Some people get to a point in life when they decide to take the leap from their college nylon messenger bag to a quality leather piece that excels in both form and function. If you search for “best leather briefcase” in Google, the first hit will be the Saddleback Leather Company website–and for good reason. Saddleback Leather (SBL) is a Texas-based company specializing in full-grain, fully tanned leather goods designed to last a lifetime and beyond. This is an online company whose commitment to well-made leather products have earned it a cult following among the style and leather forums across the internet. Out of all the products, the Saddleback Leather Medium Thin Front Pocket Briefcase is the earliest and best-selling product and a fine example of the quality of goods this company has to offer.
The classic briefcase is constructed in Mexico and comprised of only 4-5oz American-sourced, full-grain, fully chrome-tanned leather hides with subtle pull-up features. There are 4 interior pockets and 2 exterior side pockets. To make sure this bag makes it at least 100 years, only nickel plated D-rings, reinforced double stitched straps, UV resistant polyester thread, and 3 large leather sheets with minimal seams are used. Two years ago, the shoulder straps were constructed with dog leash style clasps that were later converted to stylish screw clasps. Unfortunately, these did not hold up as well to daily abuse and suffered problems from becoming unscrewed on its own to detaching at the hinge. The company has since switched back to the dog leash clasps. It took me one e-mail and the customer service rep handled the free exchange process immediately. Not only was the clasp replaced, but they kept the original leather strap which had two years of patina builtin.
In the past two years, my briefcase has seen its fair share of abuse and travel. It works equally well as a daily carry for a professional environment as well as a personal item during travel. Due to the thickness and quality of the full-grain leather, this bag has some weight to it. Weighing in at 6.6lbs empty, it can easily become a strain on your shoulder and back once filled to the maximum. Add in a hot or humid summer day and running through an airport to catch a flight, and you may regret having thrown away that college nylon messenger with the torn corners. Once this bag is used as a daily carry however, it seems as if the body adjusts and the weight eventually becomes a non-issue. Certain features of the bag may see more or less use. The D-rings are less useful if you’re daily activities don’t require strapping on equipment and the open outer pockets, perfect for a soda can, are not ideal for smaller items which can easily fall out.
This bag runs the gamut. Fresh out of the delivery box, it is smooth, pristine and tough as nails. Although clearly not a fashion bag designed for the runway, it can work for a casual business meeting where everyone else is carrying a boring zippered black leather briefcase. After some time, there is no guarantee what your bag will end up looking like. Coddle it and it will stand clean and firm. Abuse it and it will transform into a handsome rugged bag better suited for a camping trip or rodeo. Wipe off the dust, add some conditioner and you can bring it back to the office the next day. Two years later, my bag feels so much softer but just as strong. Areas of heavy contact at the edges and handle have collected the oils from my skin, leaving behind unique character and highly valued patina. So far the full grain leather and stitching has shown no indication of breaking down.
Best Leather Conclusion
The Saddleback Leather Medium Thin Front Pocket Briefcase is a durable and unique bag with a classic and versatile design. It is not for the buyer who is looking for a lightweight bag or prefers to keep their leather goods flawless. It may not work as an everyday carry bag for some, but it’s pros make this a bag worth keeping in your arsenal of leather goods. Based on my issues with the carrying strap hardware, the customer service is top notch and the company seems to be holding its promise that this bag will last a lifetime.