Orox Leather Co. Medicus Dopp Review – $190

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Orox Leather at Bestleather.org. Since our last review of the Classic Bifold Wallet in May 2014, Orox Leather has been busy designing and producing even more quality leather goodies for the sophisticated consumer. This family-operated business spares no effort to create their beautiful flagship all-leather Dopp keeping in line with the classic and durable styling of their other travel items.

OroxDopp02

CONSTRUCTION

All Orox goods are handmade in Portland Oregon. The Medicus Dopp is made from a single slab of nice THICK Horween Chromexcel while the accent leather pieces are English Bridle leather. The heavy-duty #10 YKK brass zipper is stitched into place with two adjacent strips of darker brown leather, ending with a pull tab on one end and a looped handle on the other. Other than the YKK zipper, this bad boy is ALL leather. The Orox Leather logo is debossed onto the majority of one side of the Dopp. Inside, there is no lining and there is an additional Orox stamp of approval at the bottom.

OroxDopp03 OroxDopp04

OroxDopp06OroxDopp05

FUNCTION

This Dopp measures in at 12’’x6.5’’x5’’. While it isn’t the largest Dopp out there, it is definitely on the larger side. It is able to fit my full size deodorant, sunblock, disposable razor, electric toothbrush with case, toothpaste, shaving gel, and floss with room to spare for a tube of hair product or cologne and then any smaller travel-sized items to cram in the rounded corners and dead space. The zippered top is an easy in and easy out. Probably the biggest I’ve seen on a toiletry bag, this zipper feels and looks like it is indestructible and would work equally well on full size luggage bags. Most importantly, this single piece of soft leather is shaped into the correct form for a Dopp – wide flat base for stability with a rounded dome for easy access and viewing of your possessions while maximizing space for large and smaller items.

OroxDopp10

Because there is no easy-clean waterproof lining in the Dopp kit, it is important to be aware of keeping your more dangerous items like toothpaste, pressurized shaving cream, etc., well capped or in a Ziploc bag – or you can say WHO CARES ABOUT THE INSIDE?! and just enjoy your kit knowing the outside is really the eye-candy.

AESTHETIC

Here is where this Dopp kit sits itself apart. The high oil content of this leather makes it supple with beautiful pull-up qualities at the same time. Each bend and curve changes the brownish/chestnut hues making the leather seem much more rich than standard dyed leathers. If you think it’s too pretty to use as a Dopp kit, don’t worry. The company says this oiled leather is “scratch proof.” I haven’t tried to purposely scratch it but I still can’t find a blemish after having tossed it around in a bag with other items for two days. This Dopp is also available in natural color.

OroxDopp08

OroxDopp01

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

At $190, the Orox Medicus Dopp kit is an expensive toiletry bag for sure, but this is no off-the-shelf, mass-produced, throw-away product that most people settle for. When you have a company that picks the right kind of tanned leather, architecturally designed into the right shape while using tougher than necessary hardware, you’re obviously getting a quality product that’s worth investing a little more.

 

Holdster Model 05: XL Holdster Review – $34.99

You were recently introduced to the Holdster Model 01, the first of the awesome koozies for all you drinkers out there – amateur or professional, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Well in case you thought to yourself, “Man, I could really use a bigger drink,” there’s a Holdster especially made for you. Introducing the Holdster Model 05: XL Holdster.

Holdster0510

CONSTRUCTION

The Holdster Model 05 is the big brother of the Holdster Model 01. This big hunk of leather and glass is made of the same single piece of thick full-grain vegetable-tanned leather from Hermann Oak or Chahin Tannery in the 01 and still designed to fit perfectly around a Ball or Mason jar. This model design uses bombproof copper rivets instead of nylon stitching to close the ends. The result is a super strong closure ready to withstand the strongest grip. I wouldn’t test the “bombproof”-ness of the koozie though. After all, the glass will shatter before you can really test the leather. The brand logo is similarly debossed at the bottom of the koozie and absolutely every piece of this product, including the jar, is purchased and put together in the United States.

Holdster0103
Holdster0507

Holdster0503

Holdster0505
Passed the “sniff” test.

 

Holdster0508
The XL next to its little brother, the Holdster Model 01

FUNCTION

Holdster = Koozie + Ball Jar. Only this time, the Ball jar is a whopping 24oz. That’s a pint and a half for you beer drinkers and 50% larger for you math folk. This means more drink and more fun for everyone. Once again, this Holdster doesn’t have to be used for drinking. Here’s some more ideas since the last review. Raise a Betta. Catch some frogs. Make instant ramen. Swap out the lid and make a soap dispenser. Make a scented candle. Use a bunch of them, put in some electrical wires and sockets, and make a hanging Holdster chandlier. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Holdster0504
Easy to clean.

 

AESTHETIC

Although the cross stitching is my favorite design of the Holdster styles, the handmade copper rivets add a sense of toughness to this koozie which works well with the larger jar. That being said, the koozie is not perfectly smooth all around the jar because there has to be some overlap of the leather by design to rivet it together. The step-off is significantly reduced by the fact that the overlapped leather portion is tapered down. It is still a handsome holder by any means which will make its owner proud.

Holdster0501

Holdster0506

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Holdster Model 05: XL Holdster is $34.99 on the HoldsterUSA website. Environmentally friendly, made in the USA, full-grain leather, copper, and glass wrapped around your favorite drink. What’s not to love?

Waterfield Designs Razor Case Review – $30

Sometimes it’s the little things that please you the most. Here’s a question for those of you who use a traditional safety razor: have you ever cut yourself or sliced into something else while trying to retrieve your razor from your dopp kit? Chances are pretty high that you can answer “yes” to that question. Safety razors are great – but they’re not really that safe. Great news though – the folks at WaterField Designs have created a great case to house your safety razor. Best of all, it’s leather and looks fantastic.

WaterField-Designs-Razor-Case-2

About WaterField Designs

WaterField Designs is based in San Francisco, CA. They design and manufacture all of their bags in the same location. Take a minute (actually a minute and a half) and watch the Gary WaterField discuss his company.

Construction

The ingenious WaterField Designs Razor Case is constructed of what they describe as “full grain grizzly brown leather”. It also features a self-locking YKK zipper with a nice sturdy pull on it. The interior is lined with a retro styled, geometric patterned, water resistant fabric liner. The seams are all tucked inside of the bag creating a nice smooth exterior look.

WaterField-Designs-Razor-Case-6
WaterField-Designs-Razor-Case-3

Function

I don’t have an iKon safety razor, which is the genesis for this case. I certainly wish I owned one of those great razors. Instead, I own a much cheaper version – but it still gets the job done. The Razor Case will easily house any conventional, classically styled safety razor. And, as a bonus, there is plenty of room to slip in a 5 pack of razor blades too.

The case sits easy in your hand and isn’t bulky. The zipper is easy to manipulate and locks into place, which is a nice feature and will keep your razor safely tucked inside.

WaterField-Designs-Razor-Case-4

Aesthetic

The full grain grizzly leather looks and feels great. The interior lining is smooth and looks fantastic. I wish that the zipper didn’t have a plastic coated pull. The plastic pull seems out of place on this item. My opinion is that the case would look much better with a metal zipper and a brass or nickel zipper pull. I think that would set it off nicely. Perhaps they’ll create a couple more versions with those components to match up better with your choice of razor. In spite of that minor shortcoming, I think the case looks really nice.

WaterField-Designs-Razor-Case-5

Conclusion

The one thing that always concerns me when I travel with my safety razor is reaching in to my dopp kit and getting sliced by it. Yes, I know that I can remove the blade – but I don’t always remember to do it. This little case solves that safety issue and houses my razor in some awesome looking leather. How great is that? The $30 price point for the WaterField Designs Razor Case is completely acceptable due to the solid construction, unique lining, and uniqueness. I look forward to using this little case on many, many trips.

WaterField-Designs-Razor-Case-7

Holdster Model 01: Cross Stitch Review – $33.99

Ford had the Model T, Atari had the 2600, and Holdster has the Model 01. The brainchild of Marsh Gooding, whose main goal in life is to win the Arctic Man Classic, Holdster grew out of the idea for the perfect koozie for a Ball or Mason jar to hold his coffee from the neighborhood bakery. One thing led to another, and now everyone can reap the rewards of a man chasing his dream (albeit his secondary dream).

Holdster0107

CONSTRUCTION

The Holdster Model 01 is a single piece of thick full-grain vegetable-tanned leather from Hermann Oak or Chahin Tannery designed to fit perfectly around a Mason jar. Sounds easy right? Well, Marsh taught me that Ball and Mason jars are not truly cylindrical. Instead, they are truncated cones so that the geometry of the leather cut has to be absolutely perfect to fit a jar snugly with no gaps. It took him over 40 iterations before making the final pattern that works. The leather is thin stitched together with heavy duty nylon 138 thread in a cross stitch pattern giving the koozie a smooth surface all the way around. The edges of the leather are then slicked with gum tragacanth. Finally the handle is another firm strip of leather curved and secured into place using hand-tapped copper rivets which are bombproof. That’s right. Bombproof. The brand logo is subtly debossed at the bottom of the koozie and is cleverly designed off of an old-school electric company. Everything is manufactured in Ohio and each Holdster is checked before they are shipped out to its next happy owner.

Holdster0101Holdster0102

Holdster0106

Holdster0108

FUNCTION

The Holdster is actually two products in one. You get a koozie and a genuine 16oz.  Ball Jar. Because of that, you know this is quality glass made for people who know their coffee, beer, tea, and whisky and aren’t afraid to drink out of a jar as long as they can drink. Heck, this Holdster can literally hold anything. Use it for Jello. Make a salad and bring it to work. Hang a few on your workbench to hold nails, nuts, or screws. Hang them in your kitchen to hold spices. Use it on your office desk for your pens and pencils. Grow a plant. If you grow tired of the koozie, take it off and use the jar!

Holdster0110

The leather does provide a good amount of protection from both heat and cold – much better than the corrugated cardboard koozies at the coffee shop. To top it off, having a reusable cup is environmentally friendly! Just a precaution for hot drinks – although Ball jars are particularly heat-resistant, any extremely cold glass can potentially shatter if extremely hot water is suddenly introduced so make sure the jar is at least room temperature or warmer and your drink isn’t too hot before you just pour it in!

Holdster0104

AESTHETIC

The Holdster will turn heads no matter where you go, just because it’s so unique and well made. Personally the cross stitch is my favorite design of the Holdster styles because it allows the koozie to sit flush on the jar. Maybe it’s because I operate on people all day, but I just like the look of the stitching, I can tell its some mighty fine work.

Holdster0105

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Holdster Model 01: Cross Stitch is $33.49 or $139.99 for a four-pack WITH coasters. For people who are always enjoying a nice drink, it’s well worth it. At the very least, it’s an awesome gift for a friend, groomsmen, or a loved one.

Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier Review – $180

Wine consumption in the United States has now topped France. In May of 2014, Wine Spectator announced this news:

“It’s official: The United States drinks more wine than any other nation on earth. Americans consumed 329 million cases in 2013—a 1 percent increase over 2012, and 18 percent, or 51 million cases, over 2005—making the U.S. now the world’s top wine market by volume, according to data from Impact Databank.”

So, it should come as no surprise that the marketplace is flooded with accessories of every kind for wine connoisseurs. But, if you’re looking for a unique, standout method of transporting wine to your next night out, look no further than Waltzing Matilda and their BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier.

“A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose instead, it all depends upon your appetite.” Billy Joel had it right – why settle for just one bottle? Take two with you next time…

Waltzing-Matilda-BYOB-Dual-Wine-Bottle-Carrier-2

About Waltzing Matilda

“Everything we make is handcrafted in the USA in small micro-factories and meant to last forever. We make a strong effort to use repurposed and recycled materials found during our travels. We don’t compromise. We are creative, adventurous, and humble, and sincerely want to stimulate the senses with our pieces. Every hide is handpicked and has unique features and marks that add to the character and beauty of each product. We hope you love your new piece of art, and that it travels with you for a long time. Please let it age gracefully.” – Waltzing Matilda website

This is the second piece we’ve reviewed for Waltzing Matilda. When you have a chance, be sure to check out their amazing Tom’s Bag too.

Waltzing-Matilda-BYOB-Dual-Wine-Bottle-Carrier-3

Construction

As with all of Waltzing Matilda’s products, the BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is 100% handmade. Even the hardware for the adjustable shoulder strap is hand forged by a local Philadelphia area blacksmith. The stitching runs true to form too…highly visible, thick, with nice seams. The version of this carrier displayed on their website features stitching that anchors the strap to the main body of the bag sewn in the form of the WM logo…a nice, clever touch. However, the version I received does not have that same stitch pattern. Instead it is heavily anchored with double stitched rows on each side of the strap that form a nice, symmetrical look.

Waltzing-Matilda-BYOB-Dual-Wine-Bottle-Carrier-6

The leather, described as a gaucho color, is the same leather that is used on their Avery MacBook Sleeves (look for that review soon). The BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is created using the leftover pieces from the production of the Avery Sleeve. The folks at Waltzing Matilda don’t like to waste anything…and we certainly benefit from it. While the Dual Bottle Carrier may be made from “scraps”, it certainly doesn’t diminish the visual appeal of the bag.

Waltzing-Matilda-BYOB-Dual-Wine-Bottle-Carrier-7

Function

The Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is a purpose-built piece. It’s designed for a specific, singular purpose – to transport two bottles…whether they be wine, sparkling cider, or even Torani syrup bottles for flavoring your latte, this bag will transport them.

Each bottle is swathed in soft, protective leather and will keep your bottles upright and prevent them from contacting each other. The bag is easy to carry thanks to the easy to adjust shoulder strap. At 13”H X 10”W X 4.5D the BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier will easily handle full size wine bottles. With the circumference of each “silo”, you should be able to even fit Magnum size bottles.

Waltzing-Matilda-BYOB-Dual-Wine-Bottle-Carrier-4

Aesthetic

It’s a great looking bag for sure. I’d carry it to just about any function be it formal or not. I had a friend of mine who is much more of a wine aficionado than I give me her reaction to the Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Wine Bottle Carrier. Here’s what she said: “this bag invokes sort of a John Wayne/cowboy/driving my Porsche thru the Napa Valley/mountains kind of thing. It definitely deserves to be filled with a great red and a big, oaky, butterball kind of white.”

So, now I want a nicely appointed Porsche (with outstanding leather interior of course) and time for a road trip to Napa Valley.

Waltzing-Matilda-BYOB-Dual-Wine-Bottle-Carrier-5

Conclusion

If you enjoy wine and enjoy taking it with you – either to give as a gift, to consume in a BYO restaurant, or to take on a romantic picnic the Waltzing Matilda BYOB Dual Bottle Carrier is perfect. $180 is not much to pay for a handmade, well made statement piece that utilizes 100% US-sourced materials. Best of all, it’s unique and no one else is going to show up at the party with the same bag, at least the first time…because once your friends see it and you tell them you got it from Waltzing Matilda, they’re going to order one too.

Saddleback Leather Classic Valet Tray Review – $59

BestLeather has reviewed numerous items from the Saddleback Leather Company, ranging from tote bags, duffel bags, MacBook sleeves, wallets, and more. But when it comes down to it, sometimes all a person needs to feel put together is a special place to put all their junk. The Saddleback Leather Valet Tray  is an ideal solution to this problem.

Being a man who enjoys keeping everything in order and in one place, the Classic Valet Tray was a treat to receive. Every night when I come home and look at this piece sitting by my bed, contentment is on my mind. Because I know that this tray will hold all my items, and it will do it in a flawless fashion.

Construction and Aesthetic

The Saddleback Leather Valet Tray is constructed using Saddleback Leather’s chestnut colored Full-Grain leather. Fastened by two brushed rivets on each overlapping corner for maximum durability, and stitched using marine-grade polyester, the tray’s structure definitely lives up to the Saddleback Leather standard. The inside is lined using dark-tanned pigskin leather. Being 7 ¼” by 7 ¼”, there is plenty of real estate to organize your items in the tray. The best part about this tray is the removable leather bottom panel. This allows for quick cleanup in the case of a spill or mess. Or, if you’re like me, you can keep loads of cash underneath hidden from covetous siblings.

Function

You might be thinking this is just a tray to hold stuff, but it’s so much more. It’s one of the best trays to hold stuff. It holds my phone, wallet, watch, keys, chap stick, headphones, and various other EDC items. It does it all. It is made from the highest quality materials and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s also small enough that you can easily pack it in one of your bags an take it with you while you travel. This will ensure that you have a place for all your items at your hotel or wherever you may be staying.

Saddleback’s reputation for quality, well-functioning products is well known. So don’t settle for something less than this and buy a knock-off. In fact, Dave Munson from Saddleback Leather has quite a bit to say on this subject.

Conclusion

The Saddleback Leather Valet Tray might seem like an item you will buy and use occasionally or forget about, but if you are new to leather and want to test a piece out that has numerous practical uses, this is the piece for you. This particular version is in their chestnut color, but they also offer it in tobacco, dark chocolate brown, and carbon. My children won’t need to fight over it when I’m dead…they’ll be able to buy themselves one because it’s reasonably priced at $59.00.

Blue Claw Co. De Gaulle Dopp Review – $90

Blue Claw Co. started in 2010 after an extended overseas trip with the goal of producing modest yet durable luggage goods which could survive any trip. The Blue Claw name comes from the blue crabs of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland as all products from the initial line came with a waterproof blue lining.  All products are American through and through – quality American materials put together in America and shipped throughout the U.S.A for free.

blueclawcodegaulledopp121

CONSTRUCTION

The De Gaulle Dopp is a blend of thick waxed canvas and  full-grain cowhide leather. The charcoal canvas is a heavy 14.7 oz. 100% cotton fabric impregnanted with Martexin wax. Martexin Original Wax is an American product comprised of non-hazardous food and pharmaceutical grade waxes. The base leather is a supple yet hefty slab of full-grain goodness which adds weight to the bottom and helps the dopp keep its shape. This soft, minimally-treated leather is proprietary only to the Blue Claw Co. and will not be found anywhere else. Blue Claw Co. has been able to leverage their size and scale to develop their own leather customized from finish, weight, and grade, to the location of where the cow was raised.

BlueClawCoDeGaulleDopp4

 

Even with all the attention paid to the leather, the hardware is just as important. All hardware is solid brass supplied domestically and customized for color of plating, base metal, and design. A heavy-duty YKK zipper with leather pull-tab keeps your items safely secured and allows for easy opening and closing. Leather end tabs can also be unsnapped to add even more space and make stuffing this large dopp easier. Inside the dopp, the signature blue liner provides a water resistant and easy-to-clean barrier. For the guy-on-the-go, a quick wipe of a sponge will keep this dopp looking sharp for ages to come.

BlueClawCoDeGaulleDopp3

BlueClawCoDeGaulleDopp5

BlueClawCoDeGaulleDopp7
This thick, supple full-grain leather is proprietary to Blue Claw Co.

FUNCTION

Let’s face it. A dopp kit is meant for functionality and is usually tucked away in your luggage. So when it comes to a dopp kit, the two most important things are size and durability. Fortunately, the De Gaulle Dopp succeeds in both areas. This large dopp measures 10″L x 5.5″W x 6″H and is more than enough to carry a week’s worth of toiletries including toothpaste and electric razors without having to compromise with only using sample or travel size items. The waxed canvas is easy to clean and water-resistant and so is the blue interior lining which protects against accidental spills, toothpaste gunk, and exploding canisters.

BlueClawCoDeGaulleDopp6

AESTHETIC

The dopp is a humble bag with stunningly good looks. The waxed canvas is thick with beautiful texture and shading at every bend and wrinkle. The brown leather is buttery soft and adds sophistication to the overall look, much like leather elbow patches on a gentleman’s tweed suit. On the inside the pop of cobalt blue adds some modern flare to a classic design. The De Gaulle Dopp comes in four colors – charcoal, navy, british tan, and olive. For an extra $20, the bag can be personalized for some added custom luxury.

BlueClawCoDeGaulleDopp1

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

At $90, the Blue Claw Co. De Gaulle Dopp is a perfect blend of form and function, well worth it for any sophisticated traveller. This all-American travel companion will easily last a lifetime and only get more beautifully burnished with time and use.

Craft & Lore Axe Holster – $37

As a woodsman an axe in an essential tool. Having worked 4 years on a backcountry trail crew I have a lot of hours on an axe. One thing I know is just how easy it is to set it down while gathering wood and lose your axe. The Craft & Lore Axe Holster solves that problem. It is by no means a new idea, however a great rendition of a classic tool.

Craft-Lore-Axe-Holster-2

Chad Von Lind is the owner and maker of Craft & Lore. He produces fine hand made leather goods out of his home shop Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He is both “In word and deed” an honest, hard working, and skilled craftsman.

Craft-Lore-Axe-Holster-1

Construction

The Craft & Lore Axe Holster is about as simple and tough as a leather item could get. Leather, rivets. The leather is a 13 oz. English bridle leather, a very tough, thick and sturdy choice. The two pieces are held together with four solid brass hand peened rivets, one of the strongest types of rivet. With this kind of construction I don’t think you could break it if you tried.

Craft-Lore-Axe-Holster-4

Function

Sometimes simplicity is beauty, and it couldn’t get any simpler than this holster. It simply attaches to your belt and holds an axe. The belt loop is quite large and can accommodate any sized belt. The opening is large enough to hold any hatchet or axe, however I wouldn’t carry something longer than 28” as it might feel cumbersome or scrape the ground. However my 19 1/2” axe is perfect. The holster works wonderfully in my field testing and it will be a go to item for my woods kit.

Craft-Lore-Axe-Holster-3

Aesthetics

The leather has a brown oil dye that looks wonderful. It is even and has a nice luster. The edges are beveled and burnished giving it a nice finished look. The rivets are spaced evenly and I love the look of hand peened rivets. The color of the leather offset by the brass is my favorite combination. This is the kind of item you will cherish every time you use it.

Craft-Lore-Axe-Holster-5

BestLeather Conclusion

The Craft & Lore Axe Holster is a simply designed and beautifully built, “bombproof” holster for your hatchet or axe. It keeps your axe right at your hip allowing two free hands. Is it a buy it for life item? No, it is a buy it for multiple lives item. With its extreme build quality this is something you can, and will want to leave for the kids.

Marked Leather Passport Holder Review – $65

Traveling internationally – whether by air, boat, rail, or automobile is always an exciting undertaking. And, it definitely requires some advance planning. Whenever I have an upcoming trip, I make a list of things that need to go with me and I ensure that everything has a place. When I travel out of the United States, I’m keenly aware of my passport’s location at all times. So, it makes sense to store it in a manner that protects it, yet keeps it handy too. And, if you can do it in a stylish manner too…well, that’s just icing on the cake.

Marked-Leather-Passport-Holder-1

About Marked Leather

This is the second piece from Marked Leather that we’ve reviewed. Recently we published a review of the Marked Satchel (another great piece for travel…and you’ll see a picture of the Passport Holder with the Satchel there too). Marked Leather is based out of Minneapolis, MN. With an eye for attractive, fashion forward designs and a focus on using quality materials, Marked Leather is making a good name for itself in the leather industry.

Marked-Leather-Passport-Holder-3

Construction

The Marked Leather Passport Holder doesn’t have any visible scars on it. However, its pebbled texture is soft, supple and floppy. Soft, floppy leather feels really good. The leather used is a thinner cowhide. Marked Leather previously used a heavier, thicker vegetable tanned leather for their passport holders. However, it was stiff and somewhat bulky. So, they switched over to thinner leather, reducing bulk, and offering a more flexible holder. The thread used is nylon. On my particular passport holder, the thread is an attractive medium blue color and creates a nice contrast with the dark brown leather.

Inside you’ll find a slip pocket for the passport on the right along with a nicely designed cardholder. On the left side is a pocket for other travel related paperwork.

Marked-Leather-Passport-Holder-5

Function

I do like the thin profile of this passport holder. It’s flexible enough that I can keep my passport in the holder while maneuvering it to scan at a ticket kiosk. If you prefer, you can use the pocket on the inner left to secure the front cover of your passport – this too speeds up the maneuvering process in my opinion. It certainly does not add much bulk to your passport’s profile and allows you to slide your passport into a coat pocket or the pocket of a bag/backpack with ease.

Marked-Leather-Passport-Holder-2

Aesthetic

The pebble grain texture of this medium brown leather looks fantastic. And, as already mentioned, it has a very supple feel to it. The thread seams are excellent. The Marked™ tag is tastefully placed on the inside just below the card slot. All in all, I really like the way the Marked Leather Passport Case looks with my passport in it. It generates a feeling of sophistication and a level of organization that I appreciate.

Marked-Leather-Passport-Holder-4

Conclusion

The Marked Leather Passport Case is a winner. If you enjoy leather accessories and like to keep your personal items swathed in attractive, durable leather, then order one…you’ll be pleased.

Norman Cahn Leatherworks Passport Case Review – $33.99 each

I honestly think that some of the nicest people in the world are somehow involved in the world of leather. It seems that statement is confirmed every time I get a chance to speak with someone within this industry. Norman Cahn is definitely one of those folks that I’m talking about. Every single conversation I’ve had with him has been a great experience.

Norman-Cahn-Leatherworks-Passport-Cases-1

About Norman Cahn Leatherworks

Norman, “Norm”, started designing leather products in 1976. He’s self-taught and an amazing, perfectionist of a craftsman. Norm lives in New Jersey and operates his design studio there. His Etsy store is full of beautiful representations of his desire to create expertly made, beautiful, functional, long wearing leather goods. After some discussion on the phone, on Facebook, and via email, we settled upon reviewing two examples of Norman Cahn Leatherworks Passport Cases.

Norman-Cahn-Leatherworks-Passport-Cases-14

Construction

As already stated, Norm is a very talented craftsman. Both of the passport cases I received are impeccable examples of expert leatherwork.

One case features 5oz. medium brown cowhide and champagne colored, bonded nylon thread. It features a brass stud closure. The other passport case is made from a more rustic, distressed, dark brown 5oz. cowhide, features the same solid brass stud closure, and the same type of thread in a darker, nicely contrasting color. The stitching is impeccable. The edges are polished and finished off perfectly.

Norman-Cahn-Leatherworks-Passport-Cases-15

Function

These passport cases are amazing to look at and more amazing to feel and use. The stud closures are ideal…making it easy to get into and close securely.

As expected, a single passport slides in and out of each case easily. The thick leather will easily protect your passport, and your next passport, and your next passport…you get the idea (I hope).

I’ve used one (the rustic, distressed version) on a recent flight to California. Instead of just using my driver’s license for ID, I decided to use my passport and carry it in my new case (yes, I claimed the rustic version for myself). I used it and just as expected, it performed its purpose without issue.

Norman-Cahn-Leatherworks-Passport-Cases-7

Aesthetic

Look at both of them…they’re gorgeous. Attention to detail in selection of components and the construction of both pieces is fantastic. Even while presenting my passport to the classically stoic TSA security officer, he remarked about the passport case…expressing his approval of it.

With living close to the Canadian border and having two international trips coming up in 2015 (Bolivia and hopefully, Rwanda) my wife and I look forward to every opportunity to carry our Norman Cahn Leatherworks Passport Cases.

Norman-Cahn-Leatherworks-Passport-Cases-9

Conclusion

The Norman Cahn Leatherworks Passport Cases are an excellent purchase…for you and for anyone who may travel internationally. Skip the nylon cases or other mass-produced cases. At $33.99 each, you are getting handcrafted, made in the USA, leather cases that will assuredly last a lifetime and keep getting better looking as they age. Visit Norm’s Etsy store and check out all of the different varieties of Passport Cases he has to offer. In fact, Norm has a premium version of his passport cases available for just a few bucks more ($47.99 each). The premium version features the same beautiful design and construction, but also has two card slots built in that will easily and handily store your license, credit/debit card, business cards, earbuds, etc. And, be sure to look at the awesome bags, electronic cases, and other products he creates.

Smith Cornejo Leather Wine Satchel- $600

Inspired by drinking red wine and riding horseback across Andalucia, this one-of-a-kind design is perfect for gifting a truly special bottle, picnics in the countryside, or slinging over your saddle horn (or bike).

IMG_8122

ABOUT SMITH CORNEJO

Smith Cornejo is a family business in West Virginia dedicated to functional leather goods of both rugged durability and elegance. Although they design and make some of the products from their workshop in West Virginia, most of the products are made in Guanajuato, Mexico, one of the leather making capitols. The leather is carefully sourced from gold rated tanneries. Although the leather comes from Mexican tanneries, most of the hides are from the US. Their partnership with Mexico ties into the family’s Mexican roots and their commitment to skilled workers and crafters.

CONSTRUCTION

The bag is constructed with 5-6 oz. full grain vegetable tanned leather and the straps are 7-8 oz leather. The hardware on the bag features buckles, d-rings and lobster style clasps made of solid brass. Solid copper rivets are placed stress points. The stitching is a silk thread. Lastly, the bag is fully lined with thick shearling wool. The dimensions of the bag is 13 inches tall by 6 inches wide and 5 inches deep with a single wine bottle and is about 13 inches wide by 8 inches wide and 6 inches deep when expanded to carry two bottles. Empty, the bag weighs about 3 pounds.

IMG_8040

IMG_8100

FUNCTION

This tote features a design that aids in the versatility of what you can carry and how you can carry it. The bag can carry up to two standard sized wine bottle or related spirits by adjusting the to buckles on the side of the bag that extend or synch the inner compartment together. The bag closes with a lobster style brass clasp that can also be adjusted for length (for those taller bottles) with a buckle directly above the clasp.

IMG_8105

IMG_8038

IMG_8139

When carrying two bottles, they fit snuggly in the shearling lining and do not clink together while traveling (or horeseback riding).

IMG_8102

 This is one tough little tote with the thick leather, brass and copper hardware and the shearling lining. It defiantly is strong enough to hold more weight than just two wine bottles.

Another great feature to this bag and design is that there a few (if not more) ways to carry it. There is a sewn in handle on the back for the most basic way of handing it. There is also a clasp attached handle that has d-rings in which a longer strap is fed through and attached to two bottom d-rings. This design allows you to either carry it over the shoulder, cross body, or as a two-strap backpack mode. I found that if you are solely using it for a shoulder or cross-body, it is helpful to remove the smaller handle strap as it evens out the balance of the tote. Although a little cumbersome to take off the various straps, it is a well-designed system. Either way you do it, the bag is designed impeccably to be adjusted to comfort and carry.

IMG_8125

IMG_8115

IMG_8120

 The handles on the back create the perfect system for mounting on ones bike, horse saddle, or wall. Seeing how this piece is artfully designed, hanging it on the wall or a nice hook is a great way to show off the piece when not being used.

IMG_8108

AESTHETIC

When I first received this leather wine tote my initial reaction was “Wow this can’t get any fancier”. My second reaction was something along the lines of “This little tote is built solid and can be used on a mountain trek let alone a simple excursion to a friends house with wine.” Whether you plan an adventure or just want to show off a fancy (or less fancy bottle, for that matter), this bag will stand to the occasion.

My girlfriend and I took it down to a clearing in the woods where we staged an afternoon wine tasting. Although I don’t usually retreat to a clearing in the woods for a midday glass of wine, I can say that owning a bag like this just may bring out the snob in me.

The leather is tough but not too stiff, which is nice since I didn’t want to struggle getting a bottle in and out of the bag or with adjusting the straps. The shearling lining is luxury to the max. I love reaching in the bag and feeling the soft wool and imagine myself being able to crawl in there if I was much smaller.

IMG_8042

Besides function, this piece is really a piece of art and should be displayed as such. Again, the handle is perfect for mounting on the wall. You could even put it near your bar (if you have a bar in your house) and use it to keep your favorite scotch, spirit or other treasured bottle.

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

Although one might contest to the higher price I can say without hesitation that it is a solidly designed piece with no noticeable design or function flaws. I would agree that the price is high and intimidating but so is the price for any such handmade luxury item made from thick full grain leather, shearing lining, and quality hardware. I’m looking forward to the age and wear on the piece. Although meant to carry wine bottles or other spirits, it can, of course be used for various other daily carry. And when not in use, it is beautiful piece of art to hang and admire. Check it out –here-.

Mascon Leather Custom Leather Chef Knife Roll Review – $650

A chef’s knives are almost as important as their hands. Chefs use their hands to hold their knives, precisely cut the plate’s components, and present the diner with a reflection of their skill and essentially themselves. When I approached Artie Shell, owner of Mascon Leather, to make a custom leather knife roll that would both showcase and protect my valuable tools, Artie applied the similar expertise with his hands to create a piece of precision and presentation to not only protect my knives, but to compliment and showcase them.

IMG_7835-2

Artie Shell has been crafting handmade leather pieces in Williamsburg, Virginia since early 2011. What originally started as a hobby to make more durable book covers, knife sheaths and cell phone covers for his kids has since turned into a more serious and dedicated business. He named his company Mascon Leather after his family’s business, ‘Mas-Con Construction’ (masonry and concrete), started by his grandfather. Although Artie’s grandfather has passed on, his legacy and pride for family and hand-built items lives in Artie’s leatherwork. Sourcing the best leather hides, thread, and tools available, Artie designs custom one-of-a-kind pieces including wallets, knife sheaths, axe covers, knife/tool rolls, and messenger bags with the upmost attention to detail and customer consultation. Each piece is designed to be timeless and constructed to age beautifully. Artie also currently contributes and works with a growing leather community on Facebook. For the short time Artie has been working with leather, I am sure I am not alone when I say he has accelerated in his craft and far exceeded the expertise to a professional leatherworker.

IMG_7608

Construction

This particular knife roll is made from almost one whole hide of 5.0 oz (2 mm) weight English Dublin tan Horween leather. The hardware features 80 solid copper rivets and nickel plated brass hardware including 2 buckles with strap keeps, lobster-style clasps for the removable shoulder strap and a buckle on the shoulder strap with two strap keeps and d-rings. The stitching on the inside business card slot and gadget pouch is a high quality polyester thread. There is also an exposed aluminum bar on the underside of the handle for additional support.

Once unrolled, there are 12 knife/tool slots (including 2 small inverted ones towards the top), a business card slot, a pen or thermometer slot, a slot for a utility kitchen scraper, and a removable (snaps in and out) gadget pouch with d-rings on the back (to hang from a oven handle or pot rack).

The knife roll dimensions are 20 inches long x about 7 inches wide when rolled and when unrolled is 35 inches long x 7 inches wide. Without anything in it the case weighs about 5 pounds.

IMG_7607

Lastly, the leather knife roll has a handle on top and a removable and adjustable cross body shoulder strap.

IMG_7935

Function

This leather knife roll is extremely functional as my main knife case to use for a job. Sometimes in small work areas it is a bit awkward to unroll and reroll because of its size, and takes getting adjusted to.

Deep leather pockets with rivet dividers were custom cut and made to my knife specifications. The knives point downward with the handles exposed rather than the handles in the pockets and the blades exposed for reasons I’ll discuss in the aesthetic section of this review.

IMG_7573

The inside gadget pouch holds about 3-5 tools (depending on size) and closes with a simple flap tuck design. Again, the gadget pouch is removable and is easy to snap in and out of the knife roll.

  IMG_7592                                         IMG_7591

IMG_7599

To say the only function of this leather roll is to hold and protect my knives is a crime. This bag is more like a piece of art or a fashion accessory that also happens to carry knives and tools. Expect to get a lot of head turns and compliments when going out with a piece like this.

IMG_7937

Aesthetic

No amount of words can describe seeing this piece in person. I unwrapped it similarly (if not more carefully) to a kid on christmas.

IMG_7350

The piece with its various stretch, pull-up marks, scars, and hardware components is a heavy duty industrial strength piece of equipment. It has some serious heft as one would expect in a full grain leather piece and when full of knives, it is even heavier. Long walking commutes may be straining on one’s shoulder and back. It definitely takes time to get used to but in my opinion I like the heaviness of it. It shows quality and durability.

IMG_7568

The pockets on the inside hold my knives very snug and securely with a little room incase I was to replace a knife (I will NEVER have to replace the knife roll) or a tool down the road in my profession. A debate that may arise with chefs is the decision to put the blades into the pockets with the handles pointing out rather than the other way as many other knife cases are designed. I chose this so my knives were more protected and less likely to hit against each other in travel. A concern I had as well was if the blades would rub against the rivets that are separating the pockets and damage the blade over time. Artie quickly assured me that the space between the rivets and the leather was significant that it would never be an issue. He even drew me a picture. Of course, Artie can design the pockets to hold the handles with the blades facing up if that is what you prefer.

IMG_4787

The knife roll unfolded features a large flap that covers the knives before being rolled. The large flap is left rustic, without a finished edge for style. I really love the edge as this is how the hide was originally. Others may prefer to have this edge finished and Artie is happy to accommodate. Another concern I had with the flap is that it did not fasten to the knife roll and therefore it was hard to align it just right to roll the case evenly every time.  Artie told me that the leather will be stiff for a bit but with more use it will form like a glove and soften up to make this task easier.  After 2 months of use I already see this happening.

IMG_7579

I requested a gadget pouch in the knife case because like other chefs I carry around various vegetable peelers, pastry brushes, wine openers, or other knick knacks that need a home too. Artie took this idea and made it even better than I could imagine. Not only did he create a perfect sized pouch but he made it removable with snaps and attached small d-rings to the backside to hang if desired. This idea is incredibly cool! It is very convenient to remove that pouch and keep it handy on my work station than to have to keep unrolling and re rolling to fetch a small tool.

IMG_4780

This is not just a knife roll though, it’s a chef briefcase. Nothing screams professional and class more than this leather knife roll does. To that extent, this is not the case you’ll want to take everywhere. Being that it is heavy and large, it may not be the tool case for a job in a small and busy kitchen. It’s comparable to a nice pair of leather shoes or boots – you wear them on a fancy or professional related situation and you aren’t going to necessarily wear them to a soccer game, a picnic, or a muddy day.

IMG_7929

 Customization

I’ll say it here and say it boldly-Artie Shell is one of the most personable, friendly, and accommodating custom craftsmen that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Artie first set up an initial phone call to gauge what type knife roll I wanted, the size, and functionality. An experience you may find close to this may be a custom suit taylor or shoe maker. After I sent Artie the dimensions of all my knives and tools I wanted to carry in the leather roll, Artie immediately began to draw up ideas and shoot me input and questions through emails. It was a fun process seeing the stages of Artie’s work and being able to have constant input on different options along the way. I could tell from the beginning that Artie wanted to put as much time and dedication into my knife roll to make me 200% happy and satisfied.

IMAG1789

It was a throughly enjoyable experience to converse with Artie over the phone and through emails (about 50 or so). A great relationship formed between the two of us, the mind of a chef and the mind of leatherworker. Here are a few of my favorite converses between us:

Artie: “No rush! This means nothing to anyone but me, but since we’re sharing…The scariest part or the WHOLE process is making that first cut into a solid 20 + Square foot hide of genuine Horween leather. It’s nerve racking. but once it’s done, the fun begins because you can’t turn back.”

IMAG1792

Artie: “Another oddity about leather crafters- it’s so hard to toss scraps, no matter the size. I think, ‘There HAS to be something I can do with that, somewhere!’ or ‘If I toss this out today, I’m going to wish I had it next week!’ Yeah…we’re looney, us leather folks.”

IMAG1752

Artie: “Meant to ask: How do you feel about scars showing? Some hate it, others love it. got a piece here with a gorgeous scar I’d like to try to put on the strap. Or I can avoid it.

Me: “I like the scars. It’s real leather.”

IMG_7879

Artie: “I woke up in the middle of the night with the fear that I’d forgotten something. I forgot to put my company hang tag on the knife roll before I sent it. I’ve made about 59,000 items and put a tag on every one of them. then the flagship knife roll comes along, and I forget.

Me: “59,000 items in 3 years?? All yourself?!

Artie: “Well it feels like that for the amount of dedication and passion I put into each one of them. I rounded upward a tad (a lot).”

il_570xN.606941271_2e7d

Artie: “Been meaning to ask: did you want your initials branded on the bag?”

Me: “No it’s not necessary. I’ll know it’s mine. As will very one else.”

Artie: “Nice one! That made me laugh out loud!”

Both-rolls-e1410892247159

BestLeather Conclusion

This product, like any other high quality leather pieces, may be considered a serious investment to some. With a price tag of $650 it is just that. The quality, durability, customization and time that goes into a piece like this is, in my opinion, well worth it.

Artie’s open line of consultation, willingness to try new things and get creative really speaks to the similar mind of a chef. As any chef will tell you, it starts with an idea and then a lot of preparation. The same hold’s true in Artie’s work. To own a custom leather knife roll from Mascon Leather speaks highly of the level of a chef and their professionalism.

Check it out here.

IMG_7348

How To Make Yourself A Huge Leather Desk Pad – $150

I have been wanting a desk pad for a while but the retail cost, available sizes, and quality levels have been holding me back. Saddleback Leather wants a hefty $213 for their admittedly nicely finished desk pad. That’s too rich for my taste considering all I want is a hefty piece of leather. Amazon’s offerings are chinsy and still expensive for what they are. So fine! I’ll make my own.

A trip to the Tandy Leather Store over in Spokane netted me a large side of ridiculously thick 13-14oz cowhide on sale for $100. It was easily large enough to cover the entire desk. You can make one also, and very easily.

You will need

  1. large hunk of leather
  2. straight edge
  3. measuring tape
  4. rotary cutter or exacto knife (Olfa Cutter worked well for me)
  5. Tandy Leather Edge Beveler
  6. Tandy Leather Burnisher
  7. Fiebings Neatsfoot Oil (or some other conditioner)

installation instructions

  1. Measure your desk and mark the dimensions on your suitably sized side of leather. I made my pad a couple inches large in each direction to let the edge of the leather sag over the edge of the desk.
  2. Use the straight edge and your cutter to slice out the pad. Go slow and press down hard so that you do not have to make a second pass.
  3. Run the edge beveler over the edges to take the sharp edge off. Continue at your discretion depending on how rounded you want the edges.
  4. Get the edges wet that you wish to burnish and run the Tandy Leather burnisher back and forth quickly to sear the edge with friction. Alternatively you can implement a dremel like below which would be much faster.
  5. Put heavy items where the leather stubbornly lifts up until it submits to your will.
  6. Slather your conditioner of choice on with a piece of sheeps wool. A large pad will consume quite a bit of conditioner.

results

Unless you buy a really nice piece of leather like A grade Herman Oak or Wicket & Craig you will likely have scars and various imperfections in the leather. I chose to accept this since I plan to treat this pad roughly and I didn’t want to pay the hefty prices for A grade sides. Now I have an impressive piece of leather covering my desk, the cherry wood is protected, the pad will last forever (practically), and it only cost me $150 or so.

homemade leather desk pad feature1

Homemade Leather Desk Pad2 Homemade Leather Desk Pad1 Homemade Leather Desk Pad3 Homemade Leather Desk Pad4 Homemade Leather Desk Pad5What do you think?

 

Hungant Peccary Leather Gloves Review – $140

Do you need a pair of gloves for touching nice things in nice clothes? We are talking about driving, holding your wife’s hand in the cold, or driving an Aston Martin. These may be for you. These are sartorial gloves. These are fancy gloves. They are not for weeding the garden or splitting firewood.

This pair arrived from the ever prestigious LeatherGloves4U on Etsy with Hungant Leather branding. Now I know what you are thinking. I was thinking the same thing. With a name that prestigious and classy these must be incredible gloves. Or not. Yes, the name and shopping venue is somewhat of a disappointment. You shouldn’t easily imagine buying gloves appropriate for driving your AMG Mercedes on Etsy from what easily sounds like the dollar store for gloves. This time, however, it is permissible because these are good gloves.

What in the world is Peccary?

collared_peccary4

It’s pigskin. I know, more prestige right? This funny looking piggy’s hide is prized for it’s softness so it is actually very desirable. The softness makes these gloves much more suitable to fancy wear rather than work wear. Splitting a cord of firewood wearing these would reduce them to shreds of nice soft peccary leather.

The hair follicle marks are very apparent, as you can see. From a distance this gives the leather a textured look. For those wanting the smooth texture of cowhide, maybe look at cowhide gloves. These have an attraction all their own in my opinion. For more information about peccary leather click here.

construction

While the construction is simple, it is certainly well done. There are two components, leather and thread. So how good is the stitching? The below picture of the stitching on the backhand The stitching is not very noticeable so I magnified it using a macro lens. It is impressively precise stitching.

Hungat Pecary Leather Gloves Review2

Hungant Peccary Leather Gloves Review 11

Upon first seeing the gloves laying flat I was underwhelmed by the external seams. The glove seemed chunky. However, once you slip them on the complete smoothness of the slide onto your hand brings it all into a better perspective. It’s really smooth slide onto your hand. The cashmere wool lining feels warm (won’t really be able to know until winter). It may not have tucked seams but it does feel seamless inside and I think that is an appropriate compromise.

Hungat Pecary Leather Gloves Review5

I have no doubt that with care these gloves will last a long time – but a lot of emphasis on WITH CARE. Any usage with constant chafing will not be suitable for this kind of soft leather. You will wear through it. These are for gentle use. Driving, walking, breathing, looking fancy, etc. Light work only. They are not wimpy gloves but have an ideal range of use that they are designed for. Want something tougher?

Hungat Pecary Leather Gloves Review6

The fit of these gloves is very good. I followed the supplied instructions and found my hands to be a size eight. The gloves are fitted nicely without any looseness around the palm or at the end of the fingertips. With this kind of fit you tug gently at each fingertip to remove the gloves.

il_570xN.525647476_hepw

 

Which color would you like?

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 8.29.23 PM

aesthetic

These gloves look really good worn with any classic material like wool, leather, or cotton. I think they are particularly fetching with a good watch. In this case it is a Seiko 007.

Hungat Pecary Leather Gloves Review8

functionality

It’s not cold enough yet this fall to know the cold weather suitability of these gloves. I can speculate that they will be fine for the dash to the car in the ten degree weather we get here in the pacific northwest but I won’t be taking them skiing. The other functionality factor is that the waterproofness of these gloves is similar to that of a sponge. The softness makes for comfortable gloves but they also soak up water easily. Constantly getting these gloves wet is going to shrink them, make them brittle, and generally ruin them. Don’t get them wet. Remember, these are fancy gloves for doing fancy things.

Hungat Pecary Leather Gloves Review1

BestLeather conclusion

The peccary leather gloves from Hungat Leather are expensive high quality gloves, no doubt about it. Though expensive for gloves that you cannot use rigorously, if you compare them to cashmere lined Dents gloves (very famous english glove maker) these are relatively affordable. You must use them appropriately (lightly) to fully enjoy them.

Check them out here.

Hungat Pecary Leather Gloves Review9
This is the most accurate color representation.

What do you think?

Waxhaws Leather Co. Key Case Review – $42

Waxhaws Leather Company is a young company dedicated to producing classic and timeless full-grain leather pieces. Made of the same leather as the Waxhaws Leather Co. iPhone 5 Signature Design Wallet, the Waxhaws Leather Co. Key Case is personally designed by John Fred using Italian full grain vegetable-tanned English bridle leather carefully selected for its ability to patina and burnish gracefully.

WaxhawsKeyCase8
Each product arrives in a handsome gift box.

CONSTRUCTION

This minimalistic key case is created with durability and practicality in mind. It is comprised of a single piece of full-grain leather folded and stitched together with a looped cotton cord through the top – simple yet tough.

WaxhawsKeyCase2

FUNCTION

Unlike your standard key case with built-in key holders, this case is created as an accessory to your own keychain. Simply attach your keychain to the inside loop. When you want to cover your keys, pull the cord tight on the outside and your keys will be brought into their protective leather case. This is particularly useful in situations where you don’t want your keys jingling in your pocket or showing through your pants and ruining your sophisticated look. Most importantly, this prevents scratches to your mobile devices or in my case, a brand new leather iPhone case that had already received a large scratch from being kept next to my keys (ARGH).

WaxhawsKeyCase7
Attach keys to inside loop
WaxhawsKeyCase6
Pull up on the outer loop to bring the keys inside.

One obvious downside to this case is the additional bulk to your keychain and an extra step when using your keys. Fortunately, this case can be easily slipped off in situations when you want to minimize your pocket fill or don’t care about protecting your pocket contents.

AESTHETIC

The key case arrives in the signature Waxhaws gift box. Holding the soft yet tough leather, it is immediately obvious that it is made from the same quality leather used in all Waxhaws goods. The design is simple to minimize bulk and maximize utility but lightly accented with rounded and geometric corners and the debossed Waxhaws logo. In the whiskey color, it looks rich and classic.

WaxhawsKeyCase5

BESTLEATHER CONCLUSION

The Waxhaws Leather Co. Key Case is sold on the Waxhaws, Amazon, and Etsy websites. At $42.00 it is moderately priced and may not be a must-buy for everyone. It is otherwise perfect as a unique gift for those with discerning tastes in leather and a smart investment for anyone looking to protect their valuables from their keys.

Quiver Pen Holders Review – $24, $27 & $31

Quiver-Pen-Holder-Review-1

I like pens. I really like nice pens. As a writer and editor, I’m very partial and dependent upon pens. Even in the digital age that is upon us now, it’s imperative to have a good pen or two at the ready. I despise losing a pen and, if I may confess, I even hate losing a cheap pen. What’s even worse is when you desperately need a pen and you can’t seem to find one. Enter Quiver – an innovative company located in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

Quiver-Pen-Holder-Review-6

About Quiver

Quiver is another one of those great companies that has emerged and grown from creating a solution to an everyday problem. The problem is that of losing pens and not having one handy when it’s needed. The folks at Quiver, who are devoted Moleskine and Rhodia notebook users, have come up with several ingenious designs to aid in preventing pen “loss-age” from striking at those most inopportune times. Best of all, they utilize fine leather and attractive thread in these unique pen holders.

Quiver-Pen-Holders-Review-3

Construction

Quiver products feature attractive American Nappa leather and are hand assembled in Old Mexico by their own set of skilled craftsmen. The thread used to create their eye-catching stitching is heavy, waterproof, marine grade thread. Each piece created by Quiver goes through an extensive triple inspection process. Needless to say, when your Quiver pen holder arrives, you are receiving an expertly created piece.

Quiver-Pen-Holders-Review-9

Function

I received three of Quiver’s most popular designs to test. Being a long time fan and user of Moleskine notebooks I was eager to test each of the Quivers out thoroughly. I received a Single Pen Quiver for Pocket Notebooks (fits A6 notebooks that are 5.5” – 6.5” tall) in brown leather with matching thread. It holds a single pen on the spine of a pocket notebook. I also received a Single Pen Quiver for Large Notebooks (fits A5 notebooks that are 8” – 9.5” tall) in dark black leather with bright yellow thread. It too holds a single pen on the spine of a notebook. The final version that I have is a Double Pen Quiver for Large Notebooks, which fits the same A5 style as mentioned earlier. This version is also in dark black leather and features a bright orange thread. The Double Pen Quiver holds two pens or pencils on the front cover of a notebook. Each of these holders features the debossed Quiver logo on them too. It’s also important to note that Quiver will deboss your company’s logo on these pen holders through their corporate gifts custom order process.

Quiver-Pen-Holders-Review-4

I have used all three of these Quivers for over a month now and it’s amazing how quickly they just meld into being part of your daily routine. All three designs perform their duty perfectly while at the same time making their presence known uniquely in the way they are mounted to the notebooks. I can honestly say that I’ll never be “Quiver-less” again while using any type of notebook. I now consider myself Quiver-dependent for life and I’m really happy about that…because it also means I will always have a pen available when needed!

Quiver-Pen-Holder-Review-7

Each of these pen holders mounts easily to the notebooks. Thanks to the ingenious elastic straps, they fit snugly and line up on the notebooks with ease. They do change the way the notebook lays on a table or desk and that’s probably the only drawback to them. But, that is really a very minor drawback and something I have quickly dismissed in favor of the benefits they provide. If you’re like me, I stuff my Moleskine with other papers, receipts, business cards, etc. that I gather from meetings and travels. So over time all of my notebooks begin to bulge a little. But, isn’t that why they feature those elastic closures? So…no big deal.

Quiver-Pen-Holders-Review-5

Aesthetic

All three of the Quivers that I have look amazing. The Pocket sized Quiver creates an attractive contrast with its rich brown leather when it’s mated with a black Moleskine. I’m sure it will look great if it’s paired with Rhodia or Leuchtturm too. The black leather of the Large Notebook Quivers – both in single and double pen versions are equally eye-catching. The use of contrasting threads combines to really set them off from whatever type of notebook you choose to use.

Quiver-Pen-Holders-Review-10

The orange thread of the Double Pen Quiver that I have was specially created for Rhodia’s notebooks. The Rhodia family crest features this same color (which is also featured on their easily-noticed notebooks). So, if you’re a Rhodia fan, the black leather Quiver with orange thread is definitely the one to order.

Even though these are small add-on components, people notice. I was surprised by just how many people took note of them and asked about them. Since I’ve had them, they have been commented upon or questioned at just about every in-person client meeting I’ve attended. And, what I think is even cooler is that the general response to them is “what a fantastic idea…and they look beautiful too” or “man, I desperately need one of those – I lose my pen all the time”.

Quiver-Pen-Holders-Review-8

It’s hard to say which one of the three Quivers I like best because they all look fantastic and perform their dutiful task admirably and fashionably. I do find myself carrying my large notebook with the Double Quiver the most. Perhaps that is because I’m still insecure about not having a pen…so having two on hand is more reassuring. But, that doesn’t make it my favorite. The Pocket Quiver is looking better as it ages. I’m really looking forward to the patina it will develop over time (and I’ll make sure to report on it here for you as well). For now, no judgment is being cast as to a clear favorite. Perhaps in one of the follow up reports on the Quivers there will be a clear favorite – so stay tuned.

Quiver-Pen-Holder-Review-2

Conclusion

The price point on these pen holders is extremely reasonable considering the quality components, handmade attention to detail, and rigorous quality inspection process. If you’re an avid notebook carrier and more importantly – if you’re a fan of never being without a pen or pencil, then we encourage you to visit Quiver’s website, create your own customized pen holder, and order it right away.

Tox Leather Cigar Cases – $86 & $76

Fine cigars encased in leather to protect and preserve. It’s an iconic, masculine combination that has been appreciated for well over a century. Leather is a pervasive companion to cigars and it’s tough to find accessories that are unique. However, at Best Leather, we have found a designer who is creating stylish, unique cases for cigars.

Tox-Leather-Cigar-Case-16

 

About Tox Leather

Tox Leather, owned and operated by Eser Dasdemir, is based in Istanbul, Turkey. Tox Leather was established in 2013 after Eser had been designing and making designs for years as a hobby. Eser is dedicated to creating 100% handmade leather items – all hand cut and hand sewn, from animals used for human consumption. Tox Leather does not use any type of exotic leather and is an eco-friendly operation. Eser creates tobacco accessories, electronics cases, personal accessories, and bags.

Tox-Leather-Cigar-7

Construction

The Tox Leather Stylish Cigar Case comes in thick, brown or black cowhide leather and comes in two sizes – robusto or double corona. My case came in brown and is very pleasing to the eye. Eser has also done a nice job of tastefully placing the Tox Leather logo on the flap. This horizontal style case is capable of several different sizes of cigars and in various numbers too, making it a great case to use if you’re planning to share a few cigars with your friends.

It’s made from three pieces of leather. The flap, which is also the back piece of the main case, is turned over to utilized the rough-out portion creating a two-tone affect to the case. The simple slip through strap secures the case closed with a sturdy snap. And, it’s expertly hand-stitched.

Tox-Leather-Cigar-9

The Tox Leather Binary Cigar Case also comes in thick, brown or black cowhide leather. And, it’s available in two sizes as well, robusto or double corona. My case is black and has a very classy look to it. It beckons you to fill it with quality cigars. This is a vertical style case and is capable of 2-3 cigars, depending on size. It will easily accommodate two cigars in tubes. Again, this is a great case to carry if you’re planning to share cigars with other people. It too is made from three pieces of leather. It does not use the rough-out side of the leather, instead completing the exterior profile in a deep, rich black smooth finish. The strap is reversed giving the piece additional character with the rough-out displayed. Again, it just adds a little pizazz to the case. It too is crafted from three pieces of leather and hand-stitched.

Function

Both of these cases are sized and shaped well. Even though each will hold multiple cigars, their profiles are still fairly slim. I believe they will travel without difficulty in the chest pocket of a blazer or suit coat and certainly will not take up much space in a briefcase or messenger bag.

There’s one very small thing that I wish could be changed on both of these cases. The strap used for closing and securing the cases hangs below the case just a tad too much. I know, that’s really a minuscule issue – but for me, I wish they were trimmed just a tad shorter by perhaps a quarter of an inch or so. In trimming the strap down just a bit more, it would fit more easily in a coat pocket or come unsnapped by inadvertently if snagged.

Tox-Leather-Cigar-Case-20

Aesthetic

One thing that impressed me with Tox Leather right away was presentation. I opened the package to find nice, burlap bags emblazoned with the Tox Leather logo. Inside were natural colored paper bags that contained the cigar cases – each with stylish tags on them with the Tox Leather logo. It’s just an impressive way to receive your products and says a lot about the pride of workmanship Eser has in Tox Leather’s products.

I’m unsure of the leather source and thread source, but in examining both, they are of high quality. These two cases are very eye-catching. I think they are equally attractive and impossible to say that the brown case looks better than the black case. I’m definitely looking forward to pulling these cases out when I get together with a few of my buddies. I know that they’ll instantly be envious. – that is, until they order their own.

Tox-Leather-Cigar-Case-15

Conclusion

If you’re a cigar fan, then you know there is a myriad of accessories out there – including cigar cases. What’s always refreshing is to find an accessory that’s unique, at an attractive price point, will perform well, and last a long, long time. At $76 for the Tox Leather Binary Cigar Case and $86 for the Tox Leather Stylish Cigar Case, they definitely tick all of those boxes. When you pull one of these cases out at the next gathering at your local cigar bar or in the backyard of a buddy’s house – it will get noticed and appreciated.

Vanderburgh ‘One’ Travel Humidor- $123

Cigar aficionados (or want to be aficionados, like myself) can really be flashy at their next gathering where the ritual of cigar smoking is involved. The leather-wrapped Vanderburgh ‘One’ Travel Humidor is indeed a fancy vessel to carry around your prized smoke. What will tickle the fancy of leather enthusiasts as well is that the leather on the ‘One’ humidor is the same leather Saddleback Leather uses. Saddleback Leather has partnered with Vanderburgh to provide the leather to many of their custom humidors.

IMG_7642

Construction

The materials used for the Vanderburgh One are of the finest materials around. A solid bar of aircraft aluminum is milled to the humidor’s shape and then anodized to protect the metal from oxidizing and staining. On the screw top is an inlay of an exotic zebrano wood. A rubber ring is placed on the fastener to create an air tight seal. The leather is a full boot grain leather stitched together with polyester marine grade thread. The color on this particular humidor is called tobacco; black and chestnut are other available colors. The dimensions of the humidor are 7.5 inches tall by 1 inch wide. Empty, the humidor weighs 4.5 ounces.

IMG_7407

IMG_7412

IMG_7406

Function

The Vanderburgh One Travel Humidor is built to carry one cigar up to 7 inches x 56 gauge in size. It works as a humidifier, as it creates an airtight seal, locking in the moisture and keeping moisture and air out. To prove this there is a video on Vanderburgh’s website that involves owner Eddie DeJong-Vanderburgh taking his humidor white water rafting.  How the leather will stand up to excess water is a concern to me. but that will be a test of time.

IMG_7649

Aesthetic

The Vanderburgh One is a luxuriously designed piece. The heft alone suggests that it is built sturdy and can withstand time and traveling of all sorts. Seeing as how the leather is the same leather as Saddleback Leather, it scratches and scuffs easily. Like Saddleback Leather products, these markings are meant to only add character and a patina with age and wear. While the wood inlay on top doesn’t serve any functional properties, it is another added luxury image. My first impression of the travel humidor was it was big and bulky given the design and materials used. It is essentially a luxurious product for what are expensive and collectable tobacco products: cigars. The screw top fits snuggly when fastened and is sometimes difficult to unscrew. Fortunately the leather on the outside provides a good grip and only requires a little bit more effort than one would expect to unfasten. Again, this suggests the airtight seal will let nothing out or in and provide additional insurance to that prized stogie.

IMG_7643

IMG_7679

BestLeather Conclusion

Considering the materials and craftsmanship that goes into each Vanderburgh One travel humidor, the price is exactly where it should be and, in my opinion, is a great value.  Perfect for throwing in your luggage, briefcase, tackle box, or on display on a bookshelf or mantle, you can be rest assured that this thing is bombproof to protect your cigar.  Although one is enough to own, in my opinion it would be better to own at least 2 so you can share a cigar with a friend as the ritual of cigar smoking usually entails. Check it out here.

IMG_7627

 

Moxie and Oliver Friday Flask Review – $65

An artist’s nostalgia is perhaps a blank canvas. For artist Caitlin McNamara, her canvas is–you guessed it–leather. Caitlin’s art and passion for leather has led her to create one of a kind hand-tooled, branded and dyed pieces that are as awesome to look at as they are to use. The leather wrapped flasks are one of her signature pieces on her website, Moxie and Oliver. The Friday Flasks are meant to be fun, witty with a quote or even personalized saying, and used as one would- to carry some of their favorite spirit.

IMG_7330

Since 2004, Caitlin McNamara has been making her pieces of art on leather. What started into making gifts for family and friends turned into a passion and obsession as her product line grew. Her innovative uses include leather bowls, leather wall panels, and colorful and exciting variations on handbags, wallets, portfolios and other leather products.

IMG_7334Construction

The flask is made of 18/8 stainless steel wrapped with 3-4 oz tan brown full grain leather. As with all Moxie and Oliver pieces, this leather wrap for the flask is cut, branded and dyed then finished with a protective coat before it is stitched together by hand. The stitching is a thick waxed brown nylon thread. The top of the flask features a screw top with a hinge.

IMG_7653Function

As one might suspect, it holds up to 6 ounces any alcohol or liquid (4 and 12 ounce sizes are also available). Since it is stainless steel, any liquid placed in the flask will not impart metallic tastes nor will the flask stain from the liquid. The top is very functional and efficient as it does not leak when screwed on and held upside down.

IMG_7550Aesthetic

The branded lettering, distressed finish to the leather, and cross-stitching on the backside makes for a very elegant piece and enhances the plain nature of just a regular stainless steel flask. Spots of liquid or oils from one’s skin enhances this piece and gives it an aged and weathered appeal. The flask is narrow and slightly curve shaped to fit nicely into a coat or bag pocket. It also is easy to grip.

IMG_7720

IMG_7328

IMG_7341

BestLeather Conclusion

Whether a birthday gift, housewarming gift, bachelor gift, or gift to yourself, the Moxie and Oliver Friday Flasks are genuine pieces for genuine spirits. Caitlin has a few different quotes from famous writers available to choose from and you can even have a custom quote or saying branded into one. Enjoy your favorite spirit or just enjoy life a little more with a leather enhanced piece.

Check them out here.

IMG_7693