Buffalo Jackson Denver Leather Belted Briefcase Review – $374.95

We’re big fans of Buffalo Jackson here at BestLeather. I’ve personally been keeping an eye on them since early 2014 when I got my first pair of Yukon 500 Mile Shorts. They’ve really expanded their leather collection and I’m always running across great products. Today I’m taking a look at their Denver Leather Belted Briefcase.


The Denver Brief is made from full grain cow leather. The model we’re looking at is called Autumn Brown and Dark Briar, hower it is offered in a few other finishes. Nylon thread is used for stitching the panels and we also see antique brass finished rivets located at high stress areas. The interior utilizes a more forgiving suede. The top flap uses leather straps and a heel bar buckle. This bag measures 15.5″ L x 11″ H x 7″ W and weighs 6 pounds. They are handmade in Mexico. If you’re into style and gambling, but not sure what to wear, try following a Style Guide for Gamblers. For players looking to feel comfortable, fit in, and impress other guests, this ultimate style guide for gamblers has got your back.


This bag in my opinion works best when you usually don’t need much else besides the essentials. If you’re in an office and drive a car to work, this bag works. I say that because when you’re in an office and drive you can keep your daily support items in those places (i.e lunch in office fridge or coat in car) and retrieve when needed. This bag will hold a 15” Laptop, a few books, thin sweater no problem. The buckles offer a very solid closure to the bag and they’re adjustable so you can really fine tune how much play you want.

This bag has a open slot on the back, good for quick access to papers or tablets. The interior features 2 compartments separated by a leather divider with a crude organizer. I would really to like to have seen a zippered pocket for small loose items like USB drives or cords though. I do appreciate the leather key clip holder and the smart laptop snap that keeps it secured. The large, padded shoulder strap really makes carrying heavier loads comfortable.


One of my favorite things about Buffalo Jackson’s dry goods in general is that I feel like I’m taking a little bit of the outdoors wherever I go. I could be shoulder deep in New York city, but I feel like I’m hiding the Tetons in my bag. The rich, earthy tones really set off an adventurous vibe. Visually, there’s really not much I would add or subtract. It may be too rough-hewn for a suit and tie occupation but for a student, contractor, or blue collar professional it’s a great balance between style and function. 


With all the pedigrees of a solid bag, Buffalo Jackson’s Denver Leather Belted Briefcase has style and durability. There is a compromise in functionality with the buckles and limited organizer, but those tradeoffs ensure a bag that will last. The price point puts it in a playing field with a lot of other great bags but few in my opinion capture that rustic allure that this bag offers.

Waterfield ZIP Laptop Briefcase Review — $219

UX (user experience) is a big topic in the Bay Area. And it’s not only important with software, but also with the briefcase that carries your hardware. It’s real meta. I like that.

This briefcase I’m about to tell you about has the perfect UX.

It’s the second iteration of Waterfield’s ZIP Laptop Brief, and it’s clear they paid close attention to the smallest details. In fact, my first draft of this review began with, “Wow, wow, wow. This bag is amazing!”

I still feel that way.


Deciding to Buy

The positive user experience started even before I made the purchase. When you’re buying online, it’s often hard to get a sense of the spatial aspect of products, but Gary, the founder of Waterfield, makes hands-on videos of everything they sell. His video overview gave me the sense of the size and dimensions, and I felt like this was the right product before I’d ever handled it myself.

I wanted a briefcase for my laptop and tablet and a few extras, but I didn’t want a bunch of unnecessary pockets that would complicate storing and finding things. The ZIP matches those criteria perfectly. It’s super sleek, just the right amount of bag and nothing extra.

Now I carry it when I travel, and I put my most valuable things inside. There’s not a bit of waste in the design, which might be a problem if you’re hoping to carry a lot, but it works great for my style.



I’ve ordered and used a lot of Waterfield bags, and this is the first time I’ve strayed from the waxed canvas with grizzly leather (which I’ve loved, and which is still an option for you, but this time I wanted a change).

The ballistic black is a cool synthetic textile. It’s clean but also sturdy and feels like it could take a lot of wear (though admittedly I haven’t had it long enough to verify that). It’s also incredibly water resistant. The leather accents look great with the black, giving it a bit more class. Personally, I like the look, but you can make that call yourself from the pictures.

The front pocket is hidden. The back looks super sleek–all black without significant seams. I just like the visual appeal overall.


Traveling with It

The grip on the inside of the shoulder pad clings, so it stays on well. If you want extra security, it’s comfortable wearing across your chest with the brief at your back. And the whole strap is removable, for when you want to be more streamlined. Oh, and it has a strap designed to slide over your luggage handle, making it an easy extra.

The zipper has a watershed design so you can carry your electronics in the rain without worry. I even tested this out: I put a tissue on the inside and then drenched the zipper with my water bottle, but nothing got through. I was surprised and impressed.

When the briefcase is zipped up, it’s thin and doesn’t take up much space. And it’ll even stand up on its own, though not too stably (depending on the weight and position of what’s inside).

The zipper also lets you open the briefcase 180 degrees, so it’ll lie flat on a table. This makes it TSA friendly, ideal for getting quickly through airport security. I’ve found this to be helpful when using the bag as a workstation too. It makes it easier to access things when you can lay it all the way open like that. And when you’re ready to go, you just grab the handles and everything folds to the inside. I love how simple and functional it is.


Delightful Details

This second iteration of Waterfield’s ZIP has only gotten more refined. For example, the zipper is positioned to one side, directly above the laptop slot, making it easier to access your primary item.

Another of my favorite UX design features is that you can charge your laptop while it’s still in the bag! They cut out a little notch to accommodate the power cord even while the bag is zipped up. What a clever thing to think of!

Oh, and as usual, Waterfield uses a gold inner liner, which not only looks good but also reflects light really well, making it easier to see your things (unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to the padded parts, which are the hardest places to see things).


Where to Put Stuff

On the inside, it has a couple padded pockets for power cords or a mouse. Next to these is another of my favorite features–a dedicated spot for your digital pen, where it won’t get lost.

On the opposite side are two additional padded slots, a larger one for a laptop, and a smaller one for a tablet. There’s also a velcro strap to keep them in place, but that’s a feature I generally don’t bother to use.

Between these two halves, there’s enough room to squeeze an extra shirt or other odds and ends.

The outside has a zipper guarding a pocket that rests flush with the side, but it’s designed to expand to accommodate more stuff if need be. It’s a good spot for your keys, wallet, or emergency floss.

The zippers on both this compartment and the larger one give me confidence that my stuff will never fall out, no matter what kind of turbulence we go through.



I’ve gone through several laptop bags, always looking for the optimal solution. The Waterfield ZIP Laptop Brief has been my favorite of the lot, and I’m grateful to have found it.

It’s thin and sleek, has sufficient pockets for what I need, but doesn’t go overboard like a lot of its competitors. It’s simple, functional, and looks great.

Most of all, it’s a bag I love using.




BennyBee Leather 13” Messenger Bag Review – $282.05

Too often when discussing durability of bags, there is talks about utilizing rivets, metal bars to attach handles, and other rugged components. When I first started buying bags, that’s all I knew to look for. After seeing and handling some French/Swiss packsaddles from the early 1900s, I was taken back and realized what ensures quality and longevity. These packsaddles were made when rivets and a lot of reinforcements weren’t so prevalent – yet they’ve lasted nearly a century due to bare-bones materials – quality leather and quality stitching.  With that in mind, when I stumbled upon BennyBee Leather of Edinburgh, UK, I was not so hesitant when I noticed the beauty and simplicity of their bags.I was overtaken by first the look of the bags, and spent less time looking for rivets and reinforcement bars.  After reaching out, Dani of BennyBee decided to let us test out the 13 inch messenger in chestnut, one of their top-selling bags.

As for those who have read some of my previous reviews, I am a big fan of discovering the etymology of company names. BennyBee is broken down from “Benny” which is the nickname of Dani’s brother, and “Bee” to signify the preservation of nature and respect for the namesake insect. Dani began making small leather goods after borrowing tools from his late grandfather’s shop, who had worked as a cobbler. Upon advancing to making bags, BennyBee Leather was born in 2014. They currently offer a variety of bags and wallets for both women and women.

It’s not often I talk about aesthetics before going into the construction and build quality, but the chestnut color of this bag is absolutely gorgeous. Indoors, the color at times looks a nice dark brown. Outdoors, the chestnut-red color really blooms into a hue that I cannot stop gazing over. Even while taking photos at a nearby park to me, I was interrupted a few times by passerby’s to explain who made the bag and how to get it. I must also mention that the shipping time internationally was fast – 3 days from shipment to receiving. To add icing on the cake, the bag comes nicely packaged inside its shipping box with brown wrapping paper, a twine closure with a red candle stamp seal. Included was also a can of homemade wax and instructions to treat the bag.

The overall construction of the bag is quite simple. The exterior boasts one large piece of full-grained, vegetable tanned leather from the front flap to the back; One long strip to serve as the gusset, a front piece and a small front pocket constructed of two pieces of leather. Considering the shape and size, it is easy to tell the bag was constructed to avoid patchwork – stitching of multiple small pieces of leather, which often leads to poor durability. The entire bag is saddle-stitched by hand, with lovely characteristics such as the honey-comb like corners decorating the handle pieces and belt keepers and the slightly angled stitch pattern from the classic saddle-stich. Avoiding traditional rectangular patterns, I believe is a nice feature. The front buckles, side d-rings, and handle mounts are constructed of aged brass hardware. The buckles are riveted in, with the rivet partially hidden under the leather keeper. Over my use I have gotten more familiar opening and closing the buckles quickly so it really does not seem time consuming when compared to quick-release bags, also with the benefit of being much more secure against pickpockets. Each bag of this style takes roughly 15 hours to assemble, and is well worth the time spent.

The interior pocket of the bag sports a small sleeve insert as well as a panel with pockets for business cards, a cellphone, and pen holder loops. Being complete unlined, the suede finish is lovely to touch. If carrying a small laptop or tablet, I would suggest keeping it in a small sleeve or case, as this is not necessarily a tech bag, but would protect contents fairly well.  My iPad mini fits perfectly in the insert, as would a full sized iPad. BennyBee also makes a larger 15’’ messenger that accommodates a MacBook Pro and other larger laptops. The front pocket on the bag is perfect for holding field notes, a cellphone, or other small items for quick access without digging into the main compartment. The main compartment is spacious enough for a leather-bound notepad holder, a few books, and other daily carry items.

Cased iPad Mini with plenty of room in the sleeve; iPhone SE, business card wallet, two pens and carabiner with keyset attached. 

The strap is constructed of one thick piece of full-grain, vegetable tanned leather, with a non-padded shoulder pad. I love the feel of the pad as it is just one piece of thick, soft leather with the suede side exposed. Though it is not padded, it is quite comfortable and contours well to your shoulder whether wearing off one shoulder or crossbody.  Longevity wise, the shoulder pad may be the first component to wear out, especially if one neglects to condition their bag. However, a replacement or repair would be an easy fast fix if a problem ever developed. The brass buckle is riveted in as well as the lobster-style clasps at each end. These attach to the d-rings at on the sides of the bag. While the d-rings are not riveted to the bag, I highly doubt under normal use and the intended amount of things carried that they will fail to support the load. Like I refereed to earlier in the post, early Swiss packsaddles did not have rivets, and they are proven to hold up. The bag handle is thick and sturdy, stitched from two pieces of leather and quite comfortable.

The rear of the back is sans pocket. When I asked about it, Dani said the number of requests for a rear pocket (2) compared to the one thousand-plus messenger bags made so far didn’t constitute a design change. Of course, Dani did say they can accommodate as they do honor custom requests, so do not hesitate to ask if you are wanting a rear pocket or other design modifications. Quite frankly, the only modification I would request is a key keeper on the inside pocket panel; however, that is easily remedied by slipping a carabiner upside down through one of the three pen loops as I’ve shown above.

Truthfully, this bag has become my go-to for daily carry. I’ve typically enjoyed slightly bigger bags in length and interior dimensions, but the BennyBee Leather 13 Inch Messenger bag has convinced me to just carry what I need to carry. Priced at roughly $285 plus shipping, I honestly would pay more and still be impressed knowing and having experienced the bag thus far. I need to make it a point to say that even though BennyBee is based in the UK, buyers in the United States can breath a sigh of relief as we won’t be charged hefty import and duty taxes as long as the value of items shipped is below $800. This makes it a clear benefit for US customers to explore leather products internationally. You can check out BennyBee Leather on Etsy as well as Instagram to see more shots of their products.



First Impressions – Rugged Material Messenger Bag

Recently I reached out to the good folks at Rugged Material. Having successfully funded and provided goods through a Kickstarter campaign, I expected great things. I think it is fairly understated to have the ability to speak directly with the founder of a staffed company as a first-time customer. I got that experience from Tyler Condie, the founder of Rugged Material. He’s surrounded by a great team of folks dedicated towards designing and making goods guaranteed for life, and proudly made in the USA. Tyler was kind enough to send in a pull-up brown messenger bag that I’ll be giving my first impressions on, with a long-term use review in the future.

The Rugged Material Messenger Bag is a merge between the classic messenger design with modernized, rugged construction. The exterior of the bag is constructed of four major pieces of full grained oil-tan leather, with additional belt straps and a front pocket which bears the laser-burned logo. A polyester thread is used that is UV-resistant and also resistant to breakdown from leather creams and conditioners. Nickel-plated brass hardware is evident in the rivets, d rings, and handle. The closures are constructed of matte finished aluminum slide release buckles. The outside dimensions of the bag are 16.5″ x 5″ x 13″.

While the bag is definitely rugged, it has some formal finishing. The rounded corners on the leather as well as the attention to detail played on the stitching of the entire bag and the handle make solid statements.

The strap is the epitome of ruggedness – substantial full grain leather with nylon webbing (think seat-belt) stitched to the backside to prevent stretching and sustain heavy loads. This webbing is also implemented in the d-rings for the shoulder strap attachment as well as the handle. Adjustment of the strap is simple using tri-glide keepers and the bag can be worn on one shoulder like a briefcase or cross body like a messenger. The width of the strap is 1.5 inches, not too thick to look overbearing on a person of smaller stature and expandable from 36” to 59”.

The interior of the bag is nicely lined on the front and back with a black pigskin leather. This adds rigidity to the bag as well as it is a durable, easy to clean surface in case of spills. I do wish that a piece of pigskin coated the bottom of the bag, but that may add too much construction/rigidity if stitched in. A removable piece of pigskin would be nice to prevent spills to the bottom as well as stash extra bills or small documents under. The pockets hold a cellphone, most 14 inch laptops, and a full sized iPad or similar tablet. The front pocket could easily hold document folders, receipts, and other small items.


After handling this bag initially, I can say that the Rugged Material Messenger Bag is one of the bags I wish I’d had to get through undergraduate and graduate studies. At $295 it is very competitively priced among bags of the same dimensions and quality. Being a direct-to-consumer company, customers are not hit with the additional costs associated with outsourcing production from companies that choose to only design their products. Going along with their motto, their bag is USA-made and guaranteed for life. The bag  is also set to handle the working environments I am in, so I am looking forward to giving it some long term use and following up on its durability and function.

Mario Latorre Black Voltaire Litigation Briefcase Review- $755

With the 2016 trade shows coming up, we thought it fitting to review a leather product from a company we discovered this time last year. We’ve been impressed with the level of quality maintained by this company. This time around I am reviewing the Black Voltaire Litigation Briefcase, and I must say, this briefcase is truly a stunner.

Mario Latorre Mitigation 3


Mario Latorre was founded by Daniel and Paola Garrido and is currently based out of Biloxi, Mississippi. They strive to combine functionality and luxury in their leather products, which are hand-made by artisans in South America. Over this past year we have reviewed the Bottini Briefcase and Baroni Rustico Messenger Bag, and both products exude quality and embody the Mario Latorre values.

Mario Latorre Mitigation 6


The Litigation is constructed using premium black Italian leather and Italian hardware. The black leather is extremely soft and plush. It feels like there is a thin padded lining stitched in between the leather, and this gives the bag a very soft and lavish feel. The hardware is equally impressive. The laser engraved Swiss lock is the centerpiece of this briefcase and each one comes with a key to lock away important documents. On top, the handle provides a generous amount of support and strength.

Standing at 11” high by 16” long and 5” wide, the Voltaire Litigation Briefcase is a substantial bag. My overall impression of this briefcase’s construction is very positive: the premium leather, attractive lock and handle, and solid feel really come together in a beautifully made briefcase.

Mario Latorre Mitigation 2


The Black Voltaire Litigation Briefcase is designed with the modern businessman in mind. The 5 expandable organization pockets provide ample room for my MacBook Air, journal, several document folders, college papers, and more. I store my MacBook in the rear pocket because it feels more balanced compared to the others. The front compartment is dedicated to the miscellaneous EDC items such as my cell phone, business cards, pens, headphones and more.

My favorite feature on the Litigation Briefcase is the detachable shoulder strap. While some may think the strap is a little too thin, keep in mind this briefcase was designed as a true briefcase and to be held in hand. There is nothing like walking in to a meeting with your briefcase firmly in hand and getting down to business.

Mario Latorre 11
Mario Latorre Mitigation 9


The natural texture of the leather will only improve with time. The leather has a natural sheen that catches the attention of people everywhere I go. The Voltaire Litigation briefcase comes in three leather options – black, matte black, and brown. Its bright red interior gives it a memorable sense of personality and contrasts brightly against the dark leather and hardware. The briefcase has a simple and classic Italian look that makes me feel luxurious when holding it, and will never go out of style.

Mario Latorre Mitigation 5


The Black Voltaire Litigation Briefcase makes a statement everywhere I go. This briefcase makes me wish I had more exciting meetings to attend than coffee shop dates or business classes. I look forward to using it many years in the future, when I do have more important meetings to go to. When I need to make an impression, this bag will be my bag of choice.

Mario Latorre 12

LederMann Rugged Leather Briefcase Messenger Bag Backpack Review – $455

We’re changing things up a little bit here. That doesn’t sound quite right. We’re working to add a new component to our BestLeather readers with the addition of some occasional short video reviews of the products that we review. Our first foray into this is a feature style on LederMann’s newest bag – their Rugged Leather Briefcase Messenger Bag Backpack. And, apologies in advance for some of the wind noise in the video.

As you can assume from the name of the bag, it’s multipurpose in its design. It can easily serve as a formal, large briefcase. It functions very well as a messenger bag for casual, less formal business or scholarly pursuits. It can easily work as a classy overnight bag. And, you can load it up, reconfigure the shoulder strap and carry it backpack style. This is a new style of leather that LederMann is offering too. This “Rugged Leather” style has a unique texture to it and looks to offer great longevity and should develop an excellent patina with time and use. The Rugged Leather has a bit of a rough out feel to it…but certainly not that rough. It’s just similar.


We highlight most of these items in the video, but here’s a quick rundown of the LederMann bag’s features:

  • Thick Full Grain Leather, 4 – 5 oz. (2 – 2.2 mm)
  • Suede Lining
  • Heavy-duty, Industrial Nylon Thread
  • Machine Pressed Heavy Duty Rivets at all stress points.
  • Size: 16″W X 12″H X 6″D inch.
  • Front Pocket/Compartment Size: 13″W x 9″H x 1.5″D inch for the open
    pocket compartment
  • Easily converts to a Backpack.
  • When you order from LederMann, you enjoy free shipping to United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia,
    Italy, France, Germany and many other countries.


LederMann is also going to be sponsoring a giveaway for a slightly different bag featuring this same new rugged leather. So, be on the lookout for that very soon. And, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter too as we’ll be sending out a special promotion from LederMann offering some fantastic savings just for BestLeather readers! In the meantime, please check out the LederMann website and look at all of the great, well made leather products they create and sell there.


Floto Imports Messenger Brief Review – $399

Floto Imports and BestLeather have the epitome of the perfect BestLeather relationship. We have reviewed numerous Floto Imports products, they advertise on our website, and we enjoy every second of this mutually beneficial partnership. So when we received yet another bag from Floto Imports, we were extremely thrilled.

When BestLeather initially received this bag, I didn’t see it right away. Many others saw it, held it, “smelt” it, and inspected it before I even had a chance. However, when the bag was shown to me, I immediately fell for it. It’s rich brown leather, stunning brass hardware, and aesthetically pleasing streamlined appearance were enough to make me want to fight for the bag and the chance to review it.



Floto Imports was established in 2003 and is based in Brooklyn, NY. All of their products are manufactured in Italy with the philosophy, “older is better”. While many companies like to innovate and use new technology to construct their leather goods, Floto’s goal is “to refine old world craft methods to produce pieces that are superior to mass-produced luggage.” Read what the company is all about here. Each and every one of their bags we have reviewed live up to this mission.



The Floto Imports Messenger Brief features their Saddle Brown Italian calfskin leather. The leather’s refreshing burgundy tint and heavy-duty stitching contrast nicely with the precision Swiss made Amiet lock and brass hardware used throughout the Messenger Brief. The detachable, adjustable shoulder strap lets you convert this bag from a slung over the shoulder messenger bag to a business brief. The messenger is 12″ high x 4″ wide x 15.5″ long. It is the perfect size for a 13” to 15” laptop.

The only issue with the Messenger Brief’s construction is its thin detachable shoulder strap. The rest of the bag is sturdy and well made, but the strap is just a little lacking. Floto has already addressed this issue, and you have the option of upgrading to their heavy duty Grande Strap if you require a little extra support and strength.



Opening up the front cover, the inside has two 12” deep compartments. The front compartment consists of penholders, cardholders, and a cell phone sleeve. The second compartment is for your laptop or schoolbooks. Two zippered compartments on the front and back exterior provide much more space for essential items. I fit my 13” MacBook Air, a spiral notebook, a skinny folder, 3 pens, and a pocketknife, all with plenty of room for more.



My favorite aspect of this bag is the way the leather feels. So far I have not felt or used a bag quite as soft as this. The leather’s color and build demonstrates class and bravura – yet its touch is supple, inviting, and easy to use everyday. I carried this bag frequently for the last few weeks of school and took it with me to the trade shows in Las Vegas. Every single time I took the bag somewhere, someone would comment on its beauty and attractiveness. It actually became a great marketing tool both for BestLeather and Floto Imports because I had the opportunity to explain the BestLeather review process, and how and where to get a bag like mine.


Over time this bag will develop a lovely patina. It has already shown excellent wear and tear just from a few months of semi-hard use. I am looking forward to watching it change as I consistently use it for years.



The Floto Imports Messenger Brief has impressed me again and again. I am extremely satisfied with this bag. The leather’s soft touch, unique color, and stunning looks were all enough to convince me to purchase another Floto Imports bag. This messenger brief is currently available on the Floto Imports website. If you care about functionality, style, and love Italian leather like I do, this is the bag for you.