Saddleback Front Pocket Briefcase

Sometimes what I love about having a beard is the attention – standing out in a crowd with something exceptional (you know what I’m talking about and you know you love it too). I suppose that’s exactly what I love about Saddleback Bags. Do you like when people do a double-take of your beard? Just see what happens when you walk into a room with this bad boy.

“Buy Nice or Buy Twice” is just one of the phrases (more to come) that you’ll find associated with Saddleback Leather. And they’re right. This is “instant family heirloom” stuff.

In 1999 Dave Munson (who is usually bearded) was teaching English to children in Mexico and wandered into a leather shop in Morelia to have a bag made to carry his students’ books. He drew a picture for the craftsman and described what he wanted by saying “Like, ummm…the thick cow kind. Oh yeah, and with no breakable parts. And I want them to fight over it when I’m dead.”

Dave loved that first bag and when he got back to the Portland, Oregon he found that a lot of other people did too. So he had 8 more made and ended up selling them off of the safari rack on his old Land Cruiser in about 3 hours.

Now in San Antonio, Saddleback only uses non-breakable parts. No zippers or snaps, just rivets at every stress point, and 316 stainless steel hardware (the most expensive and strong). It’s all sewn with industrial thread made of continuous filament polyester. Not sure what that means? It means that the thread that holds it together is practically bulletproof (please do not test that assertion). In all, this bag has about 52 full-grain leather parts. “People buy Saddleback bags for their reinforcement and strength.” There are no short-cuts or cheap-outs at Saddleback.

Saddleback offers an absolute plethora of business bags, messenger bags, and laptop cases. I honed in on the briefcases and settled on the Thin Front Pocket Briefcase (note that each briefcase is available in multiple sizes).

With an interior width of 3”, the thin front bag (in large size) was perfect for me when it came to carrying my laptop, document folders, and a book. The two front pockets were great and there is a back pocket that is nice for stuffing something in after you’ve already buckled up. Much more than that and I would suggest moving up to the Front Pocket Briefcase with inside depths of 6 1/2 inches to really pack in your gear. Step up to the Classic Briefcase and you’ll get 8 1/2 inches of depth. Like your beard, go big or go home.
Mine has 17 rings and buckles on it that not only contrast with leather, but have a purpose. The large ring in the back allows the briefcase to transform into a backpack by simply looping the strap through the ring (as shown). An extra shoulder pad is included for this, allowing hands-free access while carrying more bags through the airport en route to Casablanca, perhaps.

The color choices are rich and exquisite. The one photographed is Tobacco but you can also choose from Dark Coffee Brown, Chestnut, and Black. I suffered from ‘paralysis by analysis’ while trying to choose, and found Saddleback’s quiz on choosing a color that fits your personality extremely helpful. And surprisingly accurate. Check it out in their FAQ section.

In addition to their business cases, Saddleback has a huge line of full size leather travel luggage and duffels. Not to mention gun sleeves and pistol wraps that would make Indiana Jones blush. Tons of accessories round out the line, 110 in all. If you’re a man of the world you’ll want the 19” x 27” suitcase ($1,189).

A disclaimer from Dave about the use of natural markings on the leather: “Saddleback believes in the Equal Inclusion Of Exceptional Imperfection Ornamentation.” Otherwise put, “Saddleback Leather no longer discriminates against any cow on the basis of age, appearance, lactose intolerance. If the beast has a natural marking or brand, or whether or not they worship the Divine Bovine” (tongue firmly in cheek).

About the leather on this bag – I’m a leather hound in general, but this is the most abnormally thick (Dave’s words) and robust leather I’ve ever seen or felt. Seriously. Weighing in between 5.5 and 8 pounds respectively, these briefcase bags are built for the long haul. Feel free to ride them off into the sunset, we won’t judge.

Shipping is free at Saddleback, but nothing beats their 100-year warranty. “If your piece doesn’t live up to what we said it would, then contact us or have one of your descendants get a hold of one of my descendants and we’ll take care of you.” No wonder their motto is “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” You’ll have to pry mine from my cold, dead hands.


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