Goruck GR2 Heritage Waxed Canvas Backpack Review – $545

It’s no wonder Goruck backpacks have a devout following. The bombproof, overbuilt designs have won over many hardcore customers. However, there are some of us who want the styling and quality of a Goruck bag but with a little more refinement. Goruck has released their Heritage collection which places emphasis on timeless materials and craftsmanship. Today we look at the Goruck GR2 Heritage Waxed Canvas Backpack.


The Goruck GR2 Heritage uses heavy duck canvas as opposed to nylon. Then a proprietary Martexin wax finish is applied to the bag to allow breathability of the fabric while also providing water resistant properties. Hefy YKK zippers keep things secured along with 550 paracord pulls. The interior compartments feature cordura nylon and thick full grain leather adorns the bottom and rear panels.


Being a current owner of the GR1 I notice some differences right off the bat. The GR2  does not have the handy MOLLE webbing – I feel this enhances the look of the bag but does subtract from the utility. I really like the top access pouch which is great for sunglasses, phones or other small items requiring quick access.

The zippers are top notch, very smooth and quiet. There are plenty of organizational features on this bag, and the ability to tinker with the perfect set up is really what makes these bags have an almost cult following.  I personally prefer the waxed canvas over the ballistic nylon as it doesn’t cause excessive wear on my clothing.  


Without a doubt this bag is in the top 3 of the best looking packs I’ve come across since reviewing on the site. The simplistic lines and premium materials speak volumes. I was at Newark airport and received 3 different compliments on the bag. It has an old world vintage vibe in a modern sleek shell and I love it.


There is no doubt the Goruck GR2 Heritage is one of the finest backpacks on the market. The hefty price tag demands serious consideration, especially when you can essentially get the same bag in nylon. However, if you want a less tactical carry and appreciate classic materials such as canvas and leather you would be hard pressed to find a better bag at any price point. The functionality takes a minor hit against the standard GR2 with its lack of molle webbing, however the result is a timeless bag that will look better with age.

Waterfield FIELD Leather Backpack Review — $249

Phone reviews always talk about the screen-to-body ratio. This metric isn’t about how big or small your phone is. Instead, it’s about how much of the thing you’re carrying is actually useful. You want many pixels, not many bezels.

For a bag aficionado, it’s the same: You want a high contents-to-bag ratio. I have backpacks that I use and love, but they’re for carrying a lot of stuff, and that means I’d be carrying them mostly empty on most days. And this is why I love Waterfield’s new FIELD BACKPACK. It’s not too much bag. In fact, it’s just right for a photo shoot, a day hike, or a trip to campus.

Along with being purposefully small, it’s also designed deliberately for the digital lifestyle and has stylish looks to boot. It’s my favorite backpack by a long ways.



Most backpacks have excess pockets all over the place so you never know where you put your chapstick. And they have straps hanging off everywhere so you can adjust the storage volume. You end up with something that is anything but sleek and simple.

Not so with the Field Backpack.

It’s the exact opposite of the average bag you see on campus. The design is very intentional. And very simple. It has one main outer pocket, two side cases, and the main compartment.

There’s a trend for hipster backpacks to be, in my opinion, too rudimentary and too square shaped, which makes them awkward looking. (It’s NOT hip to be square.) The Field Backpack has a really nice, round shape. It’s simple but refined.

When you order, the backpack can be customized in two ways: First, instead of the brown with grizzly leather like I have, you can get an all-black version with ballistic nylon and black leather. It’s a little more professional looking. Second, you can get it as a sling. This means that, instead of two shoulder straps, it just has a single strap that can switch sides based on your preference. Check out their video here to see how this works.



While the leather on the main outside pocket gives the backpack a lot of style, the leather on the base gives it a lot of structure. In fact, the backpack stands upright on the floor quite easily. It’s actually surprisingly convenient to not have to find a desk leg to lean it against like I do with many of my other bags.

When I get home, I hang the backpack on a hook from the loop up top. This loop is sturdy and has a bit of full-grain leather rounding it off. Makes it comfortable in the hand. The canvas of the whole bag is sturdy too, and I imagine it will hold up well on outdoor adventures, although it’s clearly designed for a more digital lifestyle.

The buckle on the outside flap has a nice click. And I mean nice. Like it could easily replace your fidget spinner. And it’s super durable too.

The back is made of a mesh designed to provide more airflow and keep you cool.

Oh, and all the zippers are water resistant, so you can carry your tech in the rain and not have to worry!



For you digitalphiles, the Field Backpack upholds the moto “less UI; more UX” really well. (If you’re not a software designer: Less user interface means less clutter. More user experience means you’re happy with what the product does for you.)

Some bags I’ve had will zip open all the way down to the base, making it so your stuff can press against the open zipper and eventually fall out. But this bag can’t be opened very far, so you can wear it around and have lots of heavy stuff in it and not even need to zip it closed. Nothing’s going anywhere. I love that.

One frustration I had was that the clasps for the adjustable shoulder straps would slide. (It’s the photo above that looks like a Batman mask.) This never happened while I was wearing it and the straps were taut, but while they were loose. I ended up tying knots to keep them in place. That was a little disappointing for a bag that is so elegantly designed in every other detail. Honestly, I think you won’t have this problem if you opt for the Sling, which seems to be the primary version from Waterfield’s perspective.

The side cases are the highlight of the design. The zippers are tilted so that you can conveniently access them while the bag is still strapped to one shoulder as the picture shows. Talk about good UX! As the sales page shows, these pockets do expand into the inside of the backpack slightly. Personally, I wish they were even deeper so that they could hold more because they’re just so easy to access that I use them all the time.

The backpack also has a plush lining for the laptop slot. Its softness has surprised me over and over when my hand brushes against it. By the way, this slot is sized for 13″ and smaller devices (and so probably won’t fit a monster laptop if that’s what you own). In the big outside pocket, there’s another plush slot for your phone. That pocket also contains a narrow slot to hold your digital pencil. That’s essential for my workflow.

As with all Waterfield products, this has the gold interior lining, which reflects light really well so you can actually find your chapstick when you’re looking inside. Don’t settle for a bag with a dark interior!



I love Waterfield’s FIELD BACKPACK. I threw it on while driving my daughter to school, ostensibly to show solidarity with the kindergartners but really because I wanted to keep using it. I even wore it to bed once. I love it that much.

The quality is top notch. It’s designed deliberately for human use, made to be easy and simple and to accommodate your digital lifestyle. It’s purposefully small—that’s key. And it looks great: the wonderful result of tech meets leather.

Triple Aught Design Fast Pack Litespeed Backpack Review – $255

I’ve been somewhat of a backpack (that’s a bookbag for you east coasters) connoisseur ever since I got my first leather bottom Jansport in the 5th grade. Ever since I’ve been experimenting with carry options. I had a bag for travel, school, work, etc. Having so many bags laying around was starting to become ridiculous however.  It was there that I started searching for the one bag to rule them all and in the darkness bind the- excuse me, what I meant to say was that I wanted a bag that could adapt and meet the needs of nearly any activity I could throw at it. In that search I discovered the FAST Pack Litespeed by Triple Aught Design.

We are currently running a giveaway for this backpack. Click here to check it out and enter for your chance to win this backpack + awesome gear from Triple Aught Design!


An almost unparalleled amount of detail is poured into this bag. The price tag seems justifiable when you realize it’s not only made in the US, but it probably took someone quite a while to build it.

The Fast Pack features several advanced textiles in its construction. The exterior shell is made from 1000 Denier Invista Cordura Fabric. In case you’re wondering, Denier refers to the fiber thickness of individual threads. Typically the higher the number, the more durable the fabric. For reference, most Jansport packs are 600D. This pack also sports YKK zippers with paracord pulls and pretty much all the plastic buckles are ITW GhillieTEX.

Padding in the shoulder straps and back are sourced from Evazote Closed Cell Cross-Linked Ethylene Copolymer Foam. I fell asleep during rocket scientist class but a bit of research reveals this product has many uses in products over a vast area from gym mats to industrial gaskets. If this stuff performs in a Mack truck then surely your tender shoulders will be in good hands.

The back padding utilizes DRI-LEX Aerospacer Moisture Management Mesh. This mesh is often used in shoes and is noted for its moisture redistribution system. Essentially soaking up the sweat off your back and transporting it elsewhere.

Hypalon is  Synthetic Rubber is used in specially reinforced areas. This is another high tech material with great resistance to chemicals, temperature extremes and UV light. If you’ve ever found yourself in a life raft, chances are it was made of Hypalon.


The TAD Fast Pack Litespeed is designed to be a light, relatively compact bag for minimal carry…with the modular potential to do so much more. One could write a lengthy tome on the functionality of this bag. Out of the box it has a large main compartment with a clamshell design that opens up to two mesh zippered pockets. The outside has a small zippered pocket right above the velcro patch area. If you’re unfamiliar with the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) system, it might be confusing seeing all the webbing on this bag. Those are basically attachment points for aftermarket MOLLE bags, pouches, etc. Bummed there’s no water bottle pouch on this bag? Simple get a MOLLE water bottle holder, don’t need the water bottle holder? Take it off. That’s where the brilliance of this bag shines. You can customize it for whatever you need.

Thanks to the numerous tie down options, I was easily able to stow my rod onto my pack. This bag is like a faithful wing man in that it literally and metaphorically has your back.
I was working on a deck located on a hill side, carrying a tool box was kind of a pain and I’m not really a tool belt kind of guy, so I stashed my drills and bits into the Lite Speed and was able to traverse the slope with my tools.
The webbing works great for MOLLE packs and adds so much more to the feature set of this pack. Here I have a water bottle holder and small accessory pack securely attached to the bag, I can remove them when I don’t need them, and that’s damn near priceless.
The rear flap can flip down and has a pocket for stowing a tripod, engineering blueprints or even a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle. Oooooooh!


There seems to be a division in tastes when it comes to “tactical” backpacks. Some feel all the velco, patches and webbing is overkill relegated to mall ninjas or doomsday preppers. With the TAD Litespeed you can deck it out aesthetically almost as much as you can functionally. If you want to put a Punisher skull morale patch, magazine molle pouches and a paracord fob on the zippers, go for it. I personally feel the bag in black has a more sophisticated appeal. I like to keep the exterior streamlined and with the prevalent selection of velcro patches available you can personalize the bag endlessly, and it’s pretty fun to do so. The quality materials make this bag stand out among similar bags, almost like a good paint job on a car. I definitely would have preferred an internal pouch on the sides as opposed to so much Pals webbing, but it does come in handy when swapping between a water bottle pouch, or a tripod sling.

I consider this bag first and foremost a tool, and like pointing out the aesthetics of a screwdriver, I find it a somewhat moot point. I think this bag looks awkward when it’s decked out in camo and molle attachments at the airport, however at the range or on the trail it suddenly becomes not just a pack, but a serious piece of indispensable armor.


At the end of the day, I’m convinced the TAD Fast Pack Litespeed can raise to almost any occasion thrown at it, although it will cost you a fair ransom to tweak the pack to your needs. The overbuilt construction present an extreme value that will definitely alleviate the cost of ownership for a bag that can easily replace several bags in your closet. The styling isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a quality, versatile pack I can say this bag warrants a second and third look.

Don’t forget about the giveaway we are running RIGHT NOW for this backpack! If you liked what you saw in this review make sure to go check out the giveaway here.

Leatherback Leather Backpack – Kickstarter Announcement

One of the more unique and stylish leather backpack designs is currently on Kickstarter. The Leatherback leather backpack by Victory Leathercraft is a leather backpack that stands out. We have reviewed a lot of leather backpacks here at Best Leather so it is refreshing when we find an item that steps outside of the norm.

This backpack is made from full-grain English vegetable tanned leather and it looks fantastic. Pete, the creator, wanted to design a backpack that wasn’t only durable and practical, but also visually stunning. I think he did a great job.

Some of the main features of the bag are as follows:

The backpack can be worn like any other, with its wide, comfortable English bridle leather shoulder straps. It can also be carried by its top carry-handle. Lastly, the shoulder straps can be snapped together end-to-end, giving the option to wear it as a single-strap messenger bag.

The top flap is secured with a special catch that only releases when pinched & pulled upwards. Unlike magnetic catches or traditional snaps, anyone trying to open the bag by tugging at the flap will have no success.

Inside the bag there is a main compartment, a separate compartment big enough for a 15” laptop or tablet, plus a centrally placed smartphone pocket and two pen holders. There is also a leather strap with a trigger-snap on the end for easy retrieval of any keys you might wish to attach, meaning you won’t need to rummage around the bottom of the backpack to find them.


If you are interested in learning more about this leather backpack you can head over to their Kickstarter page. The campaign wont last long so make sure to check it out soon!

Pad & Quill Large Leather Backpack Review – $289

For the last five years I have been on the hunt for the perfect backpack for travel, adventure, and something that would hold up over time that I could hand down to my children and perhaps even my grandchildren. You know one of those bags that when you see it, it looks like its been through years of adventures and travel and has all the character. When I fist laid my eyes on the waxed canvas and leather backpack from Pad & Quill I was just about breathless as my vision for this bag finally found me.

About Pad & Quill

Kari and Brian, founders of Pad & Quill, are out to make their mark on the world of eCommerce. Instead of outsourcing their products to the lowest bidder, they have a strict code that they want all of their products to adhere to, which you can read about here. They have a 25-year warranty on their bags, showing their commitment to longevity. From their website:

“We think there are folks out there who have the same sense of awe as we do when they behold a beautiful thing. Who marvel at how a handful of seeds can become a majestic stand of Baltic Birch, that are then transformed, in artisan hands, into a gorgeous, organic product. There are friends who share our sense of adventure and love to have a bag they pull from their closet with 15 years of travel written upon it, and miles to go. Pad and Quill products will never resemble a trinket pulled from a fast food bag.”

This backpack is an absolute beautiful piece of design and construction. The inspiration for this bag came from a cafe racer motorcycle in which vintage materials mixed with a modern design. Whether on a bike, hike or just and adventure, this backpack is just a real eye catcher.  Read more here.


The backpack is made out of a robust 24 ounce waxed canvas, full-grain American bridal leather, parachute grade nylon stitching, and nickel hardware. The bag measures 15 inches wide by 16.5 inches in length and 5.5 inches deep. The front pocket is about 9.5 inches across by 7 inches high and secures with a nickel eye. The exterior has 2 side pockets. On the interior there is a back slot with a leather strap closure for a laptop or portfolio. I have a 15-inch Macbook Pro and it fit in the pocket with no problem at all. On the front of that pocket is a large pocket suitable for an Ipad or other items, a smaller pocket and 2 pen slots. Empty, the bag weighs a little shy of 4 pounds. The bag closes with a nylon drawstring and the leather top secures with two buckles. The shoulder straps are lightly padded and adjustable with nickel buckles.


This is a good size bag that can both serve as an every day carry commuter bag, a hiking companion as well as a weekender. I had no problem packing enough clothes for a two night trip recently with plenty of room to spare. The backpack is very comfortable as I have already taken it on 2 long hikes.

At first I was concerned that the bag was going to look too square but was happy of how it was able to fit rolled up clothes and books with ease.

Although the interior is basic without all the zippers and multiple pockets, It has the essentials,- a roomy padded laptop pocket and a few pockets to organize you smaller gear. The side pockets and front pockets are also great for the easy to access items like water bottles, sunglasses, passports and often in my case, doggy treats!


Being a tall guy (6’1) I always loath when backpacks don’t fit my frame well and look too ‘dinky’ and I was very impressed with the look and feel of this bag, At first I even thought it was going to be too big. But after the first few outings and trips, I was rest assured that this was the perfect fit without being awkwardly bulky but also having a rugged and hefty character.

I love that the bag has just the basic pockets, and really lends to a rustic and minimal feel.

I always try to find a less desirable feature or function to a bag but in this case I could not find one. I just love every detail and am thoroughly impressed with the durability of materials and parts.


If you are looking for a stylish, rugged, and beautiful bag that fits a lot without the awkward bulges or uneven weight distribution, I can’t speak any more highly of this bag. The price is right!! Check it out -here-.

Floto Imports Roma Backpack Review – $280

Shopping for leather backpacks can get overwhelming when weighing the benefits of the look versus the added weight of choosing leather. Most of the time, a well-constructed full or top grain leather backpack is going to weigh considerably more than its canvas or nylon counterparts. Joe Floto from Floto Imports very generously sent in the Floto Roma Backpack for review, which provides a solid middle ground by using beautiful leather and overall relatively lightweight construction.

We have previously reviewed other products from Floto Imports, and have learned that they are a very budget-friendly way to get into Italian leather goods while also getting great quality and customer service.

The Roma backpack worn on a female friend. Note the dimensions lead it to be a schoolbook/travel sized pack, not necessarily for expeditions.


The bag is constructed of full grain calfskin leather that has been vegetable tanned and polished in Tuscany. This particular color is their Olive Honey Brown, but the backpack is also available in a deep red, black, and dark brown colors. The interior is raw, leaving the suede finish of the underside of the calfskin hide. There are sections such as the backing of the side and front pocket flaps which appear to be covered with pigskin suede, that has a nice soft feel. The backpack is complete with metal nickel-plated hardware in the form of buckles, snap buttons, d-rings, and rivets. The top handle is constructed substantially with hardware and rivets, while also holding an appealing appearance. The bag dimensions are listed as 14″ H x 14″ W x 9 ” L.

The main drawstring compartment shows the suede-side of leather with a soft yet fibrous texture.


As primarily a satchel/messenger guy, I typically don’t carry backpacks. Switching to the Roma Backpack did not include any frustrations in terms of what my usual bag capacity is. Having carried heavier leather backpacks before, I found joy in knowing that the leather itself did not compromise the weight, driving me to run home and change for a lighter pack. I appreciated the fact that the side pockets can hold full size 16-20oz bottles, or a smaller umbrella while being able to close. The website states they are fit for most 16oz water bottles, but I experienced a bit more size. For reference, a common 23oz Ice Mountain plastic water bottle had no problem fitting in the pocket, nor did a 16oz Stanley Coffee mug or 27oz Kleen Canteen Reflect bottle.

Button snaps are noticeably faster to open compartments as opposed to undoing the buckles.

The front pocket is easily the most convenient storage method on the bag, as like the side pockets, it is secured with button snaps. I used this pocket for pens, a small camera, and pocket notebook. The main compartment sports a drawstring closure that is easy to cinch down and opened up wide. I was able to carry an iPad, a few school books and an extra jacket, with room to spare despite the bags overall smaller size. I am not particularly enamored with the closure for the main compartment – the small buckle does not seem robust and does not allow as fast of access as it would with a snap button or glide buckle.The backpack back straps are adjustable and did not dig into my shoulder blades when wearing t-shirts and sweaters. However, if one is choosing to wear a tank top or sleeveless shirt, the edges of the straps may take time to break in and soften up. The carry handle was useful for easily picking the back up to put on, but I did not carry the bag with the handle for extended periods of time.

Handle on the top of the Roma Backpack, making it easy to pick up and put on, as well as hang up for storage.


Now on to the main reason some will choose a leather backpack: its pure beauty. I have to admit at first I did not think I would enjoy the polished leather look, but over my use I have definitely learned to love it. The tanning process along with the polishing of this bag makes a very soft, luxurious feel. The white thread creates a high-contrast stitch that pops in the sunlight.While they do use a semi-gloss coating to finish the bag, I had to remember that it was vegetable tanned, thus not as resistant to water stains without treatment. A small water stain happened from water droplets on the top flap, but had I used a proper leather protection prior to element exposure, I don’t think it would have left a mark.

On this top flap, I did have a slight water stain from being caught in light rain. At a quick glance it is not noticeable, but it is to the right of the buckle strap.


Coming in at a price of about $280, it’s more expensive than your typical nylon or canvas pack, but the look and feel of the leather makes up for it. Floto bags come with limited lifetime warranties while the company also has a repair service for situations in which the bag would not be covered, such as airline damage. Being lightweight for full grain, the Floto Roma Backpack is certainly a good option for those wanting the look of a leather backpack unaccompanied by the usual added weight.

WotanCraft Phantom Travel Backpack Review – $1000

We see a lot of great products at BestLeather, mainly due to the fact we seek out exemplary companies to review with. I’ve had the supreme pleasure of taking a look at several products from WotanCraft. This time around we’re examining the WotanCraft Phantom Travel Backpack, a strikingly designed pack that aims to handle all of your carry needs and look damn good doing so. Does it fit the bill? Let’s find out.

The Phantom’s exterior shell is entirely made from vegetable tanned cowhide Italian leather. The red spine plate uses English Royal Saddle cowhide leather.

It has a thick, substantial feel to it and emits a luxurious leather scent – I’ve wore the pack as a hat more than once just to enjoy the aroma.  All compartments feature a velveteen lining which translates into an incredibly tech friendly bag.  High strength metal hardware accentuates the bag along with bronze YKK rustproof coated zippers. The bottom of the pack features high density foam lining to provide shock absorption to interior contents. Bag roughly measures 11”x 6” x 19” I’d estimate the capacity around 1,500 cubic inches. The bag weighs approximately 4lbs 12oz empty. The main compartment has zippered top access with flap. Side non zippered compartments use a strap to knob closure and the front pocket is button fastened.

The Phantom is a pretty straightforward pack. Styled after traditional rucksacks, the Phantom has the large top accessed main compartment. Inside of that there are 2 slotted pockets good for water bottle, telephoto lens, etc.

The waterproof camera insert (Sold separately Size XS) can be positioned at the top of the bag’s main compartment, and thanks to the vertical zipper on the back, you can still access your other gear from underneath. The back of the Phantom is padded and the stiff red leather backbone adds rigidity to the pack.

The side cylindrical shaped pockets have pull tabs and are great for water bottles or similarly shaped objects. The pouch on the front has a button closure and is great for storing medium sized items such as thin hoodies or snacks. Overall its a very functional strap, with some tradeoffs. There are no sternum or waist straps so heavier loads might be more strenuous, also due to the lack of padding on the shoulder straps. I wouldn’t try hiking with the Phantom but normal everyday loads are more than manageable.  

The Phantom is truly a striking pack. Simply put, it refuses to blend in. I feel with the black color you’ll either gravitate to it or opt out. I would really like to see this bag also offered in brown someday. The leather is of such a fine quality that the pack exhibits a subdued sheen. Unlike cheap “genuine leathers” or even worse….bonded leathers that reflect light like Uncle Phil’s head from Fresh Prince, the Phantom seems to absorb light.

This enigmatic luster gives the bag an understated testimony to the skill and craftsmanship involved in its conception. Aside from the hidden top opening, the lack of zippers, velcro and other modern pack features really make the Phantom a timeless bag that will never feel dated. The red spine on the back panel lends just the right amount of intrigue. Just looking at the bag is comparable to watching a  suspense thriller while indulging in tiramisu…all the while riding top speed at Le Mans; all in the span of a few seconds.

The WotanCraft Phantom Travel Backpack is on another echelon entirely. For a more down to earth guy like myself, it would be hard for me to comprehend the thousand dollar price tag. Sure, you can get a bag literally one tenth the price that does as much. However I like to play devil’s advocate and defend the point most owners of high end watches argue, it’s not that they just “tell the time” but its the thought, complexity, skill, inspiration and passion that are involved that set them apart from others. I feel this is true for the Phantom,  although in the words of the great Levar Burton, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”

Also note WotanCraft’s Christmas Special is still on which offers free gifts based on purchase amount.

High On Leather Hiking Backpack Review – $138

Last year we published a review of High On Leather’s goat-leather satchel. It was one of our most hotly contested reviews–in fact, yours truly even got involved in the debate! High On Leather took the feedback to heart, and decided to start making some products in our beloved, tried-and-true cowhide, and created the full-grain Hiking Backpack. High On Leather has asked us to give their new and improved design a fresh look.


High On Leather was founded in 2013. Based in India, they’re striving to overcome the notion that quality leather needs to be expensive. High On Leather prides itself on using higher quality hides and tanning concepts than competitors, particularly in goat leather, which is infamous for often being cheap and smelling terrible. Thankfully, for this review, we can set the goat leather debate aside.

The cowhide used for the Hiking Backpack uses a tan that results in a crazyhorse type of leather; a gentle suede/nubuck feel to the touch, soft yet strong, with some distressing and pull-up aesthetically. The leather is unlined and reasonably thick through the main body and pockets. This is important especially at the base, which will likely take a fair amount of abrasive wear. The leather is quite a bit thinner on the shoulder and closure straps, however, which are the highest pull stress points of the bag. The shoulder straps use a layer of polyester lining on the underside, making them extremely grippy. This lining is also used on the flaps over each pocket.


If you’re wondering why I mention the use of lining, there are two big reasons. Since this lining is polyester, it won’t have the longevity of the leather, making it the “weakest link” of the product. It isn’t used in any load-bearing ways for the Hiking Backpack, but this brings me to my second point: such lining creates a thicker appearance, even though the strong leather that we want is actually much thinner than it appears.


Stitching is quality and uniform and the thread is fairly thick. No rivets are used. The hardware has so far held up well and appears to be made of quality metal.


Overall, this is a fairly well built backpack. While it may not compare to the longevity and durability of other leather backpacks that utilize thicker leather and additional reinforcement in construction, the High On Leather Hiking Backpack will well outdo many typical nylon backpacks which are often in the same price range.


Functionally the Hiking Backpack strikes a good balance of space and organization. The main compartment is a medium sized bucket of space with a small polyester zipper compartment at the top that’s good for a wallet, phone or your keys. Then you have three good pockets around the outside, two with a magnet closure and one with a more secure buckle, for organizing smaller items. It’s not enough for a vacation, but it’s served me well as an overnighter and for school items. I must confess that I’ve never actually tried it for hiking! The thin straps, high weight of leather, and vulnerability to water have prevented me from trying.


The buckles are a bit finicky, particularly with how thin the straps are. These closure straps only have one hole, so no length adjustment, which I would have liked with the main compartment closure. The main compartment has a drawstring (drawleather?) closure, so if the buckle won’t close or you’re in a hurry you can still close your items in pretty securely. The part-canvas handle at the top is convenient for quickly grabbing the backpack. Many leather satchels need to be buckled close in order to use the top handle, so having one that I can use anytime was refreshing.


For a mere $138, a paltry sum compared to backpacks made by top leather brands, the High On Leather Hiking Backpack is a great introductory leather product. The thinness of leather and lack of rivet reinforcement at stress points makes me think this will need replacing in the user’s lifetime, but it should well outdo standard nylon backpacks (normally a comparison we’re not interested in making, but since the price range fits, we’ll make it). I’ve gotten heaps of compliments on this bag, and for carrying a modest amount it can fit the bill in a variety of situations. If you’re aware of the setbacks and looking for a leather backpack that saves the bank, this may be just right for you.


Mission Mercantile Steamer Backpack Review – $345

One of my favorite parts about the leather industry is the fascinating history behind many of the its traditions. It’s amazing how some of the smallest details of classic bag designs can have the most interesting backgrounds. Mission Mercantile is a company that really seems to share this passion for history, and their Steamer Backpack demonstrates this perfectly.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 5


Mission Mercantile is a new brand, launched in fall 2015. They operate out of their own factory in Leon, Mexico– Blue Artisan Group. We recently reviewed Mission Mercantile’s Stateroom Weekender, an incredibly tough overnight bag made entirely with full grain veg-tanned leather- just like all their products. Learn a bit more about the company in my recent interview with Chuck Bowen, one of MM’s founders, who is passionate about serving “mission men and women” who love leather goods.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 3


Many of Mission Mercantile’s products hark back to inspiration found in days gone by. The Steamer Backpack in particular was designed after the steamer bag – a sturdy, flat-bottom bag built to be packed into a larger steamer trunk that was loaded onto a train or steamboat for lengthy travel. The steamer bag was, in fact, perfected by Louis Vuitton in the late Victorian era.

The Steamer Backpack also has its roots in vintage mail sacks, many of which were mainly canvas but reinforced with sturdy leather at the bottom and top, where they featured a similar belted closure.

This backpack certainly has an eye-catching look, with its wide swath of solid waxed canvas and unique belted closure. The bag instantly looks like there’s a story behind it…so prepare to have LOTS of people ask you about it wherever you go.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 1


The Steamer Backpack is made with full-grain vegetable tanned leather and thick waxed canvas. In accordance with its steamer and mail sack roots, it has a heavy, flat leather base with subtly squared edges, all held together with contrasting stitching and heavy rivets. It weights in at about 3 1/2 pounds, which is a nice medium weight for such a sturdy bag. Seeing as the bulk of the bag is canvas, it wears very comfortably for daily use.

Mission Mercantile6

The waxed canvas has survived several spring showers with no issue. There are three canvas color options and a total of six leather and canvas combinations at this time. The pictured backpack is Oil leather with Dirt canvas.

The bag is unlined with the exception of the top flap, which is lined with matching canvas. It measures around 14″ x 6″ x 18″, making it large enough to carry a laptop and school or business essentials. There’s also enough room to pack for an overnight trip. The bag is tapered, however, and is belted at the top, so larger items don’t fit in as easily as some wide-opening backpacks. Its tapered shape also makes it look kind of funny if there’s lots of stuff in it, but this isn’t an issue unless you have a habit of overpacking.

Mission Mercantile8

The ideal setup for this bag is to have your laptop and folders/notebooks at the back, and then chargers, wallet, and other small items at the front where they’ll sink down to the bottom and maintain the backpack’s nice tapered look. There’s a key strap and a hanging zippered pouch at the back, which works beautifully for keeping small items that you want to access quickly.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 4

The Steamer Backpack has padded shoulder straps that are adjustable (about 6″ of adjustable length). The detachable straps attach at the bottom to two D-rings on either side, and a centered O-ring at the top. There’s a nice sturdy handle at the top, as well. The handles and solid brass hardware pieces all feel very sturdy and well-made.

The bag closes via a long belt that starts on the back of the bag, runs through three rectangular brass loops, and secures again at the back with a tuck lock. The belt closure with a quick release tuck lock is a nice compromise – it adheres to the aesthetic of vintage mailbags without requiring the user to padlock its contents every time. Still, the belt closure requires a little more patience than most backpacks, but its unique aesthetic is totally worth it.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 2


The Mission Mercantile Steamer Backpack is another impressive piece from this young company’s product line. It’s a gorgeous, unique bag with heritage roots and a great story that just begs for more chapters. At $345, it’s priced very fairly for top-of-the-line materials (full grain leather, solid brass hardware, 18 oz canvas, etc.) that will last a lifetime and more.

*Keep an eye out next Wednesday, June 1st for an AWESOME giveaway from Mission Mercantile!*

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The Sandast Debbie Backpack – 17 Months Later

Francis Bacon said, “Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” He’s certainly spot on…but, I’d add one more element to the list and that is fine leather goods. Age is not an enemy to well made leather, but a welcomed ally who helps take what is beautiful when new to spectacular as it ages.

Back in September of 2014, I unboxed my first piece of Sandast’s leather goods. And, I’m extremely happy to say that since then I’ve added several more beautiful pieces, which will be reviewed here in the next few weeks. Since producing the initial review on the Debbie Backpack it has been a constant companion for my wife and has traveled many, many miles with her. It has accompanied her several times on travels throughout the Pacific Northwest, trips to New Jersey and Florida. And of course it has accompanied her locally on hundreds of occasions.

Sandast Gregory Update 1

After consistent use in the past 17 months here are some highlights of the Debbie Backpack:

  • Plenty of storage
  • Plenty of pockets/pouches for organization
  • Ease of entry – this is a big deal for my wife. She pretty emphatic about her lack of interest in using buckles or lobster style clasps to get in and out of bags. She wants egress that’s quick and easy. Sandast delivers just that for her with the tuck lock closure on the main flap and the magnetic closures on the outside pockets.
  • Ease of carry and comfort. This may trump style and appearance for her at times. Ultimately, the Debbie Backpack meets these needs and scores big time on the aesthetic side of things too. While on a family reunion/vacation to Disney World in the fall of 2015 she carried this bag for miles and hours at a time traipsing through the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Springs, and Hollywood Studios. Naturally, it performed flawlessly for her and ne’er was a complaint ever mentioned.
  • It gets noticed. In spite of the hordes of people standing in line after line while at Disney multiple people commented and questioned her about the pack. The same holds true of flight attendants, TSA workers, and desk clerks at hotels…the Debbie pack garners attention.

Sandast Gregory Update 3

The Debbie Backpack was beautiful right out of the box. But, I must say it’s looking much more awesome now. Time and use…these are great companions for quality leather goods. As mentioned in the initial review article, Sandast uses vegetable tanned leather from Horween. One of the great hallmarks of vegetable tanned leather is its ability to develop a patina unique to the user. Typically vegetable tanned leather darkens with use and develops a much deeper and more robust color. The Debbie Backpack has ‘matured’ nicely. The cognac color is a bit deeper and the grain of the leather, which was already beautiful, is just much more prevalent and takes center stage when you take time to truly examine the bag.

The interior plaid fabric is still in pristine condition and I expect it will stay that way for many years to come. The hardware on the backpack is aging equally well too. This is the benefit of utilizing true, high quality hardware. The Riri zipper, the French made buckles, the drawstring end caps, and the Italian made tuck lock all continue to perform flawlessly and maintain their classy appearance.

Sandast Gregory Update 5
The Debbie in line at Magic Kingdom

As far as maintaining and caring for the leather, this is certainly not laborious. The Debbie Backpack has only had a couple of treatments with an all natural cleaner conditioner (props to DropForge Leather Care’s Leather Cream) and that’s it. Really, not much more is necessary. There are folks who will disagree – even companies who ascribe to the idea that you must “feed your leather” with their products. Perhaps that’s so with their particular bags…but, that would make me question the true quality of their leather’s tanning process if it dries out that easily.

Remember, one of the hallmarks of great vegetable tanned leather is the patina. Time and use are the way that is developed properly. To think your bag will maintain the “as new” look forever by applying copious amounts of conditioners, creams, oils, and the like is really misguided. Your great vegetable tanned leather bag is supposed to change with age. Let it. Yes, protect it – but don’t work feverishly on it in the fruitless attempt to keep it in “new” condition. “Live Your Legacy”, which is Sandast’s mantra, is exactly what I’m talking about here. Let your bag develop that legacy…it’s designed to do it. The cool part is the role you play in that legacy and what it becomes.

The Sandast Debbie Backpack is truly an outstanding product and as mentioned in the initial review, it’s well worthy of the Buy It For Life title. It’s worth every dollar. As you use it and appreciate it over time, you’ll never regret your decision to purchase it.

Sandast Gregory Update 2Sandast Gregory

Pad and Quill Roll Top Leather Backpack Review – $319

Who else remembers having a Jansport backpack or LL Bean backpack with their initials on it? That seemed to be the thing in high school, right? Well, now that I’m all grown up, I’m looking for something with a little more class and style — not to mention a slimmer and more chic design, so it doesn’t look like I’m carrying half of my body weight in it.

Well I’m happy to say that I found just that in the Roll Top Leather Backpack from Pad & Quill. It’s handsome yet rugged, minimal yet practical, and really will get the heads to turn (almost like in high school with those Grateful Dead bears or smiley face patches).



Kari and Brian, founders of Pad & Quill, are out to make their mark on the world of eCommerce. Instead of outsourcing their products to the lowest bidder, they have a strict code that they want all of their products to adhere to, which you can read about here. They have a 25-year warranty on their bags, showing their commitment to longevity. From their website:

“We think there are folks out there who have the same sense of awe as we do when they behold a beautiful thing. Who marvel at how a handful of seeds can become a majestic stand of Baltic Birch, that are then transformed, in artisan hands, into a gorgeous, organic product. There are friends who share our sense of adventure and love to have a bag they pull from their closet with 15 years of travel written upon it, and miles to go. Pad and Quill products will never resemble a trinket pulled from a fast food bag.”



The backpack is made from full-grain tumbled American bridle leather, hand-pounded copper rivets, parachute grade nylon stitching, sturdy zippers and solid nickel hardware. A small pocket on the exterior is about 5 x 7 inches and secures with single leather strap and nickel eye. The interior has a large open pocket that can hold up to a 15 inch laptop. There is also a smaller zippered compartment.


On one side of the backpack is a zippered access to the main bucket of the bag,


Their shoulder straps that are adjustable but not removable, along with a leather handle on top of the bag,


The dimensions of the bag are 12 inches wide x 16 inches length x 4.7 inches deep when closed, 25 inches long when unrolled. The bag weighs about 3 pounds empty.


As a medium sized bag, this bag is ideal for a day trip and possibly a minimal weekend. Although deep, The width and depth of the bag restrict it from holding a ton of gear which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing. Simple yet elegantly designed bags are sometimes meant to carry simple and minimal things.

The shoulder adjustable shoulder straps are ideal for shorter and taller people. I am 6 feet tall and my girlfriend is 5 feet tall and the design and look work great for both of us. Of course, Veronica will always say it works better for her!


The quality of this bag is top of the line and very durable. Out of the box, the tumbled leather has a nice broken-in and subtle flexibility to it which is nice since full grain leather takes serious time to break in! Again, the size is great for weekend/overnight travel and the bare necessities.

Being a tall guy, at first I thought the bag to look a little too small for my frame and suiting more to a shorter man or woman. However, I reminded myself that this bag is not a big, burly hiking or work bag but more of an everyday essentials bag. It fits 15″ laptops comfortably and can carry around work or school materials with ease.

One thing I disliked was the the body of the bag being a tad bit narrow and long, making it difficult to take things in and out. Although the side zipper is extremely helpful and aesthetically pleasing, it could be a hair longer to easier remove larger books or articles. But this is the only thing I would change and like anything, I will adapt to this over time where I will adjust to the bag rather than the other way around.



The Pad & Quill Roll Top Leather Backpack is an ideal companion for many occasions, including walks around the city, walks around the park, overnight trips or even as an everyday carry bag. I honestly can’t wait to see how this bad boy ages and wears in! At the price of a little bit above $300 I feel you are getting a good value for a handmade piece of such craftsmanship, design and detail.

Larger or taller men should definitely consider the size and use for this bag as it does not lend to hauling a large cargo. But, in my case, it’s a great thing to downsize the amount of stuff I take with me on a given excursion. In addition, the minimal size and classic color will lend great to any attire, casual or business. Check it out here.


Jaunji Designs Explorer Rolltop Backpack – $173 on Kickstarter

Jaunji Designs, a small design studio out of Vancouver, British Columbia, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new Explorer Bag. We got our hands on one of these Explorer bags a few months ago. The version we received was a prototype and it seems that a few things have already been improved since that time. Here are our thoughts on the Jaunji Designs Explorer Rolltop Backpack.

Jaunji Designs Rolltop 4


“We are a quality driven lifestyle brand and we believe that our designs/products should be simple, functional and lasting – We will never settle for anything less! Our team compasses decades of experience in the creative and design fields. We strive to design with functional features and use the best materials available. Our aim is to create products that make everyday life more enjoyable.

As we evolve to perfection as a young company that symbolizes the approach – “more than meets the eye” – our goal is to bring you products that are just as unique as you.”

Jaunji Designs Rolltop 3


The Explorer Rolltop Backpack is made of vegetable tanned full grain goat leather. Goat leather is naturally water resistant, making it useful for everyday products. Goat leather is softer than some of the other leathers due to the presence of lanolin wax. Goat hide is lighter than cowhide and is more supple requiring little break in time. The downside is that it can be less sturdy – some of the leather on the closure straps stripped off upon my first real use of the bag because there is not much room for the straps to slide through the hardware. It is, however, reinforced at the seams and stress points like the buckle closures. In addition, some of the stitching around the mouth is a bit uneven, but not noticeable unless you’re looking closely. Previous experience with goat leather from some of our reviewers has elicited comments about adverse smells from the tanning process. In this case, the Explorer pack does not emit an adverse odor at all, which is great. The texture and color of the goat leather is great and it will definitely darken with time and use to develop a unique patina.

The Explorer features brass YKK zippers and brass finished metal hardware. The metal hardware hasn’t failed on me but it feels a little light weight. Again, this could be due to the fact that this is a prototype and hardware choices may have changed and been upgraded since then for the production pieces.

Jaunji Designs Rolltop 5


The top closure straps run right over the shoulder straps when the top is open, making for a very ergonomic and natural design. There’s lots of padding in the main section of the bag, enough to protect fragile cameras or electronics. There’s also a padded laptop sleeve. The straps and fit of the bag feels comfortable on my shoulders, even when relatively full of stuff. The straps are thick and padded, making them quite comfortable and less of a hassle to put on.

Jaunji Designs Rolltop 2

There is a slot pocket for an umbrella, as well as several lash points for other gear on the bottom and main body of the bag. These tie-down points and straps make the bag very customizable for whatever purpose you have in mind. The rolltop makes the bag expand from 14″ to 20″ inches, so it can fit quite a lot if you need it to. I hope Jaunji Designs will come out with matching straps that can be used to accessorize the Explorer in time.

Jaunji Designs Rolltop 6

The interior is lined with a thick, medium brown colored fabric. It feels good to the touch and will certainly aid in protecting whatever treasures you store inside of it. It does create a dark cavern, so you’ll need to fish inside for your items, but that’s pretty normal for most backpacks of any style. The quick access document/tablet pouch is a nice touch. It’s secure, but quickly accessible due to the large zipper on the pack.


Everyone likes the look of this bag; I get compliments on it from everyone who has seen it. Jaunji Designs pulled off the rolltop look very well. The bag tapers nicely and doesn’t look scrunched; it’s definitely an ideal and classic design that can open up or be strapped down however you like.

Jaunji Designs Rolltop 7



The Jaunji Designs Explorer Rolltop Backpack is very aesthetically pleasing and its Kickstarter price is right. There are still a few spots left on the Kickstarter campaign. The Explorer is extremely aesthetically pleasing and its design is quite useful. You shouldn’t plan on it lasting you forever, but $175 is a reasonable price for a great looking bag that you’ll enjoy and find useful for several years to come.

Jaunji Designs Rolltop 1 Jaunji Designs Rolltop 8 Jaunji Designs Rolltop 9

Marlondo Leather Backpack Review – $398.00

Serendipity means the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not looked for.  When I received the Dark Brown version of Marlondo Leather’s new Backpack two days prior to a camping trip in Montana, I understood what it meant to be a beneficiary of the concept. If you’ve never been excited about owning a backpack before, you will be when you see this one. It is gorgeous in its full-grain leather, brass rivets, and nickel-plated hardware construction. Equally at home in the office or on the trail, the craftsmanship and durability of this pack will serve you for years to come.

Marlondo Leather spent a significant amount of time re-designing this pack from the previous version (read their no longer produced Rucksack review here), and the thought that went into it shows. They managed to combine beauty and functionality into a design that yields the perfect day pack for the adventurer, traveler, or full-time student.


About Marlondo Leather

“Ma”, as he is known, is a Chinese entrepreneur who has worked to give the Marlondo name the meaning it has today. He turned early setbacks into a thriving online leather store that ships all of its products from US distributors and understands the importance of good customer service.



The Marlondo Backpack is a heavy, beautiful beast constructed of full-grain cowhide leather, sourced from the United States, weighing in at 3 pounds, 10 ounces. Leather thickness varies from 2 to 3 millimeters (6-8 ounces) depending on the part of the bag measured. It is stitched with marine grade thread that can withstand exposure to sun, salt, chemicals and more without degrading. The designers saw fit to use heavy duty nickel-plated hardware for the buckles to ensure worry-free closure of the outside and main pockets.


The D-rings on the outer flap of the main pocket, designed to be used with the optional utility straps – available in 3 different lengths – for holding a blanket, sweater, or similar item, are just as solid in their design. In addition to the aforementioned hardware, brass rivets at all stress points ensure you will probably wear out before this pack does.



There is an outer pocket held closed by two buckled straps, two open side pockets, and an unlined main inner pocket featuring a two-pen holder (a neat idea, since I always tend to lose pens when the holders have been on the outside of the bag). The main chamber also sports a recessed pocket big enough to hold a 7” tablet. There is also a carrying handle, and two adjustable shoulder buckle-style shoulder straps.



Overall, it is a tough, heavy bag designed to take the stresses of the road. It’s less likely you’d want to take it on long hiking trips due to the extra weight the leather adds.


I’ve carried this pack for three weeks in the mountains of Montana and the concrete jungle of Spokane, Washington. In every case, I’ve carried the pack for a mile or less at one time. The pack never felt uncomfortable or too heavy, even packed up with 25 pounds.


There’s room for water bottles on the outside pockets, and the front pocket serves for carrying a phone and other odds and ends. The main pocket has buckles on the sides that allow you to expand or contract the opening. By loosening these buckles, I was able to fit my 17-inch laptop inside and then cinch them back up for a snug fit. With no padding in the main chamber, you will want to be a little more cautious about dropping the pack on the floor after a day at the office. Even after putting in the laptop, there is still room for accessories and your schoolbooks. It also sports an inset pocket that held my 7” tablet and case with room to spare. I was still able to access the penholder on the inside of the main pocket, but it becomes somewhat less useful when the main chamber is filled with other items.


In regards to the closure systems on this pack, everything is secured by buckles. These buckles do make getting into and out of the pack slower than other pack closure systems such as a drawstring or quick release plastic clips. Some might see it as a criticism of the pack, while others will appreciate the quality and craftsmanship that went into building the pack this way. In this case, it depends on whether you value function over aesthetics.



If you want a backpacker’s pack, you can find them everywhere. If you want a beautiful leather backpack that you can take to work and out to play for a day, look no further. The covetous looks of family members when I first brought this pack home were enough to tell me what I already knew: don’t let this pack out of your sight, because someone will steal it.


Full grain leather has a tendency to scratch easily. I think the scratches add to the look and patina of the leather on the pack. However, it is possible to buff out the scratches with a good quality leather conditioner depending on your preference. I do recommend you use a good conditioner (Marlondo offers one on their site), as this pack is an investment. The nickel-plated buckles and D-rings give a nice contrast to the bag. The brass rivets look great as well. However, I’d consider using non-plated buckles and D-rings in the future to give an even look to the metals on the bag. For me it is a very minor issue, but one worth considering.


In regards to the buckle and strap closure system on this pack, I love the charm and toughness they give to the pack. While I may miss the occasional phone call if I put my phone in the front pouch, I can live with that.


Serving as an eye-catching day pack or traveler’s pack, the $398.00 retail price certainly isn’t cheap, but it is a good value. The Marlondo Leather Backpack, even with its beauty and functionality, is a significant investment in leather. If you choose to do so, you won’t be disappointed.


If you are someone concerned with the amount of weight you put on your back (back-country hikers, for example), you might look towards a synthetic material pack weighing significantly less. If you are someone who needs quick access to your pack all the time, there are no plastic quick releases here. I’d also have a hard time putting the pack somewhere that I couldn’t see it at all times. Its look and quality unfortunately make it a great target for theft in this day and age.

Other than those considerations, the aesthetic appeal, durability, and functionality of this pack make it an excellent choice for anyone who appreciates fine leather goods by artisans who care about the products they craft. While I do own other backpacks, they’ve been, ahem, temporarily set aside while I continue my study of this pack for the foreseeable future.





LederMann Rugged Leather Briefcase Messenger Bag Backpack Review – $455

We’re changing things up a little bit here. That doesn’t sound quite right. We’re working to add a new component to our BestLeather readers with the addition of some occasional short video reviews of the products that we review. Our first foray into this is a feature style on LederMann’s newest bag – their Rugged Leather Briefcase Messenger Bag Backpack. And, apologies in advance for some of the wind noise in the video.

As you can assume from the name of the bag, it’s multipurpose in its design. It can easily serve as a formal, large briefcase. It functions very well as a messenger bag for casual, less formal business or scholarly pursuits. It can easily work as a classy overnight bag. And, you can load it up, reconfigure the shoulder strap and carry it backpack style. This is a new style of leather that LederMann is offering too. This “Rugged Leather” style has a unique texture to it and looks to offer great longevity and should develop an excellent patina with time and use. The Rugged Leather has a bit of a rough out feel to it…but certainly not that rough. It’s just similar.


We highlight most of these items in the video, but here’s a quick rundown of the LederMann bag’s features:

  • Thick Full Grain Leather, 4 – 5 oz. (2 – 2.2 mm)
  • Suede Lining
  • Heavy-duty, Industrial Nylon Thread
  • Machine Pressed Heavy Duty Rivets at all stress points.
  • Size: 16″W X 12″H X 6″D inch.
  • Front Pocket/Compartment Size: 13″W x 9″H x 1.5″D inch for the open
    pocket compartment
  • Easily converts to a Backpack.
  • When you order from LederMann, you enjoy free shipping to United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia,
    Italy, France, Germany and many other countries.


LederMann is also going to be sponsoring a giveaway for a slightly different bag featuring this same new rugged leather. So, be on the lookout for that very soon. And, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter too as we’ll be sending out a special promotion from LederMann offering some fantastic savings just for BestLeather readers! In the meantime, please check out the LederMann website and look at all of the great, well made leather products they create and sell there.


Fjallraven Rucksack #21 Large Review – $225

I don’t think I have ever met anyone who didn’t enjoy a few days away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It truly is a natural thing that we all require to keep functioning. As you know I really do enjoy the luxury life, so completely abandoning everything is very difficult for me. But, when I do get the opportunity to sneak away, I love to have some of the finest, high quality gear to bring on my travels. The Fjallraven No. 21 Rucksack is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for quality, do-it-all gear.

Fjallraven No 21 Rucksack 1



Like many of the leather companies we have reviewed, Fjallraven began because of a distinct lack in quality, specialized goods. Fjallraven was founded by Åke Nordin in Northern Sweden. Åke was an adventurous boy when he realized the world needed better, long-lasting framed packs. His designs were the first of its kind, and once it caught the attention of other adventurers, by 1960 Fjallraven was officially born. With the base principles, of functionality, durability, and dependability, Fjallraven has grown into an enormous, world-wide adventure-seeking company. Adeptly named after the Arctic Fox, each and every Fjallraven bag resembles the traits of this tough, steadfast predator and the Fjallraven base principles.

Fjallraven No 21 Rucksack 2



The No. 21 Large Rucksack is constructed using natural vegetable tanned leather, YKK hardware, and Fjallraven’s signature heavy-duty G-1000 fabric. The rucksack is extremely durable and spacious. Standing at 52cm high by 29cm wide by 15cm deep, the rucksack is capable of 30 L of space. The thick leather straps attach securely to the metal posts and then are held in place by the metal loops, which covers the main compartment opening sheltered by a snow lock. The inside of the bag is very simple with only the large main compartment, padded laptop sleeve, and small items zippered case. The most durable, and most important part of this rucksack’s construction are the padded shoulder straps attached to sturdy leather strips with metal rivets. These straps are some of the more secure feeling shoulder straps I have pleasured my back with. The No. 21 Large Rucksack is constructed extremely well, and will definitely last for many, many adventures.

Fjallraven No 21 Rucksack 4



I recently took the No. 21 Rucksack on a trip to Banff National Park. I was happy to be wearing the Fjallraven bag on my way to the Lake Agnes Tea House. In the bag I had an extra outfit, hoodie sweatshirt, Olympus camera, GoPro Hero 4, knife and flashlight, two bottles of water, portable power pack and phone charger, a glasses case, my tobacco pipe, and a Kammok camping hammock with straps. I actually still had room left over to put more things had I needed them. The No. 21 Rucksack functioned flawlessly. While I did receive a little irritation on my lower back from the leather rubbing my shirt, I realized later it was only because I had accidentally offset the adjustable shoulder straps when I was putting the bag on. The rucksack is a fantastic adventure bag with more than enough space for essential adventure items.

Fjallraven No 21 Rucksack 3



The natural vegetable tanned leather is extremely soft and has already developed a lovely patina from consistent use. I have actually had this bag since February, so I have definitely used it often and taken it with me on several trips and motorcycle rides around central Oregon. The G-1000 material is pleasantly pliable, but still has that sturdy, well-made feel. The No. 21 Rucksack has been treated with Greenland wax, giving it an eco-friendly weather-resistant exterior. The rucksack comes in three sizes and several different colors. Each one contrasts perfectly with the natural leather and will definitely make a stylish adventure bag.

Fjallraven No 21 Rucksack 8



I have been very pleased by the Fjallraven No. 21 Large Rucksack. Fjallraven has done an excellent job combining the high-quality materials, adept functionality, and durability to make a great adventure backpack. If you are looking for a bag that can truly function in all conditions and settings, head over to the Fjallraven website and pick out a size and color. At only $225, the No. 21 Large Rucksack is a wise investment for the adventure-seeking traveller.


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Hidesign Hector Large 17″ Laptop Compatible Leather Backpack Review – $299.99

BestLeather had an absolutely fantastic, successful trip to Las Vegas in February for Fashion Week. Running around meeting new leather artisans and companies, making connections with popular brands, and taking the time to discuss leather with a few companies was enough to make our week fantastic. Hidesign was one of the leather brands we actually had the chance to sit down with and talk. This leather company provides a refreshing fashionable line of leather bags and accessories to BestLeather’s typically rustic product reviews – Hidesign’s product line is very refined and stylish.



Founded in 1978, Hidesign has grown into a global leather accessories brand recognized for its quality, ecological values and personalized service. By keeping its focus on a classic contemporary look, Hidesign caters to the sophisticated urban professional and executive.” This stylish business values diversity, quality, and heritage. Each of these values is evident in their contemporary products. Head over to their website to read more about the brand, their product innovation, ecological mindset, and to check out some quality leather products.

HiDesign Hector Review 2

HiDesign Hector Review 9


The Hector Leather Backpack is a quality piece. This stunning bag is constructed using Hidesign’s full-grain vegetable tanned classic leather, heavy-duty contrast stitching, and 100% cotton green striped lining. Each of these elements comes together in a beautiful, chic bag. The bag consists of one large main compartment, and a smaller, slip in pocket. The main compartment was designed large enough to fit a 17” laptop in the padded sleeve. In this main partition there is also one zip pocket for pens and pencils, and two slip in pockets for other accessories. The press button closure is easy to use, yet durable, and the metal closure square is heavy duty and attention-grabbing. The leather shoulder straps are padded perfectly, and the modern metal hardware gives the bag an extremely durable impression. This bag is built with exquisite detail and materials, and will last for a very long time.

HiDesign Hector Review 3

HiDesign Hector Review 10


Every man needs a good backpack. They are extremely practical, provide adequate storage, and give you the option of carry additional bags. My go-to travel set-up is a backpack, messenger or duffel, and my beautiful self. This backpack has performed exceedingly well in every situation I have put it through, whether that was going to college classes, a coffee at a local café, or travelling to various places. Measuring 11.2” by 14.4” by 5.5,” the Hector backpack is spacious. Each time I used this bag, I would take my MacBook Air with leather sleeve, charging cable, notebook, textbooks, The Pienza Penholder, a headphone case, and other assorted daily use items. I have even used this bag to pack my Olympus camera and a few lenses, all while functioning perfectly as a multi-use bag.

HiDesign Hector Review 7


The Hector backpack is gorgeous. Its elegant construction, handsome materials, and graceful feel make this backpack perfect for the modern gentlemen who appreciates purpose. The contrast stitching gives the bag an inviting look. The leather is tanned perfectly to a deep brown, and the inner green lining gives the bag just the right amount of individuality. This bag was not designed to get thrown around and abused, although it will withstand it. Like all quality leather items, attentive care and responsibility are key to this bags long-lasting lifetime. Like most of the leather items I have reviewed, I always receive compliments on this bag. It only makes sense for a backpack like this to receive praise, so people stopping and inquiring about the bag is always a good sign that my impressions are accurate.

HiDesign Hector Review 4

HiDesign Hector Review 5


Hidesign is a company that appreciates modern design, practicality, and quality. The Hector Large 17″ Laptop Compatible Leather Backpack is a great example of Hidesign’s core values. You may be surprised at Hidesign’s relatively low price-points, but they absolutely do not sacrifice quality to achieve this. With a new men’s line for this spring, any of Hidesign’s products will make excellent Father’s day presents. But if you are looking for a bag that will really make an impression, the Hector backpack is the perfect bag for you. Priced at $299.99, it also won’t hurt your budget. Head over to the Hidesign America website to check out their excellent product offerings and pick up a quality Father’s day present this week.

HiDesign Hector Review 8

Arcane Supply Co Introduces Hinterlander Backpack on KickStarter

Here at BestLeather, we’re always on the hunt for great up and coming products. Arcane Supply Co dropped perfectly into our crosshairs with the introduction of their Hinterlander backpack. With rugged good looks and superior craftsmanship, you’ll be eying this bag with all the fervor of a hungry lion on the Serengeti . Catch is, you’ve got a direct role in making this happen.

Hinterlander (2)

Philadelphia based Arcane Supply Co has spent nearly a year developing what they feel will be the only bag you’ll ever need. Inspired by the vintage rucksacks of Switzerland’s Elite Ski Patrol, The Hinterlander’s pedigree so far looks promising given the materials used:

  • US 18oz Martexin waxed canvas (24oz weight after waxing)
  • US veg tanned English Bridle leather
  • Wool Felt shoulder strap

Designed to be as versatile as it is rugged, the Hinterlander backpack is aimed to serve as a faithful companion from the jungle to the streets. If the Kickstarter Goal is met, BestLeather will do a full review on the Hinterlander, plus, Arcane Supply Co will host a BestLeather Giveaway for the pack as well! Their Kickstarter campaign begins Friday April 24th, so be sure to check it out and give your support if you want to see this put into full production.

Hinterlander (3)

Satch & Fable Laptop Backpack Review – $269

In our last Satch & Fable review, we were introduced to the 13’’ Leather Satchel. Made of goat leather from India, it exemplified the Buddhist concept of Wabi-sabi which finds imperfection and transience as beautiful. This time around, owner Fabrizio Giuliani has introduced a whole new line of travel and backpacking gear with the same concept and beautiful leather. If a satchel isn’t your thing, then take a look at the Satch & Fable Laptop Backpack.


Like the leather satchel, the leather of the backpack is full-grain goat leather. This means the backpack is exceptionally light while retaining its water-resistant properties. As previously described, the Indian goat leather is tanned using traditional Moroccan techniques giving the leather the misnomer of “Moroccan leather.” Because Moroccan tanning is a manual labor-intensive and odorous process, the leather often has a distinctive smell. The satchel I received did have a mild unique leather smell that I noticed right away. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was distinctive and different from the chemically created leather smell that most western leathers have. This backpack, however, is much less “smelly.” Inside, there is waterproof canvas lining. Outside, brass hardware is sourced from India, and the external pocket has an interesting Oklahoma state button. Each bag is made by hand using vintage sewing machines with cotton stitches. Because goats are smaller creatures, multiple panels are sewn together to create this larger bag. Don’t expect this bag to be able to handle a hike up the Himalayans or outlive your children. For a bag constructed for enjoyment in the short-term, it still has all the bells and whistles of the many durable rugged leather backpacks out there.




The backpack measures 16x10x4. The key number here is “4.” This backpack is designed with a laptop in mind. Therefore, it is thin but still surprisingly roomy given the ample length and height of the bag. It easily fits my 13’’ MacBook Pro and iPad Air, but should be able to fit a 15’’ laptop and more. The middle compartment is padded on the bottom and sides to offer a nice pleasant cushion for your prized electronics without the hassle of an additional laptop sleeve. On the outside, there are three external bucked pockets and there are two zipper pockets on the inside. Inside, there are also pen holders and a cell-phone pocket made of leather sewn against the canvas lining. The only downside to all these multiple storage areas is that each of the 3 compartment/pockets drop all the way down to the bottom of the backpack. Therefore, things like laptops, folders, papers, magazines are great and easy to place into the backpack. One the other hand, smaller items I take to work such as my snack bag of almonds, notepad, measuring tape, vitamin bottle, and iPod all fall to the very bottom which requires a bit of rummaging and emptying everything out to find what you to want. The backpack also comes with detachable carrying straps. Placed slightly narrow on the backpack, they may fit a bit snug on people with wider backs or waists but the straps are soft and thin and the backpack can be carried off a single shoulder.




Well if you’ve never had a tanned goatskin bag, then you should get one. The leather comes weathered, soft, and completely unique. No two bags will ever be alike and every single blemish, mark, and scar only adds to the character and attractiveness of the leather. Inside, the dark blue canvas lining adds a flash of color and modern flair to a bag that looks like it’s been in the family for decades. In two weeks of carrying the backpack around work, no less than three random strangers have stopped to compliment me. I guess the bag speaks for itself.




The Satch & Fable Laptop Backpack at $269 is a beautiful, attention-grabbing backpack. It is ideal for those looking for an affordable, lightweight, back and shoudler-friendly bag for carrying their laptop and other items – something you can just grab and hang over your shoulder the entire day without sacrificing comfort.

Saddleback Leather Bucket Backpack Review – $259

2014 was a great year for many different leather artisans and companies. It was a great year for BestLeather too. One of the great things that we look forward to every year is seeing how product innovation and development takes place. And, we weren’t let down. We have seen the development of many exciting products that have generated some great interest. One of the innovators that we follow routinely – and we get the privilege of working with frequently – is Saddleback Leather Company. Saddleback introduced several new products in 2014. One of those products is the Saddleback Leather Bucket Backpack (Chestnut)


About Saddleback Leather

Just in case one of our readers doesn’t know about Saddleback Leather, here goes a quick summary: Founded in 2004 and based in San Antonio, Texas Saddleback Leather is dedicated to building ridiculously tough, long lasting leather bags, backpacks, and accessories. The family owned company has grown significantly over the years and has a very dedicated customer base…and, as expected, they have their detractors too. But, the fact is – they make some pretty fantastic products and they back them up with a 100 year warranty.



The Saddleback Leather Bucket Backpack we received for testing and review features Saddleback’s classic tobacco colored leather, copper rivets, and nickel-plated hardware. The Bucket Backpack is a simple design. At 16” h X 10.5”w and 8.5” d it will haul plenty of gear. It sports a drawstring closure, a removable strap handle that can also be used as a key ring strap or to secure other products within the pack. It’s made just like all of Saddleback’s other bags and accessories – with thick leather, pigskin lining, and heavy duty hardware.



Weighing in at 3.5 pounds, this is the lightest weight backpack that Saddleback makes. The one obvious thing about this backpack is the complete absence of a top flap. I’m not sure if this is advantageous or not. There are definitely situations when it will not be a good idea to carry certain items in this pack (i.e. electronics in a rainstorm). So, some forward planning will need to be made when utilizing this pack. Or, you just plan to never carry anything that will be affected by adverse weather.


On the other hand, the lack of a top flap sure makes it easy to get into quickly and easily. In that vein, it holds big advantages for certain people. I can see this serving well as a diaper bag or even as a bag full of all the things a parent needs while managing a busy family. It’ll also serve a student well carrying books and assorted gear for school. Or a dedicated gym bag. There are a lot of great ways this bag can be used. The interior is spacious and also has a good size interior flap pocket and a smaller pocket sewn on the front of it that will easily house a normal sized smartphone.

As with most products that are built from sturdy leather, it is stiff at first. The shoulder straps will take some time to break in and soften up. The shoulder straps are easily adjustable to create a custom fit. To date the bag is looking good and developing a nice patina. With the tobacco color, it will certainly darken up with time and use.



I have a hard time deciding what color is my favorite with Saddleback. Black, carbon, chestnut, and dark coffee brown all have a certain appeal. The great thing with tobacco though is that it will develop its own unique color dependent upon your use and time. That feature alone consistently sways me to make the claim that tobacco is my favorite.

The Bucket Backpack also generates quite a bit of interest from others too. Given its unique design and great leather, people ask and comment about it frequently.



At $259, this is the most affordable backpack in Saddleback’s lineup. There are concessions made (the lack of a top flap), but as noted it also yields certain benefits too. The beauty is that you get to choose. And, you can rest assured that Saddleback’s a company that will be around for a long time. The company is as solid as the products they make. The Saddleback Leather Bucket Backpack is well built, backed by a warranty that will outlive you, and looks fantastic. As they say on their website, “they’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that!

LederMann Extra Large 18″ Vintage Chestnut Belting Leather Briefcase – $445

There are those occasions when you need a big bag – a really big bag. Now, you could certainly just go out and buy a nylon or cotton behemoth, which will easily get the job done. But, what if you plan on carrying this big bag for a long time and want to do it in style? Well, you stumble onto the vast array of leather bags. And, when you do you find that there are a myriad of bag makers and bags that come in every size, shape, and style. But, if you’re looking for a large briefcase, it narrows the options down quickly. One of those large briefcase/messenger bag manufacturers is LederMann.


About LederMann

Since 2002 LederMann has been making high quality products using full grain leather, old world craftsmanship, and strict quality control. The result are bags, briefcases, travel bags, and backpacks designed to be durable, serve you well, and stand the test of time.


The LederMann Extra Large 18” Vintage Chestnut Belting Leather Briefcase is a beast – both in name and stature. It definitely lives up to its ‘extra large’ name. The body of this chestnut colored bag (also available in black) is made from 4-5 oz. full grain leather while the flaps and shoulder strap are 7-8 oz. in thickness. There are a lot of big pieces of leather sewn up in this bag. The precision stitching is comprised of heavy duty nylon thread while the interior of the bag is swathed in suede. Hardware is all brass and the stress points are reinforced with machine pressed heavy duty rivets.



Everything about this bag is big. And, if you’re looking for a big that then you’ll be happy about that for sure. Spacious is the most accurate description of this bag, which is 18″W X 13″H X 7″D and has two inner compartments measured at 3.5″ each compartment. It affords plenty of room for a laptop (or two) of any size, your Xbox, games, and controllers (know this one by experience from my son), books, accessories, and clothes.




There is a large slip pocket that runs the length of the back, suitable for a newspaper, magazine, or notepad (even a legal sized pad). The handle is thick and sturdy. The shoulder strap is wide and easy to adjust. It features two large, well-padded shoulder pads which is excellent for carrying heavy loads in traditional briefcase form or in backpack form.



That’s right – this thing converts into a backpack using a traditional three point connection system. The strap easily comes apart and allows quick transition into shoulder straps. Again, the shoulder pads work very well in this arrangement. As an 18” bag, when loaded having the ability to carry this bag in backpack mode is a very nice feature.

If you are looking for a bag to carry a fully equipped office with you – this is it. Need a bag to carry your basic office needs and your needs for a night or two? This is it. It’s big, but it’s versatile.

It will test you though. Empty this bag weighs in at around approximately 8 pounds. When you load it up, it’s going to require some effort to transport it. But, its size also lends itself to staying in proportion with people of larger stature too. At 6’5” tall, this bag fits my middle son and me well. As a backpack or a messenger it doesn’t look out of place. As a combination office and overnight bag, it’s ideal because it will easily accommodate our larger clothes.



The classic lines of this bag make it very attractive. The gussets, fine leather, heavy duty hardware all combine to create an elegant, classic look. It’s just bigger than most of the other bags in this style that you’ve seen in the past.

The leather has a high gloss, waxy finish to it and looks very attractive. It certainly garners attention when you set it down at a meeting. It can’t help but be noticed.



I recently read an article about a gentleman who spent one year traveling the world with everything he needed safely tucked into a 26 liter backpack. If you’re thinking of doing the same thing, this backpack is slightly larger than that and fully capable of serving you in the same capacity…and it will look much better than a nylon bag! I look forward to seeing how this bag ages and performs as time goes on. It was a little rigid right out of the box, but with limited use over the past six weeks or so it has already softened up. It’s a well made bag and should withstand the rigors of daily use without issue for decades. The $445 price tag for the LederMann Extra Large 18” Vintage Chestnut Belting Leather Briefcase is substantial – but so is the bag. And, it’s a multipurpose bag that you’ll be able to use and enjoy the rest of your life.