I’ve always called these sorts of bags “duffle” bags, but holdall is more accurate, isn’t it? It truly “holds all” you need. Forbes & Lewis’ Somerset Holdall is an excellent entry in this category for a wide variety of purposes. The Somerset looks great and will fit in just about anywhere from business travel to an outdoor get together.
About Forbes & Lewis
Forbes & Lewis is a family owned business based in England:
Forbes & Lewis was founded by now married partners Samuel Lewis and Katie Forbes in 2013. The Duo got tired of buying products at either end of the spectrum, designer goods that cost far to much or cheap products that fell apart. We wanted to produce a collection that was made from the finest quality raw materials and put together to last that we could afford.
Forbes & Lewis products are made in India.
Leather & Construction
The Somerset Holdall is stitched together with a waxy buffalo leather on the outside and a silky polyester on the inside. The buffalo leather is medium thickness, making it strong but not too heavy. The wax gives the leather some pull-up, meaning the color will lighten and have variation as the leather moves during use. Construction is very clean with no noticeable flaws.
A lack of reinforcement rivets and use of a fabric lining make me think the Somerset isn’t built to endure a bomb strike as much as some bags we see, but construction is very clean and materials are quality. Forbes & Lewis offers a two year warranty on all their products, but I would expect this bag to last for several years beyond that with regular use.
When my girlfriend saw me writing this review she asked, “Oh, is that the fun bag you use all the time?” She’s right…this is a fun bag, and I use it all the time. Interestingly, I believe I’ve only used it once for travel. It certainly stands up to the name “holdall.” I’ve probably been heading to about 10 events this summer, realized I needed to hold a bit more than a backpack can handle, and happily thrown it all in my Somerset. The large size and wide zippered opening make it easy to get everything in and out. I would estimate the internal capacity to be in the 40 liter range, enough for several days on a trip or a blanket, football, water, and some snacks when going to watch the fireworks.
The fabric internal lining offers a nice array of organization options. On one side is a padded laptop compartment and some small pockets, on the other a single larger zippered pocket. Perfect for your laptop or tablet, keys, wallet, etc. These items are fairly easy to get to even with the bag mostly full. Pockets are located relatively high up on the sides of the bag.
Note that here I’m reviewing the large version of the Somerset.
At the majority of aforementioned outings, at least one person has been kind enough to compliment the Somerset. It’s sort of interesting that a bag that is virtually just “brown” is as beautiful as this one is. Maybe that’s exactly the beauty of it. In one of my favorite movies, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a character wisely points out: “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” I think that’s where the Somerset shines. It’s not loud or flashy, but strong. Leather is a beautiful material, and the waxy buffalo leather on the Somerset has texture, character, and is great to look at.
The Forbes & Lewis Somerset Holdall is lovely, highly functional, versatile, and well-built. This bag is easy to use…it’s easy to fill up, it’s easy to grab and throw in the car, it’s easy to fit in wherever it goes. It’s the “fun bag you use all the time.” The price is about what you’d expect for a product of this caliber. I’m happy to recommend the Somerset as a great option for anyone in need of a quality holdall.
September 6, 2019: The Somerset is currently sold out, however, Forbes & Lewis is holding a Summer 50% off sale on the rest of their equally impressive products!