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Not a Gladstone, But Still a Good Buy...
on February 8, 2012
I've been hunting for a leather Gladstone bag for a long time but had found one that was affordable. Then I came across these Floto duffle bags. At first, I was hesitant to buy it because I was sure that at this price point the bag had to be cheaply constructed and would probably not last the many years that I require for it to be a good value. Still, I was intrigued because of the consistently high reviews it was receiving from my fellow Amazon shoppers so I decided to roll the dice and ordered the bag.
Just in case there was a problem, I payed the extra $17 and ordered the bag that was being offered directly by Amazon instead of the independent seller with the lower price. The bag arrived two short days later. As previously noted by another reviewer, the bag arrived in a box that I felt was rather oddly shaped for an item of these dimensions. It was flat. Inside, I discovered the squished bag wrapped in a disposable plastic sack. My initial thought was that this had not been Amazon's best packing effort; but, as after removing the duffle from the plastic sack, I noted a small manufactures tag that explained that any folds resulting from the packing process would smooth out once the bag was unpacked and used for the first time. So I guess that is how the bag was sent to Amazon from Italy. I unpacked the bag 2 days ago and as promised, the folds are already gone.
The bag itself does not have the metal big mouth frame that I like in the Gladstone. Instead it follows the design of traditional Italian clam shell style duffles and has a zipper (that unfortunately is not brass) that essentially splits the bag into two halves lengthwise. The bag is larger than I had envisioned, which is a good thing. The interior is lined with a thick colorfully printed canvas that will surely stand up to years of use and there is one zippered pocket. The leather possesses a lighter feel than I had expected but still appears to be rugged enough to stand up to some abuse. The finish is waxy but smooth and the color consistent throughout. The brass buckles and leather handles appear well attached and sturdy.
The only flaw in workmanship that I noted was in the stitching on one side of the duffle. There is what appears to be an errant colored or stained thread that makes it look like they had missed a stitch when in fact they had not. Ultimately, this doesn't concern me because I fully expect the bag to become bruised and develop a healthy patina over the next several years of use. In my opinion, it arrived with a character mark.
Apart from the aforementioned blemish, the only thing that might be worrisome for some buyers is the extremely strong tanning off-gases that the bag releases when you first unpack it from its plastic wrapper. I had read about these from some of the other reviewers and frankly though they were just making much ado about nothing but I was wrong. The off-gases are very strong and required the bag to sit for two solid days on my balcony to become tolerable. Fortunately, after it was properly aired out, the bag was fine. I only mention this because you will definitely have to air the bag for a couple of days and should figure that into the equation prior to ordering if you will be using the bag soon after receiving it. In other words, don't order the bag with the expectation that you will be able to use it immediately with allowing it a few days to acclimate and air out.
All things considered, I am happy with my bag and feel like I made a good purchase. It may not be a Gladstone, but it is still a good buy.