A few days ago a reader of this blog asked a question about the differences between some of the leather bags I have purchased. I promised to provide that info, and, better late than never, here it is.
The first leather bag I came into my possession was my extra large classic briefcase from Saddleback Leather. I can’t remember exactly when I received this bag, approximately 4 or 5 years ago.
This is the bag that got me hooked on leather bags. It is a beauty. However, it is also a beast because of its size. It is heavy. Really heavy.
Being an extra large it can hold a lot of stuff. Then you need wheels to go under it. I carried it for about a year as a daily carry bag with my laptop and books and stuff in it.
I love this bag. It has a beautiful, supple leather that is supple to the touch. Even though it has a pigskin lining the bag is very flexible and feels very natural. My primary use for this bag is now as a weekender-overnight bag.
The next bag I bought was a Saddleback Leather Messenger bag. The leather the Messenger bag was made from was very different than the classic briefcase. I had the Messenger bag for three years (I have sold the bag now) and it never softened or become supple. It always felt like it was made of some kind of leather plywood.
After the Messenger bag I purchased a Copper River bag. The purpose of that bag was to be a daily carry for when I was out and about the town with my little kids. I wanted a bag to carry diapers, wipes, snacks, and all that sort of stuff without carrying the traditional diaper bag.
The Copper River bag really is an inexpensive bag in comparison to Saddleback Leather bags. I don’t remember the exact price of the Copper River bag but if memory serves me correctly it was about $100.
The leather the Copper River bag is made from is much thinner and unlined. It feels thin. It is leather but it just feels thin and unsubstantial. Add to that the snap-closures. Snap closures are a pain in the butt on a bag. To close them you have to press hard into the bag which can crush whatever is inside the bag. The Copper River bag has never really become a favourite of mine. It does a good job of being a light-weight easy to carry diaper bag. That is all it is.
Next to come into my possession was my Marlondo Leather 14″ briefcase.
This picture is from when I first received the bag. It is interesting from me to note how much darker the leather of my Marlondo Leather briefcase has become.
I did treat the Marlondo bag with a generous helping of Fiebings Neetsfoot oil as a leather conditioner. It made the leather a beautiful deep brown that draws many oohs and aahs.
Another interesting thing about this bag is that the leather it is made from is very reminiscent of the leather that my first Saddleback Leather briefcase is made from. It is soft and supple and slouches around quite beautifully. The leather feels natural and organic, not the plasticky-never softens-up kind that SBL seems to use now.
This Marlondo bag is my current every-day-carry-bag. My MB, iPad and assorted cables all fit into the briefcase quite perfectly. I can easily add a binder or text book or two and the bag is still comfortable to carry.
Another upside to the Marlondo bag is that the inside is lined with suede. That adds to the very supple feel of the bag.
The one thing I miss on the Marlondo bag is the fact that there is no key chain/leash inside the bag. I carry three separate large rings of keys and do not like to have them in my pocket. That is a minor quibble though. To deal with this deficiency I have attached a carabiner to one of the D-rings on the outside of the bag. Easy fix.
The bottom line comparison of the three bags? The Saddleback Leather and Marlondo Leather are in a league far and above the Copper River bag. The Saddleback Leather bag has a 100 year warranty that protects the purchaser from any defects in craftsmanship. Even though the Marlondo bag does not come with such overt declarations of their quality I have no doubt that my Marlondo bag will last just as long as my Saddleback Leather bag. And, even if it doesn’t last 100 years, the fact that my Marlondo bag costs a fraction of what a Saddleback Leather bag costs means I could purchase another one or two and still be well ahead of the game.
And finally, when I am out and about town, I carry my Marlondo Leather bag and get endless comments on the beautiful look of the bag and it doesn’t make my shoulder ache from the weight.
Disclosure; each of the bags I have described in this post were purchased at full retail cost by me. No financial or other form of incentive was provided by Saddleback, Marlondo nor Copper River. As always, in all my blog posts, I maintain full editorial control.