Gfeller Casemakers is a custom maker of high quality leather goods. They began crafting leather tool bags and holsters in the 1940s, as a response to a burgeoning need for the geoscience community. In more recent years, they have broadened their product line to notebook covers, general use bags, phone cases, and they also do custom leather work for various high-end companies. For more information on Gfeller Casemakers as a company, you can read our visit to their shop article here. We had an opportunity recently to use and test their IPhone 5 holster, which they custom made for this review.
Most leather IPhone cases on the market these days are classic soft shell sleeves, where you slide your phone in, stash it in your pocket, and then pull it out when you need it. The Gfeller Casemakers IPhone holster is unique in that it is a hardshell holster, one that you can clip onto your belt for easy access. I like this because it allows you to keep your beautiful IPhone naked, when you are using it, but well protected and easily accessible, when you are not. The phone slides easily in and out of the holster, a testament to a precision crafted, handmade item. The clip is very sturdy, and I never felt like the holster would come off my belt accidentally.
One consideration in deciding to purchase a case like this is whether you like having your phone unprotected while in use. My previous case was on my phone 24/7, giving my IPhone continuous protection. You will not get that from the Gfeller IPhone holster, so that is one thing to be aware of when considering a case of this type. If you need your phone to be constantly protected, then another case would be necessary. The flip side of that coin is that you get to use the phone in the form it was originally intended.
The hard shell aspect of the holster is reminiscent of a formed knife sheath, or formed gun holster, where your knife or gun fits perfectly into their respective sheath. This type of case is perfect for individuals in a number of trades (construction workers, carpenters, plumbers, masons, etc.), where both solid protection and quick access is important. Another indication of a well thought out product is a thin piece of leather on the inside of the holster, which protects your phone from the metal of the belt clip. Your phone will appreciate this too, so as to avoid scratching and marring. Though the phone does slide easily in and out, the fit is fairly snug, so at times I had to make sure I had a firm grip on the phone as I was putting it back in the case, so as to avoid accidentally dropping it. As is the case with most quality leather, the leather will stretch a bit over time, making the fit a little easier.
The holster we used for this review has a vertical orientation, you slide the phone in bottom side down. Gfeller’s typical IPhone cases are horizontal, you lay them in long side down. The advantage to a horizontal orientation is that the holster runs parallel with your belt and therefore does not protrude into your side when sitting down. Personally, I like the vertical case as it is more natural to pull it out and use it in the same direction as it comes out. Of course, this is a completely personal preference; either orientation will serve the purpose well. The good thing is that you could get yours either way.
Gfeller uses leather from the Hermann Oak Leather Company for their IPhone 5 Holster, as well as for the majority of their products. This holster is made from eight to nine ounce, vegetable tanned leather. In particular, the type of leather is natural russet skirting. This is a super durable type of leather, that when wet allows you to form the leather to various shapes (hence the formed, hardshell case). When dried, the result is a hardened case.
The holster that we reviewed is a natural, light brown color. Gfeller does offer customers the option of choosing a black holster for an additional $5. The natural color is great because it develops a beautiful patina over time and use, giving the leather additional character.
The white stitching against the light colored leather is a beautiful combination. Gfeller uses five cord (the higher the number, the thicker the thread) natural linen for the stitching on their IPhone holsters. They lubricate the linen thread with Sellari’s Natural Stitching Wax, for ease of stitching. This stitching also acts as an adhesive when dry, which further bonds the pieces of leather together.
Admittedly at BestLeather, we prefer goods to be made out of leather when possible and feasible. When considering an IPhone case, many of us prefer a sturdy, hand made, beautiful holster like the one from Gfeller Casemakers than one made out of plastic (machine made) that will eventually break. At $55, the cost of this case is comparable to what you get for such hardshell, plastic cases, but it is infinitely more beautiful and special. It will stand the test of time and will probably outlast the phone itself, after which you could use it to hold business cards or some small tool.
If you are in the market for a beautiful sheath for your IPhone 5, then Gfeller Casemaker’s IPhone 5 holster is an excellent choice.