23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice briefcase, but understand what you are getting.
This review is for the medium classic briefcase in chestnut, which I received as a gift recently. I had been eyeballing the Saddleback briefcase for 2 or 3 years so I have done a lot of thinking, comparison shopping, reading of reviews, and examining them first hand when I saw one out and about. Also, as I mention in another comment here, I am a leather craftsman (belts...
Published 11 months ago by Dr. Porcupine
1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great looking but dysfunctiontal
After much research I bought this bag, its too heavy you cannot get it in a car extremely clumsy. I forced to use it for a year finally gave it away
The 100 year warranty is really not a big deal you wont use it much
Published 2 months ago by needleye
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice briefcase, but understand what you are getting.,
This review is from: Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase Large (Apparel)This review is for the medium classic briefcase in chestnut, which I received as a gift recently. I had been eyeballing the Saddleback briefcase for 2 or 3 years so I have done a lot of thinking, comparison shopping, reading of reviews, and examining them first hand when I saw one out and about. Also, as I mention in another comment here, I am a leather craftsman (belts and holsters mostly) so I know a thing or two about leather - indeed, I'm a bit obsessed with it.
The Saddleback is replacing a soft-side leather briefcase made by Samsonite that I bought in 1993. It has served me well, but is a bit on the small side for my needs and is suffering from the very problems that the Saddleback company is trying to avoid: cheap components and construction that make the bag wear out before it should. The Samsonite I have used cost me $100 and was made with some nice soft leather. The leather has held up wonderfully over the years especially since I treated it every year or so with some Lexol conditioner. The shoulder strap was the first part to go. It was made with two pieces of leather strap that met in the middle and was sewn onto the shoulder pad. Seams are the Achilles heel for a leather product and this was the fatal flaw for the strap. Because the shoulder strap wasn't a single piece all the way from end-to-end, it began the seams began to pull apart after a few years. Then the backing on the shoulder pad began to crack and come apart. It was then I confirmed what I had suspected and lamented; the bag was made of nice leather, but the trim was made with inferior vinyl. Your leather product is only as good as the weakest materials in it, so why would a company make a very nice leather bag with cheap and far less durable vinyl? I made a replacement strap and it has held up just fine. Next, the trim along the seams began to crack and fail. It was also vinyl. The lining started to go next, as it was a cotton fabric. The hardware has held up reasonably well, but was obviously on the way to failure.
I give this description to point out the benefit of the Saddleback briefcase. It has heavy-duty hardware, is made with nothing but leather, and all the stress points are reinforced. If my $100 Samsonite has lasted me almost 20 years, certainly the Saddleback will last me a lifetime. The seams are stitched with heavy thread, double and triple stitched at major stress points, rivets are added, and many areas subject to stretching have a synthetic nylon strip sewn in to help keep the leather from stretching too much. The fasteners are simple buckles with no springs to break or wear out. It's a rugged bag made for heavy use. If you are just looking for a bag to lug around heavy items (I'm a college professor and I regularly carry around my laptop and many books), this will do it. If you plan to use it for carrying a folder or two back and forth to the office, this may not be the best bag for you. Rather, you may want to consider the thin briefcase made by Saddleback or one of their satchels. This bag can be converted into a backpack, and although it's unlikely I will use this feature, it's a nice option to have just in case.
Lets talk about the biggest complaint I've read here and elsewhere: it's heavy. Yes, it's a bit on the heavy side. It's a big briefcase made of thick full-grain cowhide leather with a smooth pigskin lining and heavy-duty hardware. That's heavy stuff. I don't particularly mind it because I am used to carrying a heavy briefcase. However, if you are accustomed to carrying a nylon bag or thin leather bag, this will be quite an adjustment for you.
Next complaint I commonly see is that it's stiff. Yes, it's a bit stiff when new. High-quality full-grain leather is stiff when it's new. This is not garment leather like on a leather jacket or a sofa. For those familiar with the process of breaking in a new baseball glove or shoes, this bag is no different. It's much more rigid when new, but with time and use, it will soften and loosen up. It takes time, which for me is part of the allure of a nice leather bag. I love the experience of watching it break-in over time.
As far as size goes, I think the large bag is probably the best choice for most people. I received the medium bag and it's almost too small for me. I carry a 13" MacBook Pro in a neoprene sleeve and it's a tight fit into the bag from side to side. This may be related to the bag being new and will ease up as the bag breaks in a bit. It's not so tight that it's going to damage the computer, but it's a little more snug than I am used to (kind of like trying on new shoes after wearing your trustee broken in pair). If you have an average size laptop, it is very unlikely you will be able to fit it into a medium bag. Front-to-back there is plenty of room in the bag for my laptop, cords, accessories, books, papers, etc. If you need a little extra space for small items, you may want to consider the pouch Saddleback makes and the owner clips onto the front of his briefcase. Being a leather worker, I made myself a shameless copy of their pouch (pouches are much easier to make than fancy briefcases) and I use it to carry my keys, my phone, a pocket knife, pens, etc. I also regularly slip my iPad into the pocket on the back (in a leather sleeve I made for it) and it works fine. I considered trading my medium in for a large, but when it came time to box it up and send it back, I just couldn't do it since it was a gift from my wife and I am sentimental like that.
And that brings me to my next point, which is Saddleback's customer service. I found them to be extremely friendly and efficient. The company is based in Texas, but as of the time of this writing, they have employees all over the US who work remotely. I tell this to demonstrate how well they can deal with customer issues. Over the course of a few days, I communicate with 4 different people in 4 different states, but my emails were answered quickly and each person appeared to be up-to-speed on the previous communications. I had contacted Saddleback a few times in the past to ask questions about their products and I was always answered quickly with no pressure to buy their products. The company claims to have a 100 year warranty, and from experiences I have read on the Internet (surely they are all true because you can't put anything on the web that isn't true), they do stand behind their products when there is a problem. As far as a return policy, it appears that for warranty issues, they cover the shipping costs. If you want to do an exchange as in my case, all shipping costs are yours. They will issue a return authorization, and all returns must be in as-new condition. They will then credit you for the cost of the return and you place an order for a new item.
Another question I have seen on these bags is about where they are made. My investigation has led me to think that the bags are made in Mexico and are not hand-crafted one at a time by the company's owner. Take that info for whatever it's worth. It's a big deal for some, not so much for others. Although I'd have preferred it to be 100% made in the USA, it's still an American-owned small business with American employees. Also, Mexican leather is known to be some of the better quality stuff on the market. The quality of the leather and craftsmanship appears to be good. The bag looks to be machine stitched with a lock-stitch machine which is typical and relatively durable. Saddle-stitching is better, but can only be accomplished by hand and is very time consuming (and would increase the cost of the bag substantially).
Now, cost. As a guy who knows leather and works in leather, do I think the cost is justified? In this case, yes. I contemplated just making a bag for myself, but upon inspecting one of these first-hand, I knew how much work it would require. I knew that I didn't have the patience or the experience with this type of work to pull off a finished product like this. For a small guy like me, I suspect the materials would run me somewhere in the range of $100 - $150 and the time to make it would be several hours. Quality stuff isn't cheap and such is the case with the Saddleback bag.
Finally, I'll speak to the style of the bag. This is not a metropolitan or high-fashion sort of bag. It's a rugged looking, earthy, business casual bag. If you wear khaki pants or jeans to work, this is likely to be your style. If you wear finely tailored suits and wingtip shoes, the classic briefcase may not be your style (but the thin briefcase may be). In the short time I've owned it, I have gotten several compliments on the look and the smell; the smell of the leather is wonderful. I picture myself as Pigpen on Peanuts, but instead of a cloud of dust following me around, I'm cloaked in the smell of leather. :-)
Overall, I'm very pleased with my Saddleback briefcase. Also, if you haven't taken a look at the company's website, it's a great resource for Saddleback products that includes high-def video descriptions of most items.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's worth it's weight - UPDATED.,
This review is from: Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase Large (Apparel)I recently bought the large Saddleback Leather briefcase in Chestnut after obsessing over it for months. Yes, it's heavier that any other work bag I've carried over the years. I've had backpacks, zippered briefs, laptop briefcases, and attache cases, all lightweight and reasonably priced, and none of them lasted as long as they should have. Some bags I retired when something broke on them, or because they looked scruffy, but not in a romantic way. That left me feeling cheated and sad. In the end, such disappointments are too expensive, even if they are bargains.
So I saved my money and bought the Saddleback bag. I hope it will last for the rest of my life. This bag is heavy and stiff when new, but it's so incredibly beautiful that it's worth it. Don't buy a bag like this unless you're willing to invest not only the money, but also the time and effort and care to break it in. That's part of the fun. High quality leather keeps improving with age, if it's cared for. And that's what I intend to do.
I've been using it for a week now. The shoulder strap, which first cut into my shoulder, is finally starting to come around, barely. I'm noticing the first scuff marks and subtle creases, and trying to remember how they got there. I'm figuring out how to store my gear, and learning from my mistakes. I tried putting my cell phone in one of the open pockets in the front compartment, with nothing else to keep it snug. Then I accidentally tipped the bag over, with the flap buckled, onto its back. The phone ended up in the rear compartment. At least it didn't fall out.
Next month I'll be using the briefcase as an overnight bag for a four-day weekend. Yep, I'm leaving my wheeled carry-on bag behind. I look forward to stuffing the Saddleback full and lugging it across the hotel lobby. It needs the exercise, and so do I.
UPDATE: Just got back from my mini-vacation and the bag was a complete success. I crammed in one pair of trousers and one pair of shorts (both rolled up and made from wrinkle-resistant cloth), four button-down shirts (also rolled up), a few t-shirts, underwear and socks, my toiletries, and a thick biography of Teddy Roosevelt. On the outside I tied a separate plastic bag that held a pair of shoes, sandals, and my Tilley hat. The d-rings made it easy to strap on the extra gear. I was surprised at how comfortable the shoulder strap had become, after only three weeks of break-in. I easily made the trek from my 15th-floor room to the hotel lobby to the parking garage without any pain in my shoulder. My advice: travel as light as you can, and let Saddleback Leather help.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super nice.,
At any rate, I found this company and fell in love. You should know that a sturdy piece of leather is an animal's hide and should have some heft to it. Well tanned leather should not have the edges turned over, painted, or covered in any manner. It is a labor of love to deplete a piece of leather from its natural oils and to impregnate it with the oils and dyes for long enough to permeate the hide through the entire piece. This is how the good pieces of leather are able to have that rustic look when they are 50 years old and some little old lady beats you unconscious with her parasol to get it from you in the antique store.
When you get this, expect a heavy over engineered bag. The buckles are solid brass, this thing was meant to be abused and passed on to your grandchildren. The company even gives a 100 year warantee. If you want a Froo-froo bag, go to coach. If. You want a bag that you can put you life in while being shot at as you are being chased through the jungles by Amazons and they are blaring Indiana Jones music as you leap into the river.... Well, this might be the bag for you.
It is beautiful and it is everything you would want if you are looking for a truly manly bag. Everyone will notice. The only thing is you have to know is it is large. The mediums is 15x9x11 inches and very bit as large as my carry-on I use for short trips. The days of doctors carrying boat anchors to work are over, thank God. The size of the bag would have been nice to know ahead of time and I can now vouche for the nicest bunch of Texans for customer service that I could possibly imagine. Unfortunately, I had to return my bag and get the smaller briefcase from the same company and it fits all my gear perfectly. Get something from these guys, you can't go wrong.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They should have built the Titanic out of this.,
To be sure, it's a heavy bag - 7.5lbs - but it doesn't feel unwieldy when you have it on your shoulder. It's extremely tough leather coming right out of the box, but I'm certain that it will give with time. Similarly, it very snugly fits my Lenovo W520 laptop with 15.4" screen when the computer is in a neoprene sleeve...still, it fits. My primary concern was that the bag would be too big given its 9" depth; however, the side pieces collapse some so it doesn't seem that large. And when you look at the interior space, it really doesn't come across as too big especially if you put a computer in there.
I'm used to former bags having a zipper on them, and these will be missed since a buckle just takes more time. There's not a bear's chance in hell that I'm ever using buckles #2 and 3 unless I rob another gas station and need to run from local law enforcement while I'm carrying my briefcase. They are handsome looking, however. A shortcoming of the bag if there is one: the shoulder strap is really heavy, at least a pound. Combine weight with stiffness, and you've got a strap that doesn't relocate anywhere convenient when you are moving it out of your way. I lump this into the category of "things you'll just learn to deal with and over time won't even notice."
In summary, some of the most beautiful leather I've come across and a bag I'm proud to own. I waterproofed mine with Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP as soon as I got it which didn't darken the leather at all, since it was so dark to begin with. I would have bought the Chamberlain's water protectant that pairs with the leather milk Saddleback uses, but they charge an ungodly amount for shipping and the products are very similar.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars have to lie about where I got this bag,
I got the dark coffee brown and I am thinking of getting the same bag in another color.
Ive read reviews where some people have said this bag is expensive. Are you kidding me? If you have a job where you need to carry a briefcase, you can afford $600, which is about the same as a mass produced tumi alpha (pretty decent bag but zero style) and one tenth of the cost of a hermes or louis vuitton briefcase.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but not for me,
This review is from: Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase Large (Apparel)First off, I really like the look of this bag. It's definitely different than 99% of what you see out there (read: nylon bags). Additionally, I really appreciated the helpfulness of the Saddleback team when I was trying to decide on purchasing and then later during the return process. Yes, the return process.
Here's what I really liked about this bag:
(1) It's clearly a tough bag. It's built of very thick boot-grade leather and you can tell. As others have said, beating this thing up will only improve it's appearance.
(2) Color -- it looked great. Exactly as pictured (I had the chestnut large bag)
(3) Service -- Saddleback was extremely responsive, as was Amazon
(4) Workmanship -- I'd read several older reviews on other fora complaining about stitching quality, and found no issues with my bag. The stitching was even and precise. Just what you should expect from a $550 bag.
And here's why I returned it:
(1) It's heavy. I know you've read that before, but it's REALLY heavy. As a test, I loaded the bag lightly with a macbook air 13", cords, a moleskine-type thin notepad, and an iPad and went to the local coffee shop. As I stood there in line for 5 min, my shoulder started to get numb. I found myself shifting the bag from shoulder to shoulder, but couldn't get it comfortable. Since I travel nearly every week and would be carrying at least as much as i had in the bag at that time, I couldn't imagine walking 20 min from a hotel to the office with the SBL bag on one shoulder.
(2) Capacity. Eventhough this is a big, heavy bag, I found that it surprisingly didn't hold as much as I expected. In fact, my 13" Macbook Air in a sleeve was rich at the edges of the bag. A 15" in a sleeve would have been pushing the leather outward. I probably would have been happier if the bag was 3" shallower and 1" wider.
(3) Shoulder strap length -- I'm 6'1" and this was at the very edge of being too long for me.
(4) Lining. I know the lining is listed as pigskin, but I've never seen pigskin like this before. It feels very plastic-like to me, as if it had been top-coated with a polyurethane glaze or something. I would have preferred no lining to this lining.
In summary, it's a great bag. I found it to be too heavy for the capacity received, but others will doubtless be very pleased with this purchase.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly well made, and a joy to own,
This review is from: Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase Large (Apparel)I bought one of these in the medium size a year ago and carry it every day. This is truly a "buy it for life" bag in terms of build quality, fit, and function. I'm constantly surprised by what fits in it, and have to completely empty it about once a month to make sure I haven't lost anything in the bottom. And mine's the small one!
A couple things potential buyers should note ...
- It's heavy. Seriously, you probably won't want to carry it from one end of Atlanta International to the other. On the other hand, I probably should have converted it to a backpack for that trip ...
- Plan on using Leather Milk on it once or twice a year. You'll notice an immediate response in the leather when you apply it.
- My medium size fits my 13" MacBook Pro perfectly but there's no way a 15 would fit.
- It attracts attention. People are going to ask you where you got it and where they can get one too.
- You're going to get emotionally attached to it. You'll find yourself attaching keepsakes to various parts of the bag. It may wind up looking like Captain Jack Sparrow's hair. Friends may laugh at you for it but trust me, your feelings aren't wrong. They just don't know.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's worth it,
-The center leather strap is too long. Looks like an elephant trunk. If the bag is not overstuffed you can cinch it up to the very top strap. I think that looks bad. More worrisome is that if the leather stretches there are no more holes to work with.
-The leather scratches too easily. It seems like it is designed to look rugged without putting the work in. After owning it for a month it looks like I've owned it for 4 years. Patina should take work!
-The handle is a little close to the top of the briefcase. Often my knuckles will scrape the metal ring.
-Backpack mode is stupid and uncomfortable. You will look silly.
-Price. I think you are looking at something that cost far less to produce. Dave kind of has the market cornered on this type of product though, so supply and demand kicks in.
Here is what i like about it:
-Quality. This is NOTHING like the Samsonite leather briefcase I carried as a cadet. The leather is much stronger and not as likely to rip.
-Rivets and double stitching. Again it goes back to quality. This is why SB can gouge you on price... no other company makes them like this.
-Color. I've owned products in Tobacco and Dark Coffee Brown. Both are amazing looking. I prefer the tobacco... (interestingly that's what the personality test said I would like). Very laid back- probably wouldn't be the most professional choice. Then again as a laid back guy I don't care :)
-The carry strap is very good. Ask them to include the dog leash style clips. The screw style clips are garbage.
-The large size is perfect for me. I'm 5'10" and 155 lbs. It can hold my lunch, iPad, gym clothes, any documents I need and still have plenty of room leftover.
-The key holder is a nice touch. The first time I've seen one that doesn't look like a cheap afterthought.
-The two drink holders on the outside are very nice. They are awesome for stashing your keys in a pinch.
-The outside newspaper pocket is great for an iPad or magazine, or stuffing in documents without opening the briefcase.
Some common complaints are that the briefcase is too heavy and hard to open. In my daily use I do not find either to be the case. Again I'm a skinny guy with a runner's build and do not find it too heavy. Then again I'm active duty military and workout a decent amount so take that for what it's worth. It's easy to open. The bigger complaint should be the strap length.
I do get complimented on this bag often. Being military usually the compliments are casual insults followed by envious glances. The common one is, "Nice man purse." This will be followed by the guy coming over and checking out the bag, then asking where I got it. Lots of Indiana Jones comments too... so just be ready for that.
I am very happy with my briefcase. I would buy one again if this was stolen (don't steal it, please). Just know some of the downsides going in and you won't be disappointed at all.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile investment,
I did a lot of internet research since I do not like spending a large amount of money on things that end up breaking after a short period of time. The Saddleback bags consistently came up in my searches. At first the Saddleback briefcases seemed like they would be a bit too heavy and large for what I was looking for. Also, the price seemed a bit exorbitant. However, I could not find anything that seemed to match the quality that the Saddleback bags were said to possess for anything less than the price. So, I decided to buy the Classic Large Dark Coffee Brown through Amazon to see how I liked it knowing that I could return it if it did meet my expectations.
When I pulled the bag out of the packaging I immediately liked what I saw. Other reviewers have said that the smell of leather is overwhelming and I can verify this statement. As the leather is of high quality, the bag comes a bit stiff like any good pair of shoes. I was worried that the large would look ridiculously large as I am only 5'11'', but it actually was the perfect size. The build quality and attention to detail let me know I had made a good purchase within minutes of holding this bag in my hands.
I have had this bag for a couple of months now and can say that I like it more with each passing day. I walk a bit over a mile to and from work every day and no longer notice the weight of the bag. I can easily fit my work necessities (work Dell Latitude laptop, power supply, legal pads, Kindle, umbrella, and headphones) in the bag with plenty of room to spare for a random binder or technical book that I sometimes have to take between home and the office. The top flap covers the briefcase well enough that I have no worries about rain getting in on days when I get soaked from the knees down. For more personal outings, the bag comfortably fits my 15' Macbook Pro with a sleeve. A quick note, I cannot see the 17" Macbook Pro fitting into the large bag and would think the 15" would have trouble fitting into the medium sized bag.
I can see why other reviewers rated this bag so highly. As a software engineer I am used to the short lifespan of most technological products. It provides me comfort knowing that my money can still be spent on something that I should never have to replace.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great bag,
Would be nice if the interior pockets were more "fancy" since I use them to store business cards and pens etc, but all in all the bag is pretty great. Expensive, but great.
Will update my review as the bag ages.
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Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase Large Chestnut by Saddleback Leather Co.
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