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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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