LederMann Rugged Leather Bag Giveaway – $475 Value!

Congratulation to Adam S. on winning the LederMann Rugger Leather Briefcase/Messenger Laptop Bag!

We hope it brings you many years of great service!

LederMann Leather & BestLeather have teamed up to offer this gorgeous Rugged Leather Briefcase/Messenger Laptop Bag. We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing two great LederMann products in the past and can attest to the high quality of their bags.

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The bag up for grabs is the LederMann Rugged Leather Briefcase/Messenger Laptop Bag. Here are some details for you:

“This bag has been designed to offer the flexibility of using it for a laptop bag, or to use as a bag in which to carry your everyday purse items, amongst many other things. It has two inner pockets to separate your possessions plus boasts of multiple outer pockets and smaller inner pockets in which to carry ink pens, glasses, electronics, and other items you may need. This bag not only allows you to carry it by a handle or shoulder strap it converts into a backpack to for even further convenience.”

Material:

  • Thick Full Grain Leather, 5 – 6 oz. (2 – 2.2 mm)
  • Suede Lining
  • Durable, Industrial Nylon Thread
  • Machine Pressed Heavy Duty Rivets at all stress points

The Design & Features:

  • Dimensions: 16″W X 12″H X 7″D and has two inside compartments that are 3.5″ inches each

Contest is open to contestants from United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and Germany.

LederMann Leather Messenger Bag Giveaway – $475 Value!

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HUSKK iPhone 6 Quick Draw Wallet Review – $59.99

If you’re a regular reader here at BestLeather you know we’re always on the hunt for unique designs or new applications for leather. If you’re new to BestLeather…now you know. ☺ There is a lot of tradition in the form and function of leather and we like that too. But, it’s just downright cool to see fresh, new approaches to integrating a timeless material like leather. This is one of the things that struck us first when we were introduced to HUSKK.

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About HUSKK

HUSKK is a team of free thinkers with varied disciplines from design, engineering, marketing and finance. Together, they share their diverse strengths and united passion of creation to bring to you NEW life-easing everyday must haves. “We love all things beautiful, functional and well crafted. Today there’s a growing community of people who appreciate and hunt for this union of solid functionality, minimalistic style combined with great craftsmanship made from honest materials. We believe that these are the core value of our creations and customers”.

HUSKK is based in London, England and ships their products worldwide.

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Construction

The Quick Draw Wallet we received for review is made for the iPhone 6 and features great medium colored tan leather. HUSKK uses Italian vegetable tanned leather. It’s a unique design on many fronts. The molded plastic shell has a rubberized finish and fits tightly around my phone…making it feel secure.

The leather is high quality with a nice texture, feel, and finish to it. The stitching is even and matches the leather’s tone to blend in nicely. It’s a well built piece and doesn’t seem flimsy in any way.

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Function

I used to keep my iPhones (3, 4, and 5) in bulky cases that were designed to survive apocalyptic incidents. But, I grew weary of encasing such a gorgeous phone in ugly bulkiness. So, I went completely case-less for some time (without incident too mind you). However the newest version of the iPhone seems a bit more fragile and its design is slippery, which makes me nervous. And that put me on the hunt for a solution. When I came across the iPhone 6 Quick Draw Wallet from HUSKK, I immediately knew it was the case/wallet combination of my dreams.

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The case itself is minimal, but keeps the phone secure and the screen protected. The wallet portion is the “pièce de résistance”. It’s an ingenious design and application of beautiful leather. It features an internal slot pocket capable of holding 8 or so cards with four expanding leather pieces to hold them in place. The top of the leather flap stays shut with a magnet. It’s powerful too and will definitely stay closed when you have it maxed out with cards. The exterior slot pocket is perfect for cash and a couple of cards that you use frequently.

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Aesthetic

I’ve been carry the Quick Draw for almost six weeks now. It’s definitely a keeper! It also garners quite a bit of attention and questions when I pull out a business card from the wallet portion or slide my debit card out to pay the barista.

The leather is developing a nice patina and has darkened up a bit already. Overall, I’m very satisfied with its performance and can’t think of an area where I find it to be lacking. It performs its intentions admirably and perfectly.

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Conclusion

The HUSKK iPhone 6 Quick Draw Wallet is definitely a smart buy. At $59.99 it is priced well and given all of its functionality what I would consider a real bargain given the outrageous prices you’ll find for other smartphone cases. HUSKK does make other styles, colors, and cases. They also features some other cool, clever accessories too. And, I’m sure they’ll continue to design cases for the next generation of iPhones yet to come. Check out their site and get yourself one of these great cases.

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Thirteen 50 Leather Belt Review – $70

The leather belt is oft overlooked and simply taken for granted. This is especially true for what is often referred to as the “daily” or “casual” version of your pants’ keeper upper. The gentlemen at Thirteen50 Leather have supplied us with two great looking belts to put to the test. They also just launched their first Kickstarter campaign, which we encourage you to check out thoroughly and support.

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About

Based is Oceanside, CA Thirteen50 is a leather company with a passion to create quality leather goods made right here in the USA. From their website: The saying, “they don’t make em’ like they used to” is said far too often in this day in age. This is sad, but so very true. At Thirteen50 we wanted to do as our ancestors did, and make a quality product at an affordable price (not to mention, offering a killer traditional look).

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Construction

This is a belt you could tow your truck home with…although that would be a really cool sight to see, we don’t necessarily recommend it. However, the Thirteen50 leather belt is fashioned from 12-14 ounce leather, which means it is incredibly thick and durable. The leather used by Thirteen50 is sourced from within the United States – bridle leather from Wickett & Craig or Hermann Oak. The point is…it’s tremendously strong and long lasting. The edges of the belt are nicely burnished and beveled. The hardware used is solid brass. The belt also features 4 heavy duty Chicago screws, which allow you to personalize the belt with your own buckle should that be something of interest to you.

Aesthetic & Function

I’ve only had these two belts for a couple of weeks so far, but I really like them. The thick leather feels great and looks fantastic. The two colors I received (chestnut and black) are classic colors and go well with a variety of dress options. I like the antique brass color of the hardware on both belts and I think it compliments the leather colors perfectly.

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Both belts have plenty of adjustment holes in them and everything just works the way a belt should. The Thirteen50 logo is tastefully placed near the back set of Chicago screws. The folks who’ve had a chance to check out the belts thus far all have commented favorably on them…with lots of comments on the quality of the leather.

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Conclusion

Thirteen50 Leather is in the middle of their Kickstarter campaign, which is focused on these belts. In addition to the chestnut and black colors shown here, you have the option to order it in natural veg tan and dark brown…both of which appear to be excellent choices too. They’re just about to crest their goal on Kickstarter…but there are plenty of rewards left. $50 will get you a belt that later on will cost you $70. So get it while you can…and you won’t regret it. This belt, which definitely meets our Buy It for Life criteria, is backed by a lifetime guarantee, but it is designed to outlast you, so don’t worry about it. I look forward to using these belts over the course of time and I’ll definitely plan to post an update on them in the not too distant future.

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Hanwag Men’s Tashi Boots Review – $425

How many times have you heard someone say, “well, my boots are made from yak leather”? I can honestly say that, before this year, I didn’t know anything about yak leather. But now…not only do I KNOW about yak leather – I have a pair of awesome yak leather hiking boots from an great company called Hanwag.

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About Hanwag

This is the second feature from Hanwag here on BestLeather. Recently we published a review on a pair of hiking boots for ladies, which you can read here.

Hanwag is a German company that’s been around since 1911. They have a strong following throughout Europe and are seeing the brand successfully grow in the United States now. They’re dedicated to environmentally friendly processes, sustainable processes, and producing high quality products.

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Construction

As mentioned earlier, the Tashi Boots are made with Tibetan yak leather. The chrome free yak leather features an eco-friendly, sustainable technology used during manufacturing process. The leather is 2.2 to 2.6 millimeters thick. This leather is sourced exclusively from the Lhasa Leather Factory in Tibet.

"The Yak" by Nadeemmushtaque - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Yak.jpg#/media/File:The_Yak.jpg
“The Yak” by Nadeemmushtaque

Quick rabbit trail: Yaks are hardy animals that thrive in their normal 4000 meter, relatively barren landscape. The animal provides many benefits to its owners over its lifetime. When the yak’s hide is tanned into leather, it has a naturally raw texture, not uniform at all. This gives each Tashi Boot a unique character.

The boots are double stitched, feature a rugged resoleable Vibram sole, and are handmade In Germany with materials exclusively sourced within Europe.

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Function

This is the really fun part. I’ve worn out many different pairs of hiking boots over the years. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on functionality and performance here. To put it succinctly…these boots rock.

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They are comfortable and feel great on your foot. The break-in period is very slight…wear them a few short times around town and then you’re ready to hit the trail. One of the things I noticed about these boots is the shape of the sole. They naturally cause your foot to move properly (pronate…supinate). The soles create a fantastic heel to toe roll, which is ideal for long hikes and exploring on the trail.

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The thickly padded upper is appreciated for comfort, ankle support, and the safety it affords while on the trail. Lacing them up is easy and the one set of speed hooks is set down low, which is ideal and gives you a good pull and keeps your heel firmly in place. Also, the eyelets on the lower portion of the boots actually contain ball bearings…a cool little feature that allows the laces to move easily without wearing them out (it’s the little things, right?). The Tashi Boots are a great all around hiker and will keep your feet comfortable for many miles.

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Aesthetic

The Hanwag Tashi Boots have a traditional European hiking boot design, which I’ve always found to be pleasing to the eye. The texture of the yak leather is immediately noticeable and very cool. It is definitely unique…and I like it. The dark brown of the leather and the padded upper is a nice departure from the traditional lighter brown of many boots in this style. The interior of the boot is visually appealing too with the light beige colored thin leather lining.

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The dark brown yak leather, the thick white stitching on the sole, the rugged Vibram tread…it all makes me feel like trekking through the backcountry of Yosemite again. If only I had the time and resources to run off and do it.

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Conclusion

At $425, the Hanwag Tashi Boots are a significant investment. But, if you’re a moderate to serious backpacking or trail hiking enthusiast, you already know that investing in a great pair of boots is the best choice you can make. You won’t go wrong purchasing these boots. They’re a treat for your feet and will continue to keep you moving down the trail for many years to come. And…they’re yak leather! You’ll by far be the coolest person on the trail for sure with these on your feet!

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Iron & Resin Café Gloves Review – $72

When you get your first two-wheeled freedom machine (aka motorcycle), it’s an awesome experience. I owned my first motorcycle in college. When I graduated, I quickly upgraded to another cruiser and used it daily to commute into the San Fernando Valley. One of the best things I ever did for my daily rides was purchase a good set of leather gloves. Of course gloves aren’t just for riding motorcycles…but some gloves just go with motorcycles better than others. Such is the case with the Iron & Resin Café Gloves.

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About Iron & Resin

“Born in a small, Southern California, blue-collar beach town, graced with world class point breaks and seaside racetracks, where ghosts of a once towering oil industry still linger in the shadows. Iron & Resin is the brainchild of several friends who, after decades of collective experience building successful clothing brands, decided to turn back the clock and start anew. The result is a small, hand built collection of goods that draws heavily upon the founder’s own lifestyles and experiences.

Forged in California… In a mass produced, disposable world, Iron & Resin is a product of “one-off” culture. Where men still build, by their own hands, the craft they ride, be it water or land. Our goods are carefully hand crafted and printed one at a time in California.”

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Construction

The Iron & Resin Café Gloves come in what they refer to as a ‘gold’ color. It’s an attractive color, but I’d say it’s more yellow than gold. But, I’m not going to nitpick. The gloves are 100% deerskin leather. If you’re not familiar with deerskin, it’s super soft; a fact that makes them ideal for gloves. Not only is it soft, but it’s durable too. The gloves are double stitched and feature an extra layer of leather across each palm.

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Function

I received a pair in their extra large size and they fit perfectly. They’re snug in the right places and offer just the extra protection and insulation that I want when riding. And, their style affords me the ability to wear them off of my bike too. Their traditional look doesn’t look out of place with a good leather jacket on those cool mornings or evenings. On the motorcycle they are protective, yet soft enough to afford ease of movement and function while riding (which is extremely important). And riding is where these gloves truly belong…it’s part of the Iron & Resin DNA.

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Aesthetic

The first thing people do with these gloves is touch them…and comment on how soft the leather is. Then, of course they slip their hands inside and comment even more on the softness. Finally they ask, “where did you get these?” And, I happily suggest they visit the Iron & Resin website. I also point out they have several different colors, leathers, and styles of gloves available (be looking for another BestLeather review on their Elk Bobber Gloves).

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The color of the Café Glove definitely draws attention. But, it’s the deerskin leather that really grabs people’s attention.

The Iron & Resin logo name is stamped on both gloves and, in my opinion, gives them a cool, heritage look. They also have a piston and anchor logo pin in one of the gloves…another cool little feature.

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Conclusion

Even if I didn’t ride motorcycles, I would still be very interested in these gloves. I just like the style – I like the design – I really like the deerskin leather – and the fit and finish is ideal. At $72 the Iron & Resin Café Gloves are a bit more than you’ll spend on gloves from a big box store, but the quality, style, and ‘cool factor’ is unrivaled. I look forward to using them on most every ride from here on out.

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Chivote – A Kickstarter Success in the Making

Chivote is a young team with a passion for quality goods; who wants to make it’s own mark, by creating unique products with a bit of extra functionality. Their Kickstarter has been enthusiastically embraced and is currently enjoying a 200% funding status with just a few days before it closes.

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Chivote is offering several great, unique leather products that offer versatility and durability at great prices. If you’re able, order during the remaining time on their Kickstarter to enjoy even more savings on these quality pieces.

Their Kickstarter page is full of great videos and information about their products, their processes, and their company. Be sure to take a few minutes and check it all out. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a product review or two here on BestLeather featuring Chivote.

Red Wing Iron Ranger Boots Review – $319.99

The first pair of Red Wing boots I ever encountered were given to me in the summer of 1984. I was actually reluctant to accept them. You see, I considered myself a “certified ranch hand”, even though I was truly only a greenhorn at the time. After quickly wearing out several pairs of decent, traditional cowboy boots on the ranch, my boss gave me a pair of Red Wing work boots (I don’t recall the type). Being a Texas boy, I kind of scoffed at the idea of wearing them for cattle ranching. But, I slipped them on, worked in them for a day…and continued to work in them for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, I grew out of them – I certainly didn’t wear them out. They were seriously comfortable and rugged…enduring all of the harsh punishment I dished out at the time. That was my introduction to Red Wing.

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About Red Wing

From their website: “Around the turn of the 20th century a Red Wing, MN shoe merchant named Charles Beckman saw a local necessity for shoes specifically designed for the demanding work of industries such as mining, logging and farming. The rigors of these jobs required footwear, which was tough enough to outlast harsh working conditions, but Beckman envisioned a shoe that was also comfortable enough for the hardworking people who wore them. Beckman set out to develop work boots to fill this need and in 1905 he and fourteen investors opened a company that would change the market. Beckman named his company Red Wing Shoes, and thus a new standard for excellence was born.

Over one hundred years has passed since our founding and our commitment to producing only the highest grade footwear remains as unwavering as Beckman’s vision. Our products consistently perform in environments spanning from the Mideast oil fields to the Midwest corn fields. Red Wing boots protect workers in more than one hundred countries across the world, an accomplishment built by years of hard work, endurance and the promise to never compromise on our quality.”

The Iron Ranger Boots that I have the privilege of reviewing are part of Red Wing’s Heritage Collection. Again, according to their website, “our Heritage collection, which is made up of footwear that represents the American ideals of prosperous work and excellence. All the styles in the Heritage collection are designed and built just as they were fifty, sixty and even over eighty years ago and are all made using premium Red Wing Shoe Company leather from our very own S.B. Foot Tannery. They are handcrafted to the specifications, which made each style timeless when they were first introduced.”

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Construction

The Iron Ranger Boots are made using premium black harness leather from their own S.B. Foot Tannery. This is oil-tanned leather, which is used in many of Red Wing’s boots and shoes. Oil-tanned leather is extremely durable, which is a feature easily seen and proven with Red Wing’s 100+ year history. The boots are made using Goodyear Welt construction, the hardware for the eyelets and speed hooks is nickel, and the laces are long lasting taslan. The nitrile cork soles initially appear like they would be slippery – however, they are not at all. Cork soles are extremely durable and provide excellent traction on almost all surfaces. This particular style also features an eye-catching double layer toe cap and double stitching. Interestingly, the boots feature two different colors of stitching – the toe cap and seams around the laces and top of the boot all feature black thread while the rest of the boot has white stitching.

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Function

While anticipating the arrival of my Iron Rangers, I read comments from many different long time Red Wing wearers and was initially nervous about the break-in period. Perhaps I’m just not that ‘in-tune’ with my feet, but the break in period on my Iron Rangers was virtually nil. They were comfortable initially…but, they’re really comfortable now. I’ve worn these boots consistently and in a variety of situations. All day comfort is definitely an one of the Iron Ranger’s attributes.

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In spite of their 8” height, I do not have issues slipping these on without a finger loop or pull loop on the back. Perhaps it’s because of the angled top of the boot? I’m not sure. However, unlike some other boots of this size that also lack a pull tab on the back of them, these slip on easily and effortlessly.

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Aesthetic

This style’s original purpose was to serve Iron miners in northern Minnesota. All I have to say about that is, dang…those were some stylin’ miners! This boot has some serious aesthetic appeal. They’re rugged – but with that toe cap, you can dress ‘em up too. Personally, I think it’s a great style and for those of you who are budget minded when it comes to footwear, consider this boot as two pairs: your dress boot and your casual boot.

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I enjoy the black version of the Iron Rangers that I have now. These boots also come in Amber, Copper, and Hawthorne leathers too – all of which look fantastic. I would not hesitate to hit the “Add to Cart” button on any of those versions.

To keep my boots in tiptop shape, I also received Red Wing’s Basic Care Product Kit, which contains their All Natural Leather Conditioner, Mink Oil, Boot Cream, Brush, and Cloth. This is a must have kit if you plan to keep the leather on your Red Wing’s conditioned and protected. At $39.95, it’s a great kit and will service your boots well.

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Conclusion

You can’t go wrong in purchasing a pair of Red Wing Iron Rangers. The construction, fit, finish, and heritage behind the brand is all fantastic. In the realm of quality footwear, their price of $319.99 is a great value. You will receive a pair of boots that will be enjoyed for years, will continue to perform well, and will become a daily companion on all of life’s adventures. The Iron Rangers are definitely a great buy. So, which pair will you be ordering?

Hanwag Tatra Ladies’ Boots Review – $280

One of the greatest feelings in the world is getting out on the trail and breathing some of that fresh alpine air. But one of the worst feelings is getting halfway up the mountain, realizing you’ve got a blister forming, and knowing that the rest of the hike is going to be agony. That’s why it’s crucial to invest in a nice pair of hiking boots. Hanwag, based in Vierkirchen, Germany, has been making high quality outdoor shoes since 1921. We received a pair of their Tatra Lady boots to review, as well as a pair of Men’s Tashi Boots made with yak leather (keep an eye out for a review coming soon!). My wife immediately snagged up the Tatra Lady boots to test out and wear on a few hikes.

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ABOUT HANWAG

Hans Wagner opened his boot shop in 1921 in Vierkirchen, Germany, close to Munich. Wagner made a name for himself by producing high quality alpine skiing and touring boots. By the company’s 90th anniversary in 2011, Hanwag had become a staple in the hiking and outdoor sports world.  From their website:

“HANWAG boots and shoes are primarily made in Europe. Only a small number of our components require lengthy transportation. We make approximately 30 per cent of our collection (the double stitched and mountain boots) at our headquarters in Vierkirchen, near Munich. We have further exclusive production facilities in Croatia, Hungary and Romania. Our relatively limited transportation requirements help further minimize our environmental impact.”

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CONSTRUCTION

The Tatra boots are crafted with waxed nubuk uppers, lined with leather, and double-stitched onto a Vibram AW Integral sole. The leather is hard and waxy, but not crusty or plastic feeling. The upper, midsole, and insole rib are all genuinely double-stitched– you can see the flange on the edge of the midsole that proves that these boots are constructed extremely sturdily.

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The chunky Vibram AW Integral sole provides great traction while still being flexible enough to maintain a natural gait. Hefty metal shoelace hooks allow for a highly adjustable fit around the ankle, which has a medium-high cut.

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FUNCTION

These boots are immediately comfortable upon first wear. The perforated collar is attached to a soft, padded leather lining that keeps the foot stable and avoids rubbing. The insole is padded with Hanwag’s FussKomfort sole, which you can easily substitute or replace. So far, these boots have walked miles without an issue. Paired with a thick pair of wool socks, The Tatra will take you many, many miles in total comfort. They weigh 760 grams/1.7 pounds, which is on the heavier side, but the hefty sole and sturdy construction are worth it.

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AESTHETIC

The Tatra’s color is what makes this boot model so eye-catching. Hanwag calls the color Aubergine or Eggplant 82, however, in person the boots are really a bit brighter red than they appear on the website. The color is muted enough to be tasteful, yet interesting enough to stand out from the droves of brown hiking boots on the market. The upper has an interesting rounded cut that gives the boot a modern twist. The medium-high cut looks great while maintaining ankle stability. Hanwag Tatra Ladies Boots 1

CONCLUSION

Hanwag’s Tatra Lady boots are an excellent choice for the frequent hiker. Their stability and expert construction speaks well of Hanwag’s legacy, and their unique aesthetic sets them apart from other similar boots. $280 is a very reasonable price to pay for hiking boots that will last years on the trail. These are boots that you’ll want to take on adventures for years to come.

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Westward Leather Double-Tray Dopp Kit Review – $180

Every once in a while here at BestLeather, we see a product that makes us think “Why didn’t I think of that?” The Westward Leather Double Tray Dopp Kit is one of those products. It’s both a great idea and a great execution. Let’s take a look at what makes this dopp kit so exceptional.

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About Westward Leather Company

Based in Spokane, Washington in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Westward Leather Company handcrafts bags, belts, wallets, and more – all with American heritage style in mind. From their website:

“Westward Leather Company has been a long time in the making. In reality, it’s less of a company, and more of a creative perspective. WLC’s beginnings are scattered and gathered from a multitude of life experiences and travels, and from a personal search for quality and craftsmanship in all fields, throughout history. Such a search so often has led us into the archives of vintage and antique, where we have always been most impressed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our ancestor’s generations. And yet, at the same time, history is riddled with terrible actions and decisions as well. Somewhere in the middle of these two opposites is where Westward Leather Company was born.”

We had the chance to meet with Ben, the founder of Westward Leather, at one of our favorite coffeehouses in downtown Spokane (Rocket Bakery). “Basically, I make containers for people to use for their stuff…”, is how Ben explained his company. This might be true – but, his containers look fantastic and are built to endure years of use.

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Construction & Function

Handcrafted from beautiful 8-ounce heavily oiled bridle leather, this kit features overlapping double hand-laced waxed nylon seams, and solid copper hand-set rivets. This dopp kit won’t be falling apart any time soon. The two-finger carry handle is interlaced with the seam and stays fairly flush against the side for easy packing and carrying.

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At 8” x 6” 2.75”, the Double-Tray Dopp Kit is the absolute perfect size. A lot of dopp kits on the market are simply enormous and end up hogging half of your carry-on suitcase or duffle. This one is the perfect size to fit all the essentials—toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, pomade, etc., without overwhelming your weekender bag.

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The greatest feature this dopp kit is its genius lid design. The lid is designed to be entirely removable to act as a valet tray on the go. Simply unfasten the wrap around strap with solid brass snap, and you immediately have a valet tray to set on your hotel nightstand. It’s a great catch-all for your keys, change, wallet, and hotel keys, and you don’t even have to think about packing it because it’s attached.

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Aesthetic

The 8-oz bridle leather comes only in this attractive chestnut shade. The valet tray and the bottom of the dopp kit fit together very smoothly and compactly. The buffalo stamp in the bottom right corner is a subtle reminder of Westward Leather’s heritage theme. This dopp kit looks like nothing else on the market and is sure to be a standout product for Westward Leather.

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Conclusion

The Westward Leather Double-Tray Dopp Kit is a very unique, standout product. It’s handmade in the USA, features double-stitched seams, copper rivets, and a genius design. For $180, you’re getting a great dopp kit as well as a valet tray. This is a product that I plan on carrying on every trip for the foreseeable future. And, it definitely qualifies as a Buy It for Life product. Be sure to check out Ben’s other great products on the Westward Leather website.

Craft & Lore and BestLeather Port Wallet Giveaway – $55 Value, 4 Winners!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!

Melanie F, Eric N, Adam B, & Weston A!

Thank you to all who entered the Craft & Lore giveaway! Keep an eye out for more giveaways coming soon!

Port Wallet Winners


Craft & Lore is partnering with BestLeather.org to give you a shot at winning one of their Port Wallets. The company, located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is an independent design and build workshop, focusing on leather goods that are simple in form and function. Craft and Lore recently launched a Kickstarter for their Port Wallet ($39 only on Kickstarter), a minimal handmade wallet made to carry your indispensable cards plus some cash. Last year, we reviewed the Port Wallet, and here’s what our reviewer Ben had to say about it:

“The Port Wallet is a simple, no-fold, four pocket workhorse designed to carry 7-8 cards in the central pocket, as well as a few bills and a drivers license. With 4-5oz hand tanned leather and saddle stitched waxed polyester thread, this wallet is absolutely built to last — most importantly, it is able to withstand the abuse of day-to-day goings. From trips to the coffee shop on my bike to long commutes in the car, this wallet hasn’t appeared to even begin to wear in any way after three weeks of being in my back pocket. The Port Wallet is built to last. Period.

This wallet can be described in just one word: clean. The color of my vegetable-tanned leather Port Wallet reminds me of a fine 15 year single malt scotch: a rich, mesmerizing amber. The stitching accents the clean simplicity of the wallet. The leather is smooth and extremely soft to the touch; it’s an pleasant experience each time you reach in your front pocket.”

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Craft & Lore Port Wallet Giveaway – 4 Winners!

This time, we will be selecting FOUR winners, each of whom will be able to choose a Port Wallet in Natural, Medium Brown, Dark Brown, or Mahogany. The giveaway runs from July 16th to July 28th, so enter now for your chance to win!

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Port Wallet - Craft and Lore

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White Buffalo Republic Fairview Messenger Bag Review – $279.99

Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, John Colter, Jedediah Smith, William Sublette – all mountain men who embraced adventure and the unknown on a daily basis. During the westward expansion of the United States, these men and their ways, became the “legendary stuff of legends”. To this day their grandiose deeds inspire. One of the things these guys were known for was their “possibles bags”. Generally a possibles bag was made from some type of leather – most likely from an animal they had harvested on their own. This bag was used to carry Items they deemed necessary and critical to have at hand at all times. While I’m sure today’s list of ‘necessary, at hand items’ is much, much different than during those days, White Buffalo Republic has designed a series of “possibles bags” for modern day adventurers and we’re taking a look at their Fairview Messenger Bag.

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About White Buffalo Republic

White Buffalo Republic is based in Afton, WY. Its full catalog of bags and cases are made in Guatemala. “White Buffalo Republic bags are unique, simple, useful, handcrafted works of functional art. While the modern adventurer and explorer’s tools have changed, the need to have a quality bag to carry the tools in has not. Our philosophy and operations are based on the “old fashioned” notions of attention to detail, pride in our product, and value for our customers. Our calling is not just to produce fine quality leather goods – we also strive to treat all with whom we deal fairly and honestly. We believe that these traits are the marks of true craftsmen.”

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Construction

The Fairview, and all of their products, are made with locally sourced, full grain, vegetable tanned leather. The entire tanning process is actually done right in Guatemala by local craftsmen. Each hide is cleaned and dyed using natural oils and waxes to produce an attractive and durable finish. Once White Buffalo Republic’s own team of artisans get the leather, they hand cut and stitch each component of the bag. Every bag is hand stitched using the traditional double stitch method employed by saddle makers to produce an iron tough bond. The hardware is United States sourced stainless steel or nickel, all of which has proved to be sturdy and durable.

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Function

The Fairview is nice and roomy, at 16″ x 10 ½” x 4 ¼”. It fits my laptop and other items well and has ample room for my books, magazines and papers from work. I would like to see a zippered section where I could store smaller things like change, cords etc. It would also be great if one of the inside pockets fit an actual tablet. I find myself putting it in a bigger pocket and I worry about it getting messed up. But none of these minor issues would have me going back to a cheap nylon messenger bag.

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The 1 ½ “ strap is adjustable from 40 1/2″ to 54 1/2″ and includes a leather shoulder pad. The strap and its hardware both feel very sturdy and have performed with no issues. The carry handle is well sized and shaped, and provides a nice alternate carry method. You just need to ensure the main flap is secured in order to carry it with the handle.

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Aesthetic

From the White Buffalo Republic website: “All of our bags are made of full grain, high quality, natural veg tanned leather. While each bag will fit the standardize size specifications noted in the description, not every bag will be exactly like the model shown in the picture. Your bag will be unique. Some bags come with brand marks, evidence of insect bites, or a myriad of other marks or scars that add character. (If you find yourself bored in a board meeting, you can let your mind ponder how that scar got there.)” The bag we received has an awesome brand mark right on the front of the bag, which definitely makes it a one of a kind piece. And, it’s something people notice, comment about, and overwhelmingly appreciate.

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My Fairview Messenger is in the color “Antique Brown,” but it also comes in a natural veg-tan color. The Antique Brown color has a beautiful, rich coloring right out of the box, and only continues to darken and develop a gorgeous patina. The double strap, dark coloring, and squared edges really give it that western, rugged flair.

Conclusion

I think close to 20 people commented on my bag within the month I had it…and the comments continue to come wherever I carry it. Some of them have pulled me aside while walking into or out of our office. “Nice bag, man!” is what I hear a lot. And I do love the bag. I love that is sturdy. There isn’t anything about this bag that looks or feels like it is going to fall apart.

At $279.99, the White Buffalo Republic Fairview Messenger Bag is closer to the lower end of the price spectrum, but the quality easily matches bags in the $400+ range. This bag is sturdy, attractive, and quality, perfect for the “modern adventurer.” It definitely qualifies as an excellent purchase for the price. In addition to the Fairview Messenger, White Buffalo Republic has several other messenger and briefcase designs in their arsenal. Be sure to check all of them out.

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Interview with Thomas Brennan of Moore & Giles

Moore & Giles has been firmly entrenched in the leather industry since it was founded in 1933 in Lynchburg, VA. Currently, Moore & Giles employs more than 70 people in its headquarters in Forest, Virginia with representation in every major metropolitan area as well as strategic partnerships in England, Germany, France, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Moore & Giles designs and develops the world’s most luxurious natural leathers for leather upholstery, residential leather, hospitality leather and aviation leather. In 2007 they also introduced a collection of luxury leather bags and accessories as an additional avenue to showcase the inherent beauty and timeless appeal of their natural leathers.

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We spoke to Thomas Brennan, their lead designer, on the phone and at the Magic Trade Show in Las Vegas in February. Thomas has been with Moore & Giles for almost 4 years, since September 2011. His route into bag design was a circuitous one, studying architecture, dabbling in the food service industry, and more. He started off at Moore and Giles as an intern after realizing his love for design.

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“Moore & Giles is a great place to be a designer. With the full materials library from the Moore & Giles tannery available to me, I’m able to take advantage of working with almost any type of leather in-house,” says Thomas. As such, Moore & Giles keep their beautiful leather as the focal point of each piece, often sticking with a traditional shape or silhouette while digging into the details and making a piece look or function better than ever.

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It takes approximately seven months for a new design to make it from concept to production. The Moore & Giles team cites collaboration and flexibility as the key to their success in design. Their team also does extensive in-house testing with their pieces before they release them to the public. Their own sales team, marketing team, and others within their employ use prototype bags and report back to Thomas on their findings, recommendations, and offer insight into how new bag designs should be finalized for production. And, with the bags that we’ve been able to review and use the end result is well worth the development and testing time.

Thomas’ favorite designs are the Zip Tote and  the Crews Backpack. BestLeather has enjoyed reviewing their gorgeous Sportsman Duffel, Brennan Rucksack, and Donald Dopp Kit. Keep an eye out for more reviews of their Canady Haversack and their Sackett Messenger Bag. The video below is a short interview with Thomas about some of the Moore & Giles Bag designs. We’ve been very impressed with Thomas’ designs and can’t wait to see what he and Moore & Giles do next!

Moore & Giles Bags: An Interview with Designer Thomas Brennan from Moore & Giles, Inc. on Vimeo.

Kendal & Hyde Medium Classic Leather Satchel – First Impressions

The team at BestLeather has the privilege of seeing lots and lots of leather products. Since we’re leather aficionados (aka leather nerds), we think of it as a major perk for being part of this team. But, even for us there are those times when we see a leather bag or another product and remark to anyone who’s willing to listen, “oh…they really got that one right.” Those are the words I uttered when I opened the email from Kendal & Hyde regarding their newest bag, the Classic Leather Satchel.

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About Kendal & Hyde

Kendal & Hyde is located in Salt Lake City, UT and San Francisco, CA. They have a great eye for design and details. This is evident when you look at the list of successful Kickstarters (now on their 4th) they’ve created since 2014. Their products are functional, appealing, and built to stand the rigors of daily use and time.

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Construction

The Medium Classic Leather Satchel we received here is a working prototype of what’s to come in their production run. Said production run is guaranteed to happen now that they’ve eclipsed their Kickstarter goal of $50k (they are now well on their way to doubling that number).

If you’re a veg tan fan…you’re in luck here. The Classic Leather Satchel is 100% vegetable tanned leather. It’s being featured in natural, black, and medium brown colors. The leather is thick and only slightly stiff. This is a bag that will definitely develop a gorgeous patina over time.

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It also comes in three sizes:

  • Large – 17.75″W x 13″H x 9″D
  • Medium –15.75″W x 12″H x 9″D
  • Small – 14.25″W x 11″H x 6″D

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All three sizes contain the same features and design elements. This Kickstarter has generated some very interesting conversations in some of the leather groups we follow on Facebook. The overwhelming majority of those discussions have been very positive and supportive. However, there are always those who like to make comparisons or make unsupported claims of duplicating another design. I’m never a fan of those comparisons and complaints. I often find them unfounded and usually untrue. The cold hard truth is that there are only so many ways to create a satchel-styled bag. This version is in fact, very unique in several ways:

  • the Buffalo nickel on the handle wrap
  • full vegetable tanned leather
  • the thickness of shoulder pad is amazing
  • it features a single piece side and bottom—no seam in the center
  • hardware that is unrivaled in quality (solid brass)
  • the center pocket is for a laptop and is designed to keep it from being bumped from any direction…a very unique and effective strategy.
  • includes a dedicated iPad pocket that also keeps it from being knocked around as well
  • the unique, modular aspect, which allows for additional pockets, straps, and accessories to be added to the satchel for personal customization. The line of accessories will continue to be developed and works on all of the satchels in this line (and will work with future designs too)

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So, as you can see there are many elements here that differentiate the Kendal & Hyde Satchel. Personally, I’m thrilled to see the modular design aspect incorporated. It’s brilliant. As a fan of vintage Swiss Army leather goods, I really like the design of the single and triple pouches…which definitely hearken back to the ammunition pouches from the Swiss Army.

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Function

Since this is a prototype, we haven’t had the luxury of using this as rigorously or as long as we usually do when putting together our reviews. However, the feel of this bag, the quality of construction, and the design elements included lead us to believe that this bag will perform its role for you in high style and perfection.

We look forward to being able to report on regular usage once we receive the production models. We’ll be featuring full reviews of those in just a couple of months.

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Aesthetic

Clean lines, exceptional build quality, and top of the line components all blend together for a visually appealing feast. Sounds cheesy but it’s true. The Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel exudes class and style in my opinion. It appears that it will look great whether it’s carried over the shoulder, cross body, or in backpack mode.

Conclusion

The Kickstarter for the Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel is still going. Secure one in the size and color you want and you’ll save about $100 off the normal price. Also, all of the modular pieces and other accessories are discounted. We’ve had a total of four reviewers from our team check out this Kendal & Hyde Satchel. The overwhelming consensus is that we highly recommend that you get one ordered for yourself. It’s definitely a Buy It for Life Satchel that you’ll be able to hand down for many generations.

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Cravar & BestLeather F.C. 15 Messenger Bag Giveaway – $410 Value

Congratulations to Joshua S of Ohio for being selected as the winner of the Cravar F.C. 15 Messenger Bag!

Joshua, check your email so we can get you set up with your new bag! And thank you to all who entered. Please check your inbox soon too – Cravar will be sending a special “thank you” incentive to everyone who entered. 


 

 

The fine folks at Cravar are ready to give you a shot at winning one of their great looking F.C. 15 Bags. Back in April, we had the privilege of reviewing this same bag – you can check out the full review here. Since that time, the F.C. 15 has become a daily carry bag for the wife of the reviewer and she absolutely loves it. It continues to garner comments and questions. And, it performs its role for her perfectly.

Now, it’s YOUR turn to get one of these amazing bags! Here’s what the winner gets:

  •  Winner may choose one F.C. 15 bag from the 3 colors Cravar offers: Espresso, Rust, or Fox
  • Winner may have the bag personalized with a maximum of 3 initials (no numbers or punctuation…just letters). Cravar offers two font choices: Satyr or Telefon (see image below for font examples).

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The Giveaway runs from June 17 through July 8th…so, GO FORTH AND ENTER!

 

Cravar F.C. 15 Giveaway – $410 Value!

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Cravar’s F.C. 15 in Espresso
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Cravar’s F.C. 15 in Fox
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Cravar’s F.C. 15 in Rust

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In addition to visiting Cravar’s Facebook page within the contest, please consider following them here too:

Steve Madden Nathen Boots Review – $140

I like boots. They’re my preferred footwear for just about any occasion. My wife says I have a problem. Obviously, I disagree. Boots are awesome. Need something casual? Boots. Need to dress up? Boots. Need to go do some work? Boots. Need something waterproof? Boots. Going hunting? Boots. Going hiking? Boots. Get the idea? In my latest boot review episode, we’re going to be taking a look at the Nathen Boots from Steve Madden.

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About Steve Madden

Steve Madden has been an iconic footwear name for many years in the women’s fashion line. After such a successful 10 year stint there, Steve Madden Men’s line was launched. Starting as a primarily casual line, Steve Madden Men’s has evolved into a lifestyle brand. The desire is to give guys many options to wear their products for different aspects of his week – day to evening, work to weekend.

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Construction

The Nathen Boots are made in Asia will full leather uppers, cemented construction, a split suede lining, and synthetic sole. I’m not sure where the leather is sourced. The leather is soft and supple, stitching is even and nicely done, and the zipper and eyelets feature an antique brass finish.

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Function

Upon opening the box, several of my senses were very pleased. Initially, I was greeted by a delicious smell. If you’re a long time reader here, you’ve heard a few of us comment on the awesome aroma associated with certain brands and these boots totally remind me of that same, rich, aromatic leather scent. Upon holding these boots, I was immediately impressed with the leather. It’s very flexible and soft to the touch. Then visually, I was pleased with the build quality and styling of these boots. This is the first pair of boots I’ve had with side zippers and now, they won’t be the last pair I have. They are easy on and easy off. In fact, you can leave them laced up and just “slip, zip, and go”. Awesome.

Sizing (for me) is spot on. I usually wear an 11.5 and these are perfect. The low heel and traditional lug sole are all day long comfortable. And, there is no break in period at all.

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Aesthetic

As mentioned earlier, I almost always wear boots. When I get a pair in for review, I tend to get comments at client meetings, at church, and lots of other locations. However, to date these Steve Madden Nathen Boots have generated more comments and questions than any other pair of boots I’ve reviewed. Their eye-catching color, along with the brogue styling combines well to draw people’s eye to them. And, people like them…a lot.

The Nathen Boots do a superb job of allowing you to either dress up or go casual with this boot. They look great with dress pants, yet will also look fantastic with a pair of jeans.

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Conclusion

The Steve Madden Nathen Boots are a great deal for the money. Will they last for years and years? Depends on how often you wear them and how well you treat them. They’re certainly not a custom or high-end handmade boot. But, they’re also only $140…a price that most people can afford. And for that price you get a great looking pair of boots that give you lots of options on how you’re going to wear them. These boots are available in tan (color featured here), brown, and black. As a fashion footwear brand, Steve Madden Men’s has hit a ‘homerun’ with the Nathen boots. They incorporate good quality leather in a desirable style at a decent price point. The Nathen Boots are available from many different retailers such as Dillards, Macys, Zappos, and Amazon.

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Victory Leather Oak Bark Leather Belt Review – $93

I’ve mentioned before my affinity for products that have a great story behind them. It’s true – whether it’s a new product that arises out of something inspirational or it’s an heirloom piece full of great stories and a little bit of mystery, I seem to enjoy them the most. Such is the case with Victory Leather’s Oak Bark Leather Belt.

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About Victory Leather

Peter Sandford, a designer, maker, artist, and entrepreneur founded Victory Leather in Hampshire, UK, which is based on the south coast of England, within sight of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard, home of Nelson’s HMS Victory and the inspiration for his brand.

Peter’s no stranger to creating high quality leather goods – he’s been involved in leatherworking for quite some time, making bespoke watch straps, wallets, and briefcases. And, he also has a successful track record with a previous Kickstarter campaign for his Shuttl minimalist dockable wallet system.

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Construction

The leather. It’s one of those very exciting parts of why this belt really grabbed my attention. The leather from this belt comes from a tannery located in the southwestern part of England that has been there, on the river, since Roman legionnaires marched past it. Amazing. The same family has owned it for the past 150 years. Again, amazing.

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Here’s some more amazing information. This leather uses a natural tanning process that combines river water and the shredded bark of English Oak trees. It’s a slow, eco-friendly, process that yields simply beautiful leather. It’s strong, flexible, smells amazing, and extremely durable. It’s an 18-month process to utilize this tanning method.

My belt is 1.5 inches wide and is a gorgeous dark oak color with a brass buckle and solid brass Chicago screws. The thick leather edges are beveled, burnished, and dyed. The belt holes are oblong so that your buckle post rests in a flatter, more natural position when secured in the belt. Victory Leather’s logo is tastefully placed on the belt loop and looks great.

Take a few minutes and watch Peter make this stunning belt in his workshop:

Function

The Victory Leather Oak Bark Leather Belt performs its role perfectly. My pants stay up, my shorts stay up…it’s all good. I also appreciate the use of the solid brass Chicago screws versus stitching or rivets. It’s nice to have a belt that I can swap out the buckle easily should the occasion or need arise.

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Aesthetic

This belt generates attention. It started generating attention before I ever wore it. I had it on my desk for a couple of weeks and it was interesting to see how many people picked it up, commented on the way it felt…and then, they smelled it…and the comments continued. It feels great and has a unique, very pleasant smell to it.

Wearing it is a pleasure. It feels fantastic and has a rich look to it. It’s perfectly capable of complimenting your favorite jeans or will look excellent when used in semi-formal situations too.

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Conclusion

The Victory Leather Oak Bark Leather Belt is definitely what we’d consider a Buy It For Life item. “A belt built to outlast its owner” is how Peter refers to it. At $120 (its post-Kickstarter price) it’s a little more expensive than some of the belts we’ve featured in the past. But, it also has a pedigree that those other belts lack. In addition to the unique leather (and amazing history behind it), it also sports impeccable craftsmanship…something that we appreciate, respect, and highly endorse.

For a limited time (through June 30th) you can secure one of these amazing belts for about $93 USD during the Kickstarter campaign. Can’t decide on what color to purchase? Get two (there’s a package for that) or all 3 (save even more and really be set for life in the belt department).

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Be sure to visit Peter’s main website too: http://victoryleathercraft.com/

Finally, we are also hoping to work with Peter to feature more information about the tannery mentioned in this article soon. Thanks!

Blackthorn Leather Rover II Money Clip Wallet Review – $65

Cash is king. It’s a saying heard ‘round the world, all of the time. With that being said, it’s not surprising that there has recently been a rise in the popularity of money clips. With so many new styles out there, what’s the best choice for transporting your greenbacks? Andy Mock, of Blackthorn Leather has come up with a fabulous design called the Rover II Money Clip Wallet.

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About Blackthorn Leather

This is the second piece from Blackthorn Leather we’ve had the privilege to review. The first, Blackthorn Leather’s Classic Bifold Wallet, was published back in 2013. Staying true to form, Andy continues to produce high quality pieces made solely in the USA. Read more of how Andy started his business here.

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Construction

The leather on the Blackthorn Leather Rover II Money Clip Wallet is thick, stiff, full grain, 4-5 ounce vegetable tanned cowhide. It is dyed and antiqued beautifully and finished off with a light coat of neatsfoot oil and topped off with diluted Resolene. Stitching is symmetrical and done with Osborne waxed thread. The money clip is fashioned from stainless steel and holds a healthy stack of dead presidents.

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Function

Out of the box, the Rover II Money Clip Wallet is stiff. This is not a bad thing at all…in fact it bodes well for the longevity of this wallet. This is durable leather that will break in beautifully and age well. Initially, it will take some time to break it in and over time you’ll be able to fit more cards into the two slots provided. The size of this wallet allows you to choose where you want to carry. You like a front pocket wallet? The Rover II is a great choice for you. Oh…you prefer to carry in the back pocket? Again, the Rover II will serve you well. Either way, you’re in good shape.

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Initially I found that two cards per slot was ideal. It was tight, but workable. Again, with time and use you’ll be able to get a few more in each slot. But, if you’re a minimalist having the ability to carry four cards plus cash will be more than sufficient for you.

Aesthetic

The fit and finish of the Blackthorn Leather Rover II Money Clip Wallet is fantastic. My version came with white thread, which I think provides a nice contrast to the beautiful antique brown leather.

Andy’s dedication to quality leather crafting can be seen in the expert stitching and the polished, nicely skived edges. The Blackthorn Leather logo is tastefully placed and not overpowering. In fact, I think it’s a great looking logo and very apropos for leather goods of this quality. The Rover II Money Clip Wallet is also available in antique mahogany and black.

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Conclusion

At $65, the Blackthorn Leather Rover II Money Clip Wallet is an excellent buy (the original Rover can be had at $55 if you prefer a single pocket version). Given the high quality materials, the dedication to precision construction, the functionality, and the long wear-ability of the wallet, it’s really a bargain. Add to that free personalization (Andy will stamp three initials on the wallet for you) and free shipping. Be sure to visit Blackthorn Leather’s Etsy Shop and check out all of their other great items too.

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Shinola Journal Cover for iPad Mini Review – $150

Should I write that down or try to type it in on my iPad Mini? Do you ever have those thoughts run through your head in the midst of a meeting or class? I do. It’s a first world quandary. Fortunately, there’s a stylish chunk of leather that will house both paper and electronic tablet for you. Enter the Shinola Journal Cover for iPad Mini.

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About Shinola

This is the second piece we’ve reviewed for Shinola. The first being their beautiful Envelope for iPad Mini.  Shinola is becoming a powerhouse brand, gaining momentum all of the time as a top notch, high-end design and crafting firm based in the USA. Everything they make is proudly made here.

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Construction

As with Shinola’s other fine leather goods, the Journal Cover for iPad Mini is crafted in St. Genevieve, Missouri. The premium leather is sourced from Horween of Chicago, IL. My Journal Cover is black with black thread. It’s expertly cut and stitched together. In fact, Eric Scott built it. I know this because of the impressive metal card included with my Journal that has his name stamped in the “Built By” section.

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Function

The Journal Cover for iPad Mini exudes luxury. The leather is soft and supple to the touch. It’s thick and protective of my iPad Mini, but it’s not bulky in the least. When I first received the Journal Cover, I only used it to contain my iPad Mini and some business cards. Without a paper journal in it I found the cover to be too floppy and kind of a nuisance to handle. So, I ordered a set of Shinola’s Medium Paper Journals. Once I had one of their 72 page premium journals in there, the Journal Cover suddenly became the perfect meeting companion. I now carry it all of the time. If you want, you can probably insert your favorite type of journal in there without issue (i.e. Rhodia, Moleskine, or others of similar size). The only thing that’s glaringly absent is a pen or pencil slot. I wish this was integrated into the design, but at least there is space to secure a writing utensil within the cover.

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Aesthetic

The Shinola Journal for iPad Mini is available in 14 different leather colors. And, you can order their very useful journals in 8 colors. The black leather of my Journal Cover, combined with the grey journal and my Space Gray iPad Mini combine for a trifecta of visual awesomeness. It looks good…really good. And, it generates comments. Also, people want to touch it and hold it. I don’t mind.

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Conclusion

If you are like me and need/desire/want to have the ability to jump on the Internet, check your email, or perform other functions in our technology laden world, but still yearn for the ability to write things down, and you want to keep it all organized and looking good, consider getting yourself a Shinola Journal Cover. At $150, it’s a great way to protect your technology, keep your business cards at hand, and still have a spot to keep good old fashioned notes written down.

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Leather Built’s The Franklin Kit Review – $99

**Update June 17, 2015 – So, I’m appreciating this kit more and more as time goes on. Recently my daughter and son-in-law had college graduations that occurred on the same day, just at different times. Both of these events were held outside in a large stadium. Needless to say, it was a bright sunny day…perfect weather for graduations. But, that sunshine started baking my ginger haired crew’s fair skin. Did anyone have sunscreen? Nope. Oh wait…I DID because it’s in my Franklin Kit!! Since the graduations were a few hours a part, we decided to have a picnic lunch on the university’s campus too. Did anyone bring sanitary wipes? Nope. Oh wait…there are Wet Ones packets in my Franklin Kit! So, the Franklin Kit came through twice big time for us in the same day. I’m now sold on this thing never leaving my backpack when I’m out and about!


Benjamin Franklin, a hallmark of American history was a very interesting guy. In addition to being one of the founding fathers of our great United States of America, he was also a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. And, I’m sure I may have missed one or two things in there. One of my favorite things about him was his list of 13 Virtues: Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility. Oh that those were exercised in full force daily among the masses… Anyhow, in keeping with Ben’s 13 Virtues, we present you with the Franklin Kit – full of 13 very useful items when you’re in a “tight spot” (yes, that was a no-so-subtle reference to the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?).

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About Leather Built

The Franklin Kit has been graciously supplied to us for review from Leather Built. “Leather Built was founded upon the principle of showcasing the highest quality leather goods built in the U.S.A. From our location in Meridian, Idaho, we have scoured America in search of only the best leather goods and have found some amazing companies and products that are sure to surprise and delight. Everything is backed with our Made for Life Guarantee so you can be completely confident in your purchase.”

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Construction

The Franklin Kit is housed in fine leathery goodness courtesy of Gfeller Casemakers of Meridian, Idaho. We have featured Gfeller on a couple of occasions in the past – feel free to check out those reviews. The case itself is crafted 8-9 ounce vegetable tanned leather from Hermann Oak Leather. It’s super durable and will age well, developing a patina over time that will darken the case.

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Function

The folks at Leather Built have this to say about The Franklin Kit: “The idea of the Franklin Kit came from a small pouch that my wife put together with a few things that would come in handy for her on the go. A mother of small children, she wanted items that could handle small medical incidences (think bandages and aquaphor), as well as everyday needs (think tweezers and anti-septic wipes). Not a first aid kit, the pouch was really an all purpose kit. This is the aim of the Franklin Kit, to provide some essential, everyday items while on the go. To boot, every one of the thirteen items are all made in the U.S.A.”

This little case, chock full of amazingness that you’ll definitely find useful in day to day travels and activities:

  • (7) NexCare Soft n’ Flex Bandages
  • (1) Uncle Bill’s Tweezers – Made in West Hartford, Connecticut
  • (6) Pac-Kit Triple Antibiotic Ointment Sachets – Made in Norwalk, Connecticut
  • (3) Sunx30 Sunscreen Packets – Made in Bakersfield, California
  • (6) WetOnes Antibacterial Wipes
  • (1) 12 pack of Diamond matches – Made in Cloquet, Minnesota
  • (1) Photon LED Unbreakable Microlight II – nearly unbreakable and Made in Eugene, Oregon
  • (1) Leatherman Brewzer Multi-tool – Made in Portland, Oregon
  • (2) 2 Packet of Tylenol Extra Strength
  • (2) Tender Ben’s Insect Wipes – Made in Littleton, New Hampshire
  • (1) American Unbreakable 5” Pocket Comb – Made in Paterson, New Jersey
  • (7) Sachets of Floss from POH – Made in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • (1) Aquaphor 1.35 oz – Made in Mainland, Pennsylvania

Its compact size (5 ¾” x 4 ½” x 2”) allows you to easily toss it into your messenger bag, backpack, or tote bag and know that you’re in pretty good shape. There is a little room left in the kit…so feel free to add a lighter or firestarter and a small knife. It’s a great kit for those of you interested in EDC (Every Day Carry) items.

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Aesthetic

The Gfeller case is awesome. Thick, natural vegetable tanned leather is hard to beat. The heavy-duty snap is easy to close and open with one hand. And again, due to its size, you can easily add a few things into the case and then toss the case into a larger bag.

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Conclusion

If Ben Franklin were around these days, I think he’d be a bit like MacGyver…able to come up with a clever problem solving solution to just about any situation. And, my guess is that he’d be sporting an awesome leather bag, backpack, or satchel of some type. And yes, within that bag, he’d have a kit chock full of items very similar to The Franklin Kit. At $99 from Leather Built, it’s a great purchase and you’ll be able to utilize the kit and easily refill its contents for many years for the many adventures ahead of you.

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Leather Built’s Roughhewn Leather Thoreau Attache Review – $155

“Be not simply good – be good for something.” —Henry David Thoreau

Those are some wise words from a prolific writer. Thoreau’s approach is not only important for who we are as people, but also for the things we appreciate, work for, purchase, and use. If it’s not good for something…it begs many questions, right? Today, we’re looking at Roughhewn Leather’s Thoreau Attaché, courtesy of Leather Built…and it’s definitely all good.

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About Leather Built & Roughhewn Leather

The Roughhewn Leather Thoreau Attache has been graciously supplied to us for review from Leather Built. Leather Built was founded upon the principle of showcasing the highest quality leather goods built in the U.S.A. From our location in Meridian, Idaho, we have scoured America in search of only the best leather goods and have found some amazing companies and products that are sure to surprise and delight. Everything is backed with our Made for Life Guarantee so you can be completely confident in your purchase.

Cooper Thurston, of Washington, Missouri, is the founder Roughhewn Leather. Cooper started working with leather when he was 14 years old and continues to craft his products using “old school” methods, infused with passion, and resulting in functional quality that can be handed down for generations.

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Construction

The Roughhewn Leather Thoreau Attaché is a purpose built clutch designed to carry important documents or your personal electronics. It’s crafted from premium, full grain Horween Chromexcel leather, cut by hand and hand-stitched with durable polyester thread from Maine Thread Company. It features a simple closure courtesy of a well-placed solid brass button rivet.

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Function

With overall dimensions of 9″ x 6 1/2″ x 3/4″, its size lends it to being absolutely perfect for an iPad Mini or similarly sized tablet. My wife quickly snagged the Thoreau for her iPad Mini, which slides easily into the rear section of the Attaché. Just in front of that rear pocket is a divider that will easily accommodate your favorite pen and pencil, along with a slot pocket that is simply perfect for a Field Notes journal or similarly sized notebook. The main front pocket will easily house papers, your headphones, or other slim items.
It will easily slip into a tote bag, messenger bag, or backpack. It’s easy to open and close with the button stud. And, it’s also sized perfectly for solo carry too.

 

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Aesthetic

The rich brown hue and smooth texture of Horween’s Chromexcel leatherl always elicits ‘oohs and ahs’ from anyone who handles the Attaché. Its size, shape, and expert craftsmanship garner questions and attention whenever it is carried or placed on a table. And then when you open it up…well, you might as well slide it over to whoever is with you so they can thoroughly inspect it…because they’re going to want to check it out.

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Conclusion

Whether you choose to use this for your personal electronics or you use it for another purpose, you won’t regret purchasing a Roughhewn Leather Thoreau Attaché from Leather Built. Not only is it backed with Leather Built’s 50 year guarantee, it’s built to outlast you, look great, and function well for whatever purpose you assign it. At $155, it’s fairly priced for an heirloom quality leather piece that is 100% crafted by hand.

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