When you have a nice leather product, people tend to notice. Same thing with a fresh haircut. But when they say, “Nice bag” (or “Nice haircut”), it usually isn’t actually a positive judgement. Instead, they’re simply saying they noticed. People noticed me carrying High On Leather’s Vintage Brown Leather Messenger Bag too, and they’d make that sort of non-judgemental comment. Then I’d say, “It’s east-Indian goat leather.” Then they’d raise their eyebrows as if to say, “Really?”—now making an actual judgement with an impressed expression. East-Indian goat leather sounds exotic, right? I think so too. That’s not the only cool thing about this bag either.
About High On Leather
The bag came to me all the way from India, where High On Leather is located. They’ve been shipping their products to customers worldwide for the last seven years. Their goal is to make high-quality leather products at unbelievably low prices—sometimes for as little as 60% of the prices of their competitors. If you like leather products but often find the prices too high, this is a vender you ought to check out.
As for the bag, the seams are close stitched, some of them double stitched. The inner lining is a rugged green canvas—reminding me of a World War II soldier’s accoutrements. The buckle, brads, and other metal components have a really solid feel, and I don’t doubt they’ll last as long as the leather.
When you pick up the bag, you’ll immediately notice that it’s lightweight (goat leather tends to be thinner than cow leather). I suppose this could be a negative attribute—if you’re dangling for dear life from the bag’s strap off the edge of a cliff. But for the typical urban user, goat leather has plenty of toughness and will make for a long-lasting, durable companion. What’s more, the thinner leather is, as I said, lighter, and if you’re toting it around with you all day, that’s a very good quality.
I also appreciated the variety of pockets and compartments on the inside of the bag. The main compartment has several small ones on either side, including ones with zippers. If you’re the sort of person who cares about organization, you’ll love it. The top flap clasps down magnetically with two brass fasteners, and hearing them snap into place is kind of cool.
One negative note: when the bag is packed full, the flap doesn’t fall low enough to reach its clasps, and you have to tug it down a bit. This seemed like a slight design oversight, but it won’t be an issue if you’re carrying a lighter load. Also, because the leather is so thin, the framework is a little soft. Basically, this means it will not stand up on it’s own when empty—it keeps flopping over. However, when I have items inside, they keep the structure, and the bag stands like any briefcase might.
If you’re a leather connoisseur, you may have heard that goat leather can have a strong smell. This is often true, but it’s only a correlation, not a causation. Goat leather can be produced at a lower cost than other leathers, so it tends to be used by people cutting corners. And if you cut corners on the tanning process, a foul odor can remain with the leather. But High On Leather pays close attention to the tanning process, and I didn’t have any olfactory problems with this bag. Granted it didn’t have the fine aroma that some leather has; it was more of a neutral smell.
The bag looks great too, comparable to any other you’d see on the market. But I guess I’ll let you make that judgement based on the photos.
I really ought to make a point about the price. I’ve reviewed little wallets that cost more than High On Leather’s Vintage Brown Leather Messenger Bag. And I’ve seen numerous messenger bags that cost three times as much as this one. Basically, the price should be key in deciding whether this is the right product for you. If you enjoy leather products but the cost keeps you away, this is a great option. It’s real, affordable leather.