SALT Co. 3.5″ Leather Briefcase Review – $649

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The classic leather briefcase. The gentleman’s staple. SALT Co’s 3.5″ Leather Briefcase embodies the best aspects of a formal brief while maintaining a humble look. Salt Co’s offering utilizes a unique stiff frame and is built to last. This impressively understated briefcase will serve its owner better and better over a lifetime of use.

About SALT Co.

Short for Standard Artisan Leather Trading Company, SALT Co. recently began operations based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Their approach is to make products that maintain the feeling of old-world, handcrafted items, but updated to meet the needs of today’s electronic-heavy world. SALT Co. aims to make items that are beautiful simply because they’re solely designed for function: “It has been said that if you eliminate everything that is not essential you will end up with something that truly is.”

Discrete, minimal logos are used on Salt Co. products

Currently the majority of SALT’s products are leather bags, but their catalog is always expanding. Even beyond leather–for example, they’ve recently listed a collection of premium wood valet stands.

If many of SALT Co’s leather products look familiar, that’s because they’ve hired Kendal, of the former Kendal & Hyde, to design for them. Many of his most popular designs are now available from SALT Co!

Leather & Construction

It might surprise you to learn that this formal briefcase is also built like an absolute tank.

Salt Co. utilizes thick, full-grain, vegetable tanned leather, and plenty of it. A simple way to know you’re getting quality leather is to ensure it’s a known tan from an established tannery. However, this isn’t the only way to get awesome leather. Salt Co. takes a more particular route, custom ordering leather that is tanned to their own specifications for strength and appearance. The result is fantastic. The leather is tough, beautiful, feels great, and has one of the best leather smells I’ve experienced!

The design of the bag exudes sturdy, lifelong function. They’ve employed several frequently overlooked build techniques. Rivets are placed such that stress comes sideways, rather than directly pulling apart the connection. The two primary closure straps extend all the way around the bag as a single piece, not short strips of leather sewn to the outside of the bag. A thick leather edge extending past the bottom of the brief protects these straps and the bottom of the bag from rubbing against the floor. This is the kind of stuff that separates a good bag from a truly great bag.

Thick, protruding edges protect and stabilize the bottom of the brief

It’s all expertly put together, too. A visual inspection reveals no issues with stitching or riveting. Stitching is uniform and reinforced with several passes and/or rivets at stress points. Thread is kept to a relative minimum, favoring large single pieces of leather. This means fewer points for wear and failure over time. The only place I’d have preferred an additional rivet is on the shoulder strap connection points. A single rivet is sufficient (especially with the stress-relieving design), but, as a primary load-bearing point, two would provide extra confidence.

Uniform stitches and stress-relieved rivet

Overall this bag is built well with quality materials that will last a lifetime. If any issues do come up, Salt Co. offers a lifetime guarantee.

Function

The SALT Co. Brief is a laptop and document type bag, and is ideal for a simple daily carry. I carry my 13″  laptop, charging cable, wallet, a couple small EDC items, pens, a few documents, and a camera (with pancake lens) or small water bottle without issue. I can throw a spare lens in one of the pockets as well, but should point out this is possible partially because I have a small mirrorless camera. This professional briefcase is well organized.

A single wide strip of leather is sewn over the bottom of the main gusset. This gives the briefcase a partially stiff frame, placing it somewhere between a hard attache and a soft leather briefcase. The footprint is stable and allows the brief to stand on its own without wobble. This is really appreciated if you’re used to a soft brief that needs to be balanced or leaned against something.

Stands well even on carpet

There is one drawback to using this amount of thick leather: weight. It’s tough enough to last forever, but all that leather comes in at about 6.4lb (2.9kg). I’ve had larger briefcases that weigh less. While an extra pound or two may not seem like much, it can wear on you after a long day. This is something to consider based on your use case and body type.

The sturdy carry strap is made well to alleviate this extra weight. The pad is full leather, strong enough to distribute weight evenly across your shoulder. The underside is unfinished leather which minimizes slipping.

Aesthetic

Understated: “presented or expressed in a subtle and effective way.” This is the best word I can come up with to describe the appearance of the Salt Co. Brief. Lines are strong and well defined. No extra details are added for the sake of appearance. It’s beautiful because of its simplicity.

The leather itself is consistent with this theme. From even a few feet away, it appears to be a simple natural tan colored leather. But if you get up close, you’ll see that this tan has a certain translucent quality that makes the grain very visible. Unfortunately I found this difficult to capture in photographs!

My review bag is Salt Co’s ‘whiskey’ color. A darker and more brown option, ‘cafe,’ is also available. Note that a new ‘whiskey’ bag will come with a lighter color than mine. This is because my bag has developed patina from use and treatment.

Conclusion

The Salt Co. 3.5″ Leather Briefcase is a top-of-the-line Buy It For Life product. It’s tough, it’s professional, it’s beautiful. A fantastic choice for a minimal everyday laptop carry. While expensive it’s a good value and the right price for a bag of this caliber. This would make a great choice for a professional looking for their last briefcase or as an heirloom level gift. You’ll be just as impressed with this brief as I am.

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About Author

Computer engineering graduate student, research assistant, DJ. Lover of music, volleyball, good conversation, cold milk, corgis, and the work of passionate leather artisans.

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