Short Version: Let’s kick this bag review week up a notch into the luxury bag market. Saddleback Leather specializes in bags made of real, well, saddle leather. It’s a full quarter-inch thick, carefully cut and stitched, and is heavy as the dickens. However, I’m pleased to report that this is one of the nicest laptop bags I’ve used.
So this bag costs $519. Just let that sink in before you continue. I know, right? I haven’t paid that much for a bag since I got a free laptop bag from Staples after buying six office chairs at my old job. But I think this bag is worth the extra cash.
The bag is made of saddle leather. It’s quite thick and hand stiched and lined inside with softened leather. Each joint is riveted and double stitched and the pockets large and spacious. Because the leather is so stiff you can fit a laptop, a camera, and a few other things in here and you won’t notice much of a change in size or shape.
Because of the materials used, Saddleback didn’t have a lot of leeway to add lots of goofy pockets and zippers. You basically get two large compartments, one containing four smaller compartments. You can only buckle the bag closed – there’s no quick way to shut it in a pinch – which means you could feasibly lose some things if you’re not careful.
The leather, at least in the Tobacco Brown model I tested, tends to take scratches very easily. There’s a method to this madness, however. Over time, the patina on this thing will be striking. You’re basically buying a bag that will last you at least a decade, if not longer.
Sadly, the whole Saddleback story is kind of goofy – something about bulls and bullfighting – and there’s also a 100 year warranty, which is nice to know. You can carry this thing well into the future. But please don’t hold that against them.
I got quite a few comments on this bag as I travelled through multiple airports. It is, in truth, very handsome and holds a surprising amount of stuff without too much of a jumble. Considering I’ve carried bags with twenty pockets or more and had horrible trouble finding anything in them, I’m quite pleased with the minimalist philosophy and excellent materials. There is also a rear pocket for magazines or an iPad.
Again, this isn’t for everybody, but it’s not high-priced for luxury’s sake. This is on par with a good pair of bike panniers or a nice camping backpack – it will survive many trials and end up an important part of your life for years.
Again, it’s a bit heavy, but the large strap with shoulder pads is one of the most comfortable I’ve worn and the huge steel rings bear the brunt of most laptops quite nicely.
Pastafarians take note: the “fake bottom” of this bag – essentially a little flap that covers the bottom and can hide a passport or cash – also contains a little book of Bible verses. Do with that information what you will. However, when it comes to leather laptop bags, Saddleback has a convert in me.
Check out the complete Bag Week Review Blitz: Back To School Edition coverage here.