Basically I spun up a bad situation to be commercial sounding aka Reed Timmer Bosch wiper blade style.
Saddleback Leather, the choice of Missouri storm chasers.....
I thought I'd share my impressions of the Small Gadget Bag that I just picked up from Dave's Deals:
What a nice and simple little bag! This particular size has been discontinued for some reason, but as of writing this review, there's still one more bag available in this size in the Dave's Deals section in case you want to pull the trigger.
I got the Dark Coffee Brown version because I just love that deep brown color! It goes well with just about any type of clothes, from business attire all the way down to flip flops and Hawaii shirts. Really, you can't go wrong with any of the colors available from SBL, but I find that this particular color is easier to "dress up" and match with virtually any colors. The Chestnut is pretty awesome too, the Tobacco Brown is more casual/adventurous, and black is of course always a safe and stylish bet.
One thing to point out is that the different colors actually feel distinctively different to the touch -- it's not just about the color. The Tobacco Brown color has a softer feel to it, while the DCB almost feels plasticky in comparison. However, don't let the first impression fool you: this only applies when the leather is brand new. As you start to use your leather item and bend/twist it, it starts to develop a lovely patina and get the kind of wrinkles we normally expect to see on leather product because they so often come broken in and softened for you. This is part of the beauty of SBL: you get full grain leather, the thickest you can imagine, and it ships completely without any sort of pre-aging process -- it's your job to work with the leather to break it in, or keep it just the way it is if that's what you prefer! On my particular Dave's deal, the bag was a little worn in already so it already had some nice wrinkles to it, especially on one of the sides. I expect the entire bag to look like that after it gets some more use, and this highlights one of the things I really love about SBL: their products get more beautiful the more you use them.
I own a M43 camera system so the Medium sized Gadget Bag would have been overkill and would probably result in me leaving it at home more often than not. This Small size certainly won't fit my entire system, but it's perfect for those days when I only need the camera and a couple of extra lenses. With that kind of load, the total weight with three lenses wasn't something I even noticed after a full day of walking around. The shoulder pad is nice and very comfortable, making carrying this bag a breeze. However, one thing to note is that the weight listed on SBL's website (430 grams) is without the shoulder strap -- with the strap included, the bag actually weighs a hair under 800 grams according to my kitchen scale. But despite that, it's very far from heavy, and its small size means you're unlikely to ever fill it with more than a kilo of net equipment weight.
There are no dividers or padding included in this camera bag, so you'll have to come up with your own solution depending on what you need and how much protection you want. The full grain leather coupled with the inside pigskin makes a pretty thick and sturdy case, so unless you're really careless with the bag, you probably don't have to worry too much about the protection from outside forces. What's left for you to solve is making sure the items stored in it don't collide with each other.
I place two lenses in neoprene pouches at the bottom of the bag (the Cosmos Black Extra small Lens Pouch fits the Olympus 45mm and even the 60mm macro perfectly and is available from Amazon). Then I place my Olympus OMD camera + 20mm pancake directly on top of those two lenses. I have a small divider from an old and worn out camera bag -- sometimes I use it to separate the lenses from the camera for added peace of mind, other times I don't. If you want that kind of protection, one tip is to buy a simple neoprene-based item like a mouse pad or hiking seat pad and simply cut it to fit your needs. You could easily build your custom padding this way for less than ten dollars if you shop around on e.g. Amazon.
A camera with three prime lenses suits my needs about 90% of the time I'm out and about and want to bring a camera with me just in case. With this load in the bag, here's still some room left for small stuff like a wallet and a phone, or maybe a small clip-on flash or a spare battery. You could definitely fit one or two more M43 lenses in there if you tried, as long as they're small prime or pancake lens. It just depends on what your priorities are -- for me, this bag is more useful when it's lightly packed so I can easily switch lenses without having to take out a lot of stuff temporarily while switching. It's all about being able to take that photo before the opportunity is lost. But if you don't switch lenses very often and only want to carry them with you just in case, you could definitely pack the bag differently and fit even more. As an example, fitting a Kindle Paperwhite in the bag was possible without really sacrificing any of the space, and a thin divider between the Kindle and the lenses would ensure no scratches.
For the casual "I'm out and about but not sure if I'll take any photos" kind of days, this is a perfect bag. It's lightweight, stylish, and masculine looking with its boxy shape (women would easily look cool with it, too). However, for more dedicated days of photography, this bag won't cut it for me because of its small size. On those days I typically want to have things a bit more organized and more importantly carry more stuff with me: a Kindle for the occasional reading breaks, sunglasses, a water bottle, a spare battery, my phone, my wallet, and of course my full range of camera lenses (4-5 of them including one larger 45-200mm tele zoom).
I'm considering the Small Round Satchel for the dedicated photography days (yes, I guess you can consider me a true SBL fan by now!). It looks like it would be the perfect fit for my needs: Kindle and thin wallet in the inside pigskin flap, small things like a spare battery, the clip-on flash and the car/bike key in the inside side pockets, the camera and all lenses in the main compartment area, the phone in the outer back pocket for easy access, and finally a water bottle and maybe the sunglasses case in the outer side pockets. Based on the measurements on the website, the satchel would probably still have plenty of room to spare in the main compartment for other things. The only downside is that it wouldn't protect the gear against rain as efficiently as the Gadget Bag since the closure flap doesn't securely cover the sides. It wouldn't be the ideal bag for the occasional intense water splash when on a boat, but a simple plastic bag tucked in somewhere in the bag should be sufficient as a simple insurance against the sudden heavy rain. Anyway, I guess I'm trying to justify another SBL purchase here. ;)
Back to the Small Gadget Bag. A few minor suggestions/areas of improvement in case it ever makes a reentrance at SBL:
Overall, though, I'm very pleased with this bag and the quality of the leather is unbelievable. And the smell! I just can't seem to get used to it, despite having bought more than a handful of SBL products by now. I highly recommend this bag and I can't wait to put it to good use!
Thanks Susan! I guess attention to detail can be both a blessing and a curse. :)
No iPad for me -- so the Small Satchel would probably be ideal for my photography and general "I need to care more than I thought" man-bag purposes. And if I ever decided to bring a tablet, I'd probably get a smaller one like an iPad Mini, or waiting for a newer tablet with a less thick bezel than the current generation 10" tablets. Yes, I'm totally betting on gadgets continuing to get smaller, so the small satchel should be perfect. ;) And I already have the Large Round Satchel for the cases where the small would be too...small. :) (There's a review coming up for that one too shortly!)
As I continue looking, I think the dry bag might even be a possibility for me. Comparing the large round satchel to the large dry bag, the dimensions can be fairly close, and the dry bag has the added benefit of a higher max capacity if you want to fill it up and use the handles, plus a good bit less weight to start.
Now let's see which style I prefer the look of...
yes, actually last night I placed an order for the large round satchel off of Dave's deals, this puts me more at ease as I decided 1 large compartment suits me better than the divided compartments.
First post here, I've been following this thread for a while (sadly I have no style, but I like the pictures and reading other people's experiences), and have been bitten by the Saddleback Leather bug and finally made my first purchase last fall with a medium wallet. Needless to say, that wasn't my last piece and I have since acquired 2 iphone cases, credit card sleeve, medium gadget sleeve, medium satchel, messenger bag, ipad case, small notepad holder, mousepad, and this week I ordered a large briefcase, large gadget sleeve, and a belt. Wow, when its typed out like that it seems like a lot!
Anywho, most of my pieces are DCB and I've got a couple DCB keychains that I dont need. I would like to get the other colors though, but I don't want to have to buy a bag to get one :) So if anyone has a tobacco key chain that is relatively unused and would like to trade for a DCB one, please hit me up!
Thanks for looking!
PS: Here's my satchel when it was brand new.....its slightly more beat up now, but I love it, it holds my ipad case, raincoat, a water bottle, a few power bars, Nintendo 3DS, small notepad holder, flashlight, knife, gum, and pens...with room for more if needed!
As someone who has actually seen both of these in person, I second Susan's advice. Both are pretty similar in size and appearance (though the Thin Briefcase weighs about 200 grams more), and the biggest difference is the two separated compartments of the briefcase vs the one single compartment (plus pigskin flap) on the satchel. To me, the pigskin flap is more than enough protection for my laptop, but others might prefer the more rugged separation of the compartments of the thin briefcase. It all depends on what you plan to carry and when you plan to use the bag.
To me, the satchel is simply a more flexible bag because on the days when I don't need to carry along a computer, I have more space for other stuff instead. As an example, I used my round satchel last weekend to carry stuff like my camera, some SPF protection, a water bottle, a Kindle and some other stuff. I probably wouldn't have brought the thin briefcase with me on a similar weekend trip. That said, I did find the two compartments of the Thin Briefcase to be pretty flexible so you could certainly fit almost the same stuff in it as you could with the large round satchel, it's just that it would probably bulge out a bit more if you did. Oh, and I love the side pockets of the satchel - not style wise perhaps (I wish I could flatten them completely when they're not in use), but it's very practical and it's certainly large enough to fit a normal-sized water bottle.
The pigskin flap of the large satchel is a perfect fit for the MacBook Pro 13" Retina version, but it won't fit the non-Retina version I think. I tried to fit in my one year old 13" Sony Vaio in it, which is a similarly thin laptop, but because it's approx. 1 cm wider than the Retina MBP, it was too wide to fit into the flap. Had the computer been a hair thinner, e.g. the MacBook Air 13", it would probably fit though. All of these computers will of course easily fit in the main compartment!
The last thing to consider is which style you prefer. The thin briefcase is more rectangular and "formal" in its shape, while the round satchel is a tad more... round. :) I personally didn't find the difference between these two styles to be that striking to be honest, they both share a lot of the typical SBL design details such as the beautiful clasp/lock, the many D-rings, and the awesome shoulder strap.
I think you made the right choice in picking the larger size. I was also choosing between the medium and large version and now that I have the large, I've already had days when I needed all of the space in it, and it didn't feel like I was carrying too much with me - just some camera lenses, sunglasses, kindle, water, sunblock, keys and a couple of magazines. It would have been a struggle to carry all that with me if I bought the medium. And once you pack this bag, 300 grams of weight won't make that much of a difference.
The only thing I wish people stopped worrying about is this idea that a small bag = purse. I don't know what started that worry among SBL shoppers, but I suspect that Dave Munson's own recommendations on the site started the madness:
You want the bag to fit your body size. If you're huge, then you'll look even bigger with a smaller bag and if you're small then a big bag will make you look like a real little fella. In my humble opinion: [...]
I really wish that SBL would just remove that part because it's completely missing the mark. You should choose your size based on what you want/need to carry in the bag, not how it might make you look. Think about it: most camera bags are way smaller than most briefcases. Why is that? Because cameras tend to be smaller than notebooks and laptops! Do people think men walking around with a camera bag look like they're carrying a purse?
I fell into the same trap of worrying about size initially, but it really is not necessary to even consider the size with SBL products. They're inherently masculine in their design, even the small satchel has design details that make it look masculine: the D-rings, the really thick and wide shoulder strap, the shoulder pad, the shiny hardware, the stitching, etc. It just doesn't look feminine at all to me (which btw means it's a unisex look -- thankfully very few women worry about a design looking too masculine, in fact many women like it; however, men tend to be more nervous about looking too feminine!). So really, you can pick any of SBL's product sizes and feel awesome wearing it, man or woman.
Just to try to illustrate my point about style and size, here's a photo of Ryan Reynolds wearing what you'd consider a purse if you only considered its size:
You tell me if you think this comes across as feminine. :D And keep in mind that SBL bags look even more awesome than this. ;)