For those wanting a substantially constructed and spacious briefcase, the Saddleback Leather Large Briefcase should be quite ideal. For those looking for spaciousness and lightness, certainly entertain other options. This is no lightweight bag for lightweights.
The Saddleback Leather repetoir of construction is standard across most of their products, excepting of course the smaller accessories such as wallets. Their standard consists of large swathes of 4-5 oz full grain leather, UV resistant polyester thread, double stitching, nickel plated brass, internal reinforcing straps, steel D-rings, and none of it is easily breakable.
As you can see above, no leather is spared in the build. This results in a bag with a strong frame that can protect its contents by absorbing and communicating shock though the bag’s chassis instead of your laptop.
The question of value for such a price ($568.00 – $664.00 right now 11/12) must be answered. There are many other cheaper options to be considered. The Vagabond Traveler Large Classic Leather Briefcase for $279(!) or the Marlondo Leather Large Briefcase for $305 are both close designs to the Saddleback Leather Briefcase. I have not handled these bags yet. However, at the current 35% sale, the Marlondo Large Classic seems interesting.
The quality of this bag is impeccable and warrantied to last longer than you. Yes, it is a steep price, but it is a demanding process to make quality goods.
One of the ironic challenges of this spacious briefcase is the spaciousness. It is very easy to throw in a load of books and a laptop and have the briefcase topping 25 pounds. If you can heft 25 pounds easily then this may be an appropriately sized bag. Otherwise, it is just too easy to put too much stuff in it. Better to get a smaller bag that forces you to trim your load than a large bag that invites overloading. Carrying 25 pounds through 2 terminals and 6 gates in St. Paul, Minnesota will make you think twice about doing it again if you are lighter than 200 pounds.
By itself the Large Classic weighs between 8-9 pounds, depending on the type of liner you choose, pigskin or suede (heavier).
For my travel this time the Large Classic carried a 15″ MacBook Pro, charger, iPad, several books, several notebooks, iPad & iPhone charger, and 6 or so pens. The Large Classic can certainly stow away the goods. Keep in mind how far you have to walk when you pack.
All that being fair disclosure, the Large Classic can soon become more bearable as you toughen up under the load over time. It became much easier to wear after a week.
At first I found the size and weight annoying but after a month of use I quite enjoy having the extra capacity and have accustomed myself to the weight.
As you can see, the Large Classic accommodates the 15″ MacBook Pro quite easily and will handle the 17″ snugly. However, a 17″ with the Saddleback MacBook Sleeve or some other bulky sleeve may be too tight.
The size of the Large Briefcase can also make it challenging to squeeze down aircraft aisles and under aircraft seats. If Senor(a) Gordo is sitting next to you then forget about getting it out during the flight at all.
Most of the time you can leave the two straps undone and tucked back. The only time you should need to use all three straps is if you are carrying a heavy load by the handle of the briefcase (a trapezius workout). If you are buckling up all three straps it can be annoyingly time consuming, but such is the price of strength.
If you have something to large and rolled up to carry the two outside straps on the bottom make excellent strapping points.
The included heavy duty should strap can easily be converted into a backpack. Check out this Saddleback video on how to convert to a backpack. The backpack form is not as comfortable as Saddleback Leather’s other backpacks, but in a pinch it is quite functional.
If it isn’t rugged then isn’t anything. It won’t fit in with a fine suit but for everything else you may be surprised. It goes well with a nice pair of jeans, button up shirt, and a tie, and everything on down the dressy scale. The leather is of such quality that it can be worn easily with a wide variety of outfits, much like quality leather shoes without seeming inappropriate.
As the Large Classic wears with use it will acquire scratches and scuffs. You can choose to either treat the scratches and scuffs with conditioner, in which case the leather will stay relatively new looking (minus normal break-in), or you can let the scuffs and scratches accumulate into a lovely patina.
This photo includes a laser engraved brass luggage tag. Click here for the review on it.
Best Leather conclusion
The substantial size of the bag is a big part of the attraction or detraction to it. Its size is excellently useful and attention attracting. You cannot talk to people without them complimenting it. It lends you aesthetic credibility with its no-nonsense-beauty. However, this comes at the cost of bulkiness and weight. If you are willing to put up with some extra weight (or you are simply big) then this is quite an ideal casual briefcase or adventure bag.
By no means is the Saddleback Leather Large Classic Briefcase cheap. You can get them new on the Saddleback site or used on Ebay (excellent value when purchased used as the bag needs to be broken in anyways).