Saddleback Leather Company - Official Affiliate thread - Page 91
I've been lurking these forums of late and thought I'd post some pictures of some SBL products that recently arrived. I apologize in advance, this will be a series of picture/bandwidth heavy posts but I always appreciated it when others posted pictures so I thought I'd pay you guys back in kind. I've also tried to take the photos with a tape measure and some other object adjacent to the target for relative sizing purposes. I am not a paid sponsor for SBL; it just so happens that all the stuff I ordered arrived at the same time (yesterday afternoon - so everything's fresh out of the box) that's why I'm doing this now.
A little background about me: I'm 5'2 and about 125lb with a medium athletic build. So if you're hoping to get an idea of what Large and XL items look like you're out of luck...everything I get is small to be proportional to my body type. I'm new to the SF forums so if there are any shorter gentlemen perusing these forums I'd appreciate it if you pointed me in the right direction for custom-tailored clothing and shoes. I actually took the small satchel (dark coffee brown) out to the mall today and it was very frustrating not being able to find jeans and shoes in my size... I've perused other topics in the SF forums so I'm looking at Allen Edmonds and Makeyourownjeans.com and Giorgenti custom shirts and pants (this had a lot of negative reviews but those were from 2009 so I wonder if they've changed). Anyway, here goes
The SBL Backpack in Chestnut
First I should note that this is the only one they offer but in the video they mention a larger version being made available in early 2013 so if you're big & tall I'd recommend waiting for that. This backpack is actually the reason I decided to jump in and publish my first post...I was waiting to pull the trigger for awhile because noone had posted any pictures or reviews on this site (or any other site). Oh sure, there are plenty of reviews of the messenger bags, laptop bags, and classic briefcases but my Google-fu came up short regarding the backpack. So here goes.
I read a lot of posts that made mention of the fresh leather smell but I honestly didn't care too much....until I opened the boxes....wow that's actually pretty good. It has made my living room and car smell nice (if you like leather) but it's subtle enough so you barely notice it. The bag (and everything else) came sealed in plastic and surrounded by wrapping paper. There was a note on how to further break in the straps and pretty much everything included SBL business cards. I also received 2 of those religious pamphlets. I was Roman Catholic but now I'm atheist so I recycled them but I can appreciate what they were trying to do and wasn't offended by them.
Depending on the lighting it may appear more reddish or brown...however way you look at it though it looks classy. Definitely not as rugged-looking as dark coffee brown but very classy...it also has a sheen to it so it's not like suede or a dark matte.
The straps rigid at first but not uncomfortable. We'll see how it feels after I take it for a hike but just wearing it around the house with some books/weights in it was reasonably comfortable.
Here you can see the neoprene padding.
The underside of the bag: notice that both straps are adjustable. Pay no heed to the extra strap on the left....that will come into play later (I use it to go across my chest).
Bonus points if you know who that is and what movies he's from...
Again, keep in mind my short stature...I think it looks pretty good on me without looking too ridiculously over-sized.
Here's that extra strap I mentioned before. You see, in another post somewhere I read someone mention the lack of a cross-chest strap to help take off some of the load of the backpack. I purchased the utility strap bundle and the long chestnut strap works perfectly in this situation. I wouldn't need it all the time since the backpack is relatively comfortable but if I know I'll be ruck-running then this will help to prevent the backpack from bouncing up and down ever so slightly on my back and rubbing my neck. With this simple strap in place the whole backpack is firmly up against my back even when I hop up and down.
Interior pics to come....
Here I loaded it up with some books just to give an idea of how much fits inside.
I carried it around with this load and the bag was still comfortable. No complaints regarding the padding and straps but I'll have more to report after I take it for a real hike.
I noticed a lot of posts asking for pictures with a sense of relative size so I thought I'd include a tape measure and another object to help get a sense of size. Here's the front pocket half-way loaded with a pair of leather gloves, the extra chestnut utility strap, and the bottle of leather milk I ordered from SBL. Again, I am not being paid by either SBL or Chamberlain but since the bottle was already on the table I used it in almost all of the pictures to get a sense of sizing.
Both side pockets and the front pocket have a hidden pouch behind them. It fits the bottle easily but it probably won't fit a water bottle. Whatever you put in here would have to be fairly slim.
The side pockets are roomy enough to fit a sandwich, a small book or notepad, or perhaps a few pairs of socks.
The main compartment.
1.5inch Tow Belt (Tobacco Brown)
This color goes with my favorite jacket (a light brown leather jacket from Scotch & Soda) so I wanted a matching belt. Plus my current belt was old, ratty, and bent so it was time for an upgrade.
I don't have much to say about this so just take a look at the pictures and decide for yourself. Overall, though, I do like it. Not a stitch was out of place and the construction is solid.
Note: Pretty much everything has the Saddleback logo or "Made in Old Mexico" on it. I absolutely HATE and will not wear clothing/accessories that have the name brand emblazoned in an obnoxious way. I do appreciate that all the branding on the SBL products I've seen so far are subtle and inconspicuous. The branding on the belt are on the side that rests against your hip and aren't displayed. Overall the branding on all the SBL products I received don't try to draw attention to the brand - they're small and let the object speak for itself.
Again, solid construction. Watch the video on the site...the belts are definitely thicker than most I've ever owned. I was worried at first but I did not feel encumbered. It was stiff at first but that was to be expected. By late afternoon (walking around the mall) I felt that it was broken in enough and I'm sure it will get more supple and flexible over time.
I do appreciate the frequency and proximity of the belt holes. It's much easier to find a suitable size...I used a different one after working out (before leaving for the mall) and then another one after eating schnitzel (I'm in Germany, btw). Honestly, it's something more stores and belts should come standard with. I mentioned before that I'm a shorter gentleman with short proportions - I almost always have to take a leather awl and punch new holes in belts (and it never looks quite right).
Large Belt Pouch
I hate putting stuff in my pockets so I purchased the Large Belt Pouch in tobacco brown to use primarily to hold my cell phone. It's a little bulky and sticks out (as have all the cell phone holders I've used in the past) but I think it'll work fine whenever I'm wearing a jacket. Again, my favorite jacket is about the same color as the belt and this pouch so I think it'll work. That jacket is being tailored right now (sleeves shortened again just a little bit) so I can't compare colors right now.
Pretty much everything came with this business card. I have a bunch now...I did get a bunch of looks today wearing the satchel but noone approached me like so many people on this site have mentioned - though that is largely due to the language barrier here...anywho, I think I'll keep them in case someone asks me where I got my backpack or satchel from.
My phone is an HTC Desire, which has similar proportions to an iPhone (I'm not an iAnything kind of guy except for my trusty, old 30Gig iPod).
I took a gamble that it would fit knowing that SBL customer service would probably accept the return if it didn't. Lucky for me it fits pretty snug. Not tight enough that I have to apply a lot of pressure to squeeze it in but not loose enough that I have to worry about it falling out. My only suggestion for SBL - in the future do you think you can sew in some magnets to make the enclosure more secure? Just a thought.
Leather Bifold Wallet
I also got the Medium Bifold Wallet in Tobacco Brown. I chose it because it had similar dimensions to my current wallet (which I've had for 6 years now). My current wallet isn't falling apart - it's actually pretty rugged - but I felt I needed to class it up a bit. I'll still use my old wallet in the field or in training but anytime I'm out and about I'll use the new bifold.
Before I transferred everything from my ACU wallet to the SBL wallet my old wallet was thicker. The SBL wallet is definitely THICK...but even fully loaded it's still just as thick as my old wallet was. Also, the dimensions are pretty similar to my old wallet, which is important to me since I typically keep it in my right back pocket. I didn't want it to stick out or be too bulky.
Again, a relative size comparison. It's misleading because everything has been transferred to the SBL wallet but when they're both empty they are roughly the same thickness. Again, I got this color because it matches the belt, belt pouch, and my favorite jacket. It also has the most potential for aging and getting darker. See that laptop case underneath? I'm hoping I can get all my tobacco brown products to look like that someday...speaking of which, any tips? I don't want to rush it...I'll let them wear and age naturally over a few months but I'm not averse to trying some darkening oils. I've seen mink oil referenced a lot in earlier posts so perhaps I'll try that in a few months.
The SBL wallet carries everything my old wallet carried with ease. All the pockets felt stiff at first but that's to be expected. Supposedly you can fit 3 cards in EACH of those pockets. I don't have a need for that at the moment but I'm interested in seeing what this wallet will look like in 6 months after the leather has turned more supple and darkened somewhat. In the main compartment there's plenty of room for dollars and Euros - here in Europe the bigger the denomination the bigger (in terms of physical dimensions) the actual paper currency is. So if you find yourself carrying 100 & 500-Euro bills you won't have to worry about them sticking out (which happened with my old wallet).
Miscellaneous (Key Chains & Utility Straps)
Here's some miscellaneous stuff:
In the satchel and the backpack I found free keychains! They are in dark coffee brown and chestnut respectively. They're solid, not flashy, and have a new leather smell to them. Here they are for size comparison. Attached is a keepsake from Florence as well as the keys to the Mustang. Also pictured is the business card that accompanied pretty much every item.
Here they are again for comparison. Sorry for the crappy lighting. Chestnut is on the left; dark coffee brown on the right.
Here are the utility straps. When I clicked on the link at first I thought: "Why on earth would I need this? They're just trying to make a few bucks by selling the scraps". But I went ahead and purchased a set on the offchance that they might be useful and because they're basically leather swatch samples but made useful. Also, since a lot of people recommended mink oil and other darkening compounds I figured I could test those oils on these straps in the future. Honestly, I don't know what I'm going to do with the little ones but the medium and large ones are pretty useful. The way they lock into the double D-rings is surprisingly snug and secure. I already re-purposed one to use in conjunction with the backpack straps to hold them more firmly across the chest (see prior post regarding the backpack). The medium ones are good for attaching umbrellas and other things to the bottom of the satchel. Not super useful but for $50 I have no regrets.
From left to right: Carbon Black, Tobacco Brown, Dark Coffee Brown, and Chestnut.
My laptop bag-turned attache case. It's not SBL but I post it here so you have an idea of the color I'd like my Tobacco Brown products to eventually look like.
Note: You'll notice that there's a lot of variation in the shades and texture of all the tobacco brown products. It's not a trick of the camera - that's how it appears in person as well. I assume that's expected because of the light color and the handmade nature of the products in general. I wouldn't hold that against SBL but it's important to note - if you get a bunch of tobacco brown products you can expect the shading and texture to differ somewhat. This seems to be true of the other products (for example when I compare the straps to the keychains to the backpack and satchel) but is most evident in tobacco brown. If anyone has any tips on how I can get these to look like the attache case on the very bottom I'm open to suggestions (though I will enjoy them as they age for the time being without intervening).
Here's the Small Satchel in dark coffee brown....I'd like to remind you....it's not a purse! It's a man satchel....Indiana Jones had one....though to be exact what he used in the films was a gas mask and I believe it was made of a canvas material, definitely not leather. Nonetheless, I purchased this because I'm in Europe and travel a lot and sometimes I just want something to put all the random stuff I carry with me and may purchase at bazaars, flea markets, and various shops. I was torn between the small and the medium but, again, because of my small frame I didn't want something that would look comically large on me so I went with the small. I have no regrets as of this afternoon's trip. I don't carry much on me and I figure when I'm traveling I'll put anything really big in the backpack. This is supposed to be my 'ready bag'....for things like gloves, sunglasses, a small water bottle or flask...small things that I wouldn't want to have to take off my backpack to get at. It would also fit my passport and a boarding pass and any maps/brochures that I may be walking around with.
You're probably getting tired of all most posts at this point but this is the last one for tonight, I swear.
To reiterate, the satchel smelled of fresh leather and was generally stiff at first. Not to promote the leather milk but it was already next to the satchel so I used it so you can get an idea of size. Again, this is the SMALL...so if you're big & tall you're out of luck - sorry.
Not very thick...I wanted something that wouldn't jut out too far and bump into people or doorways. Walking through a crowded mall with this was relatively easy with it slung over my right shoulder and hanging next to my left hip. If I had to pass close to somebody I'd just slide it over my left butt cheek and doing so didn't make interfere with my stride at all.
I assumed that it had a simple D-ring but this actually has to be screwed/unscrewed to open/close. Like everything else, this feels pretty solid and secure.
The back pouch is a slim fit....probably only useful for papers/passport/brochures and the like since this surface is likely going to be resting against your body. But if necessary you can fit thicker objects in here like the bottle. It was just snug enough for the bottle so you could probably put something else in there but you definitely can't fit a water bottle in this pocket. It's great for a flask, though....
There's not much storage space since this is a small satchel but it holds what I need. The main compartment is broken up into two areas but the divider is flexible. I actually did like the keychain strap. I connected my house keys and my car keys to it and I feel confident that neither could fall out of the bag and get lost this way.
The side pocket fit my phone - it was a snug fit though and I had to force it a little at first. As the leather gets broken in it should get easier but if you have a thick or wide phone it probably won't fit. If you have a multimedia phone with an extra-large viewing screen it definitely won't fit.
A size comparison. The satchel fits comfortably in the backpack - though I don't know why you'd do that.
Overall, I'm glad I got the bag. If anything I was tempted to trade it in for tobacco brown but I rather like the ruggedness of this color. I agree with some other posters that it's not necessarily the easier bag to get things out of but once you've practiced with the strap it gets easier to open and close it. Generally, once I'm at my destination and I know I may be going into the bag more often I'll put the buckle in place but won't run the remainder of the strap through the ring. This makes it slightly easier...overall though it's not a big inconvenience. My trip to the mall was short but I can say that I had no issues with the strap (it's very adjustable - even for my size and the padding was actually good if not a little stiff) and the overall comfort and utility of the satchel.
Anywho, sorry for the long posts but I hope my notes and pictures helped someone in the same way many of your posts helped me. That's it for now though I'm expecting my dry bag soon...