Saddleback Leather Bags Review: Is it Worth It?

written by local expert Becky Rogers

Becky is an avid rock climber and outdoor enthusiast and is now living in France as an expat. When she is not writing about travel gear and various destinations she has visited during her travels, you can find her playing with her two dogs.

When buying gear, all of us are faced with this looming question at some point “Will this last or do I bite the bullet and pay more for quality?” If you’ve found yourself in this situation, then you know exactly what we mean. While not all of us have the money to splash out on fancy gear whenever we want to, it is important to put our money into solid gear that matters – like a sturdy camping tent, a durable but lightweight backpack or a hard-wearing rucksack.

Talking about solid gear, we came across Saddleback Leather, a company that builds tough products that are over-engineered with high-quality materials for when your life depends on it. Seriously, with a slogan “they’ll fight over it when you’re dead,” this is one company that knows hard-wearing adventure gear like no-one else! So, as you can imagine, when it came to the Saddleback leather bags, we were faced with this very decision – “budget or quality?” (dun dun dun!).

Read: Travel Accessories: Must-Have Items to Help You Travel Like a Boss

Saddleback Leather Bags: Is it Worth It?

Choosing to bite the bullet and go all out quality leather, we wanted to test just how important quality was and if it trumps all the other features that we look for in a rucksack. Facing this test was two mighty contenders: the simple waxed canvas backpack, a burly rucksack for day adventures, and the leather front pocket pouch, a small day pouch perfect for city breaks. When we received the bags, we were really impressed. Not only were they really attractive to look at (and both had the new leather smell!), they were also one of the best quality bags I’ve ever seen!

Saying this, however, although the quality was a massive check on our lists, we did have reservations about the weight of the bags. Due to the amount of solid material and the thick leather pad on the canvas backpack, the bags were really quite heavy to begin with. The only thing left now was to test them out and see if they are worth it.

Read: Best Travel Backpacks for Traveling the World saddlebag leather front pouch

Simple Waxed Canvas Backpack

I ordered the simple waxed canvas backpack bag as I was looking for a durable everyday backpack to use. While I could easily use any travel backpack that had laptop compartments, I also wanted it to be stylish so I decided to go for the simple waxed canvas bag.  Here are a few of its features:

  • Thick 24 oz waxed canvas – extremely rugged and water resistant.
  • Old Bull grab handle
  • Adjustable 34″ Old Bull leather shoulder straps
  • Old Bull leather pad lining the back and bottom of the pack – for comfort and protection
  • Exterior leather pad – acts as protection and as an exterior pocket
  • Sewn leather tabs on the side of the backpack – for lashing or hanging extra gear
  • Drawstring closure with adjustable flap that secures with easy-access pad eye closure
  • Three interior pockets
  • Wide open, simple and spacious design
  • Easily fits a 15” Macbook, iPad, or Notepad Holder – all with room to spare


Leather Front Pocket Pouch

Apart from the waxed canvas bag, I also got the leather front pocket pouch which was a more casual bag which I could use on a daily basis when going out. Apart from the beautiful design, I love the casual yet rugged feel of this bag. The fact that it is made from real leather also gave it a classic feel that was exactly what I was looking for.

  • Vertical design – like a slim satchel
  • Riveted grab handle – on top of the bag
  • Adjustable shoulder strap
  • Flat exterior back pocket – perfect for passports and receipts
  • Exterior pocket on the front panel – will fit an iPad Mini without its case
  • Wide open interior design –  fits a long wallet or an iPad Mini in a case

saddleback leather front pocket

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Saddleback Leather Bags: Our Favorite Features

Despite my initial worry about the weight, these bags turned out to be magical and I absolutely loved them! Generally, they were great but there were a couple of features that really made them.

Adjustable Leather Shoulder Straps

These sturdy straps could be adjusted like a belt and ensured a contoured fit. I think it was down to this feature alone that made these bags great. By creating a snug fit, these straps pulled your shoulders back which not only did wonders for your posture, but they also made sure you carried the weight on your back rather than your shoulders. No more back pain!

Exterior Back Pocket

This handy pocket on both of the bags was a great ‘secret’ place to stash things. You could use it to keep important documents close in your leather pouch or in the canvas backpack, you could even use it to store proper adventure gear. Think stashing your tripod if you’re a photographer, a water caddy if you’re an avid hiker, or even an ax or ice picks if you’re just a crazy outdoor adventurist. Whatever your need, these tough bags can take it.

Inside Pockets

Another feature I really loved about these bags were the inside pockets. If you love compartmentalizing your things, such as using packing cubes, then you’ll love this! In the leather pouch, you have just enough pockets that you can separate your daily things, while in the canvas backpack, you can really go to town. By having all of these inside pockets to carry different items, you will never have to dig around in your bag for something again!

The Leather

When you’re looking for quality, you can’t get much better than hard-wearing leather and waxed canvas. Not only are the water resistant and can take a battering, they also look amazing! In fact, the guys over at Saddleback are so confident with their product’s durability that they even have a 30-day money back guarantee or a 100-year money back guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship.

Read: Best Packing Cubes for Traveling saddleback-bag review

Saddleback Leather Bags: Our Verdict

All in all, I think these bags were worth every penny. Not only did they hold up to their tough and sturdy name, but I also loved them for their charms and quirks of being an old-worldly, explorer-type bag. Not having tried the bag for hardcore adventures, I can’t comment on their suitability for that, but I can highly recommend them for daily or weekend explorers who want to ensure that their valuables are protected. Although heavy to begin with, the bags don’t seem to get that much heavier when you fill them with your things, especially when you put both straps on and the weight distributes into nothing.

Overall, I think these Saddleback leather bags are a perfect example of how quality can trump other desirable features that we look for in rucksacks and I’m looking forward to using them for more reasons in the future. After all, when these bags are supposed to “outlast you and maybe your kids, or even your kids’ kids” you can definitely say that these immortal bags are worth the money!

Please note that this article was written in partnership with Saddleback Leather but despite this, all opinions are ours and remain completely unbiased.


saddleback leather review Saddleback Leather Website

Telephone (USA) 210-858-5210



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