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If there was ever a company with a cult following and legendary customer service it would be Saddleback Leather. Known around the world for producing some of the best, high-quality leather bags, briefcases, backpacks and wallets, this is a brand which has established a reputation for excellence, and made carrying things an art form.

And for those wanting a high quality bag, which exudes class, style, and makes you look as though you belong among the rugged explorers of our time, one of the company’s newest bags is the Squared Backpack; a full grain leather work of art and one of the sturdiest travel bags you’ll ever find.

This is a bag which I absolutely adore however I’ll aim to keep my romantic cliches in check. We’ll discuss the features, the look, comfort, durability, weight, and cost, and end with a verdict I’m sure you can already expect!

Review: The Squared Backpack From Saddleback Leather

A bag that can take a beating and still retain it’s classy look, while lasting for a very long time.

Features

Made of high-quality full grain leather with pig skin lining, Saddleback’s Squared Backpack features a wide-open interior for maximum storage capacity, and seven pockets you can store your gear in. It’s a very deep backpack with a lot of interior space, and it carry’s a lot.

The main compartment comes with an optional leather divider should you wish to zone everything up. And there are four small interior pockets for loose gear. The front pocket is a deep, thin pouch, perfect for a a 15” laptop. And because the leather is of such high quality, and very thick, this is a great sleeve for keeping your laptop safe.

The two side pockets are very generous in size, and can easily accommodate all sizes of chargers, or power cords. Behind each side pocket is an open area for gear you need to easily access – a water bottle, passports/boarding passes or a cellphone.  It comes with extra D-rings for tying tripods, blankets or a tent to the outside.

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

The Look

This is a bag I constantly receive compliments about. And in a world where almost everything is mass produced, it has to be because Saddleback is so obviously unique. I feel Indiana Jones would approve.

The Squared Backpack achieves a very classy, rugged-chic look, and gives off an air of stylish and tough reliability. You can tell that it’s a high quality bag just from looking at it, and the leather is tanned all the way through rather than just on the surface. The bag comes in tobacco, dark coffee brown, chesnut or black.

As with all full grain leather products, your bag will likely arrive with the odd scar or mark. This comes natural to the leather process, and is part of what you get with Saddleback leather. They embrace the natural scars, bug bites and marks of the animal; their motto that each mark tells a story, and reminds us that flawlessness does not equal beauty.

Over time you’ll likely notice the bag acquires scratches and marks from use, adding to its unique character. It will look quite different after a couple of years once you’ve truly worn it in – part of the charm with a high quality leather product, and probably one of the very few bags where the more of a beating it takes, the better it looks!

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

Comfort

If you’re buying a bag which is going to last you 100 years, comfort should be one of your biggest points. Leather products aren’t known for being ultra-comfortable, but Saddleback goes out of their way to address this, and achieves a very comfortable result.

The Squared Backpack comes with heavy duty shoulder straps that add comfort and evenly distribute weight. These are padded and very thick, though removable if you would prefer a thinner, smoother strap. The straps are flexible and very easy to adjust to your right size, and are angled out so that they don’t rub your sides.

There is a padded and rounded lower back edge for maximum comfort, and this back support really helps to carry the weight. And the leather softens with use and develops into a beautiful patina with age. I found the bag to be very comfortable overall.

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

Durability and Weight

The great thing about Saddleback backpacks are that there are no breakable parts – zippers, snaps, buttons, etc. So as far as durability goes, this is one of the toughest bags you’ll find. The leather is thick and heavy duty, and the company prides themselves on using the least amount of leather pieces possible.

Being one big piece of leather (the more pieces a bag is made with the weaker it becomes), the bag is structurally sound, and there are a lot less seams than a regular bag. Where there are seams, they’re using high-quality polyester threading – the same thread used for airbags, ship sails and hiking boots. And they’re double-stitching it. They’re also using pigskin lining, which has the highest tensile strength rating of all leathers (second only to kangaroo).

In terms of weight, it’s a big bag, weighing 8.5 pounds (3.8 kilos) when empty, so once you add cameras, clothes, a laptop, there’s no doubt that it’s heavy. However the shoulder straps evenly distribute the weight, and it’s by no means intolerable or overbearing. The Saddleback website provides a useful chart on their website which recommends the best bags for your height.

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

The Cost

The Saddleback Squared Backpack retails for between $495 – $619 USD depending on the type of leather you choose. While that may sound like a lot for a backpack, this is not knock off leather. This is the best leather that money can buy.

On top of the quality of the product, the cost also factors in the hardware, craftsmanship and time. When you invest in a Saddleback product you’re not buying something mass produced from a production line. Every product is a work of art, each piece of leather unique, and there’s a very high level of precision which goes into the craft.

And I use the word invest because this is much more than a simple buy. It’s going to last you a very long time and you won’t need to buy a replacement within your lifetime; Saddleback are so confident in their materials that they give you a 100 year warranty. Their company motto is “They’ll Fight Over When You’re Dead”. When you pass this on, your decedents will be taken care of under the warranty too.

Saddleback Leather Squared Backpack Review

Good People

When I’m purchasing a product, and especially when it’s a product of this price, I like to know that I’ve opened my wallet to good people. I truly believe that as travelers and consumers we have the power to speak through our wallets. To send a message via which products we support and where we choose to spend our money and why.

Saddleback is a morally and socially conscious company, and it’s evident that they focus on people over profit. They only use premium Chrome Tanned leather from reputable, environmentally friendly tanneries in Old Mexico, and have developed a strong reputation for nurturing ongoing customer relationships and maintaining the highest quality product.

Believing that the quality of a bag is only as good as the people that make it, they hire the best stitchers and leather workers and quality control folks they can find. They pump resources into training, and pay their workers well so they don’t leave. They’re also so sure of their product that they list their competitors on their website so you can shop around. Which I’ve never seen on any other website before!

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a leather product and want the real deal, Saddleback Leather bags are the way to go. The Squared Backpack is a fantastic option for those looking for the perfect balance between being functionality and style; a bag that can take a beating and still retain it’s classy look, while lasting for a very long time.

While an expensive product, I highly recommended Saddleback Leather goods, and join the many reviewers who have been thrilled with the bag I received. If you try it out and you’re not happy, there’s a 30 day money back guarantee, and the company has a strong reputation for excellent customer service. So if you’re on the fence about a purchase, try it out and see what you think. You really can’t lose.

Buy Now on Saddleback

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

Disclosure: Saddleback Leather provided the Square Leather Backpack for review. As always, opinions are 100% our own. For more information on this incredible brand visit www.saddlebackleather.com

    69 Comments

  1. Saddleback quality has declined significantly in recent years. I would be cautious on new purchases, especially when paying premium prices.

    • Hi Mack, thanks for your comment. We’ve only recently discovered Saddleback so can’t compare with previous years, but I was happy with the quality of the Squared Leather Backpack and thought it was top notch.

      Definitely agree that research and shopping around is important when making the decision on a premium purchase, and there’s always the 30 day money back guarantee if you decide it’s not what you had in mind – it’s a nice safety net to have so I appreciate that they offer that :)

  2. Great looking bag and nice shots Meg.

    • Thanks Ryan! I feel very Indiana Jones when I’m carrying it – I feel it’s going to be a permanent fixture on my hikes and treks :D

  3. This is a beautiful bag and I cant believe it can last for 100 years. It also surprises me that it is so comfy and that the company uses the least amount of leather. The weight of the bag is a bit of a turn off though.

    • It really is a beautiful bag – truly a work of art! The weight is something that’s going to come with a full grain leather product, so that’s definitely something to consider before purchasing any leather bag.

      Obviously when buying online you don’t have the opportunity to try it on for size, but there’s that awesome 30 day money back guarantee – Saddleback says on their website that they appreciate it’s something which comes with selling online.

      I’m probably a normal / medium build for a female of 29 and I didn’t find the weight to be a burden. Hope that helps!

  4. My first thought was weight. I had a leather backpack for a trip to Europe a few years ago and I found it too heavy. Did you find it’s easy to use on a daily basis or did you use it more for travel days?

    • Hi Alexa, yes, leather products are definitely heavier than other bags. This backpack is 8.5 pounds when empty (roughly 3.8 kilos) so depending on what you’re traveling with it’s likely to be heavier than what you’re used to.

      I’ve used it on a daily basis and for short walks and longer hikes, I found it pretty easy to break in and became accustomed to the weight pretty quickly. I personally don’t find it over bearing, but if you’re not used to heavy bags it might take some getting used to.

      If you’re on the fence they’ve got the 30 day money back guarantee, so if that was your only concern you could try it out, and provided it’s still in new condition they’ll offer a refund if it’s too heavy for you.

      Let me know if I can help with any other questions :)

  5. Gorgeous bag!

    • Isn’t it beautiful! A true work of art!

  6. The older I get, the more willing I am to pay for really good quality items that will actually last! In part that may because I have more income to play with now, but I think the main motivation is an increasing aversion to the throwaway culture we seem to live in today. The Saddleback range is gorgeous and I love the design of this square backpack. It’s a gorgeous gorgeous thing. I think what has won my heart for this brand is their point that “flawlessness does not equal beauty”, something that so few retailers seem to recognise. Do you know the weight of the bag empty, Megan, as I can only carry a limited amount of weight on my shoulders so I have to be careful about how much weight the bag itself might be.

    • Ignore the weight question, I just spotted you answered that in another comment.

    • I’m also starting to really recognize the value in investing in quality instead of playing into the throw-away culture game.

      And I thought it was really refreshing to find a brand which embraced the imperfections – it sends a really down to earth, inspiring message, and I love that they’re using their retail power to push such a positive and empowering idea. And it’s nice that even with said imperfections, the bag is just so incredibly beautiful!!

      Glad you spotted the weight – yes, 8.5 pounds when empty, so something to consider when making the purchase :)

      Let me know if you have any other questions – always happy to help!

  7. Leather products do last long and this one with its thickness and impressive stitches is bound to last for long. 7 pockets! That should hold lots. Great photography done with the bag.

    • 100 years! It’s definitely one of the sturdiest bags I’ve come across, and they’ve done a great job of diversifying the pockets so you can hold various sized gear and stay organized :)

  8. Looks like a good option but quite expensive for a bag as you said. Love the design and the points about the weight and durability factor. But considering that the bag will last long, it seems like a good purchase.

    • Absolutely – I’ve really started to recognize the value in investing in quality instead of playing into society’s throw-away culture. This is going to last a lifetime :)

  9. It is indeed a beautiful bag. And I would love to have something like that, although I suspect that at 5’1 and not very fit I might find it a bit heavy for every day. Perhaps I just need to find a 6′ man to buy a saddleback bag for – and carry my stuff around for me!

    • I love your thinking!

  10. The weight of it empty would definitely be the turnoff for me. I’d want to be able to use it for travel and so many airlines have a carry on weight limit of just a few kilos these days. I need to be able to jam as much stuff in there and with it already weighing 8lbs empty, that’s an issue.

    Otherwise, I like the color you selected. Since it’s a Bordeaux color, it must be dyed. Did you experience any color transfer from the dye?

    • Weight is definitely a consideration, especially if you travel with a heavy gear in your carry-on and need to be under that 7 kg limit.

      They call the color of this bag Chestnut, which is probably my favorite of the four options. I haven’t had any issues with color transfer, and of the other Saddleback reviews I’ve read I haven’t heard that this is an issue :)

  11. Wow, a 100-year warranty certainly is confident. My daughter has been very interested in buying a leather bag, I’ll have to show her this.

    • Isn’t it! Easily the best warranty you’ll find of any product out there :)

  12. I have always been a fan of brown leather backpacks. In fact, I find myself scouting for one before going on a trip. I like that this is very durable and also very stylish. I think it can fit both my laptop and camera! I would want one.

    • You can easily fit a laptop and camera in the Squared Backpack – the laptop sleeve at the front is really sturdy, and there’s a lot of space in the main compartment for camera equipment of nearly any size. The color I got is called Chestnut :)

  13. Gorgeous bag and the quality looks like it will last the 100 years as you described. The weight does concern me a little, it’s heavier than any suitcase I’ve owned. Other than that I would buy it in a heart beat.

    • Having seen how sturdy the bag is I can believe the 100 year claim :) Though I probably won’t be around to see the whole warranty through!!

      The weight is definitely something to consider before you purchase – but if that’s the only thing holding you back and you want to give it a try, you can always purchase and rely on the 30 day money back guarantee if you need to :)

  14. I love how classic the bag is and yet it can accommodate our modern lifestyle. Also impressed how socially conscious they are – really important to me when I make purchases (especially expensive ones).

    • Definitely masters the classic timeless look! While being practical for the modern age. And I usually look for companies with socially conscious values before I make a purchase now too – I really think we can leverage our buying power as consumers to send a message in this way :)

  15. Great review. I definitely agree with your advice about investing in good pieces. I bought a Briggs and Riley carry-on bag years ago, and it was way more expensive than the cheap bags you could find on Amazon. However, the bag has been a beast, gone all over the world, and is rock solid. No problems with the zips, wheels, or anything else. Would rather spend $500 once, than $100 five times!

    • Thanks Drew – Nice one on your Briggs and Riley carry-on bag! There’s definitely something to investing in quality over quantity – it might be more expensive up front, though always seems to save you a lot in the long run!

  16. It does sound lovely! The storage space and those seven pockets… just what I’d need from a bag. But to be honest, the best thing about it is that it looks so good, a bit vintage, I love it! :)

    • Definitely masters the classic, vintage look! I’m really happy with how it looks – they’ve done such a beautiful job on the style and design :)

  17. I LOVE the look of this bag! I’ve carried a back pack instead of a handbag for years and I’m sure my shoulders will thank me for that one day :D However, like a couple of other commenters, the weight makes taking the bag on an aircraft as carry-on luggage a bit limiting as what I’d normally carry on would put the whole kit over the 7kg limit. BUT … there are so many pluses!!!

    • Doesn’t it look divine!! If you’re used to carrying backpacks over hand bags I don’t think the weight would be an issue on your back, though carryon could definitely put you over if you travel with heavy things. As you said, so many pluses though!!

  18. What a lovely bag! Definitely a lot of storage. While the price is high, a good quality leather product usually runs a couple hundred dollars so I don’t think it’s outrageous. It looks like it would nicely complement most outfits, too!

    • It’s pretty reasonable when you compare it to other bags of the same quality in the market. Leather is something which is always going to cost more, especially when it’s the high quality material Saddleback use. So yes, expensive, but definitely not outrageous … and you get what you pay for :)

      Definitely compliments all outfits – it’s nice to know it works for every occasion!

  19. Thanks for the detailed review. As some of the other readers, I would be worried about the weight for long haul travel, but it’s a stylish bag to take around the city and to the office.

    • You’re welcome Jessica – if it’s not the right fit for the type of travel you do, it definitely works well as an office / city bag :)

  20. Haven’t really experimented with leather bags, primarily because of the comfort and weight issue. But as I read your blog, it seems that Saddleback seems to have had addressed both of those concerns and at the same time giving equal importance to aesthetics as well.

    • If you’re jumping into leather bags for the first time Saddleback is a great choice of brand – they’ve really taken steps to address the concerns people have with regular leather bags :)

  21. That’s one beautiful bag. Is it very heavy? Durability is one of my main concerns while buying a bag. On a side note, What railway line were you sleeping on? That looks dangerous.

    • The weight is 8.5 pounds when empty (roughly 3.8 kilos) so depending on what you’re traveling with it could be heavier than what you’re used to. I found it pretty easy to adapt though and the shoulder straps help to evenly distribute the weight.

      The railway photo was a shoot to show the bags durability…It’s an abandoned rail line next to my house, so nothing too dangerous :)

      Definitely a great choice of bag if your main concern is durability – it’s going to last a very long time :)

  22. This bag reminds me of the Western cowboy feel! I love leather and it seems like the craftsmanship of this bag is really good. I haven’t heard of this brand before here in the UK, I think I need to make some research now. Thanks for sharing! :-) xx

    • Definitely has that classic western look! Glad we could introduce you to Saddleback – we only recently discovered the brand too, and have truly fallen in love. It’s one of those brands you wonder how you’ve gotten through life without lol!

  23. The bag looks really tough and rugged. An ideal companion of tough treks and hikes, I am sure. But it also has a polished and elegant look which makes it a nice fashion accessory as well.I love the fact that it does not have zips or buttons but has a belt. This also adds a retro kind of look to the bag.

    • Absolutely – probably one of the toughest and most rugged bags out there, but also very refined. They do a fantastic job of achieving that balance.

      Sounds like you would love the Squared backpack from Saddleback :)

  24. Am such a sucker for a good leather man bag. I bought a cracker a few years ago in Morocco and still is it (at least until I left London 18 months ago). This sounds and looks quality!

    • Leather sure does last! Glad to hear you like this one too!

  25. Good design travel bag.To say we like to travel here at Topo Designs would be a serious understatement

    • Absolutely Emily – glad to hear you’re a fan too :)

  26. I have to agree, the bag and the company to me is absolutely the best. My wife and I own several bags each. And, I have given a few to the people I love the most. My favorite is my tobacco square that I’ve own for several years now, and I can show you what one looks like after it’s been on 5 continents. And more airports and more flights than I care to remember.
    Although I have to disagree the quality hasn’t dropped, over the years.. just the finish on the leather changed. Nothing more. The stitching and leather are as good as it always has been. People just dislike change. I glad to see such a awesome review. Thanks

    • Hi Joe, thanks for sharing your experience with Saddleback Leather, glad to hear you’re a fan too! It’s nice to hear that it does live up to its reputation of durability over the years – a reliable travel companion to see you through :) I bet your friends and family who receive these bags as gifts love you!!

      Thanks for your insight into the quality difference – I really found nothing which would make me complain, so you’re right, maybe it’s more just that people who have been with the brand for a long time need to adapt to the new finish.

      Have a great weekend & happy travels :)

  27. I purchased their Classic Briefcase about 8 months ago…LOVE IT!!! The quality is incredible. I use it everyday. I’ve since purchased a wallet and a sleeve for my iPad. The quality of each item is obvious. Unfortunately I’ve become OBSESSED…

    • It does have that effect, you buy one product and then become so obsessed you have to have the rest!! I’m yet to get the wallet and a sleeve for my iPad – I think they’ll be next :)

  28. Hi there!

    Amazing review. So thought out and detailed. It was just shared on our Facebook group called Saddleback And other Leather Buy/ Sell/Trade. This is the largest group of SBL lovers around and full of amazing people who love these bags. I have a tobacco squared myself. Please join if your not a member already.

    • Hi Craig, thanks for stopping by, I’m so glad you enjoyed our review.

      Thanks for the heads up on the Facebook group (and the share if that was you!), I’ll send through a request to join – appreciate the invite!

  29. I think something like this would be amazing to have. I love leather items because they just seem to work better than normal items. A bag like this would be awesome for any travel or just day-to-day use. I really like how you pointed out that there aren’t any parts they use that are traditionally breakable. That would definitely help to improve durability by a wide margin.

    • Absolutely Ellie – I can highly recommend it, and agree that it’s performed far better than my regular day bags. And yes, you can use it for travel or for just day-to-day – it’s the perfect size for carry-on to get on planes.

      Durability is incredible, so yes if you’re looking for something sturdy without breakable parts, I highly recommend this bag. Glad we could point that out for you :)

  30. Beautiful bag!

    Saddleback products are top notch.

    Make sure not to get it wet.

    A bag like this is nearly indestructible except for water damage.

    • Hi Kelly, thanks for the tip on keeping the bag away from water. I guess the biggest threat here would be getting caught in the rain, or a water bottle leak, so I’ll make sure I’m cautious.

      Thanks for the heads up!

  31. Oh this is gorgeous! I have been looking for something similar actually so this would be perfect!

    • Glad we could help Michelle – it’s a beautiful bag!

  32. Beautiful looking bag. Not cheap but the quality looks excellent and the 100-Year Warranty that Saddleback – it must be quality.

    • Definitely not cheap, but an incredible investment for quality. It’s top of the line – so glad you enjoyed the review :)

  33. Excellent review!!! Now to put it in the budget and save for it!! Thanks Megan!!! xo

    • Glad it was helpful Cheryl! Definitely an investment, but it’s a good one :)

  34. I am reading your blog and I get the right information on this blog. Leather bag is really useful for travel. I agree with this info. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad our review was helpful for you Roman – enjoy the Squared Backpack – it’s a great bag!

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