White Wing by Mission Mercantile Small Duffel Review – $250-280

When I got word of Mission Mercantile’s acquiring of White Wing Label, I had to check out their incoming product line. I had heard of White Wing Label (WWL) having great canvas bags as well as solid choices in leather and hardware. I got a chance to interview the CEO of Mission Mercantile/WWL Chuck Bowen and they provided an opportunity to have a bag reviewed. For this review, I chose the White Wing Small Duffel. Being a frequent short-trip traveler, I got plenty of use with this bag over the last few months once putting it in my rotation.

While walking, I typically left the front zipper open to quickly access small items.


Construction of this bag is quite hard to beat. They have purposely chosen some of the best materials, namely brass YKK zippers and solid brass hardware to outfit the bag. Each zipper is equipped with a sturdy tab of riveted bridle leather, the same thickness as seen throughout the bag. The 18oz duck canvas is also very thick and sturdy to support the bag along with the inner nylon lining. This model is also available a variety of colors as well as a cordura camo and a waxed duck canvas. The dimensions of the bag are 15.6’’ L x 9.8’’ W x 9.8’’ D. This is about the same length as some larger briefcases, but with sizable more depth and width.

Very durable brass hardware with YKK zippers.


One ability I believe is understated among duffel bags is their ability to fit into multiple situations. Due to the size and lining, this could easily transform from a luggage back to a gym/sports bag. I had no problem wiping clean the inside of the bag throughout my use and the material does not keep smells, favorable or otherwise, in.

Packed well for an extended weekend trip.

Capacity is one aspect that one can expect slightly decreased limits over a medium sized duffel. I’ve found the bag can easily handle an overnight trip, but also an extended weekend trip with a little bit of room to spare. Aiming to over pack, I was able to fit in the following items:

  • Two pairs of pants (one khaki, one jeans), rolled up
  • 4 shirts, rolled
  • Three pairs of socks,
  • 4 pairs of undergarments
  • Two pairs of shorts, rolled
  • 1 light rain jacket, folded
  • Dopp kit with men’s toiletries
  • One pair of size 8.5 shoes in a duster bag (not in photo above)
  • Belt
  • Shampoo and body wash in a 1 quart Ziploc

Packing with this setup enabled me a little bit of extra space at the top in order to ensure an easy zipper closure, but I could also add an extra item if needed, such as swapping the light rain jacket out for a hooded sweatshirt I was wearing. The shoulder strap has a black cushioned pad that is a little rough but did break in upon use. The black finish on the underside is textured enough to stay in place.

Reverse side of shoulder pad shown that is on the shoulder strap.

The side pockets and front zippered pockets are there for quick access items. On one side, I placed a field notes journal, small flashlight, and pen. The zippers remain just as sturdy and durable as the bag opening. One criticism I’ve had throughout the use of the bag however is the brass loops that connect the leather tab to the zipper. I have had to pinch them closed twice during my use as the stress of opening and closing the bag tends to bend the metal slightly. It is by no means broken, but I’d like to see a sturdier reinforced loop to make sure the leather tabs do not fall off.

Details of the zipper loops and leather tabs.


This duffel bag fits in comfortably in outdoor settings as well as in gyms and fulfilling traveling roles. The pairing of thick duck canvas and bridle leather has held its beauty throughout many trips in the last couple of months for me. Due to its small size, I usually did not use the shoulder strap and was able to comfortably carry it via the handles. The duffel also easily accomplishes carry-on size requirements and the canvas and leather combination gives it a formal look. Mission Mercantile offers this duffel in many different canvas and leather colors as well as medium, a wheel-equipped version, and large sizes.

Showcasing the top of the bag, the two carry handles are easily connected via two buttons, while the shoulder strap sports a subtle White Wing logo.


Overall, the White Wing Small Duffel is a great all-around duffel given its capacity and aesthetics. With the price ranging between $250-285 depending on color and material, I would say that is a fair price to pay for such a high quality bag and also being backed by Mission Mercantile’s handshake warranty.  I anticipate continuing to use this through out the many short trips life takes me on.

Ready for the next trip.


Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve Review – $115

After spending a good chunk of hard-earned cash on a new laptop, the last thing you want to do is cause any preventable harm to it. Thankfully, you can always pick up a laptop sleeve to keep it protected. Instead of getting an ugly, easily torn nylon or neoprene case, check out some of the leather and canvas options out there. One of those great options is the Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve. 

Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve 1


Mission Mercantile was 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, as well as their Steamer Backpack (which we are giving away here).

You can learn a bit more about Mission Mercantile in my recent interview with Chuck Bowen, one of MM’s founders, who has a passion for serving “mission men and women” who love leather goods.

Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve 2


The Laptop Sleeve is made with full-grain vegetable tanned leather and thick waxed canvas. It’s designed to pair with the Steamer Backpack, which uses the same materials and is offered in matching colors. They both have a similar vintage aesthetic and look great as a pair or separate. The contrasting stitching looks great against the dark “Oil” colored leather.

The interior is lightly padded and lined with matching suede. It keeps your expensive electronics protected and scratch-free without being too large or bulky.

Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve 3


The Laptop Sleeve will hold up to a 16″ laptop. My trusty Macbook Pro is 13″ and fits nicely even with a bit of extra room on the sides. The padding holds it snugly. The closure is a straightforward strap and loop combination that’s simple enough for quick access but sturdy enough that it doesn’t feel like it will open up on its own.

Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve 4


The Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve is a beautiful, buy it for life item that will far outlast any laptop you put in it. And, you still have the chance to win this Laptop Sleeve AND the matching Steamer Backpack. Good luck!

Mission Mercantile Laptop Sleeve 5

GIVEAWAY: Mission Mercantile Steamer Backpack & Laptop Sleeve ($460 Value!)

We are excited to partner with Mission Mercantile to offer our readers the chance to win a Steamer Backpack & Laptop Sleeve set. This is a beautiful carry set that will last you a lifetime and more. The backpack and sleeve are made with full grain veg tanned leather and thick waxed canvas.

From our review of the Steamer Backpack:

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 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.

The giveaway runs til midnight on June 30th, when we will pick one lucky winner! Enter below – we have lots of ways to enter, so good luck!

Mission Mercantile Steamer Backpack – $460 Value

Mission Mercantile7 12898365_10153812210747013_7575149787560897235_o

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.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 5


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.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 3


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.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 1


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.

Mission Mercantile6

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.

Mission Mercantile8

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.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 4

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.

M Mercantile Steamer Backpack 2


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!*

Mission Mercantile7

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.

Mission Mercantile Weekender 2


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.”

Mission Mercantile Weekender 4


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.

Mission Mercantile Weekender 7

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.

Mission Mercantile Weekender 6


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).

Mission Mercantile Weekender 9


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!

Mission Mercantile Weekender 8 Mission Mercantile Weekender 1


Man on a Mission: An Interview with Chuck Bowen of Blue Artisan Group & Mission Mercantile

It’s been a big year for Chuck Bowen and the team at Blue Artisan Group. Just a year after opening their new factory in Leon, Mexico in late 2014, Chuck and the team launched their very own brand of leather goods known as Mission Mercantile. We spoke about how this new venture came to be, the inspiration behind it, and what’s next. 

What initially drew you to the leather industry?

In 2007, I was hired by Saddleback, and in 2008 I joined as CEO and helped open their leather factory called TrueBlue Productions. From 2007-2013 we enjoyed fantastic success, and I really developed a love for the materials, products, and people in the industry.

I’ve always been very drawn to organic materials. It started as I was growing up around dad’s hardware store in rural southern Georgia. Working, smelling, using tools he had had around for forty years. 

How did Blue Artisan Group and Mission Mercantile get their start?

In 2013 I left Saddleback and sold my interest in the factory. After I left, I took a sabbatical to refresh and take inventory. I talked to a lot of trusted friends, did a lot of thinking. Why wouldn’t I launch my own brand? It was just a yearning I couldn’t ignore. The icing on the cake was God sending four incredibly gifted partners.

We started the Blue Artisan Group factory first, at the end of 2014. Our ultimate heartbeat is that we’re artisans who love to create – so we decided to cofound Mission Mercantile together, and share this eternal passion for what we do.


Tell me a little bit about Blue Artisan Group.

The factory is a bootstrap startup in the same town as Saddleback’s factory – in Leon, in the state of Guanajuato. It’s in the heart of Mexico, in the leather region. People in the region have been making shoes for decades. It was a great place to start in 2008.

A little bit about our name: Blue– It’s the color of optimism, possibility, nobility. Artisan– we handcraft products with leather and canvas. We are true artisans, handcrafting. Group– we have bigger ideas around growing the business. It’s very tight-knit down at our factory. Side note, the acronym for Blue Artisan Group was a funny coincidence. We didn’t realize til after we named it that it spelled BAG!

What are your long term goals for BAG?

We want it to be the most sought-after North American creator of leather goods. We have five key goals. We take great care of our people, we handcraft remarkable products, we maintain high ethics, we delight our clients, and we innovate. Our goal is to be good stewards who make the most of what we have to work with.

What makes Blue Artisan Group unique as a leather products manufacturer?

Passion, experience, product development. Those things allow us to offer a “handshake lifetime product” through BAG and Mission Mercantile. Everyone on our team is aligned toward a singular goal. That goal is to make and sell some of the most remarkable items in the world. Our team operates as one.

What is the most beneficial aspect of having your own manufacturing capabilities for Mission Mercantile?

We have the ability to bring designs to life no matter the challenge, and we can work closely with the artisans. We can’t compromise for any reason if you’re making our kind of products, so we can offer uncompromising quality. We have the ability to make and keep our lifetime promise. It’s rare that you can control the entire lifecycle of the product. This translates into the greatest value for your customer.

What is the goal of Mission Mercantile?

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.


Can you tell us a bit about your product line and the inspiration behind it?

We take inspiration from old items, make improvements, and modernize things. Long list of products coming! The Tradesman Bag looks back to an original product from the early 1900s– a bag that was used for carpenters and tradesmen to carry materials.

Our weekender bag, the Stateroom, takes inspiration from bags that were carried by travelers. This bag showed that you were able to travel, and had money.

The steamer backpack had a couple inspirations. In steamship days people would travel with steamer trunks, which were these big open boxes with individual bags inside that people would back separately. We also took some inspiration from old Pony Express Bags. They have the same clasp around the back, but we didn’t include the lock.

The Ice Block Bag has a leather handle on the bottom so you can turn it upside down and dump out contents.

I don’t want to give too much away, but we place certain things in our products that we call Cracker Jack prizes. Authentic, vintage goodies that we slip in as prizes. You’ve seen the pillows in the bags..we want things to be usable, utilitarian.


What does your design process look like?

Our first step is sourcing and merchandising. We do a lot of research into yesteryear pieces. Early 1900s era. Some of the products we find give us a lot of design cues. We have sourced many original pieces, on Etsy, abroad, and many places. Each product embodies the values of the people that carry them. We’ll be sharing a lot of the stories on our website.

Once we’ve found pieces for inspiration, we work out the ideas through sketches unti we’re moved by what’s coming to life in front of us. Meanwhile we’re looking for materials that fit with this idea. The materials must be as remarkable as the design itself. This takes some time. I love naturally occuring materials – cotton canvas, leather, wood. Materials that were alive, had life.

Next, we model. We take that sketch and start to work it out on the table and craft by hand the physical form of the sketches. We work alongside sample makers to construct our “first born.”

No matter how ugly our “first born” is, we start working out the bugs. Construction, form, aesthetics, material functionality. We work through a series of samples until it’s ready – then it’s called a “blue tag.” We have lots of products in this stage now. Once we blue tag the bag, we send it to the artisans to reproduce. Then it’s on to the customer.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?

To narrow it down – become an avid student first. Never stop learning. There’s so much to learn about these materials, not to mention sourcing, manufacturing, design, branding, et cetera. The barrier to entry is fairly high. Find a great mentor, someone who will tell you the truth, talk you through, encourage you. Follow closely or work with a successful smaller brand to learn the ropes. Persistence will end up being the difference maker. It’s hard to be an overnight success and follow that up with more success.

One of the advantages we have is being vertically aligned with the factory. Our clients come first, but there are a lot of advantages of owning your own factory. Making decisions, sidestepping sourcing issues. It’s really critical if you can do it. Work with a manufacturer who takes a close approach and takes care of their clients.


What advice would you give consumers when looking for the right product?

How do you find the right one? There’s so much that consumers have to decide. Ask yourself: Will it give me joy? Will it give joy to the person I give it to as part of my legacy? Remember, it must improve with age. Make sure it won’t fail before you do. It should look its worst the day it comes out of the box. 

What are the “next steps” for Mission Mercantile?

Staying authentic. Continuing to attract people who are as fanatical as we are about our products and the way we make them. Continuing on our journey to become mission men and women.

Can you share some insight on any new additions to your product line?

In the near future, we’ll be honoring dads for Father’s Day. We’ll be launching lots of giftable items to last more than a lifetime. Wallets, bags, hunting gear, adventure products, and some tech products.

Long-term, we’ll be continually launching new products. We will soon be more than doubling our current offering. If they don’t turn heads, then we’ve missed the mark.