Amazing Men's Leather Bags?
July 24, 2014 9:34 AM   Subscribe

This is my current bag, a military surplus canvas haversack. I love it. This is the bag I'm coveting. I would love to love it but it is Way To Much Money. Where is the bag that meets these two in the middle? Where are the Excellent Leather Men's Bags on sale? I am looking for something I can carry without comment (and will last) for the next 20 years.
posted by The Whelk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (47 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Have you checked out Duluth Pack?
posted by padraigin at 9:40 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

What about this? Not cheap, but comparitively.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:43 AM on July 24, 2014

How much do you want to spend?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:43 AM on July 24, 2014

Response by poster: Looking for 100-300$ as a one off birthday purchase - really something reduced down to that would be nice, but quality over brand-name.
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on July 24, 2014

I've always had good luck with L.L. Bean. And they guarrantee their stuff forever!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 9:46 AM on July 24, 2014

I've handled the leather Duluth Trading Company uses on their bags, and it's niiiice - so this one may be suitable for you. They have a couple of other similar bags, all in about that price range. (Also they have a bulletproof return policy.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:47 AM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're open to fake leather, Matt and Nat has vegan bags that look a lot like leather. I've had 2 of them for years. I don't know if they'll last 20 years — but you'll never have to worry about them getting damaged in the rain.
posted by John Cohen at 9:50 AM on July 24, 2014

Oh for God's sake, The Whelk, everything... no wait. Different thread.

Uh okay, how about Buffalo Jackson? I got my bag there, after lusting for something from Saddleback and realizing they wanted way more than I could justify spending on a bag. And I'm very happy with it.

(it's this one, a little outside your range, but not too far, and they do have other choices - though be careful about the less expensive camel leather. According to various warnings from various web sites, it smells bad and nothing will ever change that.)
posted by Naberius at 9:55 AM on July 24, 2014

If you go the Duluth Trading route, they're offering free shipping with code T14WRT07 through the end of the month. (Found on retailmenot, and it just worked for me.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:03 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fossil has a number of very acceptable men's leather bags. I regularly get complimented on mine.
posted by bfranklin at 10:07 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

i just ordered this for my bf's birthday. although ideally i wouldn't order stuff from asia, but from the comments, the quality seems to be fine. it is a cheaper option.
posted by monologish at 10:09 AM on July 24, 2014

I was actually just browsing Fossil's website and this reminded me a bit of your dream bag, Whelk, although I think it may have just been the coloring. Anyway, they have many pretty bags.
posted by maryr at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2014

How about this one from Roots. It comes in a larger size too.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 10:12 AM on July 24, 2014

If you're willing to buy used, I bought my current bag from this ebay seller, who was recommended to me by a friend. They have some nice vintage stuff and their stock changes frequently.
posted by igowen at 10:12 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have the Duluth Trading bag linked above (the "Bashful Billionaire"); they accidentally shipped it to me when I ordered a less expensive bag. It's very nice, but based on what you've written it looks like you're looking for a bag that's more messenger bag than briefcase, whereas that bag is definitely more briefcase than messenger bag. It's pretty hard and inflexible, so not the most comfortable to just toss over your shoulder. However, that said it's extremely well made and has earned me dozens of compliments over the years.
posted by saladin at 10:13 AM on July 24, 2014

You want to check out the 1945 US Army Briefcase by Custom Hide. There are a lot of favorable reviews on it if you Google around. Mostly in forums and such. Another option is the Filson Leather Satchel which I only mention because it pops up occasionally on eBay for much much cheaper.
posted by cazoo at 10:18 AM on July 24, 2014

How about actual vintage (1, 2, 3)?
posted by Mchelly at 10:18 AM on July 24, 2014

I like this one from J.Crew. I bought it for $200 during their last holiday sale, and it will most likely go on sale again.
posted by lakemarie at 10:37 AM on July 24, 2014

When in doubt, buy Italian?

Search terms "italian leather messenger bag"
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:39 AM on July 24, 2014

Response by poster: The Fossil bags are catching my eye (TWEED) can anyone attest to their quality?
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on July 24, 2014

This isn't a perfect answer to your question because it's just leather in some parts like the straps, but it is kind of a middle ground that's worth knowing about; look on eBay for Vintage Swiss Military Bag.

I saw some guy on the train last year in WA state with one of those, and it was super cool and sturdy looking, and that's where he told me to look for one.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:52 AM on July 24, 2014

I've had the same Fossil bag since 2007 and used it heavily. It's stood really well, looks good and has begun to develop a really nice patina. I've loved it and it's been a wonderful bag that's stood up to a lot of abuse.
posted by Carillon at 10:54 AM on July 24, 2014

I love nothing more than shopping for bags. I give this a shot at lunchtime. If it's a splurge purchase and you can't see it in person I'd probably advise against vintage as it can be hard to assess condition online and leather that is very old can have all kinds of problems.

I'd also search etsy under handmade for retro leather briefcase
posted by oneear at 10:55 AM on July 24, 2014

Seconding the J Crew! They make great bags.

I've had a number of Fossil bags and wallets and I think they hold up really well.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 10:56 AM on July 24, 2014

I came here to throw Fossil at you, too. I bought one for my husband at the Fossil store on 5th Ave in your fair city, maybe 6 years ago? It's more of a map-style bag than the satchels you're looking at, but it's held up beautifully - their leather ages well.
posted by ersatzkat at 11:00 AM on July 24, 2014

I'm addicted to Etsy. Why not go handmade? These are some beautiful bags on the higher end of your price range.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 11:13 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Based on a previous rec here, I went with an Ernest Alexander bag. They're not cheap but they are handmade in the U.S., super-high quality, and very distinctive-looking. One of the best purchases I've made. I even got a compliment at work from someone who noticed it "wasn't a regular bag." The quality is obvious before you even touch it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:29 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

My other go-to would be Hard Graft. Their stuff is amazing, though a little out of the price range you mentioned.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:36 AM on July 24, 2014

I have a leather Fossil bag that I've used every day for years, and it looks great. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, and the leather has aged very well. I have a newer Fossil bag that I got recently because I grew tired of the old one, and the quality appears just as solid. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Fossil on quality grounds. In my head Fossil was always a "cheap watch company," and I never gave them much thought (or was slightly snobby in my assessment), but their bags are awesome.
posted by another zebra at 11:36 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not all of them are all-leather, but I've been really satisfied with my Filson bag ever since I decided to buy something that was actually durable. One of my favorite review sites, The Wirecutter, also likes them.
posted by montag2k at 11:41 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Did you see this one one ebay?
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:50 AM on July 24, 2014

Fossil has nice leather for your price range. I don't know if its everyday use for 20 years nice, but it's noticeably decent leather.

Good thick leather is very expensive now because its just not available hardly at all
posted by fshgrl at 11:51 AM on July 24, 2014

This one is by Barbour, costs £129, which should be about $200.

These Visconti are in the $140-200 range.
posted by biffa at 12:05 PM on July 24, 2014

My girlfriend bought me a bag from Far Horizon Traders and I love it. Really well made and well designed, compartment wise. It was a perfect step up from my canvas bag from Dillard's.
posted by coreywilliam at 12:09 PM on July 24, 2014

I've had my Fossil bag packed every day for 8 years with a laptop and folio. Some days I'm stuffing two laptops in there and really pushing the capacity. It's still in fantastic shape.
posted by bfranklin at 12:18 PM on July 24, 2014

The Cambridge Satchel Co. will work for you. You want the Batchel.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:21 PM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is more expensive than you are looking for but I love love love my Saddleback Leather classic briefcase.
posted by zabuni at 1:40 PM on July 24, 2014

I have a Fossil bag that I need to replace. I got it for $100-150 around 4 years ago but it is starting to fall apart. I would buy the exact same bag in a heartbeat as its layout just makes so much sense for me but they don't offer it anymore. I was given a "nicer" bag as a birthday present but I only use it when going to court because it doesn't work as well for me.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:19 PM on July 24, 2014

Their stuff is pricey, but many similar items are less expensive than the Orvis bag you like. And everything comes with a 100-year guarantee. Be sure to check out the "Dave's Deals" section on the website to see discounted items.

My husband and I have several pieces from Saddleback, and we LOVE them. Well worth the money.
posted by Boogiechild at 3:03 PM on July 24, 2014

What about this Harris Tweed highland satchel, or any one of the satchels from the British Belt Company? They all seem to be in the $300 range.

There's also the angler bag from J Peterman, and while Ally Capelino satchels look a bit more like your current bag than the one you want, the bags are well made (women's at least), plus there's a sale going on right now.
posted by peripathetic at 4:41 PM on July 24, 2014

Just to muddy the waters, Timbuktu is apparenty having a 50% off sale today only:

No connection, just figured it might be germane.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:56 PM on July 24, 2014

nthing Fossil. I have one similar but not identical to this one (the inside pockets and zipper are arranged a little differently), and it was my laptop bag and every day bag for years. The pins fell out of the tongue clasps, because I pretty much never ever used them, and some of the inside stitching is loose at one side, but it's almost ten years old. I got it for about $160 on sale.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:14 AM on July 25, 2014

I have this, Saddleback's thin briefcase. It has a similar aesthetic to the bag that you like, slightly cheaper and is indestructible.
posted by ianK at 3:35 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Came in to say what leotrotsky said; if you take a gander at their men's bags page, you can see all the styles including a very fetching dark brown with blue side accents. And this oxblood model is to die for and would be perfect for fall, which is just around the corner!

However it seems like you like classic brown; the medium Expedition Satchel is a beautiful cognac color and has a lot of style. I think the nylon straps are unexpected and keep it looking edgy rather than stodgy.

The other thing I was going to mention is that if you find a model/color you like but cannot get to a store (or the company is online only with no brick-and-mortar stores), very often there is an "unboxing" or review YouTube video that someone has uploaded. These can be very handy and solidify a decision in your mind.

Good luck! Let us know what you choose.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 3:21 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you seen the studioshoes store on Ebay? They specialize in used/NOS/vintage leather attaches, briefcases, and so on. Prices seem reasonable to me, though I haven't patronized them. Yet.
posted by ardgedee at 12:49 PM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: A Kent Messenger bag from Will Leather Goods arrived for my birthday...
posted by The Whelk at 2:54 PM on September 27, 2014

I see you've already made your purchase but I wanted to note here that I stopped by Sandast after coffee this morning and saw this and thought of you. The proprietor was really funny. To paraphrase, Our bags are only selling OK in America. The craftsmanship and quality requires a prohibitively expensive price point. But we're going wild right now in Asia, they love the Made In America craftsmanship and will pay the premium. He just moved his shop from China to downtown Los Angeles and pretty much quadrupled his cache back in China. ell oh ahhhh whatev.

The smaller stuff was really pricey, like $60 for a single-fold card wallet or $175 for an iPhone case. But the larger totes were very reasonably priced, especially for the quality of the leather and the overall design. He said he considered the current selection to be their premier (first) line, and will continue to branch out and refine. They have a few design-test bags laying around the store (which is next door to the workshop) that were bargain-basement priced. (Yep, awesome little purse in the supplest saddle leather for my sister.)
posted by carsonb at 2:46 PM on October 9, 2014

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