Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase – Review

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Crossing an international border is always a unique experience. Traveling with a Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase makes the trip more interesting.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Front View

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase – Large – Unboxing and Initial Thoughts

It’s pretty exciting when the UPS truck pulls up with a new piece of Saddleback Leather gear on board. Ripping into the box is on par with the feeling you get when you’ve secured a new Apple product. Upon first sight, I fell in love with the bag. I’ll call it a travel bag most of the time because that’s what I’m going to use it for. It’s my new suitcase for world travel. The Indiana Gear Bag is now my daily carry while the Classic Briefcase will serve as luggage. What a perfect combination for the minimalist adventurer!

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View of Back in Sunlight

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Back and Side View

My initial impression is that the Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase makes a perfect-sized bag to fit all of my clothes and gear. It’s big enough to do the job, yet small enough to be a carry-on for the plane. I can easily wear it as a backpack while on the go in adventure mode. Riding on the back of motorbike taxis here in Southeast Asia won’t be a problem. It can be carried by the handle if I need to look more professional in a place like the airport. The elegant appearance of the bag should be a big help when trying to get a free upgrade to the exit row. The airline staff will probably think I’m a movie star once they gaze upon my Indiana Gear Bag and the Classic Briefcase. They’ll swear I’m the most interesting man in the world—the real one.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View in Sunlight Outside

The tobacco color looks gorgeous and should make for beautiful travel photos. And, as always, the quality is top notch. After inspecting the craftsmanship up close, the price tag becomes a non-issue. It’s worth every penny.

The Most Interesting Travel Bag in the World?

I had already formulated an opinion that the Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase may very well be THE most interesting travel bag in the world. Unbeknownst to me, my point was being reinforced during the bag’s journey to my doorstep. I live in Thailand so the box had to clear Thai customs. For some reason, it got inspected. There was “CUSTOMS INSPECTED” tape all over the box! It was obvious that the package had been opened.

Apparently, the legacy of Saddleback Leather knows no boundaries or distance. I mean, we’re almost on the exact opposite side of the globe from Texas and Old Mexico. If I went any farther away from Saddleback’s factory, I’d be getting closer to it! It seems that folks all over the world love these bags.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Customs Inspected - Unboxing

I began filming the unboxing and found out how deep the excitement had gone. The plastic bag covering my Classic Briefcase had been torn into and shredded! It was as if a grizzly bear was searching for a salmon in that box! The logical explanation is that the customs people couldn’t contain themselves. They had to take my bag for a test drive before sending it onward. In doing so, they cheated me out of the pleasure of tearing into the plastic!

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Inspected by Customs - Unboxing

I’m not mad at them. I would have done the same thing. It’s that cool of a product. It sure makes a great story to the start of my new world-travel partner. There is a small scrape on the bottom of the bag that I’m attributing to the inspection process during its harrowing detention. Exciting! It made me think of that show called Locked Up Abroad on the National Geographic Channel. Luckily, my briefcase wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase – Where to Buy?

I recommend that you buy direct from Saddleback Leather. Their products are also sold on Amazon but realize there are a lot of knock-off bags floating around. If you buy direct from Saddleback’s website, you’re obviously certain to get the real deal. Saddleback’s customer service is awesome should you have a problem or question.

Hunting for a Bargain or Discount?

Check out the Dave’s Deals tab on the home page. The items are marked down up to 25% due to some sort of imperfection or blemish. I’ve purposely ordered items from Dave’s Deals and they looked just fine to me. I couldn’t find anything wrong with them. If you’re considering an item from Dave’s Deals, realize that it’s not yours until you check out. If it’s in your cart, someone could steal it right from under your nose! You snooze, you lose. Be quick about the purchase when shopping on the deals page.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase – What If the Size or Color I Want is Out of Stock?

Go ahead and order the EXACT bag you want, whether it’s in stock or not! Don’t settle for another size or color just because you’re impatient. It’s worth waiting for that perfect one. The bag will last longer than you so it’s important you get it right the first time.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Front View of Bag with Flap Closed

When I went to purchase the Large Classic Briefcase in Tobacco, it was out of stock. This was prior to the price increase so it seemed like there was a run on the inventory. I placed the order anyway, because I knew exactly what I wanted. Saddleback split the invoice and shipped the items that were immediately available. They charged my credit card only for the products sent. About two weeks later, I received an email telling me that the briefcase was in stock and the order was in the process of being fulfilled. The next day or so they charged my credit card and the bag was on its way. I’m glad I didn’t wait until it was listed as in stock. I might still be waiting. The Classic Briefcase is their most popular bag. It seems to me that the large is the best-selling size, but I’m not sure.

The Interior Compartments and Pockets

Inside the bag, there are two main compartments. The back compartment contains a piece of leather on the bottom that is useful for hiding your passport, credit cards, and cash.

There is a keychain keeper riveted to the leather piece that divides the two main compartments. As an extra bonus, Saddleback includes a free key chain.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View of Inside Pockets and Keychain Keeper - Hidden Compartment Closed

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View of Inside Pockets and Hidden Compartment

In the main front compartment, there are a total of four pockets. The two larger pockets should be good for organizing chargers, cables, and cigars. The smaller pockets on the sides will hold pens and pencils.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View of Inside Pockets

The Shoulder Strap and Pads

The shoulder strap itself is basically a belt. It’s just as thick and sturdy. It’s easily adjustable with the single stainless-steel buckle.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Shoulder Strap and Buckle

The strap attaches via dog-leash type latches on either end. This makes it extremely easy to take the strap on and off. The attachment rings are secured to the briefcase with a rivet for extra support.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Closeup of Strap Attached with Rivet

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Shoulder Strap Latch - Dog Leash

There are two shoulder pads included on the strap. If you’re carrying the bag over your shoulder or cross body, one is really good enough to do the job. They give you two because the briefcase can be easily converted into a backpack. You’ll need both shoulder pads when carrying it in backpack mode.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Shoulder Pad

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Shoulder Pad Back

The Carrying Handle

They say that one of the first things to fail on a piece of luggage is the carrying handle. Saddleback Leather has over-engineered the handles on their bags to prevent this from ever happening.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Handle Rivets Closeup View

The handle has a total of six rivets securing it to the bag. In addition, it’s sewn into place with marine-grade nylon thread. Underneath the flap, there is a metal bar that reinforces the leather where it stresses under load.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View of Inside of Flap - Suede - Pigskin - Rivets

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Closeup View of Pigskin Inside Flap

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Closeup View of Inside Flap with Suede Pigskin - Rivets

The leather on the handle is wrapped around what appears to be a piece of PVC pipe to give it a round feel. The bottom line is that the handle ain’t coming off of this bag. There’s no way.

SaddlSaddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Closeup View of Handle

The Keychain Keeper

This is a nice addition to the bag so that you don’t have to go fishing for your keys. One side of the strap is leather and the other side is suede. The simple latch makes it easy to secure and retrieve your keys in a hurry.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Keychain Keeper and Latch - Front View

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Keychain Keeper Suede Back

Why Buy a Saddleback Product?

I stumbled across this video while browsing the Saddleback Leather website. It explains why you should buy a Saddleback product, in emotional terms. I’m pretty sure that Chamberlain’s Leather Milk produced the video but I’m not positive. Just watch it and you’ll understand what I’m trying to say.

I like Saddleback Leather Company because they produce quality products and stand behind them. All Saddleback bags come with a 100-Year Warranty! No one can really be certain of where we’ll be in one-hundred years. The warranty just lets you know that the company is proud of their products and are confident enough to back them up on paper.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Leather with a Story - Unboxing

In the West, we have become way too dependent on mass-produced junk made in China. Think about this for a minute: At the beginning of every school year you probably buy your child a new backpack at Walmart, right? Why? It’s because the one you bought last year (made in China) fell apart after three weeks. Your poor kid had to carry that backpack for the rest of the year with one strap broke. The discarded backpack will eventually end up in a landfill with the other fifty million cheap bags Walmart pumped out. The same applies to that ugly briefcase you’re carrying right now. You know the one I’m talking about. It came from a clearance rack and the interior smells like vinyl. My Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase is made from Full-Grain Leather. It smells like a million dollars. The bag will last longer than I will.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Logo

Are Saddleback Leather bags cheap? No, they are not. But, they are worth the money—every penny. The real joy for me is knowing that all of my Saddleback products will be handed down to the next generation of world traveler. Once you grab the handle of a Classic Briefcase for the first time, you won’t even remember what you paid for it. There is no buyer’s remorse on these bags. It’s more like making an investment rather than a purchase.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase – What Size Should You Go With?

Opinions vary, so don’t take this as a concrete guide. Buy the bag YOU want. Don’t succumb to conformity.

For men, I recommend the LARGE.

Ladies, I think you would look good with the Medium.

The Extra Large is too big for a typical briefcase. I did consider and research the Extra Large because I’m planning to use the briefcase as a suitcase. In the end, I’m glad I chose the Large. All of my gear fits just fine.

An Even Harder Decision is Choosing a Color!

Oh no! Now that you’ve settled on getting the Large size (thanks to my expert advice), you have to pick a color before you can place the order! You need to get this right the first time as well.

Check out the FAQ section to see what Saddleback has to say about color selection. It’s worth the read.

I wrote several paragraphs on the psychology of the colors in my review of the Thin Briefcase. The colors were slightly different back then but the reasoning still applies. Read those tidbits of knowledge and then come back here…

Ok, so Saddleback has changed the colors a bit since I wrote the Thin Briefcase review. They no longer offer the Carbon Black. That’s an absolute travesty if you ask me. The Carbon Black is an awesome color. The scars and scratches look beautiful on it. I LOVE the Carbon Black. It’s a dull, matte color, sort of like the saddlebags you find on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It screams cool.

The new black is more of a shiny, traditional color. It’s boring. It’s ok if you’re looking for a black briefcase, but realize there’s just nothing special about it. It’s plain and cookie cutter. I have an iPhone case in the new black and I’m not that impressed. Unless your company requires you to carry a black briefcase, the new black color would be last on my list.

From left to right in the photo below is the new Black color, Dark Coffee Brown, Chestnut, and then Tobacco.

Saddleback Leather Color Compairson

Here’s a quick guide on choosing a color:

Tobacco Color:

  • Artists and the creative type
  • People who work outdoors
  • Folks who wear boots to work
  • Adventure and world travelers
  • College professors who teach history or archaeology
  • Photographers
  • Those who love Indiana Jones

Dark Coffee Brown:

  • The high-end traveler (rich folks)
  • Those who stay at 5-star hotels
  • Travelers focusing on Europe
  • If you live in Hollywood, California or NYC
  • Those in the fashion industry
  • If you loved that movie The Devil Wears Prada

Chestnut:

  • Lawyers
  • Bankers
  • Accountants
  • Venture Capitalists
  • If you liked that movie The Wolf of Wall Street

The New Black Color:

  • Military folks who are required to carry a black briefcase by policy
  • If you work at IBM and the year is 1980

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Maybe all of that information has put you into another state of analysis paralysis.

Just pick the color that you like and go with it. Don’t listen to me or anyone else. It’s your bag.

However, if you still can’t decide on the right color, I won’t leave you hanging. Let me help you out so you can finally place your order and get the show on the road:

GO WITH THE TOBACCO COLOR

Let me throw out a disclaimer here about the Tobacco color so you’re not surprised. Apparently, there are several different shades of Tobacco floating around the Saddleback factory. When I say different shades, I mean it’s almost a different color from bag to bag. I ordered a Classic Briefcase, a Clutch Purse, and a Satchel Purse, all in Tobacco. They are literally three different colors. All are beautiful, but they are not exactly alike. When I opened my Classic Briefcase, I thought they had sent me a Chestnut bag by mistake. When the light hits it a certain way, it takes on a reddish tint. The other Tobacco products don’t do that.

I had to check the Saddleback site to confirm this was in fact, the Tobacco color. It is, and is almost identical to the Limited Edition Small Briefcase in the photo below. Regardless, I like it. Hey, the only thing certain in this world is change. Roll with it.

Saddleback Leather Small Briefcase Limited Edition

Here’s a photo of the Tobacco color on the Clutch Purse:

Saddleback Leather Clutch Purse Medium Tobacco Review Women Ladies Outdoors Travel

Here’s the Tobacco color on the Satchel Purse:

Saddleback Leather Satchel Purse Tobacco

Here’s a quick comparison of the Tobacco Brown color on an iPhone case I’ve had since 2014, next to my new Classic Briefcase in Tobacco. The logo has changed as well.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Color Difference with Old Tobacco Brown

The Saddleback Buying Experience

When you buy a product from Saddleback, it’s more like an overall experience rather than just picking out a new bag. The customer service is excellent and your order ships quickly! Most items come with a few of the president’s business cards included. My Classic Briefcase came with a little book of Bible Verses concealed in the hidden compartment of the bag. A free keychain was hooked to the keyring keeper. Little things like that let you know that you’re a valued customer. The attention to detail is what sets Saddleback apart from the competition.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Leather with a Story - Scars

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Our Imperfections Make Us Who We Are

The Two Detachable Belts

The briefcase has two belts that are detachable. You can use them to lash the bag onto the back of a motorbike or to the top of a vehicle. If required, one can be used to hold up your pants. The belts are beautiful aesthetically for the bag but also serve another good purpose. They act as skid plates to protect the bottom of the bag.

Sure, they add a little bit more weight to the briefcase. But, this wouldn’t be the same bag without the belts. I would say that most people rarely if ever use the belts to help close the flap. It’s stays secured just fine with the lone strap in the middle. If the belts seem like they are too cumbersome for your tastes, then you need the Front Pocket Briefcase instead. It’s that simple.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View of Bottom and Belts

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - View of Back - Unboxing

The Briefcase Converts into a Backpack – A HUGE Advantage for the World Traveler

By routing the shoulder strap through the stainless-steel loop on top of the bag, it quickly converts into a backpack. This is very beneficial to the world traveler. When transiting borders, riding on the back of motorbikes, and walking on sandy beaches, backpacks are paramount.

Roll aboard bags or traditional briefcases may be great if you’re merely navigating a concrete jungle (the city) in your car or pushing a wheeled cart through the airport. These types of bags suck in developing nations. Try dragging a roll aboard down the cobblestone streets of Antigua, Guatemala. It’s a funny sight to see. Carry a briefcase by the handle for a kilometer or two because the tuk tuk driver dropped you off at the wrong soi (street) in Bangkok. You need a backpack to go exploring!

Being able to carry all of your luggage on your person with your hands free is how you should always travel. This prevents pick pockets and scams. Criminals can easily distract you if your hands are full. You WILL get overcharged by baggage porters and taxi drivers if you’re dragging around an eighty-pound suitcase.

With the Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase on my back and the Indiana Gear Bag slung across my shoulder, I’m ready for the adventure trail. With this pack plan, I’m highly mobile. That gives me the advantage over criminals and unscrupulous taxi drivers.

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase - Large - Tobacco - The Most Interesting Travel Bag - Ring Used to Convert to Backpack Mode

Conclusion?

Saddleback Leather’s Classic Briefcase is THE most interesting travel bag in the world. I’m looking forward to taking it on some new and crazy adventures. The bag will have stories to tell, I promise you.

Pull the trigger on this one. You’ll be glad you did. Yeah, you’re going to take a hit in the wallet. Once you grip that handle it won’t hurt so bad. In ten years, you won’t even remember how much you paid for the bag.

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