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.


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.


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.


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.


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.




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.



Love 41 Men’s Fork Tine Bracelet – $72

Who would have thought a bracelet made with dinnerware could look so classy? Love 41, the project of Suzette Munson, is exceptional at creating leather items that look good and do good.  Suzette and her husband Dave own a leather company that just might ring a few bells—Saddleback Leather Company.

So what’s with the “do good” reference? Love 41 was created as a humanitarian-minded extension of the company, with 100% of the profits donated to charity – particularly to work being done in Rwanda. (Why Rwanda? Visit this page on Love 41’s website for a great history refresher and to learn about why Love 41 exists.)



The Love 41 Men’s Fork Tine Bracelet is a unique, good-looking accessory. Made from five strips of tough, thick, full-grain leather, and embellished with real fork tines of various thickness, the bracelet offers a great look and appeal. It also softens over time and looks as if it will age well. The leather is dyed all the way through, so the color can withstand all of the daily wear and tear that your hands and wrists are subjected to—cooking, cleaning, working, and, if you’re a forgetful goofball like me, showering.



I always appreciate a thicker, cuff-style bracelet as it doesn’t jingle or rotate too much around my wrist. With its thick leather, the bracelet has a nice weight to it, and the two nickel snaps keep it feeling secure.

The only thing that concerns me with this bracelet is the sizing. Neither my husband, my three brothers, nor my dad could fit this bracelet using both snaps. Everyone had to use a single snap, which doesn’t feel as secure. The bracelet is 10.5 inches long, but you probably only get about 9 inches of use – so if you have a larger wrist, be sure to measure before purchasing. I’m sure in the future we’ll see Love 41 offer this great looking bracelet in a few different sizes in order to eliminate this minor issue.



You can order this bracelet in four attractive colors: Black, Chestnut, Tobacco, and Dark Coffee. My Dark Coffee bracelet is a great, versatile dark brown color, and can be worn casually or when you need to be all dressed up. This bracelet has been on my wrist now for several weeks and is extremely comfortable to wear. I consider it one of my “go to” accessories now and I thoroughly enjoy wearing it. The “L41” stamped on the fork tines is subtle and tasteful, yet it’s noticeable enough that people ask what L41 means and is a great conversation starter. I enjoy sharing about Love 41’s desire to be so involved in the healing of the precious people of Rwanda. So far, I haven’t encountered anyone in my conversations who has not expressed respect and admiration for that kind of dedication from a business. So, big props to Love 41 for their focus and willingness to engage with those less fortunate in Rwanda!



The Love 41 Men’s Fork Tine Bracelet is a simple and attractive accessory that can easily be paired with any outfit. Supporting sustainable charity and handmade goods, all while looking stylish, is a no-brainer; it’s a win-win for everyone. Gents, if you’re looking for a great gift for your wife, mom, grandmother, sister, “significant other”, or even yourself, Love 41 features many great bags, jewelry, apparel, and accessories. Many of these pieces are handmade by artisans from Rwanda or through other socially responsible partnerships they’ve forged.  So, please visit Love 41 and know that you’ll not only get a great, high quality product – your purchase is going on to do some amazing work in a worthwhile way.

BaytowneLeatherUSA iPad Air Leather Sleeve Review – $75

BayTowneLeatherUSA is an Illinois-based Etsy store specializing in handmade leather goods including leather folios, sleeves, wallets, and belts all created by a single leathersmith – Roge. Roge (short for Roger) creates all his products by himself in a 18×24 foot leather shop behind his home. Due to this single-crafter business model, he is able to customize any of his products or create new items from scratch according to the customer’s specifications. With a perfect 5 star rating from over 200 reviews in the last two years, BayTowneLeatherUSA is one of the most reputable leather stores on Etsy and it’s easy to see why.


All BayTowne Leather products are hand cut and made with 5/6oz full-grain leather. This particular leather iPad sleeve is made of a single piece of natural vegetable tanned leather with a coat of Carnauba wax for protection. Everything from the shape, waxed stitching, and leather strap/closure method can be customized and priced accordingly. There really is no limit to the customization offered by Baytowne Leather. After seeing a tapered cover on another website, Roger was able to edit this cover to match at no additional cost. He also offers free 3-letter monogramming.

Roge handcrafts each piece in his 18 x 24ft shop.


As a basic leather sleeve, it does its job. The strap is sturdy enough to maintain a tight closure at all times and can be used to clip on a stylus. The leather can be rather tight and stiff in the beginning, but stretches with time. If given notice, Roge now designs the sleeves to be slightly wider to accommodate cases. The thickness of the leather offers some shock protection to the iPad but is more functional as a barrier.

Just big enough to fit an iPad with a Moshi Versacover case.


The natural vegetable tanned leather ages gracefully with time to leave a patina unique to the owner. This sleeve gained an unexpected tan-line after being left out in the sun and continues to tan even after eight months of use. On the other hand, if you aren’t one to wait for your own patina to mature, there is a hand stained “Antique Brown” option.  Neatfreaks beware: coffee stains and oily handprints are hard to get out but still manage to make the sleeve look beautiful. On the other hand, the leather with wax coating is rather resistant to scratches and does not show scuffs easily. The delicate balance between raw edges and smooth clean lines adds a bit of sophistication to this rustic iPad sleeve.



The BayTowneLeatherUSA iPad Air Leather Sleeve is reasonably priced for a customized handcrafted iPad carrying case. If you are willing to wait a few weeks for a handmade, uniquely crafted case built to your exact specifications, this is the case (and the man) to go to. Make sure to order early around the holidays since a single leathersmith can only work so fast.  If you don’t have an iPad, you’re going to want to find something to stuff inside so you have an excuse to carry this around.

Click here to check out BayTownLeatherUSA’s goods on Etsy.

Ghurka Large Pouch No. 65 Review – $150

Ghurka is a NYC based company focused on producing leather goods with a classic American style. The company factory started in Norwalk, CT in 1975 and its founder, Marley Hodgson, was inspired at an estate sale by campaign gear made for Ghurka regimental officers stationed in India during the early 1900s. The company’s ownership and ideals have shifted over the years but the current company is bringing itself back to its roots in terms of construction and design.



Like all Ghurka products, including the Cavalier II No. 97,  the Large Pouch is made with the original secret vegetable tanning formula of the very first designs. The leather is full grain imported calf from Italy or France (depending on which customer rep you talk with) with the signature Ghurka checkered lining. Although Ghurka is slowly bringing back its production back to the United States with some core designs, other items such as the pouches are still assembled in other countries such as China or the Dominican Republic. They then undergo strict quality control evaluations prior to hitting the shelves. Don’t assume the worst though – the second your hand picks up that thick supple leather, you’ll know you are holding a quality piece.

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The Large Pouch measures 8.75″ x 12″ with a single zipper for easy access and closure. It is the perfect size for an iPad Air or standard documents and is a great alternative to a standard folio or sleeve. The full grain leather and soft lining is substantial and adds a layer of protection to electronics or other fragile items.



The Large Pouch has a simple and classic design with the Ghurka logo subtly debossed onto the front. The pouch has a polished and sophisticated look with rounded edges and inverted hemming. In India Orange, it’s sure to turn heads although if that doesn’t suit your style, there are 11 other color and material options available, depending on the collection.

A Ghurka Large Pouch makes everything seem more luxurious – even your office skull and orchid.


The Ghurka Large Pouch No.65 is… a large leather pouch – with an equally large price tag. Although it serves a basic function, it stands out in quality and classic style. It is a nice investment for those who appreciate luxurious leather even in the simplest of items.

Check it out here.

Thrux Lawrence Dopp Kit Giveaway – $150 – Ends July 26th

Do you need something hefty to carry your toothbrush around in? Are you tired of wearing your lightweight dopp kit out with your toothpaste tube? How many dopp kits are you going to tear through until you buy something indestructible and toothbrush proof? (satire)

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the question is – will it blend?

Maybe. Those blenders are ridiculous.

Not only will you have this your entire lifetime (if you don’t blend it), but so will the next ten generations of your offspring. It’s that ridiculously tough. Usually this is the level of construction used on items that get a lot of use with heavy loads like backpacks and briefcases, but no, your toothbrush also deserves better levels of protection.

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To be fair, there are a lot of ways to use the dopp kit. Thrux Lawrence told me that people use these kits for all sorts of reasons–carrying golf balls, beauty goodies, tools, etc. Whatever you put inside will stay inside, which is really a handy feature. It’s much better than a ziploc bag.

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Here is the dopp kit carrying pool balls very effectively. Just in case you find a perfectly smooth place to whip out your EDC pool set.

Let’s just put it this way. When you win this dopp kit, no one will ever mock you for having too wimpy of a dopp kit. NEVER!

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The dopp kit also looks good sitting on a motorcycle… Or the motorcycle looks good with a dopp kit on it. I’m not sure. This may be a hot new trend.

Check out the Thrux Lawrence goods here.

LeatherWerk 9″ Valet Tray Review – $35

LeatherWerk is a crazy Swiss (as he refers himself) by the name of Men A. Werro.  Men currently lives and works out of Oregon.  BestLeather worked with LeatherWerk in the past on a review of vintage Swiss military bags.  Besides sourcing and restoring vintage bags, Men makes custom accessories for bags and travel.  Any leather enthusiasts on Facebook will have heard of Men or LeatherWerk for he has quite the devoted following.

Popular amongst the LeatherWerk accesories are these classic leather valet trays available in multiple sizes and colors.



Here is a 9″ (measured when lying flat, unfastened) valet tray in a leather that Men calls ‘Antique Brown’.  The materials are 5oz cow hide leather with a suede finish on the bottom side, industrial heavy duty polyester thread stitching and brass studs.




Valet trays are best used for desks, dresser tops, tables, and any other surfaces to keep small items organized.  This tray is incredibly handy to unload one’s pockets or other small carry items into (wallet, cell phone, pocket knife, coins, notes).  These really help organize any desk or table from clutter.  The suede finish on the bottom side of the leather prevents the tray from sliding around on a desk or table surface as well as protecting the surface from any scratches or other markings.



The LeatherWerk valet tray also unbuttons at the corners so that the tray can lay flat and can be easily put in one’s bag for use in hotel rooms.  As any busy traveler will appreciate, it is far easier to keep small travel essentials in one place rather than have them scattered or worrying about leaving them behind.




The leather chosen for the valet tray is very soft and velvety while being able to hold is shape to whatever you place in it.  Out of the box, there is no stiffness to the leather whatsoever.  At first I was concerned that it would get too floppy in time, but then realized I like the feel of the soft leather especially when it comes to unbuttoning the studs and being able to lay it flat or roll it up for travel.  The leather has a beautiful rich antique brown finish with markings and scuffs that add to the antique feel.  I suspect that this piece will continue to collect great character and patina with age.  Lastly, the brass studs compliment the color and the antique feel of the leather perfectly and are very sturdy.


For $35 dollars this handmade valet tray is a steal!  Available in a few different sizes, Men can design one to your desired dimensions as well.  The LeatherWerk valet trays are simply yet carefully designed to maximize beauty, aesthetic, and functionality in any setting whether at home, on the road or even in the great outdoors.  Check them out here.


Arne Mason Molded Leather Bookweight Review – $50

Arne Mason is a custom leather worker out of Ashland, Oregon specializing in molded cases for fly rods, fly reels, cigars, flies, and knives. Arne also does custom-molded cases for whatever you need to protect. He uses the highest quality, grade A English Bridle Leather tanned in the United States and has been setting the standard for fly fishing cases since 1972. And so, without further ado, I give you the simple and beautiful molded bookweight from Arne Mason



Arne specializes in heat-molded cases, which he brought to the bookweight world. He starts with elegant and clean teardrop shaped lead weights and then molds English bridle leather around them, creating a strip of leather with lead weights in the end. Arne then takes a strip of suede and a strip of Nigerian goatskin, cuts them to match the strip of bridle, and stitches the goatskin on top of the bridle and the suede beneath. Very simple, and very beautiful.

A sandwich of cowhide and lead.
A sandwich of cowhide and lead.

design and aesthetic

The bookweight from Arne Mason is beautifully designed, using rich tan goatskin and light page-gripping suede. The teardrop lead weights are simply elegant and are symmetrically pleasing.

Beautiful and simple.
Beautiful and simple.
Teardrop-shaped lead weights.
Teardrop-shaped lead weights.


Prior to receiving this bookweight for review, I had never used a bookweight. I thought they were fairly useless, as I normally would hold a book in my hands while reading — and I still do. However! I have found this bookweight to be immensely useful in scholarly reading. I am an incoming freshman at Reed College and have summer reading, which requires me to take notes. Having the ability to keep the book open and the information readily available is immensely useful and makes it very easy to jump from text to notebook and back again.

BestLeather conclusion

Bookweights are becoming more and more obsolete as the world moves from physical text to digital. However, books are better than text, and that’s a fact. So, in my mind, buying a beautiful and elegant bookweight to make life easier and make scholarly reading or just reading in general more relaxing is completely worth it. And at $50, you are getting what you pay for: a hand-molded, beautiful, simple, and elegant bookweight. Who knows — with this bookweight, society might reverse its course into the digital darkside and return to the simplicity of books.

Check out the Arne Mason Bookweight here.

The book weight from Arne Mason.
The book weight from Arne Mason.

Ewing Survivor Clip key management Review – $65.00


A key clip might not be the most exciting thing on your wish list. But, it is an essential item and Ewing Dry Goods has come up with a couple ways to handle your key management concerns. The Survivor Clip is a great tool, and we will also take a quick look at their Laced Key Clip. All materials are Made in USA and the product is manufactured in Juneau, Alaska. Continue reading “Ewing Survivor Clip key management Review – $65.00”

Project TransAction Leather Suspenders Review – $65

Real men wear suspenders. Suspenders are like scarves. Some may scoff, but we know the truth. There is something about a pair of shoulder straps that simply defines masculinity. At my sister’s wedding, all the groomsmen wore suspenders and and received compliment after compliment during the ceremony.

I have actually been fond of suspenders since I was a little boy. My grandfather wore them every day without fail throughout my adolescent youth, so in receiving these beautifully crafted pair of leather suspenders, I was extremely satisfied and excited to see people’s reactions and put them to the test.

Project TransAction is an Etsy company that started out in Jamaica Plain, MA. Jacob Vaughn Gushue (Owner, Maker, And Designer) started out screen printing clothing for friends during high school, which then developed into a business. The company puts time and meticulous detail into their products and It is hard to rival their oak-tanned leather–that is both strong and soft–and the brass hardware found on these suspenders.

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I prefer the clip-on suspender clasps personally, unlike the trigger snaps seen on these suspenders, due to ease of use. But after sewing buttons on the pants that I thought would go best with Project TransActions product, and buying the button end leather attachment, I could not have been more satisfied! I was proud of the outfit and how the buttons contributed the overall style to the suspenders.ProjectTransaction Leather Suspenders Review1

Although I have only owned them for three months, the wear is nonexistent, leading me to believe they will last a long time. All in all, this product is of good quality and I plan on recommending them to anyone who shows interest. Do yourself a favor and buy a pair for yourself; you will not be disappointed.

ProjectTransaction Leather Suspenders Review3

Greg Stevens Design Custom Watch Strap Review – $175

If you are looking to buy a custom made leather watchband, you should look at Greg Stevens Design.  The various leathers and styles are impressive, as is the attention to quality, detail, and customer service. Whether a Rolex, Panerai or just your favorite Timex, Greg Stevens Design watch straps can really make a statement and compliment a timepiece.


I was looking for a strap to give a Fossil watch that I received as a gift a boost of personality and confidence. With Greg’s recommendation, I chose a strap made with vintage looking leather and stitching complimenting the face and antique design of the watch.



This strap is constructed with 3.75 mm thick Horween Leather’s Dublin Coffee Brown with light bronze polyester thread stitching. The edges of the leather are finished in a glossy and smooth black edge coating. The hardware is a brushed stainless steel buckle (PVD, brass, and polished steel are also options). Having a standard size wrist (7 ½ inches or so), I left it to Greg to size the strap how he saw fit. The longest end measures about 5 inches and the shorter side measures about 4 inches (including the buckle) for a total length of about 11 inches with the 44mm diameter watch. The strap comes with one free-floating band holder that is constructed from a strip of the same leather and thickness.




My first impression of the strap upon taking it out of the box was that it was a thick and stiff band. One might think the thickness might be too much and would be stiff and uncomfortable but, like most leathers, it started to bend, stretch and soften after the first few wears. One will definitely appreciate the thickness and heft of the strap.


There are 5 buckle holes and after the strap stretched a bit after the first few wears, I am now at the third hole. This is a nice fit for me without my wrist feeling constricted but also not having my watch dangle down around my forearm.



 When looking for a strap for my watch, Greg recommended a vintage looking leather (Horween Dublin Coffee Brown) and stitching (light bronze), a perfect compliment to the face and antique design of the watch.


This particular leather has a slight ‘pull up’ (when bent, changes to a lighter color) and gives way to a cracking effect that gives the leather an old-world vintage look and feel. As the buckle hole end stretched, the leather around the holes lightened and wore in faster than the rest of the strap. The wear from this type of leather attributes to its aged and antique appeal.


 The large band fastener on the strap at first seemed too bulky, stiff and a tad flimsy feeling as it just floated on the unbuckled strap.  Like the rest of the strap, it started to bend and wear a bit and soften up.  When buckled, the fastener stays firmly in place and is very comfortable.


BestLeather conclusion

 For $175, this is well worth the price to pay for a custom-built leather strap. Greg has about 3 dozen different, high-quality leathers from Horween leather as well as some vintage French, Swedish, and Swiss leathers to choose from and many different thread colors as well. You can choose a buckle finish, thickness and length of the band, stitch pattern and even add some custom rivets (additional charges). Of course, if you’re not completely sure about sizing, leave it to Greg.  After giving him the size and make of the watch, he sized the strap how he saw best complemented the watch. It’s like having your own personal watch tailor!

This is a very comfortable watch strap. Although a bit stiff at times, I suspect it will continue to wear and soften quite nicely. Judging from the quality of the leather and craftsmanship, this strap is built to last. There was only slight worry about the stress marks on the hole end so I asked Greg about care for the product. Greg recommends using a little leather conditioner over time if the leather appears too dry.


Lastly, the customer service Greg gave me through the process was very sincere and friendly. Having been my first time having a custom leather strap built for me, I needed a little guidance through the process. Greg answered all questions and requests I had and left me feeling fully satisfied on how I wanted my strap to look. It exceeded my expectations when I first opened the box.

The products are also backed by a 100% guarantee. If it falls apart, Greg will replace it. If it doesn’t meet your expectations, he will fully refund you. Greg even states, “I feel that you should be 100% happy with your purchase.  If you’re not, then something happened along the way and I’ll bend over backwards to make it right.”

Even though the picture gallery and customer testimonies on Greg’s site are featuring higher-end luxury watches, I am convinced that even my Fossil fits the bill for Greg’s beautiful watch straps.

Avund Goods – Changer Review – $22

Once in a while you come across a product that is handier than it initially seems.  One such product is the Changer, by Avund Goods.  Meant to hold some spare change, the Changer can actually be used for many other things, as will be pointed out.  Avund Goods designs and produces fine leather products.  Avund was created by Mika Bektor and Tom Hays, who both graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design.  They pooled their collective passion for art and design knowledge and formed Avund Goods in 2012.

We recently reviewed their Forsta V Wallet and Marine Shackle and enjoyed the opportunity of spending time with some of their goods.  It has also been a pleasure to use and test the Changer, which is actually a by-product of producing their Forsta and Andra Wallet series.

AG The Changer09


You can read on Avund’s site that their “products are designed for minimal material waste and efficient assembly”.  The evidence of this is the Changer.  Below is a picture showing the template for their Forsta Wallet and the Changer.  You can see that the Changer is simply the triangular cutout of the wallet, which allows access to the wallet’s card slots.  I love this ingenuity and focus on efficiency.


I can imagine the conversation between Mika and Tom, “What should we do with this triangular piece of left-over leather?  Throw it away?  No, one of our goals is to be efficient.  How about a cool little holder for change that we fold over and fasten with a button rivet, which will also be used to keep it closed?  Yes, that would be awesome!”  Whether it happened that way, I’m not sure, but I know that I like the result.


One of the first things I noticed about the Changer was how stiff the leather is.  This is due in part to the leather being vegetable tanned, which typically results in a stiffer leather.  The leather is four to five ounce horse hide.  The leather comes from what is called “North of Cordovan”.  It is the section of horse hide that is just outside what is used for Shell Cordovan, some of the best and most expensive leather you can buy.  It is tanned with the same processes that Shell Cordovan is tanned, and it yields a tight grain and unique pattern.

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The majority of the pictures you see in this review are of the Changer after I’ve used it for about eight weeks.  The leather is still very stiff and holds it’s shape very well.  The color of the leather is natural (which is essentially a light tan color).  This color of leather darkens over time and develops a beautiful, golden patina.  You can see from the pictures that the leather is already darkening a bit.

Like all of Avund’s products, the edges of the Changer are beveled and then the fine tip is burnished.  This attention to detail is commendable.  Very few of the products that we review receive that level of detail.  It makes the Changer feel more sophisticated and certainly makes your keyring a little more refined.

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The hardware for the Changer is quite simple.  There is a single, stainless steel eyelet, which the heavy duty key ring is affixed to.  There is a nickel plated, steel button rivet that holds together the two “wings” of the Changer.  A hole is punched into the “nose” of the Changer, which is used to fasten the Changer onto the button.  It really is a simple, but inventive design.


Initially, I looked at the Changer as simply a small pouch for a few coins.  It holds up to five quarters in fact, enough to purchase a can of soda from a vending machine, or enough for a really cheap do-it-yourself car wash.  The Changer is big enough to hold enough cash to buy a candy bar, but does not hold enough cash to take your wife out on a date, so you will want to consider it’s size if you think it is something worthy of acquiring.  It is meant to be a keychain accessory though, so you really do not want it to be too big.

Avund’s site also indicates that it is useful for holding a few guitar picks.  That got me thinking.  Coins, guitar picks, what else could the Changer hold?  It did not take me long to come up with a list of ten items that would fit in the 1.5” by 1.5” by .5” space (these are the external dimensions, the useable space is smaller).  Below is the list I came up with.  You will have to let us know if you can think of other uses.


10 – Pencil Sharpener – Nobody likes writing with a dull pencil.  Why not keep your sharpener close by.

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9 – High Powered Magnets – Because they are just plain cool to play with.

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8 – Earbuds – Not everybody wants to hear your music.  This way you can plug in anytime.

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7 – Crushed Red Pepper – You like heat.  Make sure your next meal has enough.

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6 – Stool Softener Pills- Need I say more?

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5 – Legos – Need a quick distraction from work.  A Gold Ninjago Ninja is the perfect playful distraction.

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4 – Bandaids – for the construction worker who is all too familiar with cuts and abrasions.

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3 – Starburst – You never know when you’ll need a quick sugar fix.

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2 – 2032 Batteries – In case your garage door opener suddenly stops working.

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1 – Coins – Hey, isn’t this what it was made for in the first place?

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I tried to stuff a Dum Dum sucker into the Changer, but it would not quite close.  It was worth a try.

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The Changer by Avund Goods is a clever use of some left-over leather.  It certainly does not feel like a “left-over” product when you get your hands on it.  It is designed for a beneficial purpose, and as I came to realize, it has many more uses than initially considered.  It would look great and serve a useful purpose on any person’s keychain.

Avund Goods Men’s Marine Shackle Review – $25

Avund Goods is a purveyor of high quality leather goods with a tradition in British and Scandinavian design and art.  The quality of their goods is a manifestation of this background and tradition.  Avund goes through a rigorous process of testing and reviewing their products before they go into production.  This process ensures a product that is not only useful, but beautiful.


I received the Men’s Marine Shackle from Mika Becktor of Avund Goods, as a bonus to a review we were doing on their Forsta V wallet.  Though the Shackle was unexpected, it was appreciated and admired.

the leather

The Shackle is made of natural color, vegetable tanned leather.  This is the type of leather that ages beautifully over time.  The leather actually patinas to a slightly darker hue with use and over time.  The leather is approximately four to five ounces in weight.  As is fairly common with vegetable tanned leather, the bracelet is fairly stout and not at all flimsy.


the edges

Like all of Avund Good products, the edges of the shackle receive attention.  In this case, the edges are beveled, and then the fine point of the edge is burnished with beeswax to a crisp finish.  This treatment gives the bracelet a clean, crisp look.  This attention is impressive, even for something as simple as a bracelet.  It shows a devotion to making the very best product possible.



The hardware for this shackle makes it really pop and is very man-worthy.  As one that does not normally wear a bracelet-like item, the industrial nature of the hardware makes it work for me.  The unique U-shaped loop and the screw in pin finish the bracelet into a truly manly article worthy of showcasing. Riveting the leather loops on both ends of the bracelet ensures this bracelet will stand the test of time as well.


BestLeather conclusion

If you are looking for an accessory to demonstrate your manliness, and to prove your intelligence of fine leather, the Men’s Marine Shackle from Avund Goods is a smart choice.


UrbanCow Leather Mouse Pad Review – $22

Most leather mouse pads are crap. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good options on the market. But for some reason since they are so simple it allows for a lot of shortcuts to be taken. Most of the mouse pads you see on Amazon take the shortcuts. The easiest way to see this is if they say genuine leather.

Urban Cow Leather Mouse Pad Review1

Genuine leather is essentially reconstituted leather. Leather that gets shaved off other hides is collected and pressed together with glue to form sheets of “genuine leather”. In my opinion it is desperately poor form to be calling this cheap imitation of leather “genuine”, but that is the state of our system right now. Anyways, avoid everything marked as “genuine leather”. It’s crap.

Urban Cow Leather Mouse Pad Review2

Anyways, UrbanCow on Etsy sells a pretty thick REAL leather mousepad. Pretty simple construction with two pieces of 3 oz stone oil leather sewn together with a single nylon thread. Double stitching would just be overkill.Urban Cow Leather Mouse Pad Review3

If you haven’t tried a leather mouse pad I really recommend it. One of the great features of leather is its wonderful tactility. It feels good. I don’t know of any other leather products that I have my hands on nearly all day. UrbanCow’s mouse pad is made with this stone oil leather that I haven’t touched much of. It feels wonderful. It’s not exactly a pull-up leather since it doesn’t mark when you fold it but the feeling is very similar. Very rich in leather fragrance and feeling.

At $22, it’s a good deal. Fancier mouse pads are available from Bexar and Saddleback Leather but I’d rather just keep the dough.

Check out the UrbanCow, they are well rated with many sales on Etsy and shipping was pretty fast.

Urban Cow Leather Mouse Pad Review4

About The Old Swiss Army Leather Bags

Did you know you can buy leather bags that are up to 100+ years old? It’s true. The Swiss Army used leather bags on their army pack horses, particularly the Freiberger breed which were known for their endurance. The horses and mules lightened the load for soldiers and allowed them to cover much more ground in strong fighting condition.


While soldiers were never relieved of carrying their own personal fighting equipment, the horses carried the more substantial armament, such as extra ammunition, mortars, and light artillery.

These bags were well made to endure the demanding circumstances of heavy loads in wartime and often used over and over as Swiss citizens served their time and returned their issued military equipment. Hence they often served for decades and acquire a beautiful patina.

The Swiss Army uses a conditioner called FIX which stays in the leather for a very long time and frequently all the bags need is a good cleaning to rid it of mold and dirt.

A small gunsmith bag.

Now, in these more sophisticated times, pack animals are much more rare in the military. Consequently the bag market sees vintage Swiss Army bags for sale. Here are some of the types of vintage swiss army bags in repair and original unrepaired condition, courtesy of Men A Werro from Leatherwerk, who is an excellent source for purchasing an original swiss army bag. Here are a selection of swiss army bags you can find.

As you browse through the selection of photos spend a moment to contemplate how old and how much abuse these leather bags have endured. Can you imagine a messenger bag from Target doing the same thing?

Here is mine, made in 1945. As I told you before, they were used by the pack train and attached with chains on the packsaddle. These come with chains but no strap so I custom made a strap from either Swiss Army rifle slings of the same age or leather straps that who knows what they were used for. I make optional straps or there is the desirable horse bit handle. Sometimes folks want a coin concho on the hinged flap. Oldest one I had in my hands was stamped 1918 I think, youngest one 1945.

It has a thick rear wall and thick leather hinged lid. Around 70 years old and tons of real patina that shows up only after many many moons of hard use!

Size is about 16″ x 12″ x 3 1/2″. It can carry bulky stuff too that is deeper than 3.5″. The picture below shows mine today in the rain.


The Medic Bag AKA Tailgate Bag

You can easily see the functionality of the medic bag. Required medical equipment is easily at hand without digging through things or having your bag fall closed while treating a wounded soldier. That would be a difficult problem to have while controlling bleeding.

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shoulder bags

I’m not exactly sure what these bags were used for. The officer’s bags were smaller so it is likely these were used by infantry, but for what purpose? Anyone know?

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Demolition Meister Bag

Fuses and explosives go in here. This has got to be one of the coolest bags.


packsaddle bags

The horses had packsaddles designed specifically for carrying their veterinarian equipment. Some of these  leather packsaddles are from 1895!

 Earlier versions of the Packsaddle bag were put over the horses neck. Earliest one I had between my fingers was made 1895, latest one 1917. 2 versions as far as I know. The earlier once were a bit larger and slightly more boxy looking.


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large gunsmith bag

The large Gunsmith bag is actually a Packsaddle bag with added flaps on the sides (inside) and two pockets for small grease tins. It has an alloy badge too and the added straps system (no more chains for the horses) makes the bag either a messenger or a backpack. I guess the Swiss Army copied it from SBL – just kidding!


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Size: 4.0″ by 12.0″ by 9-10″ tall. Under the flap pocket is 7.5″ x 5.5″

Many are stamped with MP41 and some with MP43 when used by gunsmiths that were working in the field on the machine pistols 41 or the updated version 43. Very early version didn’t have a MP stamp. Some were used again in the late 50s for the “Sturmgewehr 57” (automatic rifle) by the gunsmiths. Those got K14.1.110 stamped on the alloy badge. It’s a pretty small bag for a gunsmith, especially for working on that automatic rifle.

These are one of my favorite styles, few were made through 1937 – 1945.

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Swiss Army Duffle

These are made of Swiss Military grade heavy duty green canvas with thick leather. Alloy bottom plate, reinforcements at all stress points. About 40 years old in like new condition. Will last a lifetime or two! Very tough stuff.


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stamps in the bags

These bags have specific individual stamps that indicate things like the name of the maker and the year.

Top line = makers name
Center line = Saddle Maker in either German, French, Romansh or Italian, the 4 languages of Switzerland
Bottom line = the town it was hand made which is the town/village the Saddlemaker was working.
Then most of the times there is a 2 digit number like 45 which represents the year the bag was made. It is not very often you can find a 4 digit year number like 1945.

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 How to buy a vintage swiss leather bag?

I could not have put this information together without Men A. Werro from Leatherwerk. He sells these bags which are individually sourced in Switzerland. You can check out his current stock of Swiss bags on his site, Men also makes several other leather goods from scratch such as the Pouchun and accessories for Saddleback Leather bags.


Saddleback Leather Keychain Giveaway!


Saddleback-Leather-Keychain-GiveawayThere is this dark coffee brown Saddleback Leather Keychain that’s been languishing unused for some months now. Time to do something with it!

UPDATE: The winner has been chosen from the comments. Congratulations Rust!

To win this keychain and all the glory and fame that comes with it you must simply post below a link to your next leather purchase and why you like that item so much. The winner will be selected at random. It will be interesting to see what everyone is planning to get next!

The drawing will conclude on April 21st, 2013 where the winner will be announced to claim their rightful and prestigious place in history as’s first giveaway winner.