High On Leather Vintage Brown Messenger Bag Review — $85

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.

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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.

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Construction

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.

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Function

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.

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Aesthetic

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.

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BestLeather Conclusion

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.

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13 Comments

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  1. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this article. I saw their website and couldn’t find any reviews as to whether they were legit or not (I mean, for the price the craftsmanship looks amazing!) but now I feel more comfortable about ordering. Thank you 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Dawn. Glad it helped.

  2. You get what you pay for, cheap, smelly, goat skin made in a huge sweat shop in India. This stuff represents the very lowest standards of quality and everybody I’ve ever known that has purchased this stuff has regretted it. I can’t believe I am reading a review of these examples of the very bottom of the barrel leather goods. One would be better off purchasing a nylon bag.

  3. Well I purchased the small duffel from the same brand 4 months back and feels quite satisfied. If anyone knows that what full grained Moroccan leather is then they won’t face problem with the smell as there was hardly any smell in my bag. If you expect to get a saddleback kind of material under 100$ then you should invest in 250$ bags that they have not this one.

  4. I like this comment. I’ll join Tim in answering. This point has been on my mind a lot. Should BL focus on only the halo items or should it be accessible for brands at all levels?

    When I started this site three years ago it was initially focused on the best goods I could get my hands on. One day someone asked me the question of what would I recommend if someone couldn’t afford or didn’t want to afford one of these incredible bags. That got me thinking about the value/price ratio and how some items are still good value while being cheaper. They may not embody all the esoteric focus on quality that some products have, but they are still just fine.

    The items that get harsher reviews or refusals now are those who are ripping people off. Too much money for a poorly made bag is quite disappointing.

    This bag has a legitimate place in the market and while some (myself included) would not buy one it doesn’t mean no one should buy one. If $85 is the best someone can do then this is a good option. We have turned down plenty of review requests for goat leather too.

    Some people want to see gory reviews as evidence of our unbiasedness. However, we try to avoid those reviews in the first place because we have better things to do with our time. Everyone here has a day job. We do this because we like it and writing a scathing review doesn’t really do anyone good. Better to just avoid them.

    I doubt you will see any more goat leather goods on here.

    • Great to hear from you TJ (?), and Tim. I’ll try to not be too repetitive with my response as you and Tim had some similar thoughts I’d reply to similarly.

      I think I’d similarly wonder about having a range of products and quality or only focusing on the best. Perhaps Best Leather could have an “economy” category to help customers know about great but cheaper and less quality products, but to also help them know they aren’t getting the full leather experience? At any rate, i can understand why you’d avoid extremely harsh reviews…that certainly isn’t what I’d encourage.

      I will send you an email and we can chat more about this!

  5. Thanks for the response, Tim, it was good to hear from you and TJ (assuming that’s what he goes by). I appreciate the candor in your comment; it’s the type of candor I would have liked to seen in the review. Being upfront with readers, letting them know that this is more of an introductory or economy piece and not to expect the type of product you get for 3-10X the price, would help them know what kind of things to look for.

    I did, indeed, buy a goat leather product before buying the Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel (which I’m obsessed with). I think overall it turned me off from leather in many ways. If I hadn’t given K&H a try, I think I would have left leather with the bad taste in my mouth. I do hope the piece reviewed here could act as a better intro to the leather world than mine, though my impression is that it’s nearly identical to the one I tried.

  6. thank you for the review. I am actually purchasing the Messenger Bag for a friend who wants a leather bag, but does not want to pay the price for a quality item. most people cannot (nor should they) splurge on a bag nor do they have the time to research and read reviews on different pieces. I agree that goat leather is of a different quality than full grain; I believe its a good starting point for those who want the look of leather without paying the price. thanks for the review

  7. I warn you…….DO NOT PURCHASE! Not only is the product very very poor quaility. If you have an issue, there is no way to resolve easily. The product is made in India. The policy for returns is scetchy at best. I purchased a bag (see images) where the right strap was miss aligned (did not align with the button). The solution offered was to have a local artisan resolve on my dime or return to India on my dime. The problem with returning to India is he gave no return address. I know your thinking just look on there website…however it’s not listed there as well. A call to customer service sends you to some guy named Ishmeet’s personal cellphone. Do not purchase. I am not saying it is a scam. I am just saying you are taking a very big risk. Good luck.

    • Hi Kenyatta,

      First we would like to start with an apology for providing a defective bag. All our bags are handmade and sometimes if this kind of issue happens, we love to either refund the amount to the customer or exchange the bag in free. We noticed you have already put a negative review about our company without even trying with our customer care.

      We have already provided you our return address and you still haven’t sent the bag back. We have also confirmed that we are ready to provide return shipping cost to you via paypal and a new bag in return.

      We have left you various mails as your complaint ticket is still opened with us. We have even given you the option of reverse pickup of the bag and refund you the bag cost, but there isn’t any reply from your side.

      All we can request you is that please do not leave fake reviews as such as our address is clearly mentioned in the privacy policy of the website. We already have give you return address and we never told you that you will have to pay for return shipping to India.

      We would still request you to reply to our mail so that we can resolve this matter.

      Regards,
      Rachel
      High On Leather Customer Care Team

      • Rachel –
        To be clear I understand you bags are handmade, I even understand things happen. However there is no excuse for sending me a defective bag. It is so obvious I am not sure how it was missed in your quality control process. Of course that assumes you have quality control. By the way, I have never purchased any product online that did not include return to sender postage. This of course is a first.

      • Hi Kenyatta,

        We apologise again for sending the defective bag and yes it is a mistake from our quality team. To your satisfaction we are ready to provide you a new bag in exchange and we have even mailed you our address regarding the same. Instead of putting reviews here and there, you can directly reply us on the mail for the exchange procedure unless your motive is just to put bad reviews only.

        Regards,
        Ishmeet
        High On Leather

  8. Well, I am a frequent traveller and a fashion influencer. I have their leather duffel bag which I have been using for more than 3 months and it is quite strong. It took all kind of beating and I have other fossil duffel which is equally strong. I use them both for most for my travels so from my side, it is worth spending.

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