A few months ago we featured a Front Pocket Briefcase from Saddleback Leather, probably my all-time favorite leather company. This month they are launching a new product made of their signature thick leather combined with waxed canvas. Introducing the Mountainback.
Obsessed with quality, Saddleback owner Dave Munson travelled to Dundee, Scotland to scout out the very best canvas and sailcloth from Halley Stevensons Baltic Works to create the collection that was five-years in the making.
Halley Stevensons is the foremost waxed cotton company and have been in the game since 1864. Their legacy is steeped in sailors, fisherman, and fiber merchants from the area that developed waxed canvas out of necessity on open deck boats that provided no protection from the elements. Scottish sailcloth, huh. I’m in.
Mountainback is a simple canvas pack in moss green. In classic Saddleback style, it’s “over-engineered and as functional as a toothpick after a plate of ribs.” In other words, “it’s a workhorse built for constant abuse.” And trust me, I did my best over 4,400 miles of trains, planes, and automobiles on my recent trip to Europe.
I used this as my carry-on luggage and carried it each day of a week-long trip to Prague in the Czech Republic. Even though I was breaking it in, it was extremely easy to maneuver. It’s roomy and strong enough to carry a ton of weight comfortably. It was a beast in rainy conditions too. Water just beaded up and bounced off of it like a duck’s back. The leather wasn’t affected by the water whatsoever.
The waxed canvas provides plenty of heft but the real winner in the design is the one-piece leather back and bottom section. It’s made of solid leather connected over the canvas with 13 copper rivets and provides a structured barrier between you and your cargo.
Let’s talk about construction. If there is such a thing as overkill, this is it (in a good way). Heavy 33oz waxed canvas and full grain leather combined with those solid copper rivets, 316 stainless steel hardware (used in sailing and shipping industry), and double stitching with continuous filament polyester thread (the kind they use for parachutes and boat sails) come together to make this bag nearly indestructible.
It is built with as few pieces as possible and easily fits a computer and plenty of other gear. The leather cinch drawstring opening makes for easy in and out and the leather closure attached to the flap is as unique as the bag itself. Both stylish and functional, the top carry handle is fixed on one end and slides through a loop on the other. The adjustable shoulder straps were comfortable on my trip, even with about 50 pounds of camera gear, books, maps, and water in it.
The entire Mountainback Collection is beautiful. In addition to the Simple Canvas Pack that I grabbed you can match your gear with the Rolled Duffel ($497), Canvas Tote ($297), Large Gear Bag, ($397), Small Gear Bag ($147), Indiana Gear Bag ($247), Medium Gear Bag ($327). The simple canvas pack I picked up was the medium size but is also available in small. Check out the Drawstring Canvas Pack ($429) for another option as well.
Mountainback will look the ugliest on the first day you get it and will only get better with age. Like all Saddleback items, shipping is free and it’s covered by their 100-year warranty. “Buy Nice or Buy Twice” is their motto and the perfect justification for picking up this sweet pack. $367 for a bag that will likely outlast you, maybe your kids, or even your kids’ kids is an investment in a family heirloom. Be warned though, “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.”