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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Sandast Debbie Backpack – 17 Months Later

Francis Bacon said, “Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” He’s certainly spot on…but, I’d add one more element to the list and that is fine leather goods. Age is not an enemy to well made leather, but a welcomed ally who helps take what is beautiful when new to spectacular as it ages.

Back in September of 2014, I unboxed my first piece of Sandast’s leather goods. And, I’m extremely happy to say that since then I’ve added several more beautiful pieces, which will be reviewed here in the next few weeks. Since producing the initial review on the Debbie Backpack it has been a constant companion for my wife and has traveled many, many miles with her. It has accompanied her several times on travels throughout the Pacific Northwest, trips to New Jersey and Florida. And of course it has accompanied her locally on hundreds of occasions.

Sandast Gregory Update 1

After consistent use in the past 17 months here are some highlights of the Debbie Backpack:

  • Plenty of storage
  • Plenty of pockets/pouches for organization
  • Ease of entry – this is a big deal for my wife. She pretty emphatic about her lack of interest in using buckles or lobster style clasps to get in and out of bags. She wants egress that’s quick and easy. Sandast delivers just that for her with the tuck lock closure on the main flap and the magnetic closures on the outside pockets.
  • Ease of carry and comfort. This may trump style and appearance for her at times. Ultimately, the Debbie Backpack meets these needs and scores big time on the aesthetic side of things too. While on a family reunion/vacation to Disney World in the fall of 2015 she carried this bag for miles and hours at a time traipsing through the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Springs, and Hollywood Studios. Naturally, it performed flawlessly for her and ne’er was a complaint ever mentioned.
  • It gets noticed. In spite of the hordes of people standing in line after line while at Disney multiple people commented and questioned her about the pack. The same holds true of flight attendants, TSA workers, and desk clerks at hotels…the Debbie pack garners attention.

Sandast Gregory Update 3

The Debbie Backpack was beautiful right out of the box. But, I must say it’s looking much more awesome now. Time and use…these are great companions for quality leather goods. As mentioned in the initial review article, Sandast uses vegetable tanned leather from Horween. One of the great hallmarks of vegetable tanned leather is its ability to develop a patina unique to the user. Typically vegetable tanned leather darkens with use and develops a much deeper and more robust color. The Debbie Backpack has ‘matured’ nicely. The cognac color is a bit deeper and the grain of the leather, which was already beautiful, is just much more prevalent and takes center stage when you take time to truly examine the bag.

The interior plaid fabric is still in pristine condition and I expect it will stay that way for many years to come. The hardware on the backpack is aging equally well too. This is the benefit of utilizing true, high quality hardware. The Riri zipper, the French made buckles, the drawstring end caps, and the Italian made tuck lock all continue to perform flawlessly and maintain their classy appearance.

Sandast Gregory Update 5
The Debbie in line at Magic Kingdom

As far as maintaining and caring for the leather, this is certainly not laborious. The Debbie Backpack has only had a couple of treatments with an all natural cleaner conditioner (props to DropForge Leather Care’s Leather Cream) and that’s it. Really, not much more is necessary. There are folks who will disagree – even companies who ascribe to the idea that you must “feed your leather” with their products. Perhaps that’s so with their particular bags…but, that would make me question the true quality of their leather’s tanning process if it dries out that easily.

Remember, one of the hallmarks of great vegetable tanned leather is the patina. Time and use are the way that is developed properly. To think your bag will maintain the “as new” look forever by applying copious amounts of conditioners, creams, oils, and the like is really misguided. Your great vegetable tanned leather bag is supposed to change with age. Let it. Yes, protect it – but don’t work feverishly on it in the fruitless attempt to keep it in “new” condition. “Live Your Legacy”, which is Sandast’s mantra, is exactly what I’m talking about here. Let your bag develop that legacy…it’s designed to do it. The cool part is the role you play in that legacy and what it becomes.

The Sandast Debbie Backpack is truly an outstanding product and as mentioned in the initial review, it’s well worthy of the Buy It For Life title. It’s worth every dollar. As you use it and appreciate it over time, you’ll never regret your decision to purchase it.

Sandast Gregory Update 2Sandast Gregory

Sandast Debbie Pack – $730

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


About Sandast

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

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



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


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

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


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



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

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


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

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



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

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



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