If a bag is something you use every day, then sooner or later you’ll come to realize that it’s worth the money to invest in something of better quality. One year ago I was in this predicament and I finally decided to bite the bullet and spend a little more on a leather briefcase. I wanted something durable that would last, as well as something functional and easy on the eyes. When the mail arrived with my Saddleback Leather Large Thin Briefcase I knew I had made the right choice.
After opening the clear plastic packaging and slipping the briefcase out, I immediately noticed the aroma of the fresh leather. You know the smell. Before I examined the bag any further, I had to first bring it close to my face and take a few seconds to enjoy the scent–something I’ve repeated many times since.
Saddleback Leather is known for their classic briefcase. It is a beautiful design, but at 9 inches deep, it is a little too big for my tastes. The thin briefcase is a 4 1/2 inch deep version of the same design, minus the cool belts that wrap around the whole bag.
I originally got the medium, but as soon as I opened the package I knew it was too small. At 15 inches wide, it looked too small in my hand and too small over my shoulder. The carrying capacity was fine; I was able to snuggly fit my 15 inch Asus laptop in it, but it just didn’t look right to me. I am not a huge guy (I’m about 5 feet 10 inches tall with broad shoulders), but it looked like a mini briefcase on my frame. So I contacted Saddleback and exchanged it for the large, which their customer service made very easy for me.
As soon as I saw the Large Thin Briefcase, I knew I had made the right decision. It’s 17 inches wide, 12 1/2 inches tall, and 4 1/2 inches deep. Like all of Saddleback’s bags it’s made from full grain leather and doesn’t have any zippers, snaps, or anything like that. Instead it’s all straps, buckles, and D-rings.
The aesthetic is classic and the design is functional, but it’s not for everyone. I don’t necessarily see it as a slick accessory for an executive in the boardroom. It is more suited to a photographer lugging gear around the city or a young professor carrying documents across campus. However you choose to use it though, be prepared to get noticed and receive compliments.
The more I have used this bag, the more beautiful it has become. Over time, it has collected scratches, scuffs, and wrinkles that make for a beautiful patina. As the leather softens and develops more character, it only adds to the classic and already attractive design of the bag. And with Saddleback’s 100 year warranty, you’re guaranteed to be able to use this briefcase for a lifetime.
Some other bags you’ll come across will have seams at the edges of the bottom, or a seam down the middle of the bottom, which binds multiple smaller pieces of leather. But each seam is a potential weak point, which is a problem for someone who wants their briefcase to last a lifetime. Saddleback’s thin briefcase is made up of only four main pieces of leather: the front flap going around all the way down the back, the front panel, and the two gussets that run the entire length of the bag.
It is all double-stitched and the stress areas are reinforced with copper and brass rivets, as well as hidden polyester strips. The hardware is nickel-plated brass and can hold up well against any abuse you’d give it.
On the inside it’s made up of two main compartments, with a pigskin pocket and two side pockets in the front compartment, and a simple open compartment in the back. The inside is lined with pigskin, which is incredibly tough stuff made to reinforce the already tough full grain leather. An additional full-sized pocket runs along the back of the briefcase. There aren’t a ton of compartments, it’s more of a minimalist approach, and with the lack of zippers and pockets it might not to be to some people’s liking.
It’s surprising how much can be packed into this thin briefcase. I carry it with me every day and it is typically filled with my laptop, notebooks, lunch bag, pens, knife, folders, and often much more. The more you pack in, the more the leather stretches and bulges to accommodate a full capacity. Is it heavy? Yes–compared to many of the other options out there, especially a canvas bag. But it’s tough leather and in my opinion looks much better, so it’s a trade-off you’ll have to consider. Do not expect this briefcase to float in the air behind you, but it will not bend your spine, either.
This briefcase has been used almost every day back and forth from my house to my office, and the leather has softened considerably, especially in the front strap and shoulder strap. The front flap in particular has developed a lot of wrinkles, but there is not any cracking, nor anything that is not natural for leather.
You can put it in backpack mode by running the strap through the large O-ring on the back, but I never have a need to use it that way. I removed one of the shoulder strap pads because I only wear it across the body over my shoulder. Except for a little bit of fuzz on the handle, the stitching has held together well. And despite getting a heavy amount of usage, there are no signs on the hardware of wear, weakness, or anything broken.
Best Leather Conclusion
Ultimately I’m very happy with the Saddleback Leather Large Thin Briefcase and I recommend it to anyone who relies on a briefcase or bag to carry their stuff around on a regular basis. It’s a little bit heavier and might not have all the compartments and zippers some like, but it’s strong leather that will carry your gear for decades to come, all while developing a beautiful patina. If you don’t have a briefcase from Saddleback Leather yet, I recommend either going to buy one or start saving.
Check out the thorough 1-year-later video below.