Buffalo Jackson Jefferson Leather Briefcase – $524.95

While I’m a fan of standard briefcase designs, it’s refreshing to see one with a unique take. Buffalo Jackson’s Jefferson Briefcase diverges from the typical buckle closure to favor a two-compartment bag that’s a great option for a slim laptop carry.

About Buffalo Jackson

Buffalo Jackson Trading Company is the story of the Rugged Gentleman™, a flesh and blood character defined by the values of grit, honesty, pride, and character.

Founded in Colorado in 2009 and currently residing in North Carolina, Buffalo Jackson is a brand inspired by the great outdoors. Their aim is to bring quality products that keep us connected with the rugged wild that we came from.

Leather & Construction

The Jefferson is made of full-grain vegetable cowhide with a pull-up finish. The leather is thick and assembled to have a semi-rigid structure. The outermost seams are all turned inward, protecting the threads and giving a very streamline look to the bag. Internally the bag is lined with a durable cotton/poly material in herringbone. Construction is of high quality with no notable concerns.

Inward seems make for a nice profile.

Hardware is brass, a good balance of strength and low weight. Two thick handles make carrying by hand easy, and an adjustable strap with pad allows for shoulder carry as well.


The Jefferson is made up of two compartments, symmetrically placed on either side with their own zipper. Both sides have a laptop or tablet compartment against the inner wall. On the other side are smaller organization pockets. Documents or books could fit between.

Surprising amount of room.

This alternate take on the briefcase does solve what I personally think is the biggest issue with the typical flap and buckle design: being able to pick up the bag quickly at any time. With the flap, you have to close the buckles before picking it up by the handle. Otherwise you’ll awkwardly pick up the flap and the bag hangs open. The Jefferson’s handles are attached to the sides of the bag where you can grab them and lift anytime, even with the zippers open.

Grab and go.

The zipper does have its drawbacks. For example, I found myself using my hand to protect the zipper-side of my laptop as I pulled it in and out. Otherwise the zipper brushes against my laptop and I was nervous about scratches. Also, the zipper on my Jefferson was very sticky and caught frequently. I’ll definitely need some waxing to smooth them out. This may not be the case for every Jefferson produced as YKK zippers are usually reliable.

I think the best use case for the Jefferson is as a daily laptop bag. It’s compact and convenient to carry while still having room for more items. It can open and expand a bit more than you might think–I was able to fit about 2″ (5cm) of books or other semi-flat items in either side before it became difficult to close. The Jefferson is conveniently sized to be a perfect “personal item” on most major airlines.

Laptop is protected in center of the bag.


The Jefferson is a beautiful design to show off the polished, pull-up leather it’s made with. It gives off a vintage vibe in a way that doesn’t ever seem out of place. I’m a huge sucker for pull-up leather, and it really pops on the Jefferson. The variations and gradients reflect the light just right. You’ll be very proud to carry this bag into the office and probably get a lot of compliments along the way.

Look at that shine!


If you want a leather laptop carry but need to keep it minimal, the Buffalo Jackson Jefferson briefcase is a great choice. The zipper compartments are a unique feature for a briefcase with their pros and cons. It’s quick and easy to grab and go every day and can hold a fair amount of extras. It’s well built with gorgeous pull up leather. The price is around what you’d expect. The Jefferson is a great slim carry option that should last for decades.

Forbes & Lewis Somerset Holdall – $426

I’ve always called these sorts of bags “duffle” bags, but holdall is more accurate, isn’t it? It truly “holds all” you need. Forbes & Lewis’ Somerset Holdall is an excellent entry in this category for a wide variety of purposes. The Somerset looks great and will fit in just about anywhere from business travel to an outdoor get together. 

About Forbes & Lewis

Forbes & Lewis is a family owned business based in England:

Forbes & Lewis was founded by now married partners Samuel Lewis and Katie Forbes in 2013. The Duo got tired of buying products at either end of the spectrum, designer goods that cost far to much or cheap products that fell apart. We wanted to produce a collection that was made from the finest quality raw materials and put together to last that we could afford.

Forbes & Lewis products are made in India.

Leather & Construction

The Somerset Holdall is stitched together with a waxy buffalo leather on the outside and a silky polyester on the inside. The buffalo leather is medium thickness, making it strong but not too heavy. The wax gives the leather some pull-up, meaning the color will lighten and have variation as the leather moves during use. Construction is very clean with no noticeable flaws. 

A lack of reinforcement rivets and use of a fabric lining make me think the Somerset isn’t built to endure a bomb strike as much as some bags we see, but construction is very clean and materials are quality. Forbes & Lewis offers a two year warranty on all their products, but I would expect this bag to last for several years beyond that with regular use.


When my girlfriend saw me writing this review she asked, “Oh, is that the fun bag you use all the time?” She’s right…this is a fun bag, and I use it all the time. Interestingly, I believe I’ve only used it once for travel. It certainly stands up to the name “holdall.” I’ve probably been heading to about 10 events this summer, realized I needed to hold a bit more than a backpack can handle, and happily thrown it all in my Somerset. The large size and wide zippered opening make it easy to get everything in and out. I would estimate the internal capacity to be in the 40 liter range, enough for several days on a trip or a blanket, football, water, and some snacks when going to watch the fireworks. 


The fabric internal lining offers a nice array of organization options. On one side is a padded laptop compartment and some small pockets, on the other a single larger zippered pocket. Perfect for your laptop or tablet, keys, wallet, etc. These items are fairly easy to get to even with the bag mostly full. Pockets are located relatively high up on the sides of the bag. 

Note that here I’m reviewing the large version of the Somerset. 


At the majority of aforementioned outings, at least one person has been kind enough to compliment the Somerset. It’s sort of interesting that a bag that is virtually just “brown” is as beautiful as this one is. Maybe that’s exactly the beauty of it. In one of my favorite movies, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a character wisely points out: “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” I think that’s where the Somerset shines. It’s not loud or flashy, but strong. Leather is a beautiful material, and the waxy buffalo leather on the Somerset has texture, character, and is great to look at. 


The Forbes & Lewis Somerset Holdall is lovely, highly functional, versatile, and well-built. This bag is easy to use…it’s easy to fill up, it’s easy to grab and throw in the car, it’s easy to fit in wherever it goes. It’s the “fun bag you use all the time.” The price is about what you’d expect for a product of this caliber. I’m happy to recommend the Somerset as a great option for anyone in need of a quality holdall.

September 6, 2019: The Somerset is currently sold out, however, Forbes & Lewis is holding a Summer 50% off sale on the rest of their equally impressive products!




Mr. Lentz Medium Duffel Bag Review – $440

I’ve been impressed by a leather wallet assembled with rivets, but how about a whole duffel bag? The Mr. Lentz Medium Duffel Bag is a beautiful, sturdy, threadless overnighter that I’m happy to recommend for a variety of uses.

About Mr. Lentz

Mr. Lentz is an artist, a creator, and a cowboy. He believes in the value of creating something with your hands and from the heart. Each product is made to order. The leather and metal only products are a trademark of the company. In Mr. Lentz’ own words: “You just can’t beat that mixture.” Mr. Lentz also enjoys sharing his talents on his blog, encouraging others to get out and go back to the classic ways of doing things. Overall he’s a guy who puts a lot of passion into his work, and I definitely suggest dropping by his about page to read more.

All Mr. Lentz items have the Lentz brand and a product number.

Leather & Construction

Let’s talk about the two things in Mr. Lentz’ favorite mixture: leather and metal.

First, leather. Premium, full-grain, USA sourced leather makes up this duffel. It is as strong as it is pretty. It smells amazing. This is just plain, simple, quality leather. My favorite kind. Thickness is good for plenty of durability without overly weighing you down, based on the size of the bag. Edges are cut cleanly and smooth.

Next, metal. There’s a lot of durable thread out there, but none has the longevity of metal. If a well made leather item does need repair, it’s usually because the thread has worn out. Mr. Lentz avoids it entirely here. It only takes a few rivets to replace an entire row of thread. It would be challenging to make a direct comparison between the two options as to which has more pull strength, but in my experience the rivets hold up very well. It’s a unique concept and I’m a fan.


This is the first bag that I’ve used around this size. It’s not as large as what I’d usually think of when I think of a “duffel.” This is a true overnighter; there’s just enough room for a change of clothes and a few other small items. I’ve also tried it as a basic computer or camera bag. My 13″ MacBook Pro fits, but only at an angle. A tablet computer would be a better choice for this bag. My small mirrorless camera fit with plenty of room–this would be an awesome camera bag with the help of a camera packing cube. I haven’t tested this myself, but I also suspect it could work well as a tool bag. It’s a really good size for a variety of day-outing or overnight applications.

A carry sample: small dopp, jeans, belt, paperback, socks, two t-shirts, wallet, charger, earbuds.

One of my first thoughts when I realized this bag was assembled solely with rivets was, what about small items? Couldn’t something like a pen slip through the gaps between rivets? So I tested this out. I was able to force a pen through the spaces between rivets, but it took a reasonable amount of effort. Only items much smaller than a pen would face any risk of falling out on their own. Everything larger will be well secured under the side panels, which can be secured with snaps, and the cover flap, held down with two buckles. The duffel isn’t waterproofed, though good conditioner can help prevent water damage.

Nothing bigger than a button will make it through gaps between rivets.


The Mr. Lentz duffel uses strong, simple design to stand out. The appearance is clean and sophisticated, but simultaneously very rugged. The brass buckles and rivets are polished and lend themselves well to exhibiting sturdiness.

This duffel is a beautiful palette of natural tan colored leather. I personally think most leather products are at their best without dye, and I love the appearance of this bag. I’ve heard criticism of natural colored leather about it being too plain or lacking character, but that’s just nonsense. The individual markings and grain patterns from the cow are highly visible, ensuring you’re buying a one-of-a-kind product. Over time as this bag is used, treated with conditioner, and exposed to the sun it will continue to develop a beautiful patina. This patina will make it even more uniquely your own. This bag is beautiful now and will be more beautiful in the future.

Some of the natural, unique leather markings on my duffel.


I just love using products that focus on everything important and nothing that isn’t. The Mr. Lentz Medium Duffel Bag is a great example of this philosophy. Strong, beautiful leather skillfully (and cleverly) assembled into a highly functional design. This multi-purpose bag is going to treat you well for a lifetime–Mr. Lentz guarantees it with his 100 Year Guarantee. The price isn’t low, but you’re getting what you pay for. I recommend this duffel as a Bestleather Buy It For Life item.

Optional internal storage (+$80) provides a place for keys, wallet, etc.

SALT Co. 3.5″ Leather Briefcase Review – $649

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

About SALT Co.

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

Discrete, minimal logos are used on Salt Co. products

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

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

Leather & Construction

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

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

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

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

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

Uniform stitches and stress-relieved rivet

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


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

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

Stands well even on carpet

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

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


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

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

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


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

Go Forth Goods Gunnar Leather Duffle Bag Review – $400

We have partnered with Go Forth Goods to give this leather duffel bag away to one lucky winner. You can enter into this giveaway here!

I got really excited when the opportunity to review the Go Forth Goods Gunnar Leather Duffle presented itself. A classic military style top-loading clip closure duffle, but made with gorgeous, full-grain pull-up leather. This duffle is made sturdy, has both modern and vintage appeal, and I think you’re going to love it.

About Go Forth Goods

Founder Nathan Martin began Go Forth Goods in 2014 when bags currently on the market just didn’t fit the bill. Now they create leathergoods that are based on tried-and-true timeless designs of the past, while looking toward the future. Products are designed to last a lifetime.

Go Forth Goods remains a small operation in Georgia where orders are made individually or to-order. They hope to provide quality items as well as inspire: “So no matter where your journey takes you, go forth and do good!”

Leather & Construction

The Gunnar is constructed entirely from full-grain, pull-up leather, without a lining or other materials (except the brass hardware, of course). I’m personally a big fan of pure leather products. Lining in these sorts of bags tends to break down relatively early in the product’s lifetime, and the leather is much better looking (and smelling!) anyway. The main body has thick leather for strength, but it’s also tumbled for softness. The carry handle and strap are much thicker and stiff 10oz veg-tan leather. The strap has a buckle that is adjustable for length.

The main body is stitched together around the bottom and center seam. The carry handle and strap are both reinforced with rivets. Construction is well done, with no notable imperfections or irregularities. One change I would have made is a rivet or addition reinforcement at the end of the center seam on the opening side. This stitch does seem somewhat vulnerable when items go in and out of the bag. However, all seams are reinforced with triple backstitching, and so far I haven’t seen any issues.

Construction and materials are all done so this bag will last a lifetime–which Go Forth Goods guarantees!


If you’ve used a military style top-load bag before, the function of the Gunnar will be familiar to you. It’s essentially a large bucket of space. To close it off, you fold down the pin near the top, then fold down the three rivets onto the pin. There’s a clip at the end of the carry strap that is then used to hold the rivets onto the pins, which both completes the carry strap connection and secures the duffle shut. It may not be familiar to some, but it’s fun to use and very effective for securing items.

The single bucket of space takes some organization to use effectively. It’s best to put least-used or just-in-case items at the bottom. I’ve also learned a trick of using a small cinch bag or something similar to keep smaller items together in one place within the duffle.

One way the Gunnar really hits a sweet spot is its size. If it was much larger, not only would it be harder to organize well, but it would also start to feel like a more cumbersome piece of luggage. The size is good for both holding all you need for a couple nights and feeling very portable and easy to use.

So far I’ve taken the Gunnar on camping trips, to the gym, and on a quick overnighter or two. The just-right size and easy to use military closure have made it a pleasure to use in every case.


I don’t think I’ve taken the Gunnar out without receiving at least one compliment. This bag is gorgeous. Pull-up leather is always beautiful, but across the wide landscape of a duffle bag, it turns heads! The soft leather will move quite a bit as you fill and carry it. This causes the pull-up to create a subtle marbled pattern that is always changing.

The strap and carry handle are additions to the Gunnar that leaves the duffle with an overall simple, understated, beautiful look. It’s stunning yet unpretentious. You’ll love the way this bag looks hanging over your shoulder.


I find myself looking for excuses to use the Go Forth Goods Gunnar Leather Duffle whenever I can. Each time I do it serves me well. It’s made well, fun to use, hits a sweet spot for carry capacity, and fantastic to look at (and be seen with!). The price may seem high for those used to more common polyester duffles, but is actually quite reasonable for the caliber of leather and assembly. If you’re gawking at the photos of this bag as much as I was, I suspect you won’t regret springing for the Gunnar. It’s a guaranteed Buy It For Life product that I highly recommend.

If you want to have a chance at winning this awesome bag for free you can enter the giveaway below:

[RF_CONTEST contest=’5917′]

Ledermann Thin Briefcase – $269

An essential item of anyone who carries documents to and from the office is some sort of briefcase. Here at BestLeather we are of the opinion that there isn’t any better solution for that than a well constructed leather option. Queue the Ledermann Thin Briefcase.


Ledermann uses full grain vegetable tanned leather as the foundation for for their bag. It is lined with canvas and there is a layer of leather board in between the leather exterior and canvas interior to provide structure as the bag breaks in.

The metal used throughout the bag is all iron, which has proven to be durable but brass or nickel plated brass would have been a better choice for longevity.

The back of the strap is lined with a nylon belt. While some manufacturers use similar techniques it’s typically masked by using leather on both sides. The underside of the pad on the strap is a soft suede that keeps it from falling off your shoulder when carrying it which is a nice touch.


This briefcase certainly performs all the duties that you would expect it to. It holds plenty of notebooks and documents with just enough space to hold a small laptop if needed.

There are a few pockets for sorting small items but is mostly open to put and sort you items as you would like.


The Ledermann Thin Briefcase is certainly a handsome bag that fits in well casually and in a business casual setting. Some briefcases go to far in trying to add too many bells and whistles but here what you get is a tried and true design.

There is some unsightly creasing on the closure strap but being a high wear area this isn’t unexpected. It would have been nice to see this constructed in a way that would prevent it though.


The Ledermann Thin Briefcase is another great contender in the leather briefcase space, and coming in at under $300 prices it competitively.

Mission Mercantile Stateroom Wash Bag – $225

If you are anything like myself there are goods that you typically don’t think much about. In my case, this fell in the category of my toiletries bag. I never gave much thought to the hideous looking black pleather monstrosity that held my toiletries when traveling. I just assumed that everyone dealt with flaking pretend leather, crushed toiletries, and an eyesore on the counter holding their various products of choice. Once I got my hands on the Stateroom Wash Bag I knew that was a thing of the past.

The Stateroom Wash Bag is a handsome bag indeed.


As soon as you put your hands on the Stateroom Wash Bag you know that you have a serious piece of leather that is going to last long enough to pass on to your children. It is constructed with vegetable tanned leather, durable solid metal YKK zippers, and brass feet on the bottom. The stitching is immaculate and robust, and the inside of the bag is lined with an easily cleaned water repellent fabric. The bottom of the bag gives just enough structure to not crush completely while being soft enough to be easily pack-able.

The inside of the bag stays organized while leaving room for larger items.

Function and Aesthetic

The design of this particular wash bag is extremely thought out. The high stress points are sewn extremely well, and the bottom where it will get the most wear has extra rivets added for durability. There is also a handle on one side to help carry the bag if you are anywhere you might need to travel to the bathroom and not want to leave your items there.

The handle is attached well, and the bottom has rivets for added durability.

Just a few of the things I travel with. Much more than this will fit of course.

The interior of the bag is fairly simple, including only a couple open pockets and one zippered pocket allowing for some organization while leaving a large space to store your various products.

The Stateroom Wash bag features a great looking water repellent lining.

In my use of the bag I ended up with some shaving cream leaking out (my fault for not putting the cap on) and put the liner to the test, which it passed with flying colors cleaning up easily. I’ve taken this on a few trips now and it has performed spectacularly. My family no longer has to look at an eyesore when I visit, none of my toiletries have gotten damaged, and thanks to the well placed brass feet even when the sink gets wet the bottom of the bag isn’t soaked.

Brass feet on the bottom of the bag, because no one likes their goods getting soaked.

If I had to issue a complaint it would be that initially the zippers on the bag could bite your hand while moving goods to and from the bag due to the stiffness of the leather. With a little bit of use that problem has almost completely disappeared but I did end up with a few scratched knuckles.


If you or someone you know is looking for an upgrade for their toiletry travel bag you don’t need to look any further than the Stateroom Wash Bag from Mission Mercantile. While it certainly costs more than your typical toiletry bag from a bargain store this will be the last one you, and possibly your favorite child will have to buy.

Sandast Dakota Shoulder Bag – $610

There are some bags that you just can’t take out in public without getting stopped at least once by a curious stranger. They’ll ask about the brand, where it was made, or just give a genuine compliment. Lately this bag has been the Dakota Shoulder Bag in Tan from Sandast, made by hand in a Los Angeles workshop.

Sandast 1

About Sandast

Sandast is a Los Angeles company 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 leather products that have received a lot of notice and praise from loyal customers. Sandast frequently uses the term “modern vintage”  to describe their efforts to create leather pieces that have a uniquely vintage look with plenty of modern taste.

BeFunky Sandast Details 1


The Dakota Shoulder Bag is made with Horween leather in a rich, ruddy brown color. The leather has a nice layer of wax that brings out the colors and natural textures. The leather is quite striking in person, with a texture and bright color that you don’t see every day.  The bag comes in three other colors besides tan – cognac, navy, and black. The bag is lined with Sandast’s signature plaid fabric, leaving the outer flap unlined with scalloped, burnished edges.

The hardware on the bag is quite impressive, and again marks the bag as something you don’t see every day. All the hardware is solid brass, including the lobster claw clasps that attach the padded, adjustable strap.

The bag zips with a partially attached Riri zipper that helps the bag hold its shape when carried. There is an inside pocket in the lining with a matching zipper reinforced with leather. The corners are reinforced with three brass rivets on each side.

Sandast 12


The Dakota Shoulder Bag measures in at around 14.5″ x 11″ x 4″. It’s the perfect size to carry a 13″ laptop, a notebooks, and everyday items. It’s only 4″ thick, which gives it slim profile that’s perfect for a bag with feminine accents like the scalloped edges and contrasting stitching. There’s a small zippered pocket inside, but other than that, it’s a very simple, functional bag.

Sandast 7


The Dakota Shoulder Bag has quickly become my go-to bag– it’s dependable, practical, stylish, and incredibly high quality. This is one of about a half-dozen Sandast bags I’ve been able to see in-person, and I really can’t say enough good things about their products. Absolutely no corners are cut in the making of these bags, which are made right here in the USA (you can even watch the bags being made live via webcam). The Dakota is a bag that anyone would be proud to pass on to the next generation.

Moore and Giles Benedict Bison Weekend Bag Review — $925

Man, this is a dang good-looking bag.

It’s the Moore and Giles Benedict Weekend Bag. I’ve owned it for about four weeks now. It has accompanied me on a 4-day and a 5-day trip. So far I’m loving it.

The leather itself has such a cool feel—soft, yet textured. The bag’s design scores high marks for style. It’s also spacious and durable. This is certainly one of the most impressive leather products I’ve seen in a while.



Moore and Giles was founded in 1933 during the heart of the Great Depression. They’re headquartered at Forest, Virginia. They’ve posted some impressive videos on their site that show the leathermaking process and give you a good idea of their concern for quality.

On their site, they list kindness among their key values. Maybe it’s the Buddhist in me, but that goes a long way in my book.

They’re also environmentally conscious. They point out that hides are a byproduct of food sources, so they take what would essentially be a waste product and transform it into luxury bags and other leather goods. It’s a pretty cool take on sustainability.



The Benedict Weekend Bag is constructed from nubuck leather.

Nubuck is an older word that likely comes from “new buck(skin).” Craftsmen create this type of top-grain leather by sanding off the upper (outside) hair-cell layer of the hide. This leaves a luxurious nap of short protein fibers with a soft, velvet-like surface (similar to suede). This buffing smooths out blemishes and makes the leather more capable of absorbing dyes and finishes, which provides for more consistent color across the surface. Because it’s not a full-grain leather, that means some of the scratches and uniqueness of the original hide can be lost, but I found my Benedict to still have tons of character, which you’ll see in the pictures.

The nubuck process is similar to but generally more expensive than crafting suede. It results in a product that’s thicker, stronger, and more resistant to wear, yet still soft to the touch. It can also mean the product is not as resistant to scratches, but I haven’t had any problems with my Benedict bag, no more than other leather products I own.



I upgraded to the Benedict wanting something for longer trips, and it more than met my needs. I packed for a 5-day business trip (including 3 pairs of shoes), and everything fit nicely. It’s big. It also has clasps on each end which you can release to give yourself more room. Then when you clip them back down, the bag becomes the perfect size for shorter trips. I love this adjustability.

The handles are thick and sturdy and feel like they could heft a weight set inside. The shoulder strap is hearty too, and it’s layered for comfort when carrying a heavy load.

The interior walls are lined with pockets in a variety of sizes. I’ve found other bags with pockets that are too big to be useful, but these are just right. I put my toiletries and other accoutrements in them for quick access. It also comes with a gift bag, a drawstring you can put the Benedict inside, which I think makes the perfect travel laundry bag.

The bottom of the bag has a stiff footing that gives some stability to whatever you pack in it. When you lug the bag by the handles, this footing keeps it from flopping and bending so much, which means it’s easier to carry. This also adds to the aesthetic—the Benedict always looks its best.

I haven’t had any troubles keeping mine clean. If yours does need cleaning, Moore and Giles recommends using mild soap and water with a cotton cloth. But it’s recommended to just let stains work themselves out with use.





As far as style goes, this bag is versatile enough to fit with boots and jeans or a business jacket.

The interior is lined with an interesting textile. I suspect it’s a synthetic fabric, maybe vinyl. If so, it should be water and stain resistant and durable against wear (though I haven’t purposefully stained it). It feels papery, is somewhat stiff, and makes a ruffling sound when you move it. It adds body and structure to the bag, so when you pull it open it stays open, and when it’s empty it still stands upright. This makes packing a breeze—it’s easy to access and work with. This also makes it a great container for holding your stuff once you arrive—and not just in transit.

The leather has distinct lines running through it. These vary in size and direction, giving the bag a crude and natural feel. It also means that your bag will have a unique fingerprint.

I ordered the Nubuck Bison Chocolate variation, but Moore and Giles has a variety of colors and finishes. (To find them, just type “Benedict” into the search bar on their site.)




Accessories Case

I also got a Moore and Giles Accessories Case which runs at $180. When it’s in your hand, you get a strong sense of its quality workmanship. Like the bag, it’s made with American bison nubuck leather. It is soft to the touch on the outside. The inside is lined with a plush wool, ideal for protecting whatever valuables you want safe from scratches (a watch, for example). For you fishers out there, the wool also makes an ideal surface for hooking barbless flies into. I’m sure there are a variety of other uses you could find for this case too.

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The Moore and Giles Benedict Weekend Bag is a fashionable leather piece. The craftsmanship is astounding. Its hardy structure means it’ll outlast competing bags. And its elegant design will draw compliments.

It’s an investment with a high price point, but, especially for a person who travels to earn, it promises a high-value return. I, personally, have been super impressed.





Aunts and Uncles Networker Messenger Bag Review

Aunts and Uncles has been on the radar for quite some time now. After numerous reader requests to review items from this quirky, stylish German brand, we have finally been able to check out one of their men’s satchels. Today I will be reviewing The Networker, which is a sleek, modern men’s satchel from the Workmates collection.



Aunts and Uncles is a German company that makes bags, backpacks, and luggage for men and women. The bags are designed at their headquarters in the Lower Rhine region of Germany and made in factories in India and Italy with vegetable tanned leather. Aunts and Uncles is a well-known brand in Europe, but is just beginning to make its way to the American market. Some of their bags are a bit hard to find in US stores, but a few of their collections are starting to pop up in some cities.


The Networker messenger bag is part of the “Workmates” collection, which is designed to be a casual, functional line of work bags with useful compartments and versatile materials. The collection is made with corrected-grain vegetable tanned buffalo leather.


The Networker has a vertical satchel design, with a long flap that has a magnetic closure. The matching black buckles are cosmetic only. The bag has an adjustable leather strap backed with cotton. It is a small bag at 9” wide, 12.5” tall, and about 3.5” thick. It fits an iPad or similar tablet and everyday necessities.


The bag is lined with a denim look alike and uses carefully curated vegetable tanned buffalo leather for pockets interior and exterior. The Networker is extremely versatile, great for coffee shops and college classes. It has ample storage for small classroom accessories and charger space. This bag is also properly sized for my bike ride to and from college classes.



The Networker has a modern, sleek look, with a rustic flair. The bag comes in black and brown leather, with matching colored hardware. The vertical satchel construction means that although the bag is smaller, it does not look especially feminine. In fact, I think this is a great satchel size for men who like to keep it minimal and sleek. It fits just the right amount of accessories in a small, functional, and stylish package.

The Aunts and Uncles Networker Bag is a professional, modern bag that’s great for when you need to carry around more than just your phone and wallet. It doesn’t use the highest quality leather or materials, but the materials are appropriate for the price. Again, Aunts and Uncles Bags can be a bit difficult to come by in the United States, so I’ve rounded up a few places the Networker is available for sale internationally.


The Networker for sale in Canada https://unluggage.com/collections/aunts-uncles/products/aunts-uncles-workmates-networker-messenger-bag-1

The Networker for sale in the UK http://www.myleatherbag.co.uk/leather-bag-brands/aunts-uncles/aunts-and-uncles-networker-black-leather-medium-messenger-bag-post-bag.html

The Networker for sale in Germany http://www.idealo.de/preisvergleich/OffersOfProduct/4771982_-networker-aunts-uncles.html

The Aunts and Uncles informational listing in German http://www.auntsanduncles.de/kollektionen/kollektionen/taschen/workmates#networker

Waterfield Designs Vitesse Messenger Bag Review — $159

Vitesse is a French noun meaning speed. The word suggests a European zest combined with rapid utility. It’s the perfect name for the Waterfield Designs Vitesse Messenger Bag. The bag is simple, lightweight, and has a certain flair in its design.




About Waterfield Designs

Waterfield is a San Francisco based company, and they seem quite tech savvy. Their products are designed with phones, tablets, and laptops in mind. You can get a feel for their team by watching some of the videos on their site. The founder, Gary, is featured in many of these, and he’s kind and friendly as he gives you details on the designs. Overall, the team gives the impression that they’re proud of their products, and for good reason.





Let’s start with the leather, which on this design is minimal. Distressed leather straps hold the flap down, and the holes fit snugly around black metal screw studs; this combo at first seemed too tight, but after using it awhile they loosened up and now are the perfect fit. The bag also has a leather briefcase-style handle on the top, which I’ve found convenient and have used quite a bit.

The bag is made primarily of canvas. It’s thin and lightweight, as is the strap. The bag on the whole isn’t at all heavy. It’s also mostly without structure, so it can fold up and go inside another bag. It would be perfect to take empty to Europe and bring home full of souvenirs.

On the flip side, because it’s relatively thin, don’t expect it to provide a lot of protection to whatever you put inside. If you’re carrying a laptop, you’ll want to put it inside of a padded case, and then slip that into the large interior pocket on the inside.





The designers seem to have put a lot of thought into the details.

Even at its longest, the strap is fairly short, which keeps you from having to deal with the slack getting tangled or in the way. And I’ve found that wearing it shorter gives me more control, which is perfect if you’re sprinting through an action sequence or doing some casual parkour. I like to push the bag to hang at my lower back when I’m on the move, and I swing it around to the front when I need quick access.

The bag has a pair of pockets on the outside which you can get to even when the flap is down. They’re sealed with these sweet looking black, waterproof zippers. Altogether, this feature made me want to applaud the designers. It’s so convenient to access your phone and keys without having to open the top. Again, great for when you’re on the run. There are also three hand pockets on the inside, which are great for small stuff you don’t want getting lost inside.

The interior is pretty spacious. You might be surprised by what you can fit in it. For example, when I carried a large tripod inside, the flap wouldn’t close on one side, but I could still secure the other side, and that held it in securely. The straps also have two holes each, which lets you fit things of different sizes.





I love the colors!

The hues are slightly muted, both the canvas and the leather. The canvas gray hints at a brownish green. The leather has a warm tone, but muted and calm. (But if the color doesn’t do it for you, you can also get it in navy or a deep burgundy.)

This bag politely doesn’t demand attention. Yet it’s pretty classy—nice enough to accompany a business-casual outfit, but it also goes great with jeans and a baseball cap.



BestLeather Conclusion

The Waterfield Designs Vitesse Messenger Bag is lightweight and collapsible, yet spacious. And I’ve liked it so much that sometimes I’m tempted to bring extra things with me just so I have a reason to carry it. It’s an excellent companion for an on-the-move sort of protagonist.



Mission Mercantile Steamer Backpack Review – $345

One of my favorite parts about the leather industry is the fascinating history behind many of the its traditions. It’s amazing how some of the smallest details of classic bag designs can have the most interesting backgrounds. Mission Mercantile is a company that really seems to share this passion for history, and their Steamer Backpack demonstrates this perfectly.

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Mission Mercantile is a new brand, launched in fall 2015. They operate out of their own factory in Leon, Mexico– Blue Artisan Group. We recently reviewed Mission Mercantile’s Stateroom Weekender, an incredibly tough overnight bag made entirely with full grain veg-tanned leather- just like all their products. Learn a bit more about the company in my recent interview with Chuck Bowen, one of MM’s founders, who is passionate about serving “mission men and women” who love leather goods.

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Many of Mission Mercantile’s products hark back to inspiration found in days gone by. The Steamer Backpack in particular was designed after the steamer bag – a sturdy, flat-bottom bag built to be packed into a larger steamer trunk that was loaded onto a train or steamboat for lengthy travel. The steamer bag was, in fact, perfected by Louis Vuitton in the late Victorian era.

The Steamer Backpack also has its roots in vintage mail sacks, many of which were mainly canvas but reinforced with sturdy leather at the bottom and top, where they featured a similar belted closure.

This backpack certainly has an eye-catching look, with its wide swath of solid waxed canvas and unique belted closure. The bag instantly looks like there’s a story behind it…so prepare to have LOTS of people ask you about it wherever you go.

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The Steamer Backpack is made with full-grain vegetable tanned leather and thick waxed canvas. In accordance with its steamer and mail sack roots, it has a heavy, flat leather base with subtly squared edges, all held together with contrasting stitching and heavy rivets. It weights in at about 3 1/2 pounds, which is a nice medium weight for such a sturdy bag. Seeing as the bulk of the bag is canvas, it wears very comfortably for daily use.

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The waxed canvas has survived several spring showers with no issue. There are three canvas color options and a total of six leather and canvas combinations at this time. The pictured backpack is Oil leather with Dirt canvas.

The bag is unlined with the exception of the top flap, which is lined with matching canvas. It measures around 14″ x 6″ x 18″, making it large enough to carry a laptop and school or business essentials. There’s also enough room to pack for an overnight trip. The bag is tapered, however, and is belted at the top, so larger items don’t fit in as easily as some wide-opening backpacks. Its tapered shape also makes it look kind of funny if there’s lots of stuff in it, but this isn’t an issue unless you have a habit of overpacking.

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The ideal setup for this bag is to have your laptop and folders/notebooks at the back, and then chargers, wallet, and other small items at the front where they’ll sink down to the bottom and maintain the backpack’s nice tapered look. There’s a key strap and a hanging zippered pouch at the back, which works beautifully for keeping small items that you want to access quickly.

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The Steamer Backpack has padded shoulder straps that are adjustable (about 6″ of adjustable length). The detachable straps attach at the bottom to two D-rings on either side, and a centered O-ring at the top. There’s a nice sturdy handle at the top, as well. The handles and solid brass hardware pieces all feel very sturdy and well-made.

The bag closes via a long belt that starts on the back of the bag, runs through three rectangular brass loops, and secures again at the back with a tuck lock. The belt closure with a quick release tuck lock is a nice compromise – it adheres to the aesthetic of vintage mailbags without requiring the user to padlock its contents every time. Still, the belt closure requires a little more patience than most backpacks, but its unique aesthetic is totally worth it.

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The Mission Mercantile Steamer Backpack is another impressive piece from this young company’s product line. It’s a gorgeous, unique bag with heritage roots and a great story that just begs for more chapters. At $345, it’s priced very fairly for top-of-the-line materials (full grain leather, solid brass hardware, 18 oz canvas, etc.) that will last a lifetime and more.

*Keep an eye out next Wednesday, June 1st for an AWESOME giveaway from Mission Mercantile!*

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Introducing Rugged Minimalist — Exclusive BestLeather Preorder Sale

Here at BestLeather, we love to find young companies getting their start in leather goods–especially when they’re starting off right. We’re excited to introduce Rugged Minimalist, fresh off their very first Kickstarter and making some incredible products. We’re also excited to announce a special limited time pre-order promotion code just for our BestLeather readers!


Rugged Minimalist is based out of Watertown, TN. Founder Jason Barnes and his crew were inspired by a desire to make things, and to make them better. After trying his hand at a few projects and becoming bored with his 9-to-5, the decision was made to start a new company and get their first boost from Kickstarter.

Rugged Minimalist has a beautifully simple mission. First, to use the best materials possible–the highest grade vegetable tanned bridle leather Wickett & Craig have to offer, solid brass hardware, and polyester thread. Next, to design their products with minimal, timeless designs–to ensure the style lasts as long as the material. Finally, to offer those products at a reasonable price–and back it up with a lifetime guarantee. Made in the USA.


Their featured products are their line of bags. Alongside their own take on the classic briefcase, satchel, and messenger designs, they also offer a clever vertical satchel, perfect for your tablet, and a popular tote design for the ladies. Wallet and keychain accessories are offered as well.

As a special pre-order promotion and extension of their Kickstarter prices, they’ve decided to offer you, our BestLeather readers, an additional 25% off and free shipping to US customers with promo code BESTLEATHER25. Hurry over to Rugged Minimalist’s shop and pre-order today–not only will orders be fulfilled in the order they’re received, but in addition, the first five customers to use this promo code on an order over $300 will receive a free travel notebook wallet ($80 value)! Code valid until June 16th. Items expected to ship in July.

We’re excited to see this great new company grow. Look out for a full review of one of their bags, coming up soon!


Mission Mercantile Stateroom Weekender Review – $695

If you were a VIP a century or two ago, you’d make sure you travelled in style. Whether by train or steamboat, a gentleman (or gentlewoman) most likely enjoyed the comfort of a stateroom, a separate room that offered privacy and quiet. Mission Mercantile’s Stateroom Weekender evokes this bygone era of travel, with its vintage style and hefty construction.  The Stateroom Weekender definitely makes you feel like a VIP, even if traveling is a little easier these days.

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Mission Mercantile was launched in the fall 0f 2015, with the goal of creating beautiful leather goods with uncompromising quality. While the brand itself may be young, its creators are not inexperienced. Mission Mercantile is the project of the folks at Blue Artisan Group, a manufacturing collective based in Leon, Mexico. I recently got the chance to talk to Chuck Bowen, one of MM’s founders, who is clearly passionate about creating top-of-the-line leather goods. From our interview:

“We’re a mercantile on a mission. We want to serve men looking for meaning as a man while reestablishing family and heritage. Doing life together with his mission woman. We really want to bring back legacy values in a product, and take wisdom from past. Our goal is for us, and all of our customers to do life together.”

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The Stateroom Weekender is made with thick, full grain leather that’s been vegetable tanned. The leather is stiff and heavy, with some natural markings in the grain that prove it’s the real deal. The entire bottom of the bag is solid leather reinforced with brass rivets. The combination of the classic overnight bag silhouette, brass hardware and the full grain leather really completes the vintage look. My bag is the Rust color, a bright, almost orange color. There’s a lighter color, Oak, and a darker one, called Oil.

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The bag is a pretty simple construction with just one big pouch secured with a giant zipper – seriously, it’s one of the sturdiest zippers I’ve ever seen. The handles are also riveted onto each side of the bag, and the carry strap is thickly padded and attached with impressively sturdy lobster claws. A complaint I have with a lot of weekenders is that the removable carry strap feels like a cheap afterthought – but certainly not this one. This bag is heavy, so it’s definitely important that the carry strap and hardware are tough.

Inside it’s fully lined with an attractive grey and cream striped fabric that fits well with the vintage style of the bag. There’s a zippered pocket on one side of the bag, and a long pocket along the opposite side separated into three pouches. With the exception of the pockets tucked along the sides, the inside is wide open to pack as you please.

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This is not a lightweight bag. It weighs around five pounds empty, and the stiff leather definitely adds a bulky feeling when you’re carrying it. This is not a complaint, however. I really love that I don’t have to worry one bit about packing it too heavy or being gentle with it. I can toss it around, scuff it up, and it only looks better.

The construction of the bag combined with brass feet on the bottom keep the bag standing upright, making it easy to pack and access. At the beginning, the leather makes the opening a little small, but it softens after a few uses and allows the pouch to open wider.

It’s easy to pack a weekend’s worth of clothes, and they fit without bowing the sides or affecting the bag’s shape. It’s around 20″ L x 9″ D x 14″ H, so it can function as a carry-on if needed (No private staterooms in Coach, unfortunately).

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I really couldn’t be happier with Mission Mercantile’s Stateroom Weekender. It’s impressively constructed and it’s clear that no shortcuts were taken. Nothing feels cheap or breakable; this bag is absolutely a Buy It For Life (and more) item. If you’re looking for a lightweight bag or a bag that won’t turn heads, this is not the bag for you. This is an impressive start for Mission Mercantile and we’re looking forward to seeing more products as they debut. Keep an eye out for more Mission Mercantile reviews in the next few weeks!

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First Impressions: The Kendal & Hyde Classic Attache

Update (March 2017): Sadly, Kendal & Hyde is no longer in business. Many of their designs have been revived by SALT Co. Great leather bag options from other companies here.

From Kendal & Hyde we have a new line of modular computer briefcases in their Classic Attache. Another product launched with a very successful Kickstarter campaign, these beautiful briefs with a formal touch are offered in a concise array of options to suit buyers’ personal taste and needs.



Kendal & Hyde have been in the leather hardgoods scene for a few years now and are based out of California and Utah. The company has developed a strong reputation on Kickstarter, with eight successfully funded projects including a few Kickstarter staff picks. Kendal is constantly looking for ways to meet timeless looks with modern needs in his designs which has resonated soundly with his backers.



Kendal & Hyde pride themselves on products with no excess. With the exception of what’s become their signature authentic buffalo nickel on the handle, every aspect of the Classic Attache has a purpose that, first and foremost, enhances its functionality.



For starters, no corners have been cut in the construction materials: the leather is North American sourced, full-grain, and vegetable tanned; the thread is marine-grade polyester; the hardware is custom solid brass. The main body is made of 2-3mm (5-8oz) leather, layered together more often than not for the external walls, giving a fairly rigid, formal briefcase structure made of solid leather–no lining or padding is used. The straps are made of 4.5mm (12oz) belt leather.



Going beyond the basics, numerous clever design additions are what really make me love the Classic Attache.



The front and back panels extend past the sides enough to create a rigid lip that the bag can rest on. The closing strap that goes around the entire bag is extended through this lip to ensure it doesn’t rest on the ground, providing additional stability for the bag and protecting the strap from wear.



Numerous critical rivets are carefully placed so that stress comes from the side, rather than directly pulling apart at the rivet connection.

A small piece of leather connects the shoulder strap hardware to the sides, preventing hardware from rubbing against the attache.



To ensure the elements don’t make it to your items, the top flap extends beyond the side walls, and short flaps attached to the side walls extend over the main pocket.



The shoulder pad is stuffed with soft leather for padding, which helps maintain shape and prevent ridges that dig into your shoulder. In response to customer feedback (which Kendal & Hyde are great at), they’ve gently roughed the leather on the bottom side of the pad–a very effective solution for slipping.



    The Classic Attache also comes in a small variety of options:

  • Narrow (3”) or wide (5”)? The narrow serves as a laptop bag with some room to spare, and the wide can carry more with a more stable base. The inner pockets and layout remain the same with either option.
  • Single or double strap? Two straps does provide a more secure closure, but this choice is also based on aesthetic preference.
  • Front pockets, or no? This will affect both your storage and aesthetic. The single strap offers two pockets, and the double strap offers one.

The selection process is simple, but ensures you get the customized bag you truly want by allowing you to meet your own functional and aesthetic preferences.


The Classic Attache is divided into a few pockets and a main storage area. The largest pocket is designed for a laptop up to 15”. There are smaller pockets for items such as chargers or small tablets, in addition to loops for pens and keys. It’s compatible with Kendal & Hyde’s add-on accessories.



Unfortunately, we’ve so far only been able to experience the Classic Attache briefly for first impression purposes. While this short time has given the impression of a product that will function to all expectations, more detail on the functionality from daily use will be given once we’ve had a chance to more rigorously test a production model.



The beauty of the Kendal & Hyde Classic Attache comes from a refreshing combination of timeless inspiration and simplicity. There aren’t any flashy design aspects added to the Classic Attache. Instead, the gorgeous leather, other quality material, and strong, functional design speaks for itself.


This is a great option for someone who needs a laptop bag (customized to your needs) with a classic, somewhat formal look that will last a lifetime. The Kickstarter project has ended, but Kendal & Hyde are still offering pre-order discounts on their website at the time of writing. The Kendal & Hyde Classic Attache is a highly recommended Buy It For Life product.

Adam O Leathers Launches Kickstarter for Line of Bridle Leather Bags

Adam O Leathers has announced a new line of items made from famous Wickett and Craig bridle leather on Kickstarter. The line includes a briefcase, two messenger bags, leather coasters, and personalized keychains. In the past, the company has offered professional knife rolls as well as a line of Horween messenger bags.


Bag Features:

  • Made with thick English Bridle Leather from Wickett and Craig (6.5oz)
  • Marine grade polyester thread (UV resistant)
  • Heavy duty hardware
  • Hammered industrial copper rivets
  • Lifetime warranty

About Adam O Leathers

“I’ve always being fascinated by the way handmade leather products are created – how this ancient craft has lasted for centuries while still bringing some of the most exclusive products to the market. Several years ago, I decided to learn the art of handmade leather craft and now I pass this passion into every product made at Adam O. Leathers. Our attention to detail, combined with some of the best leather available in the world, is at the core of our business.” – Adam O.


The bags are currently available on Kickstarter for 25% off or more. Each bag can be stamped with your initials and comes with a lifetime warranty. $225 gets you a leather briefcase while $275 gets you a messenger bag with a single or double strap. Keep an eye out for a review of the Adam O Professional Briefcase, coming in the next few weeks!



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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kendal & Hyde Medium Classic Satchel [Prototype] Review – $500

Update (March 2017): Sadly, Kendal & Hyde is no longer in business. Many of their designs have been revived by SALT Co. Great leather bag options from other companies here.

For several years I’ve thought about getting a leather satchel or messenger for myself. However, each time I looked into it, none of the options I saw spoke to me enough to justify a buy…until I saw an ad for the Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel. The bag I had envisioned being on my side had finally surfaced. Rugged yet undeniably classy and cool, the Classic Satchel is sure to serve well and turn a lot of heads in any situation.



Note that this review is based off several months with the same late-version prototype of the Classic Satchel in our first impressions review. Differences to the production bag will be noted, and details provided in the first impressions review won’t be addressed here.

About Kendal & Hyde

Kendal & Hyde, based in California and Utah, are relative newcomers to the leather world. They are now on their eighth project launch on Kickstarter, none of which have failed to at least double their pledge goal. Their company was founded on the desire to fill modern needs with classic looks and no compromises.



The Classic Satchel is my personal first entry into the leather world. After the aesthetics grabbed my attention, it was time to do some research into what makes a quality leather bag. I quickly realized that Kendal & Hyde were cutting no corners on construction – thick, North American vegetable-tanned leather, solid brass custom hardware, and marine-grade polyester thread (note: prototype leather nor hardware are full production).



Occasionally the stats on paper seem impressive but disappoint when you experience the real thing. This simply was not the case with the Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel. Upon first sight, the bag exudes strength alongside its classic look. After a few months of use the strength has proven itself without fail. Production models will only be more sturdy.


The Classic Satchel has many useful features common to bags of its type, but enhanced for the modern user. My favorite enhancement is the laptop pocket. It holds your laptop snug in the center of your bag, surrounded by several layers of leather on all sides and edges – it’s extremely well protected.

The front section’s pockets are great for smaller every day carry items, though besides storing a few papers, I usually don’t use the front area outside of the pockets. The back section isn’t compartmentalized, and is best for larger, solid items (since this compartment will hit against your body when wearing). Because of the divisions in the bag, any single item thicker than ~3” will be very snug, but the bag is overall large and will hold quite a bit.



Kendal & Hyde offer several add-on accessories to customize your bag to your needs. The backpack straps are great for when you’re carrying a lot of weight or traveling further. The single/triple pockets were intended for Macbook chargers, but I use it for anything I want quick access to or don’t want any pressure on.

The quality of materials in the Classic Satchel also play a big factor in how well it functions. The thick, sturdy leather and solid hardware is strong and makes the satchel much easier to use than cheaper alternatives.


If number of compliments are the only measuring stick for aesthetic, the Classic Satchel passes with flying colors.

My personal favorite aspect is the patina development on the “natural” color leather. Over time my satchel has developed colors and marks that distinguish it from any other. Kendal designs his bag with this purpose in mind, and it works well – your bag will truly become your own.

Left to right: 9-16-15, 9-24-15, 11-4-15

Another fantastic thing about the Classic Satchel is the versatility of its look. I’ve yet to find an environment where it felt out of place – from suit to jeans. Here’s where the simultaneously classy and cool look really work in your favor.

For reference, I’m 5’10” and approx. 165lb

BestLeather Conclusion

The Kendal & Hyde Classic Satchel is strong enough to serve you well for a lifetime and has the looks to fit in nearly any environment. Over time it will become uniquely your own product, whether from customization with accessories or simply from the marks (memories) that will develop on the beautiful vegetable tanned leather. At $500 the Classic Satchel is a fantastic value – and at the time of writing, Kendal & Hyde are still offering a $100 discount to early buyers. Not only is the Classic Satchel a great value, but should last long enough for your children to enjoy too. It is a Buy It For Life product that I highly recommend.

Maria Fano Michelle Bag Review – $700

Based in New York City, Maria Fano recently launched her company via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Maria’s goal is to offer luxury handbags with premium materials for an affordable price. She and seven artisans based in Lviv, Ukraine, have designed a minimalist product line made for women who want handmade, designer quality at a more reasonable price point.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the Michelle Bag. Keep an eye out for a review of the fun pink passport cover, coming soon!

Maria Fano Michelle Bag 8


The Michelle bag is hand-stitched from shrunken calf leather from Germany and lined with brightly colored French goat leather. The bag measures in at 9.5 x 12.6 x 6.5 inches, making it a nice small to medium handbag size. Each side of the bag is gusseted with Riri snaps that allow the bag to fit more or less, depending on your needs. The bag maintains an attractive trapezoidal shape even when the gussets are open. The bag can fit all the purse essentials and

Each Michelle bag comes with a matching strap. I wasn’t able to check out the strap as I was given a first run production piece to review, but there were two small rings on the inside to attach a strap. The handles have enough drop length to carry over the shoulder if need be.

Maria Fano Michelle Bag 6


The Michelle bag has a gorgeous, modern simplicity to it. The bag comes in four color options – light grey, taupe, slate, and black calf leather. Two colors are currently available on the Etsy store – taupe and black. My taupe color is a beautiful, versatile color that compliments nearly any outfit. Photos don’t quite capture the subtle greyish tan hue that makes this bag so versatile.  Even with minimal branding and ornamentation, the Michelle bag stands out and gets noticed everywhere.

The goat leather lining is one of my favorite parts. The bright magenta color adds a fun pop to an otherwise simple bag. Options include black, purple, magenta, rose, yellow and light blue. The lining is stitched quite beautifully and keeps the inside of the bag clean and attractive looking.


I’ve been quite impressed with the quality of the Maria Fano Michelle bag, especially as a first run product. It has a really lovely, luxe look that feels much like high-end Givenchy bags, but at 1/4 the price. It straddles the line between serious and fun with its pink goat leather lining and sleek silhouette. The bag is still not cheap at $700, but with premium materials, excellent construction, and a minimalist look, it will serve you well for a very long time.

Maria Fano Michelle Bag 3

Maria Fano Michelle Bag 7
Maria Fano Michelle Bag 4
Maria Fano Michelle Bag 5
Maria Fano Michelle Bag 1






Colonel Littleton No. 17 Hunt Bag Review – $370

“Sometimes old ways are better than new ways” – that’s a quote directly from Colonel Littleton. In spite of all of the advancements our modern day society has made…all of the technological leaps and bounds that seem to occur weekly, his quote is completely true. The allure of handmade, of time well spent crafting something of beauty is still heralded today. Handcrafted, artisan products are one of the key hallmarks of everything that comes out of the Colonel Littleton workshop and it definitely holds true for the piece we’re featuring for them today – the No. 17 Hunt Bag in American Buffalo.

Colonel Littleton No 17 Hunt Bag 1


Colonel Littleton is based out of Lynnville, Tennessee, a town with a population of 327. The real Colonel Littleton himself got his start selling vintage cufflinks in 1987, which sparked an interest in creating unique, heirloom items. Now, 28 years later, Colonel Littleton makes bags, belts, hats, wallets, knives, cologne, and more, all with a unique Tennessee flair. At BestLeather we’ve had the privilege of working with the Colonel and his talented team for well over a year now. And, we’ve featured several of their excellent products. To see more Colonel Littleton reviews, click here.


The No. 17 Hunt Bag is made with beautiful cognac bison leather, with the natural rugged grain that comes standard with American bison leather. Like all the Colonel Littleton products I’ve gotten my hands on, the construction and stitching is impeccable. The bag measures 7 ¾”H x 11”W x 3”D, and the inside pocket measures 6″H x 9 1/2″W x 2 1/2″D with another large pocket along the front. There is a large back pocket that stretches across the back of the bag, and another small pocket under the front flap.  The back pocket is great for keeping your phone or keys when you need quick, easy access.

The bag comes with a crossbody strap that adjusts from 44″ to 52″ with ease. The strap is thin, yet comfortable to wear as a crossbody. At 11″ wide, the bag is a nice medium size that works with all body types. The inside is roomy enough to hold a wallet, keys, phone, and other purse essentials with ease.

Colonel Littleton No 17 Hunt Bag 3


The No. 17 Hunt Bag has a classic hobo crossbody construction with the addition of a hand grip built into the flap. The grip is reinforced with leather and its snug construction means that very little is exposed to the elements. The hand grip gives it visual interest as well as a vintage feel. The stainless steel cinch buckle adds to the bag’s vintage, equestrian look as well. The American Bison leather has a beautiful texture that really sets this bag apart, and gets softer and darker with age. The subtle stitching adds to the western style.


The No. 17 Hunt Bag is yet another top notch product from Colonel Littleton. It’s pricy, but for $370, you’re getting beautiful bison leather and unique hardware, all handmade in Lynnville, Tennesee. If you’re looking for a crossbody purse with a unique western flair, the No. 17 Hunt Bag is a great choice that will last you a lifetime.

Colonel Littleton No 17 Hunt Bag 2
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Colonel Littleton No 17 Hunt Bag 5
Colonel Littleton No 17 Hunt Bag 6