Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Leather Backpack

A well-built leather backpack is the perfect meeting of form and function.

Well-dressed man holding a leather bag
Leather packs are strong, durable, and a stylish alternative to a briefcase or handbag.Unsplash/Andrew Neel

Leather backpacks are all the rage, and there are so many options and choices that you can dial in on one that perfectly expresses your personality. But beware of shoddy construction and poor materials. There are ways to tell if a backpack is tough even if it looks sleek and elegant, and methods to judge if a rough-and-tumble leather backpack is all fluff and built cheaply. Here are three things to look for when choosing a leather backpack.

Ruzioon Vintage Buffalo Leather Backpack Multi Pockets Travel Bag for Men/Women
This satchel has a padded laptop sleeve.Ruzioon

Full-grain leather is the most durable leather, but it’s also the most expensive. Top-grain leather is more affordable and will stand up to scratches and heavy loads, and wear into a beautiful patina. For an item that’s used as often and as hard as a backpack, avoid split grain or bonded leathers. They’re not durable enough to handle the job.

Lucky Brand Ryda Leather Backpack
This leather bag has 19-inch long pack-style straps.Lucky Brand

One of the first things to fail on a poorly crafted leather backpack is stitching, so look for either straight stitching without loose ends or, on a handmade product, stout threads that will handle abuse. Pay close attention to zippers and handles. Make sure each stitch seals tight and not glued, and a double row of stitches is even better than a single.

ECCO SP 3 Black Leather Backpack
The oversized zipper tabs on this design make it easy to open.ECCO

Inspecting the metal items like snaps, buckles, and zippers are a great way to assess the overall quality of leather goods. If a manufacturer scrimps on hardware, it might cut corners on leather or craftsmanship. Avoid cheap metal hardware that will rust or corrode.

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