Saddleback Leather “The Tank” Backpack Review

Have you ever thought of a backpack as badass? You should have when you saw the main photo for this bad-boy. The Backpack is large, thick, heavy, utilitarian, and fricken’ awesome. That’s why Saddleback owners lovingly call it, “The Tank.”

Don’t look away. You have to read on.


Of course The Backpack is created from full grain leather, pigskin liner, polystyrene thread, double stitched, nickel plated brass buckles and snaps, reinforcing nylon, rivets everywhere, heavy duty steel D-rings, and neoprene padded straps (covered in tasty full grain leather, of course). It is all the good stuff that leather goods should be.

“The Tank” is available now with suede as special order but this costs a bit more and is not as rugged as the pigskin liner.

Substantial. Not falling apart. Here to stay. That should clear up any ambiguities.

These photos speak for themselves. The chestnut backpack shown has been used for more than a year and has been used often and carefully.



The Backpack’s pockets are legion. It has a pocket for everything. Pen pockets, notebook pockets, folder pockets, side pockets, the main pocket, and all of it is double stitched and all fantastically rugged.

All the blubbering praise is not to say this backpack is without its difficulties.

One of the challenges with this backpack is how things are vertically arranged (as opposed to the easy horizontal arrangement of the briefcase). The vertical nature of The Backpack requires stacking items if you want to pack a lot in. This isn’t necessarily bad, but can be annoying if you want to get at something quick in the bottom.

It is also quite dramatic and draws attention. If you are the shy type or living in an area where people get their things taken away at gunpoint then perhaps get something like this Jansport.

The bulkiness can be problematic if you often squeeze into tight places.

Also the edge of the seam on the bottom can rub on your back.

Some say it is totally worth it.

From an individual who carries and works with the Saddleback Leather Backpack every day:

Do it.

Enough said.

Here we have a chestnut backpack loaded with a days work at the coffee shop. This is a light load compared to what the backpack can carry. With a full load of books and goodies this thing can be delightfully heavy. Don’t get it if you are a wimp.

  • 8 writing utensils
  • 17″ MacBook Pro & charger
  • cleaning cloth
  • gum and change
  • Kindle
  • iPhone cable and headphones
  • small Moleskin
  • business cards
  • Bose QuietComfort 15 Headphones (great for making an office of a loud coffee shop)
  • Saddleback Leather Medium Notebook
There is much more room with all that in.


“That Saddleback Leather Backpack is so hot right now.” – Barack Obama

The extreme level of quality makes for a rugged backpack that can be used in literally any setting. It’s been used with shorts and sandals as well as smart business getup. However, don’t wear a backpack with a suit.

It can be used professionally and casually because it bridges barriers of appropriateness with pure excellence. 

“The Tank” also transforms into a messenger style bag by using a cross body strap from one of the briefcases. You can sometimes find them on Ebay for $75 or so. Use the D-rings closest to your body to most stabilize the bag.

“The Tank” in backpack form looks better and works better than the messenger form, but it’s a nice option for the taller folk.

Best Leather conclusion

Duh. Please don’t endanger your family’s financial safety.

where to buy

The Original Backpack is now discontinued by Saddleback Leather but you can find them on Ebay. Other Saddleback Leather backpacks can be found on the Saddleback site.

Good used versions can be found on Ebay.

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