of the bag when placing it on the ground.
LINING AND STITCHING
The American Duffel is lined with thick, durable, khaki cotton canvas. This gives the bag a finished look on the inside, and provided a bit of sophistication to a rugged looking, extremely durable bag. The inside of the bag also has a small pocket with another YKK zipper that is similarly lined with canvas. The entire bag is sewn with polyester thread and is made in Coronado’s San Diego leather shop.
The Americana Large Duffel Bag from Coronado Leather is extremely well made. It has solid brass rivets throughout, strengthening the leather in potential areas of weakness. It is made with some of the best leather you can buy, from the Horween Leather Company, which has been making leather in Chicago for over 100 years. It is built like a Mack Truck, but has the sophistication of a Ferrari. If you want or need a duffel bag that your kids will pass along to their kids, look no further than the Americana Large Duffel.