Over the last few years, you've seen a variety of reviews here for many different types of things. Having reviewed a great number of products recommended to take on your journeys, I realized that I had neglected one very important item: the one you use to carry all the things you'll need or want: a bag.
I went searching for cutting edge design, space age technology, super-plastics and other interesting materials, and even some carry-alls with gizmos built in, as I do love my gizmos... but I digress. When all was said and done, and after all the bags, packs, satchels, pouches, valises, and sacks were looked at, there was one company whose products I knew I had to review: Saddleback Leather Company.
A relatively young company, Saddleback Leather makes bags that look like something right out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. We're talking 1930s pulp adventurer chic. The aesthetics are old, not shiny and new like most of the gear I’ve looked at. Nothing they make is created out of space-age polymers or nanotech-built mega-plastics; it's all leather all the time. In short, this was the last sort of bag I was expecting to review when I started looking for one to carry through whatever trips you'd care to take. I contacted the company and they were kind enough to provide me with one of their extra large briefcases to review with the promise that I would push it to its limits and see if their motto was really true. That motto being the entertaining but slightly morbid "The bag they'll fight over when you're dead."
The extra-large briefcase was more reminiscent of a mid-sized satchel than anything meant to hold legal briefs. There were two main compartments in the bag, the smaller front compartment which had four smaller pouches for organization and the larger one intended to hold a 17" laptop, though I translated that space into carrying a change of clothing, and just about everything I'd need for a weekend away. On each side was a small open outside pocket as well. On the back was a "newspaper pocket" that covered the whole length and most of the height of the bag. The handle seemed to be riveted to a steel shank rather than just through the leather for durability. In addition to the handle was a long, adjustable shoulder strap with two carrying pads.
The leather of which the bag was constructed with was the most immediately impressive. It was soft and had a beautiful, slightly antiqued look to it and felt like soft suede. It was as heavy as the leather of the boots I was wearing. The strength of the leather was immediately obvious but came with a down-side: the bag by itself weighed almost twelve pounds. More on the leather later. The leather panels were sewn and riveted together at every seam and corner.