Range Leather Co. Travellr XL Kickstarter – First Impressions

Range Leather Co. returns to the crowdfunding scene with a new, larger version of their Travellr dopp kit, and they’ve sent us one to give you our first impressions. This quality leather toiletry bag is made with thick Horween leather that looks fantastic and will do a great job holding and protecting all of your essentials. They also have an active Kickstarter campaign that will allow you to pick one of these up when you pledge at least $100. You can check out their Kickstarter page here.

About Range Leather Co.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with Range Leather Co. quite a bit here at BestLeather, from several reviews (including the original Travellr) to our exclusive three-part interview with founder Kyle Koster. In their workshop is in Laramie, Wyoming, they make products by hand that will “wear in, not out.” Check out the Range Leather Co. website to see their variety of everyday-carry and grooming leather products.

Construction & Leather

The Travellr XL is a very rugged dopp kit, made with thick, full grained Horween Buccaneer leather. There’s really no question that your items will be very well protected. Buccaneer is a pull-up leather. Not only does it have a slight color change effect when pulled, but this means that the waxes it has been stuffed with will help it resist water. Water splashed on the outside of this dopp will roll right off. It’s worth noting that no leather that hasn’t been sealed is completely waterproof. In addition, the underside of the leather (inside the dopp) will absorb water quickly.

I like that all the stitching on the ends of the Travellr XL is turned inward. This means those stitches are protected from any snags. The YKK zipper is very sturdy and reasonably smooth. The carrying strap is secured with copper rivets.

Should there be any issues with the construction at any point, Range Leather Co. offers a lifetime warranty to back up their products.


Functionally, a dopp kit is ultimately a very simple product. As you might expect from the name, the new Travellr XL can hold a good amount of toiletries. I was able to fit an electric toothbrush, toothpaste, two deodorants, beard trimmer, retainer (wearing faithfully for 7 years now!), sore throat spray, glasses case, and contacts case. None of these products were travel size!

In addition to the spacious size, the Travellr XL features a carry strap on one side and a hanging ring on the other. One thing I wish was added is some form of organizational pocket, whether inside or outside of the bag.


No doubt about it: this is a stunning dopp kit. The single-piece construction is nicely streamlined, and the pull up leather is simultaneously rugged and gorgeous. To some, a dopp may not be high on their priority list for items that must look good. I personally value being able to regularly use something that is not only functional, but beautiful. Makes life just that little bit better!


I haven’t been able to spend too much time with the Range Leather Co. Travellr XL, but more than enough to know this is a great product that I’m happy to recommend. Construction is top notch, materials are sturdy, the look is gorgeous. In addition, Range Leather Co. backs it all up with a lifetime guarantee. Swing by their already fully-funded Kickstarter and check it out.

Range Leather Travellr with Razor Case Review – $105

I am one of those guys that has a ton of grooming products. I like to try the crazy new grooming trends, switch up my cologne for the seasons, and stay on top of the best products the industry offers. It’s just the way I am. That being said, I also happen to appreciate quality leather products, so why not have a quality dopp kit like the Range Leather Travellr with a razor case to haul my grooming essentials around?

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Range Leather is small operation out of Spokane, Washington, focusing on accessory goods like valet trays, wallets, bracelets, and more, as well as taking custom orders. We have reviewed three other pieces from Range Leather in the past: the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case, the Gannet Wallet, and the Range Mug. BestLeather writer and fellow Washingtonian Jerry Higbee spent some time interviewing Kyle Koster, the founder of Range Leather, and I highly recommend spending the time reading through and listening to his series, A Range of Possibilities.

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The Range Leather Travellr is built by hand in the United States from a full grain Horween leather called Buccaneer. The Buccaneer leather is actually water resistant, so it makes perfect sense to be used for a dopp kit like the Travellr. The leather is paired with copper rivets, premium brass hardware, genuine YKK zippers and durable thread. At 9.5 inches long by 6 inches wide, and 2.5 inches deep, the Travellr is a practically constructed dopp kit.

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My only gripe (and it is a very small one) with the construction is that the zipper doesn’t quite close all the way because of the abrupt edge, but this will go away once the leather is worn and loosened just a bit. I have been using the Travellr for a few weeks, and it is still a joy to open it up every morning. Range Leather also offers a lifetime warranty, should anything break.

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I subscribe to Birchbox Man and receive new stuff every month, so I have a large stock of men’s products I like to carry with me in my Travellr. I am able to store my toothbrush, toothpaste, cologne, deodorant, body lotion, contact case, facial cleanser, shaving cream, and my razor, which is protected by the standard razor case. The razor cases are a very cool concept birthed from an unfortunate experience. They are equally useful for keeping your razor in tip-top shape and protecting yourself and others from slices.

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Although several of these are travel size, this is quite of list of grooming products that fit into this slim dopp kit. The slim size is perfect for slipping inside your bag or even attaching to the outside of a bag with the small D-ring. Over just a few weeks the Travellr has stretched just enough to fit all my products and still maintain a smooth, easy close of the YKK zipper.

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A dopp kit isn’t something people see you use all the time, so they often go unappreciated. But in the case of the Travellr, whether at home, a friend’s house, or even just packing for a trip, people notice it. The dark black leather contrasted by the brass hardware and tan logo is simply attractive. Not only do I find the Travellr to be visually appealing, its simple, easy to use design protects my often-expensive grooming products from numerous dangers.

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I know a lot of guys who are in serious need of a dopp kit upgrade. Do yourself a favor and get rid of that old, cheap, and tattered thing you store your grooming essentials in and start looking at your options. Range Leather is an excellent choice, and right now the Travellr and razor cases are discounted on Indiegogo. So head over and check out their campaign and snag a high quality, stylish, and lifetime-lasting dopp kit while you can.

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Range Leather Debuts Travellr Bag and Razor Case

Range Leather, based in Spokane, WA, has announced its third Kickstarter campaign. This time around they are offering a dopp kit, a standard razor cover, and a safety razor cover. The standard razor cover fits nearly all brands of men’s and women’s standard disposable razors. The dopp kit, dubbed the Travellr, is 9.5″ x 6″ x 2.5″, making it a useful size for a travel dopp kit or makeup bag. The dopp kit and razor cases come in all brown, or a black and brown combo.

“Travellr’s story began while traveling, when I reached into my bag and sliced open my finger on the exposed blade of my razor.  As a craftsman and leather worker, I responded by designing a razor case and travel bag so this would never happen again. Travellr is built in the US from full grain Horween leather called Buccaneer.  This specific tannage has a water resistant finish and is the perfect material for the Travellr Kit.  We craft each case by hand and assemble with copper rivets, premium brass hardware, genuine YKK zippers and durable thread. We are so confident in the construction of this bag- we are guaranteeing it for life.”

Although the Kickstarter was funded in less than two hours, you can still pick up a great dopp kit and razor case for 25-33% off retail price. We’ve been very impressed with some of Range Leather’s other products, like the Sanford Pipe Tobacco CaseRange Mug, and Gannet Wallet. Check out the Kickstarter hereRangeLeatherTravellrKitWholeRangeLeatherDoppBlackMakeupRangeLeatherDoppRazorBrownWEB

Range Leather Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case Review – $145

I have recently taken up the hobby of smoking tobacco pipes. A good friend of mine introduced me to this classy and timeless pastime, and I instantly fell in love. But being the leather-loving guy that I am, I knew that if I was going to invest in smoking tobacco, I needed to have an equally classy and refined leather case to store my smoking essentials. Today I am reviewing the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case from our friends at Range Leather.

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Range Leather is small operation out of Spokane, Washington, focusing on accessory goods like valet trays, wallets, bracelets, and more, as well as taking custom orders. We have reviewed two other pieces from Range Leather in the past: the Gannet Wallet and the Range Mug. BestLeather writer and fellow Washingtonian Jerry Higbee spent some time interviewing Kyle Koster, the founder of Range Leather, and I highly recommend spending the time reading through and listening to his series, A Range of Possibilities.

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The Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case is constructed by hand using Horween English Tan Dublin Leather and .035” waxed polycord from Maine Thread Company. This particular leather is very oily, so it marks and scuffs easily. The case when closed is 7 inches long by 4 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick. When the case is unrolled and open, it measures 12 inches by 7 inches.

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The leather is extremely durable, but allows just enough stretch room to snugly fit your pipe smoking necessities. The closing strap has two positions to allow more room for two smaller pipes or one larger and more accessories. I have been using the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case for a few months now, and I have yet to find any defect in the construction.

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As I have grown into an avid pipe tobacco smoker, I have found the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case to be an excellent addition to my smoking accessories. I store my Rigoletto pipe, a few pipe cleaners, a Zippo lighter, a pipe cleaning tool, and two 1oz bags of tobacco blends. I am not sure I would be able to fit two pipes in the pouch, but this isn’t a problem for me because I have only one primary smoking pipe. I have been thoroughly impressed with how the Sanford case has performed so far, and I look forward to using it for many years as I grow into a smoking connoisseur.

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Like most products made from Horween Leather, this piece is beautiful. The oily leather is marked and stretched easily to create an attractive patina. The leather goes very well with all types of pipes, and matches the classy aesthetic of a typical tobacco smoker perfectly. On the Range Leather website, the current photos of the pipe case are from the previous version. Kyle is currently waiting on updated product photos, so use the photos in my review to look over the case. The Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case will only get better with age, and it certainly will last longer than my lungs.

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I believe that the $145 price tag on the Sanford Pipe Tobacco Case is a fair and demonstrated price. If you are looking for a classy leather case to conveniently keep your entire assortment of tobacco pipe smoking accessories in, this hand-made, high-quality product from Range Leather is a highly recommended option.

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Range Leather Gannett Wallet Review – $45

I credit host Monty Hall of Let’s Make A Deal with the quote “Good things come in small packages.” While he wasn’t the first person to utter the quote, we all understand his meaning – sometimes what’s inside the little box is going to be worth far more than what’s behind the large door. Such is the case with the resurgence of interest in minimalist wallets. Leather crafters have responded to this interest, and with the Gannett Wallet, Kyle Koster of Range Leather has added his entry into the minimalist market.

While you might at first think making such a small, simple wallet would be easy, the case is exactly the opposite. Not only does the artisan need to create a functional, aesthetically appealing wallet, but they must do it using fewer materials and in a smaller package than your typical billfold.


About Range Leather

We’ve talked in depth with Kyle Koster of Range Leather in our three part interview series A Range of Possibilities, and if you haven’t had a chance, take a look at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  In brief, Kyle is a leather aficionado who found the craft later in life after having lived in places like Hong Kong, Mongolia, and Chicago.  He started his own company manufacturing a quick-connect guitar strap, and from there, fate led him into the world of leather.

Today, Kyle splits his time between Washington and Wyoming, while juggling the ins and outs of a small business on its way up.


Simple construction, to me, is a hallmark of anything bearing the title or description of “minimalist.” The Gannett wallet weighs in at 1.1 ounces (31 grams). By comparison, that’s eleven pennies, six nickels, or twelve dimes – a little bit of change in your pocket, or barely enough to notice the weight.  Dimensions of the wallet measure 3 7/8″ (height) x 2 3/8″ (width) x 3/8″ (thickness), which is large enough to fit credit cards in the two available slots. Even with the light, compact design, Range Leather still uses a 9/10 ounce Horween leather for the entire piece. The wallet is going to be nearly indestructible with with the double-stitched, wax-coated, polyester thread.


Stamped on one corner of the wallet is the word ‘Range’, so there is no doubt where this piece comes from.


You all know what to do – it is a wallet after all. There are two slots for cards, one on each side of the wallet, and a slot for your folded paper money on one side. If you are at all curious as to why there is a million dollar bill in our photos, we left it there on purpose.  During my interview with Kyle, he noted that in testing, people had a hard time discerning what the slit on that side of the wallet was for.  By placing a (clearly fake) bill in the slot, it became obvious for its intended purpose.


We recommend not putting more than 3 cards in each of the two slots.  Too many cards will end up stretching the leather out, and since the slots on this wallet are a bit of “open concept”, they could easily fall out if anything is left loose.  The best placement of this wallet is going to be in an interior pocket, or your pants pocket, where you’ve got an extra layer material to ensure you items always stay in place.




I don’t like the feel of items bulging out in my pockets, so when I do have to keep anything in them, I prefer small and compact.  This wallet makes sure you’re not going to feel much of a bulge wherever you decide to carry it with you. Of interest, and I’m sure they designed it this way, is that the wallet conforms to the golden ratio in terms of it’s height and width. In good company with the Great Pyramids, the Parthenon, and the way Da Vinci considered his dimensions for The Last Supper, the wallet has a pleasing look and feel to it based on dimensions alone.


The wallet is available in Maple and Black, with the black wallet using black no-contrast stitching in our reviewed version.  Both the maple and black versions show a light-colored contrast stitching on their web site. As I didn’t see an option for checking the stitching color, I asked Kyle to clarify the colors used, and he indicated they use black and natural (light-color) thread on the black wallet, while the brown version has the option of brown or natural colored thread.


You can get into the Gannett Wallet for a price of $45.00 (US). If you find yourself questioning the price tag, keep in mind that 9/10 ounce leather is much more expensive than the typical 4/5 ounce leather used in many types of wallets. Range Leather also puts all of their wallets together by hand.  All things considered, it’s a fair price for a handmade minimalist wallet. It goes without saying that if you’re someone who needs every punch card, credit card, and store card at your beck and call, this wallet isn’t for you. If you’re looking for small ways to simplify your life by carrying just the essentials, you’ll love this wallet. It’s sturdy, tough, and has that pleasing golden ratio that is sure to draw the attention of those with an appreciation for the finer things in life when you pull it out of your pocket.



Range Leather – The Range Mug Review – $30

The Mason Jar was invented in 1858 by John Landis, a Philadelphia tinsmith responsible today for billions of well-preserved canned fruit and re-gifted dry soup mixes. When Mr. Landis invented the jar and sealing lid, he may not have envisioned using the sturdy jar as a precursor for a handy mug.

Kyle Koster of Range Leather, however, did have this vision: he created the Range Leather Range Mug.  As a combination of high quality, 10-ounce Horween leather thoughtfully put together with a wide-mouth, pint Mason jar, the mug is a unique addition to the wide world of uses encompassed by the home canning jar.




Kyle started Range Leather after customers who favored his Hogjim nylon guitar straps and locking mechanism asked for a guitar strap made of leather.  He began taking lessons from an old cowboy at Tandy Leather in Spokane, Washington, and from that, making the guitar straps became a reality.

However, the straps and locks were such a success that he decided to license the design out to a large company who can ensure wide distribution in time for the holiday season.  Since Kyle had the skills to work the leather, but no product to produce due to the licensing agreement, he started coming up with other product ideas of everything from wallets to pipe cases.  It was still up to him, however, to find a reliable source of leather for his small but growing company.


Having grown up in Chicago where Horween Leather is located, he visited their facilities and fell in love with their leather, as well as their desire to work with small companies.  He managed to procure a large amount of high quality leather from Horween and has never looked back since then.  Today, he only uses Horween Leather in his products, and the Range Mug is no exception.

You can learn a bit more about Kyle’s story and inspiration in our audio interview series, found here.


The mug is constructed of a 10-ounce leather sourced from the Chicago-based Horween Leather. The leather handle is secured to the sleeve with two Chicago screws.  The sleeve is finished by hand sewing to fit the wide mouth Mason jar. Chicago screws are a type of fastener with a barrel-shaped flange and a protruding boss with an internal thread.  This type of screw ensures the leather fits snug against the jar and won’t ever stretch out of shape.


The overall weight of the jar and sleeve is 14.6 ounces, which probably doesn’t make it amenable to the weight-concerned hiker.  In this case, you’re going to be trading weight considerations for function and aesthetics.  I found it to be a trade in my favor, as I’m not much of a back country hiker.


The heavy duty leather sleeve is designed to fit around a 16-ounce wide mouth Mason jar.  Both sleeves I tested fit snugly around the jars.  As a test, I filled the jars with water and sealed the lids on tight.  Holding the jars upside down and shaking them, I noticed no leaks, and the sleeves stayed in place despite my best efforts.


While conducting my test, I found I like the way the mug fits in my hand.  I have large hands, and was able to put three fingers through the handle, with my thumb opposite, giving a solid grip that would prevent me from dropping the mug.  I was also able to hold it by putting four fingers through the handle with my thumb on top in a more traditional “coffee-drinking” style.  For cold days with hot beverages, I’d recommend the first method of holding.  For warmer days with cold beverages, I would choose the second, unless you prefer to have cold hands.  The third style of holding this mug, for the true pros, is to use the two-handed wrap around method to give both of your hands an opportunity to stay warm or cool, depending upon your beverage.


One concern I had with the sleeves is that they would loosen over time due to the natural tendency for leather to stretch.  When I interviewed Kyle, we discussed this concern, and he noted that after six months of use, he hadn’t seen this become an issue with his test sleeves.  Minimizing the possibility of stretching is also the reason he used a heavier leather in the construction.  The overhanging lip on the upper portion of the Mason jar also prevents the sleeve from slipping upward.  The raised lettering found over the outer surface of the jar adds to the friction between the jar and the sleeve.

My favorite feature of the Range Mug is that the thickness of the leather and its tendency to act as an insulator means the mugs make a fantastic hand warmer with hot beverages.  Even if the liquid in the mug is too hot to drink, it will radiate heat throughout the leather sleeve that is pleasant to the touch, like holding your hands over a warm car heater.

It is also important to note that as with all leather, you’ll want to remove the sleeve prior to washing the jar.  Leather doesn’t do well when it gets exposed to liquids over long periods of time.  Should the sleeve get damp, simply wipe it clean with a dry paper towel.


The Range Mug bring an aesthetic element to the Mason jar that elevates it far above the simple drinking vessel used for summertime iced tea and college parties.  I can envision them in coffee shops, restaurants, and homes where you want something more than just the traditional coffee cup.


The colors available to us were brown and black, traditional colors that go well with pretty much any décor.  The stitching is a minimal contrast stitching that goes well with the embossed border surrounding the sleeve.  We recently had a group of friends over for a birthday party who hadn’t seen the mug before, and all of the comments were that they liked the simple, sturdy design in the way it looked and felt.  If you can’t trust the opinion of the majority, who can you trust?


By the success of the Kickstarter campaign Kyle ran for the Range Mug, it is already a success.  With an initial goal of $2,000 (which he met in four days), he was able to raise over $8,000 to fund the initial materials purchase and manufacturing of the mugs.


At the price point of $30 per mug, it’s a good value for what you’re getting.  Anytime a craftsman uses leather this heavy in a product, it adds significantly to the materials cost.  While Kyle could have used a lighter leather in the construction, I’m glad he didn’t. The thickness provides great insulation, is resistant to stretching, and looks good.

The biggest issue you’re going to have with the Range Mug is on deciding how many to purchase.  While we can’t help you with that decision, we can tell you that the mug is solid and good looking, and will elicit comments from admirers whether you have these in your household or place of business.



A Range of Possibilities – Part 2: An Audio Interview with Leather Virtuoso Kyle Koster

In the first part of our interview with Kyle Koster, creator and owner of Range Leather, we covered a number of topics from his entry into the trade to the ethics of creating luxury goods with leather.  If you haven’t had a chance to read or listen to the first part of the interview, you can find it here.  Rather than draw it out with a lengthy introduction, we present the second of three parts in our series of with Kyle.


BL: It’s pretty close to the holiday shopping season, though for some retailers you’d think it started in July.  What plans do you have for Range Leather this holiday season?

KK: This is really the first Christmas that we’ll be fully geared up to be in business which is nice in that we’ve had time to prep both products and just inventory in a sense. So we are doing some Christmas shows, different ones. We’re actually doing one this weekend.

There are tons of different – from like high schools in this area. All have craft shows. Those are like the smallest shows we’ve done, but there have been some larger shows, even in Spokane. We’ve traveled to Portland and different things, to shows.


Listen to what Kyle has to say


BL: What do you find to be one of the biggest hurdles when you’re trying to prepare for a show or, better yet, your first holiday season?

KK:  I think the biggest one that always happens is working capital within a business. Your hides are expensive. People don’t understand. They really are expensive, and then to buy like quantity, and to not know when you’re going. If you’re making to order obviously it’s easy as a business. If you’re making inventory for a show or a craft fair, whatever it is, you have to have a large amount of each item that you create in stock because some shows you’ll sell a ton of minimalist wallets. Then the next show you’ll sell very few minimalist wallets, and you’ll sell key chains and bracelets and stuff like you can’t believe. So you have to have quite a bit of inventory stocked up. That means obviously you have to have quite a bit of hides.

One of the reasons we did this Range Mug Kickstarter was because we hadn’t worked with 9 or 10 ounce leather at all, and so I had stayed away just because of this being a hurdle. Obviously 9 or 10 ounce leather is more expensive, and it’s for wallets, and for what we originally were doing I didn’t need it. I could do 4 to 6 ounce, I kind of like 4.5 to 5 for wallets or at least the ones we do.

This Kickstarter with the Range Mug we’re raising money because we’re going to place a pretty large order with Horween for 9 or 10 ounce leather. That’s a huge hurdle. It’s like funding that, especially because I funded every business. It’s been a blessing. We haven’t taken on any investors or anything like that. That’s probably the biggest hurdle is working capital. 

Listen to what Kyle has to say:


BL: Let’s get technical for a moment – what you mean when you’re talking about a 5-ounce leather versus a 10-ounce leather?

KK: Probably the best way is to either go on line and look at a scale or a chart, but leather is going to go by ounces starting at maybe 2 ounces.

It’s thickness. So if you would measure the thickness – it does go in mm is usually the best way. But you can look at a chart, and it goes up. It doesn’t jump equally. The difference between 6 and 7 ounces may not necessarily be the difference between 9 and 10 ounces if that makes sense. But you can look at the chart, so it’s going up in thickness of the leather.

The best way you can use a caliper or a leather gauge, and you can get your 1.9 mm, 1.8, and look at. And that’s the crazy thing. Each piece of leather is going to – most of them are sold 4.5 or 5 ounce even because each hide has a variation. That’s one of the things I like about leather. Every piece is essentially unique, where it comes from on the hide, the animal, everything. Your medium is not square is what I always tell people.

Listen to what Kyle has to say:


BL: It’s all about the leather when you get right down to it.  What’s your preference: vegetable-tanned, chrome-tanned, or otherwise?

KK: That’s a good question. The veg tan leather I like. I really have been liking some of Horween’s Dublin as well. That is a great tannage from them.

It’s Horween’s – I can’t remember exactly, but it’s a veg tan leather, and then working with Chromexcel which is a chrome tan, and then it’s re-veg tanned. That’s kind of like their staple, but between those two it’s kind of what I enjoy working with. I don’t know. Even when you’re working with it you can tell how the edges burnish up and different things like that.


I found kind of the colors I like the best from them. My favorite is their whiskey color; it’s a beautiful rich brown. For our Range mug we’re doing natural Dublin which is really cool. On the Kickstarter page you can see what the natural looks like. It’s really really good-looking stuff. The pull up on that if you like creased over the leather you can see maybe the best way to describe it is a different variation of color. The Dublin has a really really rich – it just kind of looks rugged from the start.

Listen to what Kyle has to say:


BL: With all that fine leather, we know you’re making some pretty cool products.  What can you tell us about your most recent Kickstarter project and how the stretch goals have helped make the Range Mug a success?

KK: In the Kickstarter project where we are we put a stretch goal for both black and brown, so adding 2 additional colors as your project maybe goes beyond what you thought it would go or what you wanted it to go, or the goal you set for it. You can release stretch goals. People with Kickstarter are familiar. We did one at five thousand dollars. We were releasing brown and black as additional colors to our natural Dublin, and I just got some samples in. Actually I don’t have any of the natural today because we’re going to have to place the large order with Horween, so here’s a brown and a black.

Listen to what Kyle has to say:


BL: I checked, and as of this interview, you’re pretty close to your first stretch goal.  How close are you away from your goal? Why do you think this project has been so successful already?

KK: Like sixty dollars. I fully expect that to be – we still have a week or so left. They’re sturdy.

You know one of the things we do is a hand stitch line down ours which I think really adds character to it. In all the products I like to have some sort of hand stitch worked in. We do everything 100% hand-stitched, don’t use any sewing machines. The reason for that is with a hand stitch like a saddle stitch you’re going to get twice the thread thru every hole. You’re actually using 2 needles on a thread going back and forth, whereas a sewing machine essentially loops and pulls, and if 1 string breaks the whole integrity of the stitch is gone. With the saddle stitch you’re getting double the thread because you’re

Listen to what Kyle has to say:

There you have it for part two of our interview with Kyle Koster, creator and owner of Range Leather.  In the third and final part of our interview, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of the Range Mug, the Sanford Leather Pipe Tobacco Case, and what it was like to live in Hong Kong.  We’ll also have Kyle’s final words on how he finds satisfaction in working with his hands in a business world that always seems to demand more of the mighty dollar.


A Range of Possibilities – Part 1: An Audio Interview with Leather Virtuoso Kyle Koster

The day before Halloween was filled with mad dashes through the candy aisle of overstocked grocery stores in attempts to avoid trickery on All Hallows Eve.  While many of us were considering the rapidly dwindling stock on the shelves of those temporary Halloween stores as our only means to costume contest salvation, Kyle Koster was taking time out his busy day to speak with me on life and his consideration of all things leather.


The road he took to start Range Leather wasn’t direct.  He’s lived in Hong Kong, Mongolia, and Chicago on his journey, and now finds himself splitting his time between Spokane, Washington and Wyoming.  He is a busy man, so we’re grateful we had a chance to speak with him at length on all things of life, leather, and the pursuit of happiness.

The audio of Kyle’s answers are included at the end of each question.  The text has been edited from the audio for clarity in reading.  As I interviewed Kyle at the Flour Mill here in Spokane, Washington, you’ll occasionally be treated to the background noise of passers-by as they do their shopping on a lazy Friday afternoon.

On a final note, we got so much material in this interview that I’ll be splitting it into a few parts to make it more manageable to read through (or listen to) in one sitting.

BL: How did you get started in the leather business?

KK: So, it’s a little complicated. I’ll give you a quick back story here. Three years ago I started a guitar accessory company and created a couple different locking mechanisms to quickly interchange your strap on and off your guitar and created that through injection molding, created a design. It’s produced in an injection mold; it’s a separate company. I was making a nylon strap.

Kind of the idea was, when you get customers, they would say, “Hey, I’d love a leather strap with your strap locks and your quick-connect system.” Kind of just started thinking about leather.

I started taking some lessons from this old cowboy at Tandy, kind of picking his brain, stopping in there. This was a little over a year ago, just coming in, just learning and trying things.

I just always had this fascination with doing something with my hands. I have always liked building, I have always liked design, and so I was looking for something tangible. So I thought, that would be a great way to make these leather straps and put them on a product we already have that we’re selling.

In January we ended up licensing that product out, the guitar accessory site out. It’s all licensed to a large company.  It’s going to hit here at Christmastime. It will be public and get picked up through distribution.

So once I had this skill, then I could not technically make the straps. I kind of foresaw that, and it wasn’t going in a direction where I would be making the straps, so I just started making things myself, made a wallet, did a whole bunch of designs. I really enjoy designing, and just started using it.

Then I had some friends who said, “Hey, I’d love one of those.” It kind of just kept rolling. I gave some away, some more here. It’s actually our minimalist that we started with which we did the first Kickstarter for.

I was home last Christmas. I grew up in Chicago. So, of course, I thought I should go down to Horween just to see it. I took a trip down with my wife. We went to Horween and walked thru. They’re great. I was just so encouraged about their desire to work with small companies.

One of the guys, Johnnie, told me how Timberland was one of their first customers and struggled to meet purchase orders and stuff, and they worked with them and worked with them. Now they’re huge. He just has this desire to work with the smaller companies. They started Tannery Row that is their side if you’re familiar. It’s kind of like they’re focused on the smaller company side, but you can still get Horween leather thru them.

I was able to get a bunch of leather, came back and started. Pretty much since day one I have only used Horween leather, which is, pretty spoiled for that reason because I absolutely love it. I have seen some other stuff. It is super premium for anything you could find out there.

That’s just kind of how it started, and then we launched that first Kickstarter.

Listen to what Kyle has to say:


BL: What were you doing before you decided to devote your working hours to the leather trade?

KK: Absolutely. Crazy story. I graduated from the University of Illinois with a finance degree, still haven’t used it per se.

Right after I graduated I actually applied to be a youth pastor at a bunch of different churches, and I got a position in Hong Kong. I got on a plane and moved over there as a youth intern in a youth ministry. Lived there for 2 years, learned a lot about manufacturing. Living is crazy expensive in Hong Kong.

One of the families who hosted me had an extra room, and I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with them because it is crazy expensive for an apartment and stuff.

Anyway, a lot of what people do in Hong Kong is do logistics for someone who wants to make something in Southeast Asia, the US, or the UK. He works with a bunch of kitchenware companies as his primary. So I learned some stuff about that just kind of on the side.

I ended up moving to Mongolia (laughing); bear with me. Moved to Mongolia for just a short period of time.

The guitar accessory company is actually called Hogjim Guitar Gear. Hogjim is the Mongolian word for music. Kind of bridged that gap. I worked with some missionaries there doing food distribution and a bunch of stuff just for a short period of time.

Then I moved back to the States, moved back to Chicago. Kind of had that reverse culture shock going on after being abroad 2-1/2 years. Moved out to Wyoming. My cousin lived out there, moved in with her and her husband and their 4 kids. Got plugged into Wyoming really like that. Lived out there for a little bit. That’s where I actually started Hogjim, and everything, the LC is based out of there. My wife and I are going back there in December. We’ll kind of be in between Spokane and Wyoming for a little while.

Listen to what Kyle has to say:


BL:We discovered you through your Kickstarter campaign for the Range Mug. Have you used other Kickstarter campaigns in the past to help build your business?

Continue reading “A Range of Possibilities – Part 1: An Audio Interview with Leather Virtuoso Kyle Koster”

Range Leather Announces Kickstarter

Range Leather, from Spokane, Washington, recently launched their Kickstarter campaign on October 7th to introduce their newest offering, the Range Mug. Their campaign runs through November 6th, and while it has already exceeded its original goal, they’re looking to their “stretch goals” to be able to offer additional enhancements and features customers have been asking for. Kyle Koster, owner and creator of the company, put it best with this direct quote from their campaign:


“Our latest endeavor at Range Leather Co. was to design the most versatile drinking container to accompany any adventure.  Our goal was to combine an everyday product with the timeless look and vintage feel of genuine leather.  The Range Mug is built from the finest 10 oz Horween leather, secured with Chicago screws and is hand stitched to fit around a wide mouth Mason Jar. “


Range Leather Co. believes that working with your hands is a respectable trade, so that’s what they do. Range is dedicated to creating timeless products, guaranteed to wear in and not out.


The Range Mug insulates against both hot and cold liquids allowing you to enjoy a variety of beverages such as coffee, tea, water, soft drinks, sweet tea and beer. From camping to business meetings, you’re sure to find that the Range Mug is the ideal beverage container.


The Range Mug is offered until November 6th on Kickstarter for 30% OFF the retail price to any backer willing to help this project off the ground. That means acquiring a Range Mug for just $22 on their campaign site. Having nearly reached their first stretch goal, the project will soon release both brown and black leather to go with their natural color.

You can find out more about everything Range Leather offers on their web site or by visiting their Instagram page.