Moore & Giles Brennan Rucksack Review – $515

Moore & Giles is a leather manufacturer based in Forest, Virginia.  They produce fine leather for the high-end hospitality industry, high-end furniture industry, and the commercial and residential interior design market.  They have been producing leather since 1933 and have established relationships with many retailers across the United States and select international countries.

(We recently posted a video produced by Moore & Giles showing how their leather is made.  It is a fantastic video and is worth re-posting here.)

With its prime business in producing excellent leather for several industries, it was just a matter of time before Moore & Giles began manufacturing their own leather bags and goods.  One interesting aspect of all of Moore & Giles leather goods is that each product is named after someone from the company.  With names like the Donald, Benedict, Graeme and Taylor, it makes one want to apply for a job with the hopes of some fine luxury good sharing your name.  With a line of high-end wallets, handbags, briefcases, dopp kits and other goods, Moore & Giles is making a name for itself in the high-end leather goods business as well.

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We recently had the opportunity of reviewing the Brennan Rucksack from Moore & Giles.  Rucksacks are of German origin and are essentially a smaller version of a backpack, meant to be worn over your shoulder.  Similarly, the Brennan Rucksack has a single strap for that purpose, or a handle used for carrying with one hand.

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When discussing the Brennan Rucksack with Moore & Giles head designer, Thomas Brennan (the Rucksack’s namesake), he indicated that the Brennan is the go to bag for Moore & Giles’ President and Vice-President, and is used by half of the staff at their Italian Tannery.  With that type of adoption from the company’s own, there must be something special about this rucksack.  It really is pretty simple.  The rucksack is made to be compact, is durable and functional, and the leather is beautiful.

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The rucksack has a single exterior zipper that stretches from one side, over the top, to the other side.  This zipper is a #5 Excella 2-way zipper by YKK.  The YKK Group is known to produce some of the finest zippers available.  Open the zipper completely and you have easy access to the entire contents of the bag.

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The inside of the bag has a main compartment with a small pocket for your cell phone, as well as three pen sleeves.  It has a zipped pocket for various items, as well as a separate compartment, for a 13” laptop or an IPad, which is padded for support and protection.  My 13″ Macbook Air fit perfectly, but a larger 13″ laptop may be a very tight squeeze.  The rucksack also has an exterior pouch that can stash a magazine or folded over newspaper, perfect for easy access.

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Part of the advantage of the rucksack could also be a drawback– the size.  It is meant to be a more compact version of a backpack, which it is.  That means you cannot stuff if with a lot of gear, and the largest laptop it fits is 13”.  If you need a lot of room for all your books or gear, or have a bigger computer, you would be better off with one of Moore & Giles’ messenger bags or briefcases.  The bag works well for me though.  I’m able to fit my Macbook Air, notebook cover from Saddleback Leather, journal, and other items without a problem.

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With a huge variety of leather to choose from for this bag, Moore & Giles went with their Titan Milled leather.   A description from Moore & Giles website indicates that “these natural leathers are produced on the finest hides available, then processed with pure water straight from the Italian alps.  An innovative hot wax tannage technique highlights the natural tones and rich colors of this leather that will only be enhanced over time in both feel and appearance”.  Then, the leather undergoes a natural milling process which provides a worn, pebbled appearance.  At first, I thought the leather was embossed, but the milling process itself actually shrinks the hide and pulls out the pebbled appearance.  The result is impressive.  The bag has a supple feel, but feels very sturdy at the same time.

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All of Moore & Giles leathers are either full grain or top-grain (top-grain leather is “corrected” in some way, usually sanded to eliminate imperfections, while full grain leather is not corrected).  The Brennan Rucksack is of the full grain variety, which has the tightest grain possible.  The vast majority of Moore & Giles leathers are around 1.2 mm thick (three ounces).  The Brennan is no exception, being made from three to three and a half ounce leather.  For leather novices, leather thickness is typically defined in ounces.  If a one square foot piece of leather weighs three ounces, then it is three ounce leather.  The thicker the leather is, the heavier the leather will be; therefore, thicker leather is always associated with a higher number of ounces.

The Titan Milled leather is both vegetable and chrome tanned, in a one hundred and fifty year old Italian tannery, with old world techniques.  The leather is folder over on most of the edges of the bag, which provides for a soft feel.  The zipper pull leather edges are actually burnished, which is a nice touch for such a small detail.  The leather is also “struck through,” which means it has been drum dyed until the dyes soak all of the way through the leather.  This is a time consuming process, requiring much more time than normal in the large dye drums, that only the finest leathers undergo.

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The lining for the Brennan is a custom jacquard, which Moore & Giles has custom made for them in Italy.  A jacquard is an intricate weave, named after the French inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard, and allows for complex woven-in designs, such as the company’s logo.  The lining feels very durable and appears to be of the variety which allows for easy cleanup if you happen to drip your morning coffee into it while reaching for the paper.

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Moore & Giles uses cast zinc hardware for the three D rings on the bag, as well as for the strap clips.  They have an antique brass finish, which pairs well with the dark brown leather.

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The Brennan is also sewn with dark brown, size 92 polyester thread.  Polyester thread is significantly stronger than cotton thread and much more so than even tough nylon.  It is the same type of thread used for making sails and parachutes.  It is the type of thread you want your bag to be held together by.


The Brennan Rucksack from Moore & Giles is crafted from leather that is durable and beautiful, and the bag is constructed very well.  It is produced by a company with a long history of producing some of the finest leathers and leather goods made.  It is a classy alternative to a backpack and a bag you would be proud of owning.

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