Olpr. Leather Goods Natural Leather Watchband Review – $49

Watches and leather..two luxurious things many luster over. The two combined makes for quite the fashion statement. Although I own only 2 watches, I love to interchange the bands based on season, formal attire or just fun!

Besides specializing in bags, wallets and other leather goods, Olpr’s watchbands have been quite popular due to the customizable nature with leathers and a wide range of classic and colorful thread colors.

Olpr. Leather Goods makes custom leather and thread watch bands using rich Horween leather that is sure to spice up your wrist wear.

About Olpr. Leather Goods Co.

Olpr. Leather Goods Co. is a small family business, started in Ukraine. All of the items are made to order, but they also have a showroom in the workshop where the customers can come and choose something from stock.
One day, Viktor, the company’s tailor, decided to sew the kind of wallet he had always wanted—a simple pocket wallet with a straight seam. It was so well made that he sold it the next day. He made another; he sold another. Soon, we were making leather goods for all of their friends. Their goods became so popular that they were invited to the arts markets. They sold everything they made. They had found their calling—creating leather goods.
The Internet gave Olpr. the exciting opportunity to sell their goods outside Ukraine. They could share their passion all over the world. But the distance caused a problem-shipping to the U. S. could take up to a month. That was not the type of service they wanted to provide, so they moved to North Carolina to be closer to their many American friends who value the handmade leather products.


All of the leathers used are the full-grain cowhides sourced from Horween tannery. High grade thread comes in several different colors ranging from the classic white, brown and black to more fun colors like orange, blue, green. The buckle is stainless steel. The bands are available in various widths and lengths. They also carry bands tailored to fit apple watches.


I absolutely love the fact that not only are these watches made from high quality leather, but you can customize them to fit your skin, wardrobe, or just overall style. I personally wear a lot of blues and light colors so chose a sky blue thread color that compliments the natural Horween brown and has a gorgeous pull up effect. I can’t wait to see what this leather looks like through age. The buckle is very basic and lightweight which is one thing to keep in mind. I actually prefer this. I own some watch bands with a very clunky and heavy hardware and although that is a statement, it is nice to have a buckle with a low profile to put the attention on the leather band and, of course, the watch.


At $49 for a Horween leather customizable watch band like this, I truly believe it is a great value. Other customizable bands I have come across can easily go for $100 and over. The leather is gorgeous with some natural marks and scars from the hide and the thread colors are fun to mix and match. I am already contemplating another color combination! Check them out -Here-.

Koch Leather Custom Tote Review

Joshua and Jen Koch have been booming with new designs in their store lately. We’ve reviewed a few of their products before but never a custom one. Outside of BestLeather, I consider Koch Leather to be one of my go-to companies to contact when I want a custom piece made. One of the most recent products is this custom tote with a masculine edge to it. Josh and I spoke via emails to come up with a tote that had some risky modifications: side straps to cinch the bag, a drop-down key leash, d-rings for shoulder straps and a stitched bottom 1/4th of the way up. After carrying it over the last few months every day, I figured it would be a great showcase for review.

Koch Leather Custom Tote, breaking in nicely but still able to stand on its own due to reinforced bottom.


One thing I can always count on Koch (pronounced “coke”) leather for is quality leather and materials choice. This bag is fully made of Horween Chromexcel with plenty of pull-up and pretty decent resistance to scratches. The hardware used is mostly stainless steel, with a few hammered copper rivets that add a nice touch. For the side cinch straps, a stud closure is used as well as an optional stud closure at the top of the tote, which would help secure the contents.

I didn’t purchase a shoulder strap with this tote design, but could easily pick one up in matching leather from Koch leather, or use any of my straps from other bags. Exterior D rings accompany the sides of the bag, as well as the extended key latch inside the bag. A standard pouch that seems customary to all Koch totes was also included inside.

Detachable key strap also nicely finished with a logo and copper rivet.


The tote has been a great secondary every day carry option for me. I believe that the design and function of a tote-style bag is underappreciated amongst men, and certainly underrated in terms of quick, no zipper/closure access to your goods. Typicallyy, I carry my DSLR camera, a small pouch with extra memory cards and batteries, and a light jacket. There is still plenty of room for a water bottle, wallet, keys etc. I mainly chose the tote design because I didn’t want to have to unbutton or unzip any closures to access my camera. There is that optional stud closure up top, but I find myself rarely using it, in fact tucking it behind the inside pocket often.

It is very useful however, on rainy days. I have also carried a full size notepad along with my regular set up with no issues or bending of the pad. As I stated previously, I didn’t order the optional shoulder strap with the bag, but for this review I did spend a few days carrying it via a shoulder strap. The less amount of bulky items in the tote, the more it will lean in towards your body. Even with my big camera inside, it did not bump up against my side enough to cause any discomfort.

Cinch straps on the side make it easier to increase or decrease the opening and capacity.
Fully packed for the next trip with room to spare.


With Horween leather and copper rivets, what’s not to appreciate about the look? As this bag has been used, it has gained some floppiness, and scratches and scuffs have been kept at a minimum. I intend on utilizing a shoulder strap more, to add some shiny patina to the sides of the tote. The accent stitching and reinforced bottom also add to the overall beauty. Two small logos occupy the bag minimally and pleasantly, and I had to search for them to notice.

I believe the most masculine or gender-neutral feature is the shortened straps as opposed to traditional totes with a longer strap drop length. When I propositioned Josh to make the tote, I knew beforehand I didn’t want a bag to sling on my shoulder via the straps, so the design modification shines. In hindsight, the only modification I would add, which I could still do, is request a snap button handle wrap, to make carrying via the straps a little easier and more uniform looking.

Minimalist logos are my favorite.


As you can tell, I couldn’t quite find anything negative to say about this custom tote from Koch Leather. Custom designs are done by Koch on a made to order basis, so its best to figure out what design ques and functionality you’re looking for prior to purchasing. Costs may vary but I highly recommend Koch Leather Totes, and adding your own modifications to get a bag unique to you.  Josh is also a great help at providing guidance if you are unsure and would like to ask questions prior to him putting the needle to leather.

Rugged Material Slim Bifold Review – $60-65

Stepping away from department store wallets and into the world of handcrafted, built-to-last goods is a difficult step. Even before I came to write for BestLeather, I had taken a dive and purchased multiple styles of high quality wallets, as I like rotation and variety. When it comes down to suggesting one wallet for friends and colleagues I give advice to, I’m torn between two styles – the traditional bifold, and slim front pocket designs. At that crossroad, the user ultimately will have to let me know which way they want to go. Tyler Condie of Rugged Material recently threw a wrench into my usual advice given. He developed the Rugged Material Slim Bifold that comfortably can carry large or small amounts of cards while remaining slim enough to carry in the front pocket of most men’s jeans.

Tyler Condie and the folks at Rugged Materials pride themselves in being able to make goods in the USA, guaranteed for life.  Based out of Utah, Rugged Materials has been in the business of offering wallets, bags, and other leather accessories at a direct-to-consumer price. This means that instead of outsourcing production, they make their products in-house using materials made in the USA. This saves the consumers costs significantly and ensures a better value.

The slim bifold is constructed of two relatively thin pieces of Horween Chromexcel leather in burgundy. It is also offered in a variety of other Chromexcel colors. The aroma and quality of Horween Chromexcel is the perfect choice for Rugged Materials to utilize. The thin profile of the leather allows for flexibility while remaining strong and durable like full grain leather should be. Marine grade polyester thread is used to stitch together the pieces of leather. The interior sports a Made In USA stamp in the cash slot and a mountain logo on the exterior. Over my use, the exterior logo has started to fade or smear slightly, making me wish it was laser-burned like the logo on the messenger bag I gave first impressions on. Nonetheless, both logos are subtle and very appealing. The outside edges are nicely burnished and have held up over my use.

The inner setup of the wallet is where the slim characteristics of the bifold are accomplished. Going with a horizontal setup to the cards, as the card pockets stretch from accommodating multiple cards, they appear to be less likely to have cards slip out of the top of the wallet, and instead slip in towards each other. This is the idea behind Rugged Material’s design and so far it has proven to be functional in providing minimal layering that avoids unnecessary bulk. Each side sports two card pockets as well as a slot behind for storing extra cards. For my setup, I chose to put one card in each pocket and the rest of my cards behind in the bigger slots. You could easily stack two cards in each of the four slots, but I choose to carry a minimal amount of cards. For the cash slot, I don’t usually carry a lot of cash but over the course of use, I did at one time have 14 bills in and it did not add unnecessary bulk. At all times I was able to carry in front or rear pocket of jeans.

Comprehensively, the Rugged Material Slim Bifold Wallet is a great candidate to upgrade the wallet of yourself or a dear friend. The inner card setup is definitely a change from traditional wallets, but with good thought process towards its design. Priced at $60 I would consider it a bargain for those stepping away from department store wallets. At just $5 more, the same wallet but with RFID blocking materials can be purchased which is well worth the protection against card scan thefts. Accompanied by a lifetime warranty, this is the perfect gift for the holiday season or upcoming birthdays and celebrations.  With the ability to arrive before Christmas, the RFID version of the wallet can also be purchased through Amazon.


Koch Leather Company Horween Leather Sleeve Review – $58

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Field notes have always been a part of my daily carry. Despite the advancement of cellphones and tablets, to me, nothing beats a hard pencil or pen and a notebook. From tracking spending, writing to remember or revisit, or to exchange information, the field notes journal is my go-to medium. When using covers to protect small notebooks such as Field Notes or Moleskine, there are plenty of options to choose from. Josh and Jen Koch of Koch Leather Company offer a Horween Leather Sleeve that provides a nice breakaway from traditional covers. By utilizing a design in which you insert the journal between the leather, the product provides dual functions and protection.

Koch leather goods come packaged nicely which adds to the overall presentation

The field notes sleeve is constructed of three pieces of Horween Natural Dublin. Koch Leather Company refers to this as their chestnut color. Natural Dublin is a vegetable tanned leather which gives a bit more toughness in feel compared to its Chromexcel counterpart in my opinion. Koch also offers Horween Chromexcel in burgundy, black, and brown, and a vegetable tanned leather from Hermann Oak. The sleeve is hand stitched with waxed thread and edges come in nicely burnished.


The front of the sleeve presents two pockets. One is for a pen, which I thus far have carried a variety of averaged sized pens in from Pilot G2’s to Parker Jotters and Fischer space pens. The secondary pocket fits a few cards, a single AAA flashlight, or a small to medium sized knife. The design protects both accessories in a way such that I was not worried about breaking a plastic pen while sitting on the sleeve. As you can see, the pull-up in the leather is great once flexed and reveals the lighter color as the oils are spread out. The color settles from the lightest color once items have been regularly stored.


I normally carry my field notes in a messenger bag, but for the purpose of this review, I also implemented carrying it in my back pants pockets. Though the Natural Dublin is vegetable tanned, it is soft enough to form to your backside, but not to an extreme bending degree. On a few occasions it also fit into the breast pocket of my suit jackets. The sleeve design allows the back of the sleeve to be used as a writing surface. This worked fairly well when making sketches wresting the sleeve on my knee.


With a lot of companies using Horween their leather of choice, products must rely on design and craftsmanship to separate themselves. While Koch Leather also offers more traditional notebook covers, this sleeve offers a nice separation from the pack. The finite details such as the thumb slit to remove the notebook is properly placed and adds a touch of ergonomics. The burnished edges have held up nicely over frequent use and it has done its standard job of protecting my Field Notes. The logo on the back end blends itself in with this particular leather finish, but can easily be felt.


The Koch Leather Company Horween Leather Sleeve offers solid protection for your journals with an alternative design and dual functions. I could easily see this piece being used with a passport and travel identification. Being able to carry a Swiss Army Knife or flashlight has led to me favoring this setup over a traditional cover. At the price of $58 it presents itself well, especially with the quality of materials used and overall craftsmanship. As it continues to darken and gather small scratches and abrasions, I can only see it becoming more beautiful.


Guarded Goods Shell Cordovan Vanguard

In my never ending search for the perfect front pocket wallet you’d be hard pressed to find a small store or leather operation I haven’t heard of. The shell cordovan Vanguard from Guarded Goods may have finally put an end to my search with a truly astounding wallet made with top of the line materials and unparalleled construction.

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Guarded Goods is a one-man operation based out of Minnesota. Jesse is the man behind the whole operation and is an awesome guy who will go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy his customers. He has been slowly growing his business and designs which include wallets, lanyards, watch straps, leather shoe laces, leather care items, and other accessories made out of almost any leather you can think of. He has shell cordovan in almost every color under the rainbow from working directly with Horween.

This particular wallet is his Vanguard design and is made out of unglazed natural shell cordovan from Horween. Typically shell cordovan has a shiny finish but this special run lacks that but is still buttery smooth. I’ve only had the wallet a few weeks and its already starting to darken and develop an astounding patina.


The Vanguard design can hold up to 8 cards in each card slot as well as keep your cash secure in the gold plated money clip. All the edges are hand sanded and burnished with beeswax making it a pleasure to hold in the hand. The wallet is stitched together by hand using the tried and true saddle stitching method.

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If you’re looking for the last wallet you’ll ever need definitely visit Guarded Goods and I’m sure you’ll find a design and leather you’ll be happy with. Make sure you visit regularly since he’s currently awaiting a baby boy so I’m sure his time will be limited but he is excellent about closing his store when he’s covered up with orders and getting his orders taken care of. It may be awhile before you can get your order in but sign up for his email list and purchase a truly astounding piece of craftsmanship.


Guarded Goods and by direct association, Jesse, believes in buying high quality and buying once. Something you can certainly do at his store.

Viberg Color 8 Chromexcel Service Boots

Hello everyone! I’m new here to the BestLeather crew but I’m a leather enthusiast the same as everyone else with a special place in my heart for footwear.

Many companies have their take on the service boot, but the Canadian company Viberg is widely known for their impeccable interpretation of it. Viberg has many different models of the service boot and this particular pair that I’m going to be reviewing is from Blue Button Shop.


About Viberg

Viberg was founded in 1931 by Ed Viberg and has been family owned and operated into the present day by 3rd generation family members. Viberg is based in Victoria Canada and in the last 5 years has expanded their work boot line into the fashion market. They use top of the line materials from leather sourced from Italy and US tanneries, Swiss hobnails, and Vibram soles.


Viberg’s fashion line of service boots are mainly constructed using a stitch down method of manufacturing. While they do use a Goodyear Welt on some of their footwear they are known for their use of the slightly more unique stitch down method.

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This particular pair is built on their sleek 2030 service boot last using Horween color 8 chromexcel leather, structured perforated cap toe, 8 antique brass eyelets, and British Dainite out soles.

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For anyone unfamiliar with Horween’s chromexcel it is an excellent oily pull up leather that ages and develops a patina that is hard to match. It can be prone to loose grain at times but my pair appears to be free of that entirely and is creasing beautifully. Scuffs and scratches wipe away with your finger or light brushing of a horsehair brush.

Outside of nit picking minor scuffs from shipping the boots are immaculate. The Horween leather uppers are thick and substantial, stitching is immaculate, and the presentation from Blue Button Shop is excellent.

Fit and Sizing

As is the case with most boots, Viberg’s on the 2030 last run a half size larger than Brannock sizing and possibly an entire size larger than what one would wear in sneakers. My feet are a slightly wide 8D on a Brannock device but not quite an 8E and this pair in a 7.5 fit great with thin to medium weight socks. If I wanted to wear really thick socks I would likely have to size up to an 8. For reference I wear a 7.5 in Red Wing Iron Rangers, a 7.5 in the Alden Barrie last, and an 8.5 in most sneakers unless they provide wide sizes.

Look and Feel

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The color 8 Horween chromexcel is an elegant deep eggplant color with red undertones that comes through in sunlight. The Dainite sole keeps the silhouette lean while providing a suitable amount of traction while being hard wearing and make the boots wearable in inclement weather.


This particular pair of boots pair well with both denim and chinos. They work well for me both on the weekends and in my business casual setting at work. These are not my first pair of Vibergs so I knew what to expect, but everything about these boots checked all the boxes I wanted. They came with a pair of black and brown waxed round laces and I’m not sure which I like more at this point.

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The price tag for Vibergs is a large step up from other service boots like Red Wing but there is an aesthetic they provide that can’t be found easily elsewhere. They are much sleeker and slim than other boots in the fashion work boot space and that’s a large part of the cost. Viberg’s pattern and high quality combined create a truly awesome product.


If you can tolerate the price or are a footwear fanatic like myself, you can’t go wrong with Viberg. They make boots and shoes in an astounding number of leathers and construction methods so there is bound to be a makeup that you’ll fall in love with, either from Viberg directly or one of the many stockists.



Whenever someone shows me a small leather company, I am immediately interested. Many times I find some of the most gorgeous and well-made products from these small companies. Turek Leather Works has continued this interest with their handy and affordable Horween Front Pocket Wallet.

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Robert Turek believes in handmade, high quality, long lasting, affordable goods. Based in rural Illinois, Turek Leather Works was established in 2014 and is a fresh new leather company born from “love and passion for elegant style” and proves these beliefs by crafting some gorgeous goods out of Horween leathers – one of the oldest tanneries in the United States. As we will see from the review, this is one of the nicest handmade Horween front pocket wallets I’ve seen at this price point.

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The rich Dark Brown Horween Chromexcel leather is so beautiful, and when bent shows some light pull-up in the leather that disappears after a short time. Its aroma will make you smile. Each piece is hand cut, and then hand burnished and slicked to ensure a finished and smooth edge. For the stitching, it’s all done by hand using the saddle stitch method to provide unrivaled durability. The wallet they sent me was certainly up to the standards they claim to stand behind. Please visit Turek Leather Works’ website for detailed information on their production process.

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This wallet is quite handy. When all I have to do is open it up and take out whatever I need, it makes life so easy. Keep in mind this is more of a minimal wallet designed for your front pocket, so it will hold what you need but probably not a whole lot more than that. After breaking the wallet in a little, I managed six to seven cards on one side and ten to twelve folded bills on the other side. The wallet will easily slide into your pants, even if they are on the tighter side.

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If you are someone like me and appreciate minimal and simplistic designs that get the job done, look no further. Being only 2.5” wide and 4.5” high when folded, Turek did a great job of creating a sleek little wallet to hold your essentials. I’ve gotten nothing but compliments about it.

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The Horween Chromexcel 2 Pocket Bifold Front Pocket Wallet has definitely impressed me with its sleek and minimal look, high quality construction, and excellent price point. The wallet is available to purchase from Turek Leather Works’ website and buyers can choose from several different thread options. Be sure to check out their other great looking selection of handmade goods. Robert Turek has also provided a 10% discount to the readers of this review. Just enter the code: BESTLEATHER at checkout.

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As the ill fated Ned Stark would say, Winter is coming. While stowing away our flip flops and sunblock might seem like a real downer, the absence of men’s capris and the chance to dress up a little bit more seem like a good tradeoff. We’re excited to look at Boston Boot Co’s Cambridge Boot as a viable footwear option.

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Dubbed Boston’s first Micro-Shoery, Boston Boot Co launched after a massively successful Kickstarter campaign in December of 2013. With over 30 years of combined experience in business and the shoe industry, founders Joe Lyons and Joe Prew established the brand with the aim of making small batches of highly crafted footwear. Free from the constraints of corporate bureaucracy, Boston Boot Co focuses on making the best boot possible. They currently offer various designs ranging from dressy wingtips to rugged chukkas.

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The immediate appeal of the Cambridge Boot is its use of waterproof Horween 2.0-2.2mm Chromexcel leather. The pull up (changing of colors due to bending or pulling due to natural oils) on this leather is amazing. Rawhide laces from Kentucky based Auburn Leather Co are kept in place with 10 mm copper eyelets which are anodized for added protection. The Lining is calf leather and the triple density footbed with gel cushioning provides the comfort. A natural leather welt is used, which is the strip of leather that runs along the perimeter of the outsole. The outsole itself is a lightweight high-density blown rubber. Boots weigh in at approximately 2lbs 9 oz.

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The Cambridge is a pretty versatile boot that performs well in a variety of situations.  The thumb tab on the heel makes for easy fitting. The high density insole coupled with the blown rubber outsole usually associated with running shoes provides for a boot that wears more like a shoe and is very comfortable. While I’ve never been a fan of rawhide laces due to their tendency to come untied, I can’t deny their aesthetic. The Auburn laces are pretty supple though and hold a lot longer than other laces I’ve tried. In cold weather, I’d definitely recommend some thick wool socks, as the Cambridge is not insulated. I actually prefer them this way as they can be worn across a wide range of weather conditions. The waterproof Horween definitely delivers as water glides right off, and with the welt construction I wouldn’t worry stepping in deeper puddles. I would have really liked to have had a gusseted tongue though, as it would prevent water and debris from entering the boot and making the Cambridge truly go anywhere. Traction is really good and the moderate outsole pattern can handle city streets and dirt paths adequately. All in all, the Cambridge is great for the shoe wearer who wants a boot but desires the flexibility and comfort of a casual shoe.

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These are some damn good looking boots. The subdued orange outsole provides a snappy contrast to the sumptuous Horween leather. The welt coloring matches the stitching and the almost idiosyncratic attention to detail really completes the look. The eyelets are silver colored but the top is red, which gives some understated styling without showboating. The Boston Boot Co overlapping B symbols adorn the outer side heels. No loose threads, no separation on the welt and even stitching make you think some souls were sold in the fabrication of these boots.

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If you’ve been spending the last few weeks looking for boots and weren’t satisfied with the current selection in large retail chains, then Boston Boot Co’s Cambridge Boot certainly warrants a second look. Made with top quality materials and priced rather fairly, they are a solid purchase.

Norman Cahn Leatherworks Cabrio Wallet Review – $99.99

It’s always a pleasure to get a second or third piece of stellar leather from a brand we’ve reviewed in the past. It’s an even greater pleasure when you’re receiving a piece from someone who is widely regarded as a true artisan in the leather craft world. I’m pleased to introduce you to the cleverly designed Cabrio Wallet from Norman Cahn Leatherworks.

About Norman Cahn Leatherworks

Norman Cahn is a self-taught leather artisan. He started designing and crafting leather products in 1976. And since that time, he’s refined his skills and continues to strive for perfection in his craft. His expert skills and dedication to creating high quality products is evident in every piece…large or small. We suggest that you visit Norm’s Etsy store in order to take a look at all of the fine leather products he creates. This is the third piece of Norm’s that we’ve had the pleasure to receive for review. Be sure to read our reviews on his Passport Case and Field Notes Cover. This time around, we’re checking out his Cabrio Wallet.



The Horween Leather features a deep, rich burgundy color complimented with chestnut nylon stitching, which is impeccable. It also includes Norm’s signature polished and finished edges that look fantastic. The snap on my model has an antique brass finish. You can choose other snap finishes and thread colors when ordering from Norman Cahn Leatherworks.


This has been a fun wallet to use. It has a non-traditional orientation that seems to instantly get noticed. Just about every time I use it, the clerk, barista, or server comments on it. It’s a noticeably different design…and I like it.

The inspiration behind the Cabrio wallet can be found in your favorite drop top automobile – taking cues from the way convertible top vehicles (aka Cabriolets) operate. When you open the Cabrio Wallet, you’ll notice that the functionality is similar to the way the convertible top on an automobile opens and tucks away back into itself.

This ingenious vertically oriented design only measures 3″W x 4 1/8″H when closed. Even when I have it loaded up with my license, debit card, three or 4 other cards and cash, it maintains a slim profile (less than ¾”). I’ve found it to be a great front pocket wallet option too. The slim nature of the wallet is perfect.




The design, the leather quality, the artisanal build quality all combine to create a very pleasing product. Norm’s logo is tastefully placed on the back of the wallet and, for those of you who are major Horween fans, their stamp is emblazoned prominently on the inside.

The Cabrio Wallet is simple yet sophisticated, minimal yet capable of satisfying most traditional bifold wallet carrying folks demands. I can’t decide whether I want to reserve this wallet as my “professional, dressier occasions wallet” or just use it all of the time. That is still to be determined (although it seems to be in my pocket most of the time now)…even when I’m in casual mode.



The Norman Cahn Leatherworks Cabrio Wallet definitely maintains the superior quality of the pieces I’ve reviewed in the past. To that end, at $99.99, it definitely qualifies as a Buy It for Life item. Be sure to visit the Norman Cahn Leatherworks website – we’re confident you’ll find several must have items there!


North Star Leather’s Horween Leather Bifold Wallet Review – $65

One of my favorite parts of writing for BestLeather is being able to work and learn with family members and friends. The BestLeather editorial team’s trip to the Las Vegas trade shows was an eye opener, simply because it was myself, my older sister, and our father. Many companies commented on our relationship and how cool it was we were working together, and they loved the fact that we all cared about providing the best leather critique. Today we’re looking at a father-son leather business that offers quality products for small costs, specifically the North Star Leather Horween Leather Bifold Wallet.



Michael Batson, son of Steve Batson, said, “My dad started North Star Leather in 1969 doing street vending in Boston (fringe belts, floppy hats, and other “hippy” items). Little by little he grew the company and eventually moved to the rural south; the small town of Ruby, SC, population 354. That was more than 35 years ago and we’ve been making quality leather accessories here ever since. We have 15 employees (4 of whom are family) and are proud to have been able to keep making our products here in the USA without ever considering outsourcing production to cheaper countries.” This is another great example of a company who started years ago, building themselves up to be a successful craft leather company.

For more information on the North Star Leather company, head on over to their About Us page, you’ll find their lifetime warranty information, a little more company information, and several testimonials from North Star Leather’s customers.



At 4 ¼” x 3 7/8 “, the Horween Leather Bifold Wallet boasts six card pockets, a cash pocket, and two extra pockets behind the row of card pockets. This is definitely not a minimalist wallet, but it carries a lot and folds nicely due to the winged construction of the card pockets. The leather for each pocket is cut with a curve to access cards quickly and with ease. North Star uses a band-knife splitter to cut down on the bulk of each card sleeve, yet never sacrificing durability, which is definitely beneficial.



This wallet was not intended for men with small pockets. Although I really do appreciate the amount of storage it has, there is one issue I have found with this bifold. The large size and substantial girth of the bifold can be a little uncomfortable at times depending on your sitting situation. Most of the time when I will be seated for an extended period of time, I will take the wallet out and set it close by, just to give my left cheek (specifically) a rest. The Bifold can also take a pretty good beating. I have used it fairly hard for about 6 weeks now, cramming two debit cards, my military ID, several giftcards, two rewards cards, a time card, and my driver’s license in the card sleeves. In the inner pocket I stored my gym membership, flight medical, and some coffee shop stamp cards. Despite this intentional hard use, it still is functioning perfectly.



Made of Horween Chromexcel leather, it has a beautiful waxy sheen that improves with use. The wallet reviewed is the Red/Brown Chromexcel. and this color has a really nice hue. Over time it has developed into a darker shade of red, really showing its wear pleasingly. Like all Horween leather I have come across, it immediately feels like a quality product. The stiching provides a nice contrast to the burgundy tint of the leather, giving this wallet a classic look.




The North Star Leather’s Horween Leather Bifold Wallet is a great product. It has met my expectations easily, and it is always a good experience carrying this wallet. If you are someone who needs a lot of storage, but does not want to sacrifice ruggedness or durability, this bifold is a great choice. The best part about this wallet is its price. North Star Leather takes pride in keeping costs low for its customers. When you visit their website you’ll see that they offer this wallet in six different colors. At only $65.00, they put forth some very strong competition to larger, more expensive brands and definitely deserve your consideration.





Popov Leather Wallets Review – $35-$60

The market for buying well-made, unique, and durable wallets has exploded over the past three to four years, but that sweet spot of incredible quality and incredible value is still hard to find. Although many companies have tried to hit it, Popov Leather is one of the few who have really pulled it off. Ryan and Jill started their small operation out of Victoria BC, Canada in 2013 with the goal of making quality, minimalist wallets and have been hitting that mark ever since.

Popov 1

I had the chance to test out four wallets from Popov Leather and each one is spectacular. One thing that I simply can’t get over is the overall value of these wallets. Each one is handcrafted and finished in a similar fashion to products from much pricier outfits. I usually don’t gush over a product, but these wallets are certainly deserving of it.


Every single Popov Leather wallet is made with the two of the most trusted names in the business: Horween Leather and Tiger thread. By using these two brands and putting them together with expert care, the people at Popov Leather complete the trifecta of the ideal no-nonsense leather good.

I expected to see a few stitches out of line simply because of the price, but Ryan and Jill have really taken time and care in creating these wallets. They even burnish the edges to a smooth finish! Included with each piece is a lifetime guarantee, but I seriously doubt anyone will ever have to cash in on it after testing out their wallets.

Popov 3


Chromexcel Traditional Billfold Wallet – $60

Popov 4

This wallet does everything to highlight the company’s mission of providing incredible value to their customers. It has great construction, beautiful finish, and an unbelievable price for it all. As for function, it performs just as I would expect a billfold to. There are four card pockets and a single, large bill pocket. Like all new, full-grain leather wallets it took a week or two of use to get loosened up to the point where the cards slid in and out easily. Some might be put off by the lack of lining, but I actually find it to be better for a wallet since it keeps the thickness down.

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Chromexcel Leather Card Holder – $35

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I love this particular style of wallet. Although it’s called a card holder, it really can function as a complete wallet due to the three pockets which can be used for both cards and cash. I think it is for this reason that it become a relatively popular design among leather companies. It’s small enough to easily slide into the front pocket without making it noticeable and the way the outside piece of leather holds everything together guarantees a snug fit for everything its carrying.

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Popov 7

If you are worried that you may not be able to carry everything in it, let me give a bit of perspective. I was able to fit five cards and about $50 into it comfortably. You may be able to cram another card or two into it, but if you carry that many you may want to go with the billfold.

Chromexcel Leather Passport Case – $50

Popov 9

This is probably my favorite wallet out of the bunch. Even though it may be a bit too long for everyday use, I love it because it’s everything you need for international travel without any extras. Many passport wallets I’ve seen are either too thick or try to add more than what I would typically use on a trip. Popov, instead gives just two slots for cards, a nice wide pocket for all types of bills and tickets, and sleeve for your passport. Everything is contained in a slim package that can slip into the back pocket with only a little peeking out the top.

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If you’re not a world traveler but want an all-in-one checkbook and wallet, you can modify it a bit to fit a sleeve of checks into the space intended for the passport. Either way, for $50 this wallet is a steal.

Chromexcel Fields Note Cover – $40

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I’ve never been one for note taking but Popov’s notebook case really has me wanting to start. The construction is almost identical to the Passport case and functions very similarly. There is a sleeve for the notebook and another sleeve for any other papers you would want to carry around. Also like the passport case, this notebook is pretty easy to fit in pant pockets and will fit into a pack without much notice. The one thing I wish it had was a pen holder. I realize that Popov Leather strives to for minimalism, and it does so beautifully, but a pen slot would be awesome and really add to the functionality of this piece. Even with the lack of a place to put a pen the notebook cover is still a great buy.

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As I have said repeatedly, these wallets are incredibly attractive. Popov has created some of the best looking wallets I have seen. They are not particularly unique in design or looks, but they are simply elegant. Depending on the color you choose, the wallets would look just as at home with a suit as they would with a pair of jeans. The style is timeless and will look just as good in 50 years as it did the day it came off the bench.

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Ryan and Jill have used minimal amounts of stitching, leaving the leather to really shine in all its glory. It’s very apparent that they take pride in their wallets because the finishing work is top notch. All of the edges are burnished and smoothed to create a simple, clean look while still retaining the rugged handsomeness I appreciate. Popov also offers monograming for only $5 additional on all products to provide that personal touch and identity that many people appreciate.

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If there is one word to describe Popov Leather, it would be “value”. No other company that I have seen has provided so much for such a reasonable price. As I have said before, I usually don’t gush over products that I review, but I still can’t get over the quality of material, craftsmanship, and design that Popov gives at this price. If you are in the market for a new wallet, or need gift ideas, you need to take a look at Popov. These two truly make a buy-it-for-life product. They are a young company, but have already proven that they know their stuff. I can’t wait to see what else they do in the future.

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Check out these wallet and other great gear from Popov Leather here!

DaLuca Straps Leather Horizontal Snap Wallet – $115

I remember one time awhile back my friends and I were just finishing up at a Chinese American buffet (which I’ll never go back to) and when it came time to divvy up the bill we all pulled out our wallets. If you threw them all on the table and shuffled them around, you’d be hard pressed to tell whose was whose. That might have been the starting point in my fascination with wallets and why I’m excited in reviewing the DaLuca Straps Leather Horizontal Snap Wallet.

DaLuca Snap Wallet (2)


When we looked at the DaLuca 1 Piece Nato Watch Strap we were introduced to the brand’s high standards of quality and appeal. It’s no different with the Leather Horizontal Snap Wallet. The resume is impressive.  Made from Natural Horween Chromexcel leather and sewn using waxed linen thread and Prym 4gb brass snaps. The interior pockets are secured using brass rivets at either end as well. Measurements come in at a compact 4” long and 2.75” tall.


DaLuca Snap Wallet (5)
DaLuca Snap Wallet (6)

  DaLuca Snap Wallet (4)


The DaLuca Straps Leather Horizontal Snap Wallet is made with the minimalist in mind. There is one compartment that houses your cards and currency. You can fit around 4-5 cards depending on how much cash you have. Paper bills should be folded and put behind the cards. Since paper money is taller than cards the money sits higher and is easily retrievable. This wallet can fit just about anywhere. Front pocket, chest pocket…doesn’t matter. The dual snaps might seem excessive to some, but I prefer the security they offer in keeping the goods in place.


DaLuca Snap Wallet (1)



This wallet just exudes rugged style. From the abundance of brass and the truly buttery soft Chromexcel leather, this piece is simply a joy to handle. While waiting for an oil change I found myself subconsciously fidgeting with my wallet as opposed to lurking Facebook which speaks volumes. The DaLuca branding on back looks great and nothing reads better than “Handmade in the USA.”





Us men are simple creatures. We don’t often have the chance to express ourselves through accessories. The wallet is one of the few strongholds we have to showcase our style and ideals without being superfluous. If you value quality, good looks and supporting American ingenuity, look no further than the DaLuca Straps Leather Horizontal Snap Wallet.


Wolfgang Horween Leather Collar & Leash Review – $99.95 & $69.95

Appollo, Hachiko, Laika, Rin Tin Tin. Dogs have definitely earned the title, “Man’s Best Friend.” Throughout the centuries their courage, loyalty and faithfulness have inspired many. Even though our canine companions don’t judge us on the material things we get for them, it’s satisfying providing them with quality goods for all the joy they bring us. In the search for a collar worthy of the family dog, I came across the Wolfgang Horween Leather Collar and Leash.

Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (2)


Wolfgang was brought about by an adventurous team of canines (and their owners) with backgrounds in production. Whether experiencing life through exploring, skating, fishing, relaxing or any other manner of living, they all shared a common trait. They did these things together, man and beast. With an aim to celebrate that relationship they offer American made collars and leashes as well as a collection of wallets, belts, t-shirts and hoodies. I think Wolfgang puts it best when they say, “We build our products locally, transport them minimally, and they’ll be replaced rarely.”


Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (3)
Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (4)


The products reviewed were the Wolfgang Horween Leather Collar and Leash. Wolfgang offers various sizes of collars and leashes to accommodate a wide range of breeds. Both are made with tan colored Horween full aniline Chromexcel leather. Hardware used is powder coated steel for excellent durability. Both the leash handle and interior collar are lined with supple glove leather for added comfort. All leather is joined with black stitching and the collar has steel rivets reinforcing the buckle and D ring. The Wolfgang logo hangs on a removable ring and the company’s branding adorns the collar and leash. The collar is about ¼” thick.


Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (11)
Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (1)


The foul weather presented a great opportunity to test the collar and leash. Our Lab is a bit of a tugger but thanks to the wide collar she looked perfectly comfortable when I had to rein her in. It was below freezing and even without gloves the leash handle felt soft. The glove leather lining felt comfy, even when our Lab was pulling there was no harsh edges digging into my palm. The leash used was Wolfgang’s traffic lead, although they have leashes in 4 and 5 foot lengths. At 24” the traffic lead is good for keeping the dog close, especially useful in the city or high traffic areas. Thanks to the sturdy D Ring and metal hardware, at no time did I feel the leash would come detached from the collar and I found myself enjoying the walk that much more.


Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (8)
Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (5)


The Wolfgang Horween Leather Collar and Leash are both visually appealing. The deep rich tones of the Chromexcel leather really offer a great contrast on our Lab’s coat. The two tone combination of leathers emphasize the quality and build effort. I can see this setup just looking better and better with age. Looks are only half the experience though, it’s a pretty hefty collar and just picking up the leash feels like picking up a trusted tool. Don’t be surprised if your dog gets some extra attention from other canines, our Chesapeake Bay Retriever was jealously inspecting the new gear.


Wolfgang Horween Leash Collar (6)




The assortment of dog collars and leashes available today can be overwhelming. With the vast amount of styles it can be daunting to pick one. The Wolfgang Horween Leather Collar and Leash stand out in their classic simplicity. With top notch materials and expert craftsmanship not often applied to pet goods, it’s almost a no brainer if you want the best for your four legged friend.



My father has worn the same belt ever since I was a boy. Its a weathered tan color with a huge brass loop buckle. It’s beat up, gnarled and old. I love it. I remember the first belt I purchased in high school, it was “genuine” leather.  It’s held up in the 10 years I’ve had it, but not gracefully. The leather is cracking and there’s a strange film peeling off the surface. I tossed it and resumed my search, where I came across a worthy contender, the Sandlot Goods Men’s Belt in Horween Rio Latigo.


Sandlot Rio Latigo Belt (2)


Sandlot Goods was founded in 2013, but judging by their design and craftsmanship you’d think they’d been at it since 1913. With a passion for yesteryear, hot summer days spent playing baseball, and cool nights catching fireflies, Sandlot Goods aims to capture the spirit of simpler times in their products. Of course everything is proudly handmade in their Kansas City studio.


Sandlot Rio Latigo Belt (5)



This belt is made with Horween’s Rio Latigo Leather.  Katy Bird, Sandlot’s designer, explained to me just what is involved in producing this leather;

Latigo is a full grain leather that is combination tanned and fat liquored. This means that the process uses both chrome and vegetable extracts, which is then conditioned with emulsified oils and waxes. What makes Latigo unique is the dying process. The leather is first drum-dyed and then aniline finished. The dyes in the aniline finishing process contains no pigment, allowing the natural of the character of the leather to be seen. The leather is then pasted and hand glazed. Pasting is the drying process where the leather is fixed to ceramic plates. This process smooths out the grain and provides very little stretch, making it a perfect leather for belts!

The belt itself is 1.5″ wide and features solid brass hardware. The buckle and keeper are secured in place using large rivets. The Sandlot emblem is located at the end of the belt and Made in KC is branded behind the buckle. Edges are beveled and notches are set 1″ apart. Did I mention Sandlot also backs up all their hardware with a lifetime warranty?


Sandlot Rio Latigo Belt (6)


A belt is a belt is a belt, right? Sometimes. Sandlot Good’s Horween Rio Latigo belt will keep your pants up. But thanks to the 1.5” strap it will do more than keep your inner plumber from emerging. You could holster tool pouches and firearms from this and not worry about your belt caving in. So if you’re the Batman utility belt type, this belt will work for you. The only issue I had difficulty with was getting the end of the belt through the leather loop. But like a new baseball glove, you gotta work it a little to get it just right and I suspect that issue will resolve much the same way.


Sandlot Rio Latigo Belt (4)



Versatility is important with belts. The Rio Latigo coloring goes great with a vast variety of pants and shorts. I normally don’t tuck my shirts in, but I just can’t let that solid brass and Horween leather go unnoticed.  Keep in mind, Sandlot also offers this belt in Horween Black Chromexcel if you need something more formal. The rough edges offer a subtle contrast from the latigo finish that give the belt just the right amount of character.


Sandlot Rio Latigo Belt (7)




Sandlot Goods Men’s Belt in Horween Rio Latigo is a bombproof belt that looks great from all angles. The combination of top quality leather, riveted construction and brass hardware mean you’ve got a belt that will simply last. Competitively priced at $90 dollars makes it a solid investment as well.


Leather Head Sports Burgundy Chromexcel 12lb Medicine Ball – $350

We see a lot of great products here at BestLeather. We’re always on the hunt for quality leather goods to showcase, and every once in a awhile we get the opportunity to review something that really stands out. The Leather Head Sports Burgundy Chromexcel 12lb Medicine Ball is one of those products. Read on and find out why.


Leather Head Sports 12lb Medicine Ball (11)


Leather Head Sports was founded by Paul Cunningham, the former Photo Editor for Major League Baseball. After leaving the MLB he gained valuable experience as the senior baseball glove craftsman at a small glove importer. Wanting to break away from creative confines, he founded Leather Head Sports whose signature Lemon Ball Baseballs and Leather Head Footballs have gained a lot of popularity. Heck, one of his footballs can be seen being carried by Bradley Cooper’s character in Silver Linings Playbook! And with everything being handmade in their New Jersey workshop, what’s not to like?


Leather Head Sports 12lb Medicine Ball (9)



Leather Head Sports offers medicine balls in several different sizes and color options. They even offer custom weight ranges if you want a graduated set. The model we’re reviewing is the Burgundy Chromexcel 12lb model. As the name implies, it’s constructed of very thick 5oz Horween Chromexcel full grain leather. It’s weighty interior is actually full of shredded leather scraps generated from all the goods they manufacture. The 7 long panels and 2 circular panels are sewn with polyester thread and lock stitched twice for extra strength. Leather Head states the weights can vary slightly, this ball weighed 11lbs 9oz, still very hefty!


Leather Head Sports 12lb Medicine Ball (14)



Once you’ve acclimated to the sheer presence of this piece, you’ll see that it is a medicine ball and meant for exercise.  While it looks great on a bookshelf next to a few trophies, its true home is in your hands doing some ab work. Medicine balls might seem like a relic of the past, meant for boxers of a bygone era as a tool to toughen up the core. They still do however offer great resistance options for crunches, lunges, and squats. After a workout, this ball doesn’t stop there. I found it makes an excellent armrest on the couch while watching TV.  Even my 5 month old daughter was intrigued by this strange stuffed animal! Handling the ball is truly a sensory experience. The weight in your hands, the smell of the leather and the shade of deep burgundy all add to the fun of handling the ball.


Leather Head Sports 12lb Medicine Ball (8)


I could extol on the beauty of this piece all day long. All of Leather Head Sport’s products have that wonderful nostalgic vibe and the medicine ball delivers in every capacity. It simply looks amazing from every angle. You can see no corners were cut (Well I’m sure plenty of corners were cut to make it, I was speaking figuratively) in its fabrication. The rawhide lace is tight and the cursive Leather Head branding harkens back to an era of American made prowess seldom experienced from consumer goods. Much like a Swingline 333 or a Braun ET66, the Leather Head 12lb Medicine Ball not only performs well, it does so with brilliant style.

Leather Head Sports 12lb Medicine Ball (10)


At $350 dollars this might seem like an extravagance for most. However, imagine a man in a workshop. He’s leaning over a table cutting leather, hunched on a stool sewing the seams, expertly lacing everything together. Sometimes you find a product that is worth the splurge, especially when you consider what went into it and the fun you’ll have owning it. Leather Head Sports Burgundy Chromexcel 12lb Medicine Ball is a perfect example of that.


Loyal Stricklin Loyal Travel Wallet Review – $156

It’s amazing how many different types of wallets are out there. Do a quick Google search and you will find countless styles from almost every leather maker. So which do you choose? I won’t answer that for you, but if you are looking for something unique, well made, and useful, Loyal Stricklin provides.

The name says it all for the Loyal Travel Wallet. This is the second wallet from Loyal Stricklin that we have reviewed. Just like the front pocket wallet, this is one of the best wallets for travel that I have seen. The sheer quality will guarantee it will stay true to its owner for many adventures to come.

Loyal Stricklin 1


Loyal Stricklin does not disappoint with their build quality. The wallet is made from 4oz. Horween Chromexcel horsehide and stitched together with sturdy thread. Just like the other Loyal Stricklin wallet reviewed, this one is rugged looking without being rough. Each of the four pieces that make up the wallet are perfectly cut, sewn together, and finished with smooth burnished edges.

Loyal Stricklin 2


The Loyal Travel Wallet easily carries everything that a traveler needs on a vacation. The slots can accommodate up to eight cards, the money pocket is roomy enough to tote a normal amount of cash, and the exterior pocket holds all the boarding passes you would need.

Loyal Stricklin 3

An added bonus is the included field journal and pen, allowing you to always be able to document anything that may happen without needing anything other than your wallet. Travel wallets that can carry all of these things typically are too large to fit in any pant pockets but this one slides right into the back without a hitch; however, it does stick out of the pocket a bit which, for me, is a problem, especially when traveling in tourist areas where pickpockets are rampant. Although, if you like having a chain on your wallet, there is a metal hole built in just for this purpose. For frequent jacket wearers, the wallet fits perfectly in the inside pockets. If you fit into either of these categories then the size will not be an issue.

Loyal Stricklin 4

When buying a wallet, especially one as nice as this one, I look for something that can be used in multiple situations. Outside of travel, I don’t know how much I will personally use this, but my wife loves it. The wallet fits nicely in a typical purse as well as a clutch. It is big enough to hold all the extra paper and accessories (hair ties and bobby pens) that I usually find in her wallet and because she is a list maker, the added pen and journal are perfect. Amazingly enough, Loyal Stricklin’s wallet has nearly replace her basic purse. If it was a half inch longer, it could replace the checkbook too.

Loyal Stricklin 5

Loyal Stricklin 6


This wallet is gorgeous. The Horween leather used has a deep, rich brown color giving it a very understated look. Although you can get this model with colorful stitching, the one that I have blends right in with the rest of the wallet. Loyal Stricklin really hit it home with the design. It doesn’t look like you are going out on an expedition with heavy duty buckles, leather straps, and pouches all over the wallet, but instead, it has a sleek design that hides and secures everything in it making it more at home for daily use.

Loyal Stricklin 7


Loyal Stricklin 8

This is definitely one of the best all-around travel wallets I have ever seen. It provides enough space and pockets to carry the basic travel needs including a journal on the go. The construction is fabulous and well thought out as well. The price is steep for an occasional travel item, but if you find yourself on many adventures or like to carry a journal everywhere, but have no good way to carry it, this is a wallet to consider. If you are in the market for a travel wallet, this is definitely a BestLeather Buy It For Life item.

Check out this wallet and other great gear from Loyal Stricklin here!

Sandast Debbie Pack – $730

There are certain products and companies that you encounter during your life that just exude quality in everything that they do. When you find one of these companies, it’s always pleasurable to work with them and use their products or services. Such has been my experience with Chris Pak and his company, Sandast.


About Sandast

Sandast was founded in 2006 and re-launched in 2010 with Chris Pak at the helm. Chris’ focus in re-launching was on quality and his efforts have paid off. With a host of accessories, wallets, belts, and bags Sandast has created a luxurious line of sumptuous leather products that have received a lot of notice. Johnny Depp proudly carries a Sandast bag. One of the phrases you’ll see and read frequently on Sandast’s website is “modern vintage” – which quickly explains their efforts to create leather pieces that have a uniquely vintage look and a hint of modern taste.

After a great phone conversation with Chris about Sandast, we determined that it would be great to showcase the Sandast Debbie Pack.



Here comes one of our favorite words here at BestLeather…Horween. However, the Horween component chosen by Sandast is only vegetable tanned leather. Sandast is dedicated to using only vegetable tanned leather, as it involves only natural ingredients and is not harmful to the environment. Once the craftsmen at Sandast receive the leather from Horween, they apply their own proprietary mix of oil, wax, and fats to the leather. As a result of their efforts, the leather takes on a texture and quality that is easily seen and felt as soon as you touch it. It’s soft, waterproof, and extremely durable. And…it’s gorgeous.


In addition to using thick, uber quality leather, Sandast also uses heavy gauge buckles from France and an attractive, heavy-duty clasp that’s manufactured in Italy on the Debbie Pack. I’m not sure what type of thread is used on the pack, but the color and stitching create a nice contrast to rich, Cognac color of the Debbie Pack.

The two small pockets on the outside are quickly and easily secured with a magnetic latch system. This was a surprise to me. Prior to putting hands on the pack, I assumed these two pockets closed with the heavy gauge roller buckles that each sports. However, I was mistaken and they close with an incredibly strong, reliable magnetic closure system.


The bag features a heavy gauge leather drawstring with thick brass end caps that runs through heavy antique looking grommets. The interior is lined with an attractive plaid fabric. The zippered interior pocket sports a Swiss made Riri Zipper. The Debbie Pack, along with all of Sandast’s products, are designed and created in their Los Angeles, CA facility.



The Sandast Debbie Pack elicits a playful and easy-going attitude. At 15” tall, 11” wide, and 6” thick it’s a great size for use every day – whether you sport it as a bag for school or work, it will perform well.

The main compartment is large enough to store a full day’s worth of gear. It will easily fit my 13” MacBook Air, my camera, extra lenses, and an assortment of other small wares in the two external pockets. And, it does it all while looking fantastic.


The main flap’s quick, easy to use clasp closure works well. The leather tab just above the closure sports the Sandast logo – an image of Elias Howe’s world changing sewing machine that was patented in 1846 (and a machine that Sandast uses in the production of all of their pieces). The adjustable shoulder straps are thick enough to allow you to carry the pack all day without them digging into your shoulders. The thick handle is comfortable and allows for easy carry.

I do wish that a slightly larger version of this pack was available. Selfishly, it’s a little small for me. At 6’5” tall, the straps are a little short/tight. That’s the only negative thing I have to say about it…and that’s not really a flaw of the bag…I’m just a big guy. So, much to my wife’s benefit, she eagerly and happily “claimed” it. And, since then has carried it virtually every day. To date, it’s spent a weekend in Bend, Oregon and a few days up in Glacier National Park as well as joining her in trips to Spokane, WA and all around our hometown. Unfortunately, she was in Glacier without me. Next time, I’ll be sure to get some pictures of this gorgeous pack up on Going to the Sun Road or in front of one of the beautiful glacial fed lakes there.



As I said in the beginning, there are certain companies and products that just exude quality. Stop reading for a second and stare at any one of the images of the Debbie Pack. Chris from Sandast has succeeded in creating a product that oozes quality and immediately conveys a message of luxury. The modern vintage feel definitely comes through when you look at individual components of the pack and the pack in its entirety.

Everything with this bag is tastefully done. This is not a mass produced piece – but a backpack that has been assembled with a love for art, respect for the leather trade, and a desire to convey the modern vintage message. It hearkens back to an era of American industry when things were designed and constructed to last a lifetime.



The Sandast Debbie Pack is definitely one of those pieces that squarely falls into BestLeather’s Buy It For Life category. It’s an outstanding representation of high-quality leather craftsmanship. And, it will truly last a lifetime. At $730, it is a fairly costly investment – but, rest assured, it will be the last backpack you will ever need to purchase.

Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boots – $462

The trench boot, sometimes known as the “Pershing boot,” was a combat boot used in World War I by British, American, French, and Belgian forces, made for the cold mud of trench warfare.

The 1917 Trench Boot was an adaptation of the boots American manufacturers were selling to the French and Belgian armies at the beginning of World War I. In American service, it replaced the Russet Marching Shoe. The boot was made of tanned cowhide with a half middle sole covered by a full sole, studded with five rows of hobnails. Iron plates were fixed to the heel. It was a great improvement, however it lacked waterproofing, leading to trench foot.

WWI-Soldier-with-Trench-Boots-Resized In January 1918 the Chief Quartermaster for the U.S. Army met with a board of officers at American Expeditionary Force Headquarters to make recommendations in order to improve the footwear of soldiers. The findings of the board were sent to General John Pershing, who approved the proposed changes. Shortly following, the improved 1918 Trench Boot, also called the “Pershing Boot,” was first issued to personnel. It used heavier leather in its construction, and had several minor changes from the 1917 Boot, including a thicker sole and improved waterproofing. – Adapted from Wikipedia


About Oak Street Bootmakers

George Vlagos, founder and designer for Oak Street Bootmakers is the son of a cobbler. By an early age he was apprenticing in his own father’s shop where he learned the craft of shoemaking. Now George passionately seeks to preserve the heritage of fine shoemaking through exquisitely designed, expertly crafted shoes. Their website mantras are “Handcrafted in America – Designed for Longevity”.




Oak Street makes a wide variety of attractive shoes and boots. In my initial discussions with George, we decided to review the Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boot. This is one well-built boot! It features:

  • Black Horween Chromexcel Leather
  • True Goodyear Welt Construction
  • Dainite Soles
  • Stacked Leather Heel with Dainite Toplift
  • Calfskin Vamp Lining
  • Full Leather Laces


These boots are fully re-craftable and they’re made in the USA. If you’re a regular here at BestLeather, you already know our thoughts on Horween’s Chromexcel Leather. It’s highly durable and an excellent choice for a boot given its high sheen. This is the first pair of boots or shoes that I’ve worn with Dainite soles or heels.


Here’s a little snippet from Oak Street’s website about their construction: “Built on our Elston Last – a unique last providing exceptional fit and shape. Developed to embody the character of Chicago, the Elston last is engineered specifically for the trench boot providing the comfort yet durability demanded of the every-man.”


There is a bit of a break-in period with a boot constructed with a Goodyear welt and so much leather. So, be sure to plan on wearing these for short periods of time the first few outings you don them on your feet. After a few dates with my wife, church visits, and excursions to client offices, I had these boots right where I wanted them. Now, I can wear them all day without issue. In fact, they are now very, very comfortable.


Another thing to note about the Trench Boot – they have eyelets all the way up. This means that you will need to lace and unlace them each time you take them on or off. It’s a little time consuming, so just plan ahead. I also found that since these boots do not have a heel loop, it’s easier to slip them on using a shoehorn.


Oak Street’s boots seem to run true to size as the fit was spot on for me (I generally wear a size 12 and the boots I received in size 12 fit perfectly). The sole and heel are comfortable and provide excellent traction. After reading a little about the Dainite sole and heel, I took a bit more notice of the fact that they truly don’t pick up dirt or rocks, yet still maintain good contact feel, and are non-marking.



Have you seen the pictures? (Oh that’s right, you only come here to read the words.) These boots are stunning and look fabulous. This is going to sound like I’m describing a sports car, but here goes: The Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boots feature clean lines, smooth finishes, carefully crafted curves, and an excellent combination of materials.


The contrast of the deep black Horween leather and brown color of the sole’s components combine to create a very appealing look. Someone inevitably comments on these boots every time I wear them. Every. Single. Time. I’m sure that the other versions of their Trench Boot will garner the same attention. However, I’m partial to this black pair – I think they’re fantastic.



The Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boots should be considered a Buy It For Life item. Initially that $462 price may sting a bit, but only a bit….because you’ll quickly find that these handcrafted boots are well worth every penny and will truly give you a lifetime of comfort and style. The Oak Street Bootmakers Black Dainite Trench Boot pays tribute to a time tested design that has been around for almost a century and is sure to remain popular for many decades to come.

Koch Leather Guitar Strap – $60

Leather and music are an inseparable duo. It’s been that way for decades and there’s no reason to believe it will change any time in the near future. While we’re all thankful that parachute pants went the way of the Dodo, leather is an iconic piece of music’s past, present, and future.

Koch Leather is no stranger to the music scene. They’ve been making their guitar straps for the past couple of years and they have been well received. Not only are a few well-known Christian musicians sporting Koch Leather guitar straps – they also worked in collaboration to create a line of straps for Hogjim Guitar Gear.


About Koch Leather

This is the second piece Best Leather has reviewed for Koch Leather, which is owned and operated by Josh and Jen Koch in Pinetop, AZ. They’re just about to wrap up a successful Kickstarter program (congrats!) and we look forward to seeing this talented couple launch into their budding business full time.



Black Horween Chromexcel + Koch’s attention to fine detail = one awesome looking, perfectly functioning guitar strap. One of the things I appreciate about Koch Leather’s construction practices is clean lines and attention to detail. It’s evident in all of their products when looking at the way the leather is cut, the seams are sewn, the rivets are placed; it is easy to see they take pride in their workmanship.



The Koch Leather Guitar Strap does its job well and feels great when you’re strapped into your guitar. The wide mid-section of the strap is comfortable across your neck and shoulder, which allows you to play comfortably while standing or sitting for long periods of time.


One thing that’s important to point out about the Koch Leather Guitar Strap is that it features two adjustment points. Many straps of this design usually only have one piece that is adjustable. Having both ends be adjustable allows the strap to be very customized to anyone’s guitar playing style. And, it’s a great feature for guitar players who are tall or who have additional girth in front of them…or those who have both of those situations to contend with.



Again…it’s Horween Chromexcel and Koch Leather makes it. Beyond that, the color is spot on for a guitar strap. Black is always “in” – but, if you desire, it can be ordered in two other colors: chestnut or brown. It’s hard to go wrong with a nice, thick strap made of leather when you combine it with the eye pleasing wood tones on an acoustic guitar. If electric guitars are your thing, it will definitely compliment those as well.


The finish of Horween’s Chromexcel combined with the clean lines of Koch’s construction combine to create an aesthetically pleasing piece of leather. And, it’s extremely functional to boot.

It’s a piece that gets noticed too. Every guitar player has a strap of some sort…so, it’s not something that gets noticed much most of the time. However, several different guys immediately noticed this strap – and they quickly pointed out the dual adjustability feature too.



Ditch the conventional, run of the mill straps at the music store and get yourself a quality piece of leather from Josh and Jen. The Koch Leather Guitar Strap is well worth the $60 investment. It’s a piece of equipment that will last as long or longer than your guitar and will age well year after year while giving you the ability to comfortably play your guitar from any position.


**Act quickly and you can get in on the tail end of Koch Leather’s Kickstarter, which ends on August 17th. If they hit their stretch goal, there may be an additional color available for the guitar strap and their other products. So go support their Kickstarter – inquiring minds want to know what that other color is going to be!


The Distance – An Article On The Horween Leather Company

A website recently came to my attention that writes an in depth article every month on companies older than 25 years.  Called TheDistance.com, the site has just two articles published so far, but the very first was on the Horween Leather Company.

It is an excellent article that explores why Horween has thrived in an ever changing environment by being committed to old fashioned ideals and continuing to provide the highest quality products.  For any lover of leather or business, it is a very interesting read.  You can do so by clicking this link.

We have also done interviews with Horween on their Shell Cordovan and Chromexcel lines of leather.

Happy reading.