Melin Odyssey Scout Thermal Hat Review -$99

As much as it sucks saying sayanora to summer, we can’t help but get hyped for cooler weather. Typically at this time we swap out our flip flops for boots, our tanks for parkas and our caps for beanies…but what if it didn’t have to be this way. We discovered possibly the best winter hat – Read on for yourself in this Melin Odyssey Scout Thermal review. 

Construction

Right out of the box we discovered why this cap will set you back a cool hundo. The upper portion is made of Merino wool. The properties of Merino wool are well known in the outdoors. Wool regulates temperature (expands in heat to increase airflow, constricts in cold to limit heat escape) provides a measure of water resistance and stays worm even when wet.

The brim utilizes a Nappa Leather hide. Obviously we love the inclusion of any leather, but here it makes extra sense. The brim is the most handled portion of a hat, and the leather can take the abuse of repeated handling. We also see leather used on the strap as well. The hat is somewhat heavy due to the premium materials, but is a small con to the overwhelming pros. 

 Function 

It gets chilly here in the Keystone state and the Odyssey Scout Thermal does a great job cutting off the chill. The raised crest of the Scout works great as an insulating chamber over the forehead area. Granted, your ears are exposed so either get come ear muffs or look into Melin’s Lumberjack Thermal which has ear flaps if you want added protection. 

This hat feels so comfortable, the sweatband is soft and cradles your dome gently. Thanks to the heat regulating properties of wool, if you go inside or warm up do to physical activity the wool fibers will naturally expand to allow heat to escape so you’re not constantly taking off and putting it on. 

Aesthetic

This is one beautiful gnome home for your chrome dome. The leather harmoniously contrasts the wool upper in such a provocative manner it’s almost inappropriate. Roll that beautiful bean footage.

Conclusion 

We were thoroughly  impressed with Melin’s Odyssey Thermal Hat. The blend of premium materials, craftsmanship and execution make for a much needed alternative to the boring beanie. The price is definitely a consideration, but if you’re in a hat most of your waking hours, its a no brainer.

Kodiak Leather Buffalo Leather Pilots Bag- $249

A quality and stylish briefcase is a real attention grabber and is a key element to a fashionable men’s and women’s wardrobe. Briefcases can hold the minimal – laptop and a few folders or the carry all – books, tech, folders and even cloths as an indispensable travel companion. 

Kodiak Leather’s Pilot Bag seems to fit the bill for both office and travel in its style, function and durability. 

About Kodiak Leather Co.

Kodiak Leather Co. of Utah is a startup in Lehi, Utah founded by Jared Morse, an outdoorsman who was frustrated by the lack of reasonably priced leather bags that would hold up through all the wear and tear of daily use. This inspired Jared to create Kodiak Leather Co. and our custom leather bags. After finding only the highest quality leather and hardware, he set out to build a bag that would last a lifetime.

Fast Forward 4 Years…
 
After having 4 successful Kickstarter campaigns, the Buffalo Leather Satchel, The Classic Weekender Duffel, the Sitka Leather Messenger, and the most recent Yukon Garment Bag,  they have come full circle on offering a wide variety of travel bags , briefcases (similar to the satchel and the messenger), as well as some smaller, everyday carry items like journals and wallets.
 

Construction

The Pilot Bag is made from a thick top grain buffalo leather and a high grade thread. Premium brass hardware and YKK zippers are used in the bag.

The bag is available in 2 leather finishes: antique brown and dark walnut (pictured). The dimensions of the bag are 5 “deep x 18″ length x 14″ height. The bag has 2 zippered exterior pockets and 2 pouch pockets with a magnetic snap closure. Behind the flap that covers the pouch pockets there is a pocket that has a velcro tab to keep it closed.

There are 2 zippered main compartments with a laptop pocket and dividers. There are also interior side slots for cards, a device pocket and 2 pen holders.

The interior of the bag is lined with a dark brown fabric liner. On the sides of the bag is a strap and buckle system to cinch in the bag.

The removable strap is a combined use of quality nylon and leather. In addition to the removable strap there are two regular top handles with a 2 snap closure.

Function

This bag can easily serve as your carry all office and travel companion to hold a laptop, cords, accessories, books, folders, clothes, and even camera gear. The outside pockets and flaps make ideal spots for wallets, passports, keys, passes, newspapers and other small gear to place in while traveling. Heck, having a newborn son, I would even consider it as a very convenient and classy baby bag that could make many other dads envious.  

Aesthetic

The buffalo leather used for this bag is soft and lightweight and has a very stunning antique distressed finish. The zippers, as stated above, are of high quality making it easy to zip and open when full. Although some many prefer more buckled hardware as opposed to the magnetic snap closures on the front pocket, I appreciate the convenience of getting in and out of the pockets quickly. I’m not a huge fan of the velcro tab in the front pocket but understand why it was put there. I see the velcro wearing out in time but it is a very small detail that does not bother me in the grand beauty and construction of the bag. 

The bag overall has a great feel to it when carried with the snapped handle or the shoulder strap. The weight is evenly distributed and as mentioned before, is not super heavy like a lot of leather bags on the market. I feel confident in saying that my shoulder and back will not suffer if carrying this bag for a longer period of time (unless of course you have very heavy cargo).

Conclusion

Let’s be real- most leather briefcases come with a hefty price tag. Understandably so given the materials and labor that goes into making them. What I am very impressed with about this pilots bag and all of Kodiak Leather Co. products is a very fair price that does not, in my opinion, sacrifice the quality or integrity of the product. The Pilot Bag is a welcome addition to my leather bag collection and one that I look forward to using for many years and handing down to my son. Check it out this bag -here- as use code: ‘ABANACH20’ to receive a generous discount for taking the time to read this review!

E3 Supply Co. Leather Moto Glove Lanyard Review – $40

The E3 Supply Co. Leather Moto Glove Lanyard is a product that solves a problem you didn’t realize you had. I hadn’t thought about the inconvenience that carrying around my motorcycle gloves is until this lanyard eliminated it! This is a great quality-of-life product for any motorcycle rider.

About E3 Supply Co.

E3 Supply Co. began from a passion for building custom motorcycles, and has now extended to creating killer leather accessories for their riders. This company prides itself on hand making each product from start to finish, all at their headquarters in Brooklyn. As far as companies go E3 is as cool as they come.

I highly recommend following their Instagram, which includes cross-country camper adventures, musical pursuits, and, of course, plenty of leather (and sometimes discounts on said leather!). It’s been my pleasure to get to know David, Erin, and their crew over at E3 over the course of several reviews (with many more to come!).

Leather & Construction

The Moto Glove Lanyard is made with Horween’s famous Chromexcel leather, E3 Supply Co’s leather of choice. Chromexcel is a soft and beautiful leather with a strong reputation. Holding the Chromexcel in place is military grade metal: a single snap rivet, two sliding loops, and tipped with an Hk style rifle sling clip. The leather is cleanly cut and well assembled. 

Function

I used to cram my motorcycle gloves in the back pocket of my jeans if I didn’t have some kind of bag with me. It worked well enough, but wasn’t ideal. I’d need to remove them to sit, and could easily end up forgetting them (as, unfortunately, I’ve been known to do fairly often). The Moto Glove Lanyard is a great alternative.

The function is simple. With the lanyard clipped to the belt loop on your pants, you put your gloves in the lanyard and secure them with the sliding loops. When you need your gloves again, you slide the loops up and grab your gloves. Easy!

The biggest concern I had with the lanyard was that my gloves might not be very secure. I’ve stress tested the hold a bit, swinging the lanyard around and tugging at my gloves. So far I haven’t had any issues! The sliding loops wedge the gloves in nicely.

Another perk to using the Moto Glove Lanyard is that it makes your pair of gloves a single unit. Even if I had a bag or didn’t want my gloves clipped to my pants, using the lanyard keeps them together and makes them easier to quickly grab or find in your bag.

Aesthetic

Chromexcel is a gorgeous leather, and it’s hard to go wrong with a product made with it. The color shifts slightly as the leather is folded and moved. The hardware maintains the sturdy, rugged look that is perfect for a motorcyclist’s gloves.

Conclusion

E3 Supply Co.’s Leather Moto Glove Lanyard is a handy accessory for anyone who frequently uses gloves. It works perfectly as intended, looks nice, and won’t break the bank. It’s a great way to keep your gloves secure and out of your way. I’m happy to recommend this lanyard as a Buy It For Life product.

Loucks Leatherworks Personalized Cigar Case Review – $45

What could be finer than the rich smell of leather and cigars? I had the upmost pleasure of reviewing and gifting these custom handmade leather cigar cases for my groomsmen and I can say without a doubt that every one of my brothers loved them like I couldn’t have even imagined.

About Loucks Leatherworks

in 2016, David Loucks  set out to buy a new wallet and found himself unhappy with the typical department store offerings. After researching higher quality wallets, David decided to take on the challenge of making his own. Of course, at first attempt, it turned out hideous. He then became obsessed with all things leather. David spent the next two years absorbing everything he could about different types of leather, tanning processes and crafting techniques.

In 2018 David combined his passion for cigars and pipes with his newfound love of leather and created his first cigar case. At the urging of friends and family he created Loucks Leatherworks and began selling the cases online.
It starts with the materials. The highest quality, oil-tanned leather and the strongest thread on the market. Every piece is cut, assembled and stitched by hand. The result is an attractive case that will last . Also what sets Loucks Leatherworks apart is customer service. They personally work with each customer, customizing and personalizing each item to their specifications. They then provide updates and photos throughout the process. Loucks Leatherworks believes to do all this while maintaining a price point that is competitive with mass produced items.

Construction

All cases are made with full-grain, oil-tanned cow leather. All stitching is done with braided polyester waxed thread. Specifically the tiger thread by Ritza. Monogramming is done by laser. In addition to monogramming there is an option for personalized notes on the interior of the product, which is great when the item is intended as a gift. The case’s dimensions are 9” X 3.2”.

Function

This case was designed to perfectly hold two, fifty gauge Churchill size cigars or shorter. The flap is held in place by a stitched holding band.

Aesthetic

This is a very stylish and compact cigar case perfect to throw in your briefcase, overnight bag, glovebox, or even golf bag for that weekend away. The leather is stunning with the pull-up, the smell, and the feel of oil tanned leather.  It is naturally moisture resistant, and extremely durable making it the perfect material to protect expensive hand rolled cigars.

The personalization touches on both the exterior and interior are unique as they add so much character to the piece. I chose a specific cigar inspired quote that reminded me of each gentleman who it was intended for.

Conclusion

Whether  a groomsmen gift or just a special personalized gift to give to someone (or yourself), these leather cigar cases will surely impress. And just like a great friendship, they will get better and ‘uglier’ with age but only in the way leather enthusiasts and close friends will know about..Check them out -here-.

Olpr. Leather Goods Co. Pocket Moleskine Journal Cover- $29

In studying the lives of great men, I’ve noticed a common trait: they were all consistent journal writers. I, myself, consider myself an avid and consistent journal writer.

My grandpa kept a journal his entire life. His journal was quite simple. He just kept a small notebook in his pocket of his shirt and jotted down a short description of the things he did and the people he did it with. This is something he did pretty much every day for his entire life.

Whether or not you want your future grandkids to read it or you just want an attractive piece to store some notes or important information, I loved giving these leather journal covers as groomsmen gifts to my brothers. I do believe that our grandkids will get a kick out of the fact that we once had to go into a shop to rent movies or that phones used to have cords attached to them.

About Olpr. Leather Goods Co.

Olpr. Leather Goods Co. is a small family business, started in Ukraine. All of the items are made to order, but they also have a showroom in the workshop where the customers can come and choose something from stock.
One day, Viktor, the company’s tailor, decided to sew the kind of wallet he had always wanted—a simple pocket wallet with a straight seam. It was so well made that he sold it the next day. He made another; he sold another. Soon, we were making leather goods for all of their friends. Their goods became so popular that they were invited to the arts markets. They sold everything they made. They had found their calling—creating leather goods.
The Internet gave Olpr. the exciting opportunity to sell their goods outside Ukraine. They could share their passion all over the world. But the distance caused a problem-shipping to the U. S. could take up to a month. That was not the type of service they wanted to provide, so they moved to North Carolina to be closer to their many American friends who value the handmade leather products.

Construction

All of the leathers used are the full-grain cowhides sourced from Horween tannery. High grade thread comes in several different colors.

The pocket sized cover measures 3.5″ x 5.5″ and fits the small Moleskine hardcover journal.

Products can be customized with the colorful stitching and personalization. Olpr. Leather Goods Co. offers two types of personalization – the embossing and laser engraving.

Function

This leather journal is perfect for that everyday carry item for your briefcase, car or just to carry around with you without having a larger sized journal. The back flap has a perfect cut seam to fit the elastic holder in place. The front and back inside flaps can also serve as perfect places for loose papers, receipts or cards.

Aesthetic

Each leather offered for this journal cover is as rich and beautiful as they come. They smell great too! Although only a month old, My journal is getting some nice wear, ‘beauty marks’ and patina. I suspect it will look really stunning and weathered in the years to come.

Conclusion

At $29 this pocket sized journal cover is well worth the money given the materials used and the handmade nature. As another famous man once said, ‘One cannot put a price on a journal for the text and contents of one’s journal is priceless’. Believe me when I say, the contents of my journal will surely exceed the amount the journal and cover originally costed. Check them out -here-.

Giver Classic & 4 Season Gloves Review – $40 & $99

 

For 15% off your next order from Give-r, use promo code “bestleather” at checkout!

I grew up in sunny California. So when I drove across country last January I packed up the car, threw on a hoodie and hit the pedal. It wasn’t until my first stop in Elko Nevada that I realized the blunder of my ignorance. At every pit stop for 3,000 miles my hands froze as I fueled up. Every morning as I set out I painfully scraped ice off the windshield with socks over my hands. It was during this time that I made an oath to the mighty interstate gods that I would find a good pair of gloves. After I completed the trip I started searching, and came across the Give’r Classic and 4 Season Gloves.

Construction

Before we get into the guts of these gloves I want to give a little background on the company behind these dextrous deities. Give’r has been around since 2011 and is based in Jackson Wyoming. The phrase Give’r is from Killarney in Ontario where the founders were inspired by the philosophy of giving it all you got which is definitely evident in the construction.

See any loose threads? Me neither.

Give’r tells us The leather undergoes a natural water tanning process, and is dyed using top quality tanning chemicals which are internationally approved. The gloves themselves are made in Pakinstan. The Wax coating, initial branding, Give’r logo branding and final touches are all taken care of in Jackson, WY. For the wax treatment of the Classic and 4-Season Gloves, Give’r uses a natural beeswax provided by Sno-Seal.  This treatment is responsible for the weatherproofing on the Classic Gloves.  For the 4-Season Gloves, this optional treatment serves as a surface barrier to the elements though the gloves are 100% waterproof without the treatment due to the waterproof membrane.  The wax coating on the 4-Season Gloves helps to protect against decay or drying of the leather, and ensures a long lifespan for the user.

If you were to accidentally drop the Give’r Classics into Mutagen ooze, you’d come up with the 4 Seasons. Notice the double stitching and palm reinforcements.

The 4 Season’s leather is 10-15% thicker and has added reinforcements in critical stress areas.  Both gloves has elastic around the wrists to provide a secure fit but the 4 Seasons goes a step further with an extended knit wrist cuff. Insulation on the classics is a laminated microfleece 30 gram insulation and we have 40 gm Thinsulate Insulation lining. The Classic weigh approximately  5.8oz and the 4 Seasons, 8.6oz.

Function

I’ve only had the Give’r gloves a few weeks, but they’ve already grown on me in the same manner as a trusted tool. When taking evening walks, I’ll usually reach for the classics. I like that I can wear my watch with an unimpeded view. It’s been a hovering around 25 degrees and my old fleece gloves were ok I thought, until I started using the classics and realized what’d been missing. The lining isn’t too thick which is good as I have sweaty palms and I can wear these across a wide spectrum of temperatures. Anything above 60 though and I’d probably want unlined gloves.

I really liked wearing a glove that could handle more than just keeping my hands warm.

My only real issue was the fit along the fingers. Using the fit guide I measured across my palm and that corresponded to a size large. While the across hand fit is good, I have over an inch gap on my pinky finger and thumb.  Interestingly, the 4 Seasons don’t do this and fit much better. I believe the 4 Seasons inner liner and added insulation enabled the better fit.

When you’re facing extreme conditions, the 4 Seasons are a solid option. Just slip them on and you’ve got leather gauntlets capable of serious manual mayhem. Seriously, there’s a video of the gloves being grilled on a bbq pit and even being dipped into boiling water while worn! Shoveling snow becomes almost enjoyable in these babies and in a pinch you can shovel snow with just them  on. I can see these being ideal for cold weather blue collar workers or those spending prolonged time in the elements. The ribbed elastic cuff seals out cold air and the waterproof lining means you can do just about anything in them.

Aesthetic

Aside from the elastic cuffs, both gloves are very similar visually. The 4 Seasons wax treatment gives them a slightly darker, more lustrous tone. We also see red contrast stitching on the 4 Seasons with a wonderful embossed logos. The Classic’s have a hand branded logo and silhouette of the Grand Tetons.   

The honey wheat color really adds warmth and style to the gloves.

Now before you conjure up grand illusions of flagging your French waiter over wearing some Give’rs while eating at a 4 star restaurant take note these are first and foremost work gloves; meant to create and takedown, to wrangle and contend. They do however look great, the simple efficient designs will gain the approval of no nonsense customers. Keep up on waxing them periodically and they’ll wear in beautifully.  

Conclusion

Give’r definitely lived up to their name with the construction of the Classics and 4 Seasons Gloves. The quality is noticeably superior to a pairs you’d find at big box stores. The 4 Seasons also cost quadruple the price in most cases. However, I see great value when you consider that the 4 Seasons can effectively replace your work gloves, winter gloves and ski gloves. All in all, I’d definitely recommend Give’r gloves and feel confident that they’ll hold up when I need them most.

Wallis Standard Leather Weightlifting Belt Review — $150

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Intro

I began bodybuilding almost two years ago.

At first, I didn’t understand the importance of protecting my lower back. But as I got into heavier weights, I realized how badly I needed a belt. A good belt. Something that would remind me to keep my core tight and activated, which, in turn, would keep my back self-reliant. Something for my core to press and strain against under heavy loads.

I started using the generic belts abandoned at my local gym. I tried the nylon ones and whatever else I could find. Then I tried on a friend’s more expensive leather belt, and it was like nothing else. It fit just right. It hit me that I was investing all this time in myself but hadn’t done the same for my equipment. When I realized this, I decided I was going to find a belt I would love.

My quest came to a close thanks to Instagram and a tip from a good friend. My first Men’s Physique competition will be in March 2017. I’m eager for the challenge, and I’m excited to bring the Wallis Standard Weightlifting Belt along with me.

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About Wallis Weight Belts

I spoke on the phone with Garrott and Evan, the founders and craftsmen of Wallis Weightbelts, and I learned the story behind their products. They met in 7th grade band practice. After college, they landed at the same gym in Lubbock, Texas. That got them talking about their mutual passions, which led to making CrossFit weight belts.

Their high quality work has made a splash in the industry, and they’ve gained a faithful Instagram following, thanks in part to the high-profile CrossFitters who use their products, including champs like Brooke Ence (2015 CrossFit Games).

As far as the craftsmanship goes, they’re confident that no one does what they do with the same level of quality, and I’m inclined to agree.

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Quality

First thing out of the box, I couldn’t stop handling this belt.

Just hefting it, you get a sense of its quality. It’s simply designed, and the detailing is beautiful. The belt is cut by hand from a single piece of thick, 0.8cm, cowhide leather (American and vegetable tanned). It’s sourced from the Hermann Oak Leather Company in St. Louis.

The tail of the belt is held down by a keeper. I’ve had the belt a month, and there’s only one problem I’ve seen—the hand-stitching on the keeper loop has unraveled slightly, though not enough to compromise the loop. It adds something to the rugged aesthetic.

The buckle is heavy duty. It employs double prongs, making an extra strong latch. It has a rotator around the end of it, which makes for smooth, easy buckling. And the buckle’s attached with a fixed loop to the main piece of leather by four Chicago screws.

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Functionality

The actual belt is 4 inches wide, enough to provide proper support through a variety of lifts, but not so wide that it impairs range of motion. The edges of the belt are burnished in black, giving it a smooth surface. It fits snugly to the body, and the interior suede feels great.

Just so you know, for the first two weeks of use, the stiffness of the keeper loop bruised me right under my rib cage. But now a month after using it daily, the belt has molded perfectly to my body and is incredibly comfortable in every sort of lifting position. It hasn’t decreased my satisfaction, but it’s something to be aware of—so expect to take a little time breaking it in.

Ten double adjuster holes run along the tail of the belt, spaced perfectly for a flush fit to the body. And they’re close enough that I never got stuck between a hole that’s too loose and the next which would be too tight. I used the sizing guide on the Wallis website, and the fit was so perfect that I’m currently using the centermost hole. That leaves me tons of room to gain or lose without growing out of the belt—another factor that adds value to a long-term investment.

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Customization

I upgraded my belt from the “Standard Weightlifting Belt” to include some simple customization. I added my last name across the back, and it’s beautiful. The Wallis team did a fantastic job on this personalization.

The belt also uses contrast topstitching. You can request different colors, which is another way to make it more uniquely yours.

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Conclusion

I love it.

The Wallis Standard Weightlifting Belt is a fine piece of a craftsmanship. I’ve loved using it. Its cost reflects its value, and I think it’s more than worth it. I’m glad to recommend it to my fellow CrossFitters and weightlifting enthusiasts.

[Jason Barrus and J Washburn wrote this review in collaboration.]

 

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Pad & Quill Oxford Leather iPad Pro 9.7 Case – $120

Looking for a flashy yet stylish way to carry and protect your iPad Pro? Look no further than the Oxford Leather iPad pro case from Pad & Quill.

With a simple a slim design, this case doesn’t add the unwanted bulk. Perfect for an office setting, travel and anywhere else you’d take your iPad pro to work and show off!

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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.”

Construction

This case is crafted from a single piece of full-grain bridle leather with a soft black colored American leather interior. The stitching is marine grade nylon and the closing strap is a sturdy elastic band.

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There is also a magnet stitched into the interior front cover to trigger the iPad’s ‘sleep’ function.

Residue free adhesive technology keeps the iPad securely in place. Although you can easily remove the iPad from the case, it is recommended that you do this minimally to preserve the adhesive strength. Otherwise, replacement adhesives can be ordered -here-.

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An optional Apple pencil accessory is available as well and can be purchase separately -here-.

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Closed the case measures 10 inches by 7.5 inches and .75 inches think with the iPad in it. Opened, the case measures 14.5 inches.

Function

The overall basic function of this case is to offer basic protection to your iPad’s screen. Similar to a leather book binder, the cover acts more as a cover than a protection case. Sure it will protect the case and screen from dust and minor drops and bumps, but I do not see it protecting it in a more rugged environment. The inside pocket also serves as a handy place to put notes, receipts or other loose papers. The elastic band holds the case very secure when closet.

There is also, of course a wide rectangular cut out for the iPads rear camera on the back cover.

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Aesthetic

As mentioned previously, the look and feel of this case is like a leather bound journal. Of course, it will bound to get more of those desired leather beauty marks ad patina with age and surely outlast the electronic devise(s) it holds.

Although I do not own the keyboard attachment for the iPad, I can see that it will work quite nicely with the design of the case and the ‘prop up’ design.

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The interior flap makes a great hand pocket for carrying although you couldn’t use it for taking pictures since it blocks the back camera lens.

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At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked the adhesive feature in the case and thought for sure that this may be a less desirable way to hold the case over time and especially if you wanted to remove the ipad from the case or swap cases from time to time. However, the adhesive system is very sturdy and well designed to stay hidden and add less hardware or bulk to the case.

I also don’t own an Apple pencil but the added accessory (that attaches with the same adhesive system) seems very useful to keep the iPad and pencil conveniently together.

BestLeather Conclusion

Although at first glance, the piece does appear to be expensive, further examination of the quality craftsmanship, materials used and design validates the price. If you want quality, you usually have to pay for quality and that theory applies here.

Cases are made for both the 9.7 inch and the larger 12.9 inch iPad Pro models and is available in two different colors.

Check it out -here-.

E3 Supply Co Passport Notebook & Tactical Keychains Review

The first time I went to E3 Supply Co’s website, I thought my web browser had auto-filled in a website from my history–why was I going to a page about motorcycles? I was in the right place though. E3 began by making custom motorcycles, and carried that spirit of freedom into making killer leather accessories. We’re going to look at a couple items that would fit right in with any biker’s every day carry–E3’s Passport Notebook and Tactical Keychain series.

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Horween Leather Passport Notebook

There’s lots of great options out there for a small leather notebook cover. E3’s Passport Notebook is distinguished in that it’s kept very simple (no card or pen slots), but can hold two smaller Scout notebooks. The Horween Chromexcel used is nice and thick, and as soft yet strong as we’ve come to know and love of this leather. It looks great and E3’s wing logo is very cool.

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Elastics at the centerfold are used to hold the notebooks in the cover, and another elastic is used to keep it closed when not in use. This is a great system that makes the Passport Notebook very easy to use. It’s quick to pull out and jot notes when the moment comes, and with some flexing can lay nice and flat. One unexpected use I found when I only needed one notebook was to use the freed-up elastic to hold cash or receipts. A drawback about the elastics is that they’ll be far outlived by the Chromexcel, but they should be quite simple to replace once they wear out.

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Chromexcel Tactical Keychain V1 & V2

Everyone needs keys, and every key needs a good keychain. E3 offers two options of their Tactical Keychain, and I’ve had the chance to test out both. V1 is for those who prefer to clip their keys to their belt loops, and V2 is for those who like to snap the entire keychain to their belt and unclip their keys when they need them (or perhaps those who want to save a few dollars on the less expensive of the two). I’ll let the visible wear-in on mine show which I preferred!

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Both versions are well made with the same thick Chromexcel as the Passport Notebook. V1 uses a thick stitch at each corner to hold three folded layers of leather together and the hardware in place, and V2 uses a single snap rivet to keep its two layers of folded Chromexcel in place. Hardware is military spec Hk style rifle sling clips. The PVD coating on the clips is starting to wear on the contact points of my clips, but this shouldn’t affect function or longevity. Everything involved is tough enough to handle the abuse a keychain takes for years to come.

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BestLeather Conclusion

E3 Supply Co. is a cool company with some great products. Their Chromexcel Passport Notebook and Tactical Keychains are simple, well put together items with our recommendation. Prices are reasonable as well–the Passport Notebook is $45, and the tactical keychains are $39 for V1 and $29 for V2. 

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E3 has many other great accessories to offer, as well. Be looking forward to a review of their Holster Style Slim Wallet in our upcoming wallet roundup as well as a review for their Apple Watch straps in the coming weeks.

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Andrews Leather Monarch Shoulder Rig and Holster Review — $250

I’m not in law enforcement, and I don’t wear a gun on a daily basis. The truth is, my interest in holsters comes primarily from Indiana Jones and Uncharted.

In other words, I was imagining a quest for Shangri La instead of considering functionality. I spent a lot of time looking for a certain style, something with a renegade panache. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Andrews Leather Monarch Shoulder Rig and Holster, which excels in both style and utility.

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About Andrews Leather

When I found pictures of the Monarch Shoulder Rig, I knew it was exactly what I wanted. But the site seemed a decade out of date, and I couldn’t find a place to order. I saw a phone number and called. A friendly voice greeted me: “My name’s Sam Andrews. I’m the owner.”

He spoke with a kind, mild, sincere tone. And although he mentioned being overloaded with orders, he seemed in no rush as he chatted with me. He told me he doesn’t do email—his hunt-and-peck typing is just too slow. And he prefers speaking directly with the customer anyway.

Sam said he’s been doing leatherwork for 41 years. It began when as a teen he cut apart a ruined police holster. Later he served as a police officer but left “because of the politics.” That’s when he stumbled into leathermaking as a career, and his business has been quite successful ever since.

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Construction

I first put on Sam’s Monarch shoulder holster while standing in front of a mirror, and I couldn’t help but grin.

The shoulder straps are made of a lightweight suede, which at first seemed a little too lightweight. But I soon realized this was for comfort. The suede trades durability and gains softness. It’s comfortable against your back and conforms to your body. I’ve never tested my bodyweight against it though, and I wouldn’t plan on hanging from it while sliding down a zipline. But it’s more than adequate for carrying a Glock and a couple loaded magazines.

The holster, on the other hand, is made of a heavy, cowboy sort of leather, stamped with the Andrews brand. Its weight helps balance the rig—the opposite of top heavy—keeping the equipment where it should be.

Sam shapes each holster to fit an exact model of gun, in my case a Glock 19, and you’ll see this in the contours of the molded leather.

I ordered the regular-sized Monarch Shoulder Rig, but Sam also makes an XL, because “some customers can’t fit their shoulders through a doorway.” That comment made me chuckle.

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Function

“Most shoulder holsters are designed by people who’ve never used one,” said Sam.

By contrast, he has years of law-enforcement experience and knows what functionality is needed. Even today, he tinkers with his designs, intent on finding what works best and what’s most comfortable. He told me this iterating makes the job fun. It also means he takes feedback from customers seriously.

One feature that grew out of this expert knowledge is the back strap, which steadies the rig and keeps it from swinging, particularly when you’re bending down or leaning forward. It’s a helpful feature that you won’t find on competitor’s rigs.

The holster is snug and grips the gun tightly even without the snap. In fact, there’s a specific screw outside the trigger guard that will let you adjust this tightness.

The holster snap is directional (this fact was even marked with a tag). That means you don’t snap it on straight down, but sort of at an angle, like you’re hooking over a latch. Just something to be aware of.

The holster also includes a belt strap, so you can take it off the shoulder rig and put it on your belt.

I’ve worn this rig a lot, for hours and hours. Since I don’t regularly carry a gun, I wore it during more mundane activities: making an omelette, doing pushups and pullups, watching Stranger Things, doing laundry, and driving to the shooting range. I’ve put in enough time to confidently say that this rig is very comfortable—I’ve even taken a nap wearing it. I love it.

There’s one functionality caveat I should warn you about. The barrel of the gun points horizontally behind you when you’re wearing this rig. It might even point slightly up, depending on how the straps are situated. This means the gun points at people during regular use. I don’t consider that a safety issue, but it made a few bystanders uncomfortable as I wore it.

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Aesthetic

The Monarch design is beautifully simple: four leather straps held together by two layered cross-pieces and a bunch of thumb screws.

I will mention that when I first got the rig, the suede underbelly shed all over my shirt. Now that I’ve used it a bit, the shedding is gone.

Interchangeable pins in the shoulder straps make the rig adjustable, which is great. You can unscrew them with just a fingernail, but the thread angle is so shallow that I’ve never worried they might come loose. I changed my rig to make the top section (above the cross) longer and the lower section shorter. This shifted the cross more squarely between my shoulder blades (I’m all about the look).

And speaking of the look, Sam told me something for the sake of “sheer bragging.” A new Magnificent Seven movie came out September 23rd, and all the stars in it are wearing Andrews Leather. Also, two of the heroines in the upcoming Fast 8 movie will be wearing Monarch rigs—just like the one you see here. (As Sam told me this, he mentioned that Hollywood is king of last-minute changes, which “had me running around with my hair on fire.”)

In my mind, this connection with the movie business serves as a solid endorsement for the aesthetic.

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BestLeather Conclusion

I love my Andrews Leather Monarch Shoulder Rig and Holster. It’s a fine piece of craftsmanship that looks awesome and works even better. Seriously. I’ve given you details on what I like with a couple very minor caveats. Overall, I think it’s a fantastic product.

Normally a link to the product page would be enough. In this case, I’ll also link you to Sam’s contact page. When you call, tell him J at BestLeather sent you.

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Intrepid Bag Co. Leather Tech Roll – $139

Picture this scenario: You’re traveling with a cellphone (as most would), a laptop, tablet, camera, and perhaps a kindle. You open your briefcase to retrieve the said cord to charge the right device and the inside of your briefcase is a tangled knot of cords and wires. Even worse, you can’t locate where one cord begins and the other ends.

Well in our age of multiple devices and other digital equipment, a professional and functional solution is needed to save time and perhaps embarrassment.

Intrepid Bag Co. has just released a new set of leather accessories to complement their original designs. Among them is this beautiful full grain saddle leather tech roll.

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Construction

The leather used in this piece is full grain USA saddle leather with a rich Mahogany color. The interior features a gray canvas lining with 3 cord slots, one middle pocket with a leather flap closure, and a large zippered pocket on the opposite end of the cord pockets. The entire piece is stitched with top quality nylon stitching.

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The roll is secured with two straps that fasten into simple leather closures.

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Rolled, the tech roll measures 7.5 inches long by 5 inches across and 1.5-4 inches deep (depending on how much you stuff in there). Unrolled it measures about 15 inches.

Having never really owned or used a tech roll before, I can say that at first I as hesitant to give it a fair shot in my daily carry as I usually like to pack as light and minimally as possible. But as I recalled SEVERAL incidents when traveling where I got slightly frustrated that I couldn’t find a cord or the cord I needed was wrapped around an article of clothing, so I decided to give it a fair chance.

One thing that was a little awkward was getting the cords in the pockets, but I imagine that in time it won’t be a big deal at all for the time and headaches you save on the road.

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 The function of the piece is to neatly organize cords, chargers, battery packs or external hard drives as well as a few other accessories like adapters or cleaning clothes. The interior’s 3 cord slots have slits in the bottom to allow the cord to feed through so it can be used without having to remove the whole cord.

The center pocket is large enough to hold a smart phone or thin battery or external hard drive with, again, a small slit in the bottom to allow a cord to feed through. As the zippered side pocket is all canvas, a good amount of small accessories can be stuffed in. However, the more stuff in the roll and pockets, the bulkier the piece is when rolled.

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 The mahogany saddle leather on the roll is very sturdy and already is breaking in nicely. As mentioned above, the roll does get bulky when crammed with a lot of stuff but what doesn’t? I really love the simplicity of the case and can tell it will age for many phone and device updates.

 At $139, I feel the tech roll Is well worth the money considering the material used and the design. Anyone who is looking for a solution to organizing varies electronics while maintaining a look of elegance, professionalism, and function will be happy with this piece. Check it out -here-!

J. Ryan & Co Leather Shaving Strop Review

All strops are not created equal. As a matter of fact, I have heard countless times throughout my years in the wet shaving and barbering industry that a shaver’s strop is quite irrelevant, and “the cheaper the better”—a partial truth, to be sure, because who doesn’t like to get good quality products for good prices? In some cases, individuals will have gone out and found a quality vintage or used strop for a decent price, but with the recent explosion in wet shaving paraphernalia, this antique find is becoming harder and harder to acquire. Often times, someone coming into the wide and wonderful world of wet shaving or professional barbering will do a quick google search or stop by their local antique store only to be disappointed with cheap “pleather” products, or antique leather so dried out or heavily used that the tool would work better on display in a museum rather than in a washroom or on a barbering chair. Let it be known that a strop has the ability to either refresh your blade upon every pass, or roll the edge to a “perfect dull” with every pass. Therefore, I reiterate—all strops are not created equal.

Click here to buy.

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There are quite a few companies and artisans currently producing leather strops, many of which don’t have any experience professionally stropping an actual razor or even shaving with a straight razor, and this shows in the quality of their strop. No fault on the character or ethos of the company, they simply don’t know what is required of a strop that will last this lifetime, and maybe many more! A few months ago, I was checking out at a leather strop used by many of the wet shaving enthusiasts, and I was sorely disappointed with the quality of the product compared to the price. I thought, “perhaps the golden era of wet shaving products is over?” Then something quite wonderful happened—I received a J. Ryan & Co. strop.

j-ryan-and-co-strop-review-6Let me give you a little back story here. I run a small wet shaving site where I offer straight razor restorations and custom shaving brushes for those looking to get into artisan wet shaving products. I am also a consultant and marketing specialist for a large barber supply company which allows me to travel to barbershops all over the U.S., many of which ask me to hone their razors and teach them new techniques for blade maintenance and general straight edge practice. Over the past few years, I have honed and stropped thousands of razors of all various shapes, sizes, and quality. This means I have also used quite a few different strops. When the crew at BestLeather.org sent me the J. Ryan & Co. strop to review, I immediately knew that this strop was different than others—it wasn’t just a tool, it was clearly an artwork.

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I received the strop folded in a light-weight linen drawstring bag, and when loosened the twine, I was hit with that pungent, quality leather smell we have all grown to love so very, very much. At this point, I knew nothing of this product other than it came from a gentleman who makes strops. I knew nothing of the leather, nothing of the hardware, the width, length, etc…this was all a surprise for me, and boy was I surprised! Most leather strops on the market come in general width sizes with the most common sizes sitting somewhere between 1.5” to 2” wide. This particular strop I received boasts an impressive 3” width with an overall length of 30”, 17” of which is the proper stropping interval. When I pulled the strop out of the bag, I was immediately impressed with this behemoth’s overall size. The length and width are certainly not uncommon in the world of strops, but it does my heart well to see such a quality strop in this size.

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Now, when it comes to strops, the leather quality either makes or breaks the product. I have come across other strops that happened to be this size or even bigger, but each strop I have seen that can even be compared to its size lacks the leather quality necessary to be considered a viable straight edge tool. Quality leather is obviously not cheap, so crafters will often use cheaper leather in order to offset the cost of the strop’s length and width in order to keep the product within a certain price range. Not so with the crew at J. Ryan & Co. In fact, where most crafters will only use a single length of leather coupled with a single length of linen or cotton, the crafters at J. Ryan & Co. decided to use finest Horween leathers for all of it’s leather components. For those of you familiar with the different parts of a strop, you are already aware the purpose each side serves. For those of you wondering why one length of leather is not good enough, let me take a moment to elaborate a little on strop maintenance—in order to keep this as a brief introduction, lets refer to each side as the light side (secondary length) and the heavy side (main body).

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The light side of a strop serves two purposes. (1) to remove any burrs or rust on the edge of the blade in order to prepare the edge for a good “refreshing,” and (2) to warm the edge’s metal by means of friction in order to allow the heavy side to properly refreshen the blade. This obviously means that the heavy side is specifically for refreshing the blade in a quicker and more efficient amount of time than if you were to simply use the lighter side. Now that this is finished, lets get back to the review!

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The main body is crafted from Horsehide Chromexcel in what I am guessing is in 6-7 oz. leather, which certainly makes for an impressive main strop body given its heavy draw. The main body on the strop I received is beautifully dyed in rich burgundy, which only adds to the discerning character of this piece. Where other crafters utilize a length of linen or even cotton for the second part of the strop body, the crew at J. Ryan & Co. decided to trash the idea of cloth all together and dedicate this strop as a full leather product—something which resembles the quality strops of yesteryear, and quite a breath of fresh air for myself, if I might add. This lighter side utilizes Horween’s Snuffed Suede leather in what I am guessing is 4-5 oz. leather instead of a cloth substitute. A wise choice, in my opinion. It looks as though the suede side is dyed at the tannery in a stonewashed gray, something which compliments the burgundy wonderfully.

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Moving onto the rest of the strop, I am thoroughly impressed with the handles and hanging component J. Ryan & Co. included within this product. Lets start from the top and move down—first, the hanging component of the strop serves two purposes. (1) It attaches the hardware required to hang the strop, and (2) it binds both the light and heavy lengths together. This component feels like something you would find on a horse’s saddle—its rigid and unmovable! It feels and looks like leather, but its solid and sturdy like a hard material—a fantastic quality to have for this component! Because of it’s inherent purpose, this part of the strop usually always go out first. The constant wear on this “hinge” usually results in the strop falling apart from the top down, but I don’t see that happening with this component anytime soon. The handles of the strop are even more ridged and durable, as it is comprised of 3 layers of horsehide which have been bonded and stitched together. The handles are then hand beveled and rounded, then stained to match the rest of the strop and finished with beeswax for a high sheen.

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J. Ryan & Co. didn’t just stop with quality leather, they also ensured their product was adorned with quality hardware as well—solid brass. The hanging component is a solid brass bolt snap accompanied with a brass ring. This allows the shaver to comfortably use the hanging component with large hooks and small “clip on” surfaces alike. Should something catastrophic ever happen (dog chew toy, *cough* *cough*), take heart knowing that the lengths are bound together by solid brass Chicago Screws, so if you do need to change one length or another, you are able to do so with ease and more importantly, without having to purchase another strop.

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Lastly, I want to touch on what I think is one of the coolest parts of the strop—the logo. The stamp is deeply embossed in the leather handles and the strop lengths, which offers 4 opportunities to gander at this beautiful creation! Inspired by medieval artistry, the stamp exhibits a coat-of-arms and a bold font which scream “simplistic, yet exquisitely refined.” I recently returned home after a stint in Scotland, and the stamp artistry ushers me back to the castles I visited and the “old world feel” associated with 14th and 15th century Europe. No joke, when I look at this strop, it makes me want to go back to Scotland. There is certainly something to be said about that which invokes such emotions and memories.

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Now with the general information of the strop covered, let’s move on to my experience with it! When I received the strop, it was definitely new. So new in fact, that it was actually quite difficult to use the main body of the strop. This is of no fault to J. Ryan & Co., and really is not a fault at all. Good quality leather takes time to break in, especially with the main body sitting somewhere in the 6-7 oz. range! There are sturdy bags made with that kind of leather! It should be noted that the lighter side has been comfortable since day one, which once again is of no fault, rather the result of lighter leather. Before touching pen to paper with my thoughts on this strop, I wanted to spend at least a month with it. In one months time, I had the opportunity to use this strop every singe day, multiple times a day. I was able to strop somewhere around 50 razors with it, and used it for my personal razors every morning. Everyone has a specific way they like to strop, so I am not even going to touch on that theme here, but I will say that I stropped each razor approximately with 60 passes on the lighter length and 30 passes on the heavy length, so I have come to know this strop fairly well in such a short amount of time.

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j-ryan-and-co-strop-review-4I was not taught to use a stropping a blade on brand new Horsehide Chromexcel so that actually took a little getting use to. After a week, the leather finally started to break in and I was able to get an actual feel for what this strop was going to perform like. After two weeks, I actually got excited to use the strop, and at the end of the second week, I decided to perform a test. I took my favorite strop that I have been using for the last three years and compared it to the J. Ryan & Co. strop that I had been using for 2 weeks. I used the same razor, with the same number of passes, and conclude that the J. Ryan & Co. strop was more comfortable, and seemed to polish the edge of the razor so much better than my previous strop. I credit most of this to the lighter Horween Snuffed Suede leather length instead of a linen length, however, these can be no doubt the main body of the strop plays a huge  (if not the primary) role in refreshing the edge. For those curious, I used a Wade & Butcher true-wedge for this test, but most often used a late 1890’s H.G. Long & Co. french tip in quarter-hollow—my every day straight edge.

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One unfortunate thing about strops is that no matter how gorgeously beautiful they happen to be, you will inevitably cut gouges and slivers out of the leather over time. When you are performing thousands of passes with an instrument so sharp it could cut hair just by lightly passing the edge over the center, it is inevitable that you will damage the leather. After the first week, I cut a sliver in the top of the main length and nearly cried out of disappointment. After another week, you can barely tell that there was a sliver cut in at all, and I imagine than after another month or two, it will be completely gone. The Chromexcel leather was a grand choice for the main body, as my little mishap proves that minor scratches and slivers can be buffed out through further use.

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A month into using the strop, I couldn’t be happier. I have taken it to barber shops all across Washington state and Idaho within the past few weeks and have received many compliments over what an amazing tool this is. There is one thing that I feel obliged to include, not because it’s particularly an issue, rather because I would feel somewhat guilty if I had not offered some sort of criticism in a review. When I pulled the strop out of the bag on the first day, I noticed that the stamp on the top of the main length was slightly crooked. I thought perhaps it was an optical illusion of some sort since it is ever so slight, but after utilizing a ruler, I found that the stamp was off ever so slightly. Does this effect anything concerning the function or durability of the strop? Certainly not! However, given the nature of this luxurious item, I feel obliged to include it within the review, but I want to ensure the reader knows that this does not alter my opinion on the quality of the product.

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Let’s talk pricing. First, this is a difficult thing to compare. There really are no other strops on the market aiming to compete with the quality of this strop. From my knowledge, save for a few long term, low-quantity artisans, there isn’t really a directly related strop to fairly compare this with. It would be like me trying to compare a McLaren with a Kia. Sure, both will get you places, but one will probably do it in style and efficiency, and I’m not talking about the Sportage! (Disclaimer: I own a Sportage…don’t you even dare give me a hard time) At $200, this strop is about twice as much as other strops in the market, but I will say that it is over twice the quality as well. The J. Ryan & Co. strop is for the discerning gentleman’s washroom, and for the professional barber who sees multiple heads a day. This is a strop for the person committed to wet-shaving or professional barbering who doesn’t want to have to buy another strop again, and who wants the absolute best quality product, which gives the absolute best quality results for their razors. You spent $400 on your favorite razor, so why wouldn’t you spend the money on a piece of practical art which will last the rest of your life? Don’t just pass down that razor collection of yours, pass down this J. Ryan & Co. strop as well. And remember, all strops are not created equal.

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Brookes & Hyde Burnt Amber Sunglass Case Review – $70

We’ve reviewed a lot of great and varied leather products here at BestLeather, but, somewhat surprisingly, this is the first sunglass case we’ve ever seen! Brookes and Hyde’s Burnt Amber Sunglass Case is a great first entry into this category, made with a gorgeous Horween Bandit pull up leather and utilizing a unique wrap-around closure design.

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ABOUT

Connor Sambrookes started Brookes & Hyde as a senior thesis project. Hoping to design shoes, he began work for a company designing products for some of the biggest names out there. It was at this job the opportunity to apprentice under a highly experienced leather craftsman came about, leading to creating his own products and founding the company.

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Today Brookes and Hyde continues as a one man show with big aspirations. Each product is handmade and has a personal touch reflective of its artisan: colors are named for favorite craft beers, and “Cincinnati, Ohio” is stamped on each item in homage to its origin. By sticking to the principles and passions that built the foundation, Brookes & Hyde intends to become a well known name in the industry.

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CONSTRUCTION

The entire case is made with reasonably thick but very soft Horween Bandit leather, with brass closure studs (leather and studs are offered in various colors). Edges are machine sewn with bonded nylon thread, and are given a high-gloss, painted finish.

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The inner leather is unfinished, with a soft suede-like feel. No rigid structure is used, but the pocket is folded and sewn such that a space is created for sunglasses.

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Construction is overall top-notch, with no noticeable irregularities. This case should last a lifetime.

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FUNCTION

This sunglass case is both a pleasure to use and a great way to add some protection to your favorite pair of sunglasses.

I’m a huge fan of the wraparound closure design. I’ve never been a big fan of snap closures on most sunglass cases (mostly because they often end up tearing the cheap faux leather the case is made with), so the stud closure is a refreshing new take. Pulling the case open and even closing it is done easily with one hand with no strain on the leather.

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The obvious tradeoff with this case is that there isn’t a rigid structure inside, so there’s somewhat minimal crush protection. The upside is that the case remains soft to the touch and pliable, fitting in smaller spaces, and provides all the scratch and drop protection you could need.

This sunglass case should fit most styles of sunglasses easily. It’s a bit roomy for my Wayfarers, but I’ve never worried they’ll fall out. Also, while certainly unintended, I’ve even found this sunglass case to be a great protection for my iPhone 6s, in a pinch!

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AESTHETIC

Brookes & Hyde’s Sunglass Case definitely travels in style. The Bandit leather has some absolutely stunning distressing right from the start, and since it’s a pull up leather, you can quite literally customize the look to your liking. I gently crinkled my case in my hand when I got it to create some killer distress lines around the edges. If you don’t like the changed colors, create a bit of friction by rubbing the leather with your thumb, and the original brown color returns.

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The overall aesthetic has a rugged feel, with the distressing adding an asymmetric and irregular beauty.

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CONCLUSION

My sunglasses have enjoyed the protection of the Brookes & Hyde Burnt Amber Sunglass Case, and I’ve enjoyed using it. The pull-up leather is beautiful, and the wraparound design is refreshingly unique and easier to use than standard snap designs. I highly recommend this case as a Buy It For Life product.

Be sure to swing by Brooke’s & Hyde’s shop and check out the Burnt Amber Sunglass Case and their other great leather goods.

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Range Leather Travellr with Razor Case Review – $105

I am one of those guys that has a ton of grooming products. I like to try the crazy new grooming trends, switch up my cologne for the seasons, and stay on top of the best products the industry offers. It’s just the way I am. That being said, I also happen to appreciate quality leather products, so why not have a quality dopp kit like the Range Leather Travellr with a razor case to haul my grooming essentials around?

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About

Range Leather is small operation out of Spokane, Washington, focusing on accessory goods like valet trays, wallets, bracelets, and more, as well as taking custom orders. We have reviewed three other pieces from Range Leather in the past: the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case, the Gannet Wallet, and the Range Mug. BestLeather writer and fellow Washingtonian Jerry Higbee spent some time interviewing Kyle Koster, the founder of Range Leather, and I highly recommend spending the time reading through and listening to his series, A Range of Possibilities.

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Construction

The Range Leather Travellr is built by hand in the United States from a full grain Horween leather called Buccaneer. The Buccaneer leather is actually water resistant, so it makes perfect sense to be used for a dopp kit like the Travellr. The leather is paired with copper rivets, premium brass hardware, genuine YKK zippers and durable thread. At 9.5 inches long by 6 inches wide, and 2.5 inches deep, the Travellr is a practically constructed dopp kit.

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My only gripe (and it is a very small one) with the construction is that the zipper doesn’t quite close all the way because of the abrupt edge, but this will go away once the leather is worn and loosened just a bit. I have been using the Travellr for a few weeks, and it is still a joy to open it up every morning. Range Leather also offers a lifetime warranty, should anything break.

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Function

I subscribe to Birchbox Man and receive new stuff every month, so I have a large stock of men’s products I like to carry with me in my Travellr. I am able to store my toothbrush, toothpaste, cologne, deodorant, body lotion, contact case, facial cleanser, shaving cream, and my razor, which is protected by the standard razor case. The razor cases are a very cool concept birthed from an unfortunate experience. They are equally useful for keeping your razor in tip-top shape and protecting yourself and others from slices.

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Although several of these are travel size, this is quite of list of grooming products that fit into this slim dopp kit. The slim size is perfect for slipping inside your bag or even attaching to the outside of a bag with the small D-ring. Over just a few weeks the Travellr has stretched just enough to fit all my products and still maintain a smooth, easy close of the YKK zipper.

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Aesthetic

A dopp kit isn’t something people see you use all the time, so they often go unappreciated. But in the case of the Travellr, whether at home, a friend’s house, or even just packing for a trip, people notice it. The dark black leather contrasted by the brass hardware and tan logo is simply attractive. Not only do I find the Travellr to be visually appealing, its simple, easy to use design protects my often-expensive grooming products from numerous dangers.

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Conclusion

I know a lot of guys who are in serious need of a dopp kit upgrade. Do yourself a favor and get rid of that old, cheap, and tattered thing you store your grooming essentials in and start looking at your options. Range Leather is an excellent choice, and right now the Travellr and razor cases are discounted on Indiegogo. So head over and check out their campaign and snag a high quality, stylish, and lifetime-lasting dopp kit while you can.

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Range Leather Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case Review – $145

I have recently taken up the hobby of smoking tobacco pipes. A good friend of mine introduced me to this classy and timeless pastime, and I instantly fell in love. But being the leather-loving guy that I am, I knew that if I was going to invest in smoking tobacco, I needed to have an equally classy and refined leather case to store my smoking essentials. Today I am reviewing the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case from our friends at Range Leather.

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About

Range Leather is small operation out of Spokane, Washington, focusing on accessory goods like valet trays, wallets, bracelets, and more, as well as taking custom orders. We have reviewed two other pieces from Range Leather in the past: the Gannet Wallet and the Range Mug. BestLeather writer and fellow Washingtonian Jerry Higbee spent some time interviewing Kyle Koster, the founder of Range Leather, and I highly recommend spending the time reading through and listening to his series, A Range of Possibilities.

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Construction

The Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case is constructed by hand using Horween English Tan Dublin Leather and .035” waxed polycord from Maine Thread Company. This particular leather is very oily, so it marks and scuffs easily. The case when closed is 7 inches long by 4 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick. When the case is unrolled and open, it measures 12 inches by 7 inches.

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The leather is extremely durable, but allows just enough stretch room to snugly fit your pipe smoking necessities. The closing strap has two positions to allow more room for two smaller pipes or one larger and more accessories. I have been using the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case for a few months now, and I have yet to find any defect in the construction.

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Function

As I have grown into an avid pipe tobacco smoker, I have found the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case to be an excellent addition to my smoking accessories. I store my Rigoletto pipe, a few pipe cleaners, a Zippo lighter, a pipe cleaning tool, and two 1oz bags of tobacco blends. I am not sure I would be able to fit two pipes in the pouch, but this isn’t a problem for me because I have only one primary smoking pipe. I have been thoroughly impressed with how the Sanford case has performed so far, and I look forward to using it for many years as I grow into a smoking connoisseur.

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Aesthetic

Like most products made from Horween Leather, this piece is beautiful. The oily leather is marked and stretched easily to create an attractive patina. The leather goes very well with all types of pipes, and matches the classy aesthetic of a typical tobacco smoker perfectly. On the Range Leather website, the current photos of the pipe case are from the previous version. Kyle is currently waiting on updated product photos, so use the photos in my review to look over the case. The Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case will only get better with age, and it certainly will last longer than my lungs.

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Verdict

I believe that the $145 price tag on the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case is a fair and demonstrated price. If you are looking for a classy leather case to conveniently keep your entire assortment of tobacco pipe smoking accessories in, this hand-made, high-quality product from Range Leather is a highly recommended option.

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Range Leather – The Range Mug Review – $30

The Mason Jar was invented in 1858 by John Landis, a Philadelphia tinsmith responsible today for billions of well-preserved canned fruit and re-gifted dry soup mixes. When Mr. Landis invented the jar and sealing lid, he may not have envisioned using the sturdy jar as a precursor for a handy mug.

Kyle Koster of Range Leather, however, did have this vision: he created the Range Leather Range Mug.  As a combination of high quality, 10-ounce Horween leather thoughtfully put together with a wide-mouth, pint Mason jar, the mug is a unique addition to the wide world of uses encompassed by the home canning jar.

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About

Kyle started Range Leather after customers who favored his Hogjim nylon guitar straps and locking mechanism asked for a guitar strap made of leather.  He began taking lessons from an old cowboy at Tandy Leather in Spokane, Washington, and from that, making the guitar straps became a reality.

However, the straps and locks were such a success that he decided to license the design out to a large company who can ensure wide distribution in time for the holiday season.  Since Kyle had the skills to work the leather, but no product to produce due to the licensing agreement, he started coming up with other product ideas of everything from wallets to pipe cases.  It was still up to him, however, to find a reliable source of leather for his small but growing company.

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Having grown up in Chicago where Horween Leather is located, he visited their facilities and fell in love with their leather, as well as their desire to work with small companies.  He managed to procure a large amount of high quality leather from Horween and has never looked back since then.  Today, he only uses Horween Leather in his products, and the Range Mug is no exception.

You can learn a bit more about Kyle’s story and inspiration in our audio interview series, found here.

Construction

The mug is constructed of a 10-ounce leather sourced from the Chicago-based Horween Leather. The leather handle is secured to the sleeve with two Chicago screws.  The sleeve is finished by hand sewing to fit the wide mouth Mason jar. Chicago screws are a type of fastener with a barrel-shaped flange and a protruding boss with an internal thread.  This type of screw ensures the leather fits snug against the jar and won’t ever stretch out of shape.

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The overall weight of the jar and sleeve is 14.6 ounces, which probably doesn’t make it amenable to the weight-concerned hiker.  In this case, you’re going to be trading weight considerations for function and aesthetics.  I found it to be a trade in my favor, as I’m not much of a back country hiker.

Function

The heavy duty leather sleeve is designed to fit around a 16-ounce wide mouth Mason jar.  Both sleeves I tested fit snugly around the jars.  As a test, I filled the jars with water and sealed the lids on tight.  Holding the jars upside down and shaking them, I noticed no leaks, and the sleeves stayed in place despite my best efforts.

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While conducting my test, I found I like the way the mug fits in my hand.  I have large hands, and was able to put three fingers through the handle, with my thumb opposite, giving a solid grip that would prevent me from dropping the mug.  I was also able to hold it by putting four fingers through the handle with my thumb on top in a more traditional “coffee-drinking” style.  For cold days with hot beverages, I’d recommend the first method of holding.  For warmer days with cold beverages, I would choose the second, unless you prefer to have cold hands.  The third style of holding this mug, for the true pros, is to use the two-handed wrap around method to give both of your hands an opportunity to stay warm or cool, depending upon your beverage.

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One concern I had with the sleeves is that they would loosen over time due to the natural tendency for leather to stretch.  When I interviewed Kyle, we discussed this concern, and he noted that after six months of use, he hadn’t seen this become an issue with his test sleeves.  Minimizing the possibility of stretching is also the reason he used a heavier leather in the construction.  The overhanging lip on the upper portion of the Mason jar also prevents the sleeve from slipping upward.  The raised lettering found over the outer surface of the jar adds to the friction between the jar and the sleeve.

My favorite feature of the Range Mug is that the thickness of the leather and its tendency to act as an insulator means the mugs make a fantastic hand warmer with hot beverages.  Even if the liquid in the mug is too hot to drink, it will radiate heat throughout the leather sleeve that is pleasant to the touch, like holding your hands over a warm car heater.

It is also important to note that as with all leather, you’ll want to remove the sleeve prior to washing the jar.  Leather doesn’t do well when it gets exposed to liquids over long periods of time.  Should the sleeve get damp, simply wipe it clean with a dry paper towel.

Aesthetic

The Range Mug bring an aesthetic element to the Mason jar that elevates it far above the simple drinking vessel used for summertime iced tea and college parties.  I can envision them in coffee shops, restaurants, and homes where you want something more than just the traditional coffee cup.

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The colors available to us were brown and black, traditional colors that go well with pretty much any décor.  The stitching is a minimal contrast stitching that goes well with the embossed border surrounding the sleeve.  We recently had a group of friends over for a birthday party who hadn’t seen the mug before, and all of the comments were that they liked the simple, sturdy design in the way it looked and felt.  If you can’t trust the opinion of the majority, who can you trust?

Conclusion

By the success of the Kickstarter campaign Kyle ran for the Range Mug, it is already a success.  With an initial goal of $2,000 (which he met in four days), he was able to raise over $8,000 to fund the initial materials purchase and manufacturing of the mugs.

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At the price point of $30 per mug, it’s a good value for what you’re getting.  Anytime a craftsman uses leather this heavy in a product, it adds significantly to the materials cost.  While Kyle could have used a lighter leather in the construction, I’m glad he didn’t. The thickness provides great insulation, is resistant to stretching, and looks good.

The biggest issue you’re going to have with the Range Mug is on deciding how many to purchase.  While we can’t help you with that decision, we can tell you that the mug is solid and good looking, and will elicit comments from admirers whether you have these in your household or place of business.

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Walnut Studiolo Travel Cribbage Board – $45

Back in the dark ages, before video games, we used to sit down by the light of the fire and play a nice game of cribbage as a family. I’m mostly kidding – while I don’t get to play board games as much as I’d like these days, we still break out the cribbage board from time to time, usually while camping or on vacation. My parents had this fancy cribbage board carved into an elk antler from Jackson, Wyoming. While this was a pretty unique board, it was not exactly easy to fit an antler into a suitcase or whip out the antler for a quick game at the airport. If only we had gotten our hands on the Walnut Studiolo Travel Cribbage Board, a small cribbage board designed to fold up and take on-the-go.

ABOUT WALNUT STUDIOLO

Born in Portland Oregon, Walnut Studiolo started out as an Etsy store selling bike accessories. From their website:

“Today you can find Walnut Studiolo products around the globe. We’ve expanded from solutions for the bicycle lifestyle to interior design products for homes, beer and wine products, travel-sized games, and even custom work orders. Everything is still made by hand, evoking the same romance of those vintage images. For the connoisseur of design, for the lover of leather, and for the beautifully curated life, Walnut Studiolo products are guaranteed to please.”

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CONSTRUCTION & FUNCTION

Inspired by the pocket games soldiers carried in WWII, the Travel Cribbage Board is on the smaller end of the spectrum. Made to fit in your bike bag, briefcase, or pocket, the board is lightweight and easy to carry. It weighs in at a little less than an ounce and a half.

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The 60-point, laser-engraved board comes with four solid copper pegs, two black and two red, which store inside an built-in brass tube and fastened with a cork plug. Replacement parts are available on the website as well.

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The board itself is wrapped in dark brown veg-tanned leather and secured with an antique style brass closure. The leather can be personalized with a monogram for $12. Folded up, it’s about as small as a standard deck of cards, which works great since you have to bring along a deck of cards anyway. For the uninitiated cribbage players, you can read up on the rules in this blog post from Walnut Studiolo.

The board easily slides into an internal pocket on your backpack or briefcase. When open, it folds out flatly. The pegs slip into the holes with ease. One thing to note – the board is shallow, so the pegs will wobble somewhat in their place. But, they should stay put even when you’re on the go in an airplane, in the RV, or even in a car. To date, it’s been to Florida and California where it’s seen use. Who won those games? Well, I hate to brag – but…

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CONCLUSION

The Walnut Studiolo Travel Cribbage Board is great for traveling and just plain fun to have around, whether you’re a cribbage enthusiast or just like to have board games handy for visitors.It’s always good to have a classic game around for those times when the Internet fails or the power goes out. Cribbage is a great strategy game. If you’ve never played, get yourself one of these cool little boards and enjoy! At $45, it makes a great gift, and its high quality materials mean it will last long enough to play with your grandkids.

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Range Leather Announces Kickstarter

Range Leather, from Spokane, Washington, recently launched their Kickstarter campaign on October 7th to introduce their newest offering, the Range Mug. Their campaign runs through November 6th, and while it has already exceeded its original goal, they’re looking to their “stretch goals” to be able to offer additional enhancements and features customers have been asking for. Kyle Koster, owner and creator of the company, put it best with this direct quote from their campaign:

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“Our latest endeavor at Range Leather Co. was to design the most versatile drinking container to accompany any adventure.  Our goal was to combine an everyday product with the timeless look and vintage feel of genuine leather.  The Range Mug is built from the finest 10 oz Horween leather, secured with Chicago screws and is hand stitched to fit around a wide mouth Mason Jar. “

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Range Leather Co. believes that working with your hands is a respectable trade, so that’s what they do. Range is dedicated to creating timeless products, guaranteed to wear in and not out.

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The Range Mug insulates against both hot and cold liquids allowing you to enjoy a variety of beverages such as coffee, tea, water, soft drinks, sweet tea and beer. From camping to business meetings, you’re sure to find that the Range Mug is the ideal beverage container.

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The Range Mug is offered until November 6th on Kickstarter for 30% OFF the retail price to any backer willing to help this project off the ground. That means acquiring a Range Mug for just $22 on their campaign site. Having nearly reached their first stretch goal, the project will soon release both brown and black leather to go with their natural color.

You can find out more about everything Range Leather offers on their web site or by visiting their Instagram page.

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Iron & Resin Elk Bobber Gloves Review – $72

Riding motorcycles is definitely one of my favorite things in this world. There is nothing like hopping on my bike and cruising in to town or hitting some twisties. Every motorcyclist knows that he/she needs several things before they are truly prepared to ride. A helmet, protective jacket, and a solid pair of gloves are the three items, in my opinion, that are essential to every rider. Today we are going to check out the Iron & Resin Elk Bobber Gloves.

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About

“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

My motorcycle is all black. Both of my riding jackets are all black. My helmet is all black. It only makes sense that I ride with black leather gloves. The stylish Elk Bobber gloves are constructed from black 100% Premium Grain Elk Hide leather. With only three main components: the leather, stitching, and metal anchor piston rivet; the Elk Bobber gloves are very simple. Their simple design, rolled cuff, and no-nonsense feel are my favorite things about them. Iron & Resin has done an excellent job combining performance, comfort, and durability into this attractive leather glove.

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Function

The Elk Bobber gloves have been my primary riding gloves for several months now. The comfort level is far above any other riding gloves I have worn. The seams do not bug my fingers or rub them raw, I have adequate squeezing range of motion, and the length is suitable for wearing under a jacket and also comfortably without one. I have encountered one small issue with these stunning gloves. After longer periods of use, the black dye in the leather rubs off into your hands, and is frequently difficult to remove. To many this may seem petty, but if I’m going to show up to meetings or work, I cannot have black all over my hands. Over time the severity has significantly decreased, but know that it is something you will have to adjust to/prepare for during the beginning of the Elk Bobber’s life.

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Aesthetic

As I said before, the Elk leather is some of the softest, most comfortable leather I have worn. The gloves have already formed to my hands and started to develop the worn, masculine look. I have several riding friends who have tried these gloves out, and even purchased some themselves. They are truly an attractive, solid addition to any motorcyclist’s riding gear, whether they ride a street bike like myself, or a classic Harley.

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Conclusion

It is obvious that passion, time, and superior materials went in to the making of the Iron & Resin Elk Bobber gloves. Even though the gloves do leave a few black marks during the “new” stage, it is a small price to pay for such, comfortable, attractive, and capable leather gloves. At $72.00, the Elk Bobber is a reasonable investment that will absolutely last a lifetime of riding. Head over to Iron & Resin’s website to check out their other leather gloves, and even some other hand built lifestyle goods.

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Thrux Lawrence Black Leather Coasters (Square – Set of 4) Review – $25

Thrux Lawrence is one of the first companies BestLeather has had the pleasure of working with, and also the first company to pique my interest in leather. Because my barber is connected to the Thrux Lawrence flagship store, I repeatedly find myself perusing their leather goods, the outstanding collection of antiques, and generally longing to buy one of everything. Thrux Lawrence is a solid company who “builds them like they used to.” Even when it comes to coasters.

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About Thrux Lawrence

I discovered Thrux Lawrence one day casually strolling the streets of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho with my sister. She had apparently heard about this awesome store that just opened downtown, and being the hip teenagers we were, we had to check it out. My first experience with Thrux Lawrence was very exciting. Tanden greeted us at the door and began explaining how his company was built around the principles of functional yet stylish design, limited supply, and Made in the USA. From that point on I was very interested in leather and its durability, longevity, and style, especially the products Thrux Lawrence has to offer.

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Construction

Coasters may perhaps be the easiest leather accessories anyone could construct. But even with something so simple, it is still difficult to get the perfect result. Made from black 10-12oz bridle leather, these coasters are as indestructible as any of the other Thrux products. Occupying the standard coaster size of 4 x 4 in, this coaster provides adequate space for even the largest of drinks. The burnished edges and Thrux Lawrence logo add just enough flair to the coaster.

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Function

I have yet to come across a drink that will not fit on these coasters. And even if I had, I should never be drinking that much anyway. The coasters function extremely well. The leather is thick enough to prevent moisture underneath, but not too thick so drinks tip over if they are not placed all the way on the coaster. I have been pleased with them so far, and they will most definitely outlast any non-leather coaster.

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Aesthetic

Black is one of my favorite colors. It is simple, goes with almost anything, and in the case of coasters, prevents any discoloration. The Thrux Lawrence coasters are very rigid. Their strength reflects the principles this company was founded on, and even though coasters are very simple, they’ve continued to abide strictly to those principles.

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Conclusion

If you are looking for a simple set of quality leather coasters, check out the shapes and colors Thrux Lawrence has to offer. Whether you choose squares or circles, black or brown, the coasters will be the same quality. Coming in at $25, the Thrux Lawrence Leather Coasters are an excellent choice for simple, effective leather accessory.

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