Check out Buffalo Jackson’s Roosevelt Travel Duffle for a tough-as-nails leather bag perfect for your next adventure!
There I was, standing in a cavernous cathedral in Eastern Europe. Candles flickered in the distance and the sweet smell of incense filled the air.
Wanting to drink in this experience to the fullest and dress respectfully for the occasion, I put on a formal wool overcoat and was dressed in dark, conservative colors.
My goal was not to stand out, even in the darkness, but to blend in with the style-conscious European crowd.
However, breaking my trance, a man standing next to me immediately identified me as a fellow American.
How’d he know?
Because I was carrying a garish bright-red duffle bag that I got for free in college.
Even when you’re otherwise properly dressed, improper luggage can detract from your appearance and even potentially draw away your attention from important occasions.
Not only do well-made bags look better, they can be much more durable than cheaper pieces.
In this review, I’ll share my experiences with the bag that replaced my red canvas duffle — the Roosevelt Buffalo Leather Travel Duffle from Buffalo Jackson Trading Company.
Buffalo Jackson Trading Company’s Roosevelt Buffalo Leather Travel Duffle is a rugged bag is a great carry-on luggage upgrade.
While probably not the highest-quality leather duffle on the market, the Roosevelt is reasonably priced, looks great, and performs fantastically.
Roosevelt Travel Duffle Review
The handle is very thick and hard for me to grasp since I have smallish hands.
The shoulder strap is helpful, although, being a larger duffle, it’s still hard to carry with the strap. Using the shoulder strap to help support the weight helps (i.e. wearing the strap on my right shoulder while holding the handle with my right hand).
I also tried walking with the strap across my chest and the duffle behind me it felt a little awkward. However, I’ve walked over a mile at a time with this duffle and my Samsonite suitcase and it was doable.
I’d recommend not loading up the Roosevelt with a lot of weight if you plan on walking a lot with it. It’s best to leave your collection of Dostoevsky novels in your roller bag 🙂.
That said, this bag holds a lot. It seems huge for a carry-on. I’ve had multiple people tell me that they can’t believe it fits in the overhead compartments on planes.
While it’s technically slightly larger than the accepted carry-on size according to the Federal Aviation Administration, I’ve brought it along with me on several flights and it’s always fit in the overhead bin without me having to smoosh the leather when closing the bin.
This duffle has three side pockets close with straps. I wouldn’t trust them to hold small objects when traveling as even when strapped tightly shut there are still small gaps on the sides of the top flaps.
However, these pockets work great for things like small notebooks which are too big to fit through the gaps.
When the Roosevelt Duffle is full, it looks pretty cool, but when it’s only partially full it seems a little sad-looking to me. I find myself almost subconsciously looking for more items to fill it up with when packing to avoid a “deflated” duffle appearance.
Granted, for all I know this always happens with leather duffles, this is, in fact, my first one.
The buckles were somewhat difficult to use at first. The stiff new leather broke in quickly, though, and now the buckles are a lot easier to use.
I was getting off a train a few weeks ago with this duffle in hand and a group of teenage boys asked, “Do you have a body in there?”
“I’ll never tell!” (I responded with the only correct answer in that situation).
So yes, it’s a big duffle — not huge (definitely not big enough for a body) but pretty big.
There are a few scuffs and other marks, especially on the bottom, but that’s part of the charm of a leather duffle bag.
- Thick full-grain leather
- Solid brass and iron hardware
- Medium-large size
- Works as a carry-on
- Handle hard to hold
- Straps/buckles are a struggle to use at first
- Looks odd when not full
- Plastic zippers
Considering how well this bag is made, I was a bit surprised to see it has plastic zippers, especially considering the “materials section” of the Roosevelt says “genuine brass and iron hardware” and “YKK zippers.”
Curious to see if they’re plastic for a functional reason or as a cost-cutting measure, I asked Xan Hood, Buffalo Jackson’s CEO.
Here’s what he wrote:
“The best zipper in the world are polished ones out of Spain and can cost upwards of $30 just for the zipper. And often it also depends on if there are curves or not — to which zipper is best used in a product. Most of our products are metal hardware and plastic zippers, and also metal zipper/teeth – about 50/50. Sometimes metal zipper teeth can fail or get stuck if they are not quality. So I think if you can find a good manufacture[r] like YKK — whether it be metal or plastic, it usually is the most important aspect. But I see the value of both, and it can sometimes be personal preference.
I take in and inspect all the manufacture defects in the office, and from what I can recall we really have had very few zippers fail due to the zipper section — often it could get off track, but usually that is fixable. It is usually just the tab that comes off. And we can always replace those.”Xan (CEO)
So, there you have it. You’re free to make your own conclusion about the plastic zippers.
I will say, that I have since talked with other business owners in the leather goods industry and they also assured me that plastic zippers are just fine.
Still, I think that I would’ve preferred metal zippers, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. The zippers on my duffle have worked great so far, even when packing it quite tightly.
I felt a bit of dissonance between Buffalo Jackson’s branding and the product I received. With headings on their homepage like “Packed With History” and “Born in the West, Raised in the South” they present as a heritage American Western brand with deep roots.
However, the company was founded in 2009 and, while headquartered in North Carolina, my bag was made in India, not in the US like some other American leather goods companies’ products.
I also asked Xan “What aspects of Buffalo Jackson are America-based?”
“Relating to the connection with our roots and manufactures. The brand has been an extension of a bit of my journey of trying to make sense of southern heritage and my time out West in more the rugged Americana landscape, and trying to create something that connects the two. When it comes to manufacturing — it has been very hard to find reliable and reasonably priced manufacturing in the US…
We have seemed to find some good partners that are smaller — family owned operations in Mexico and India, that seem to take a concern for quality and work with us on the details that a larger manufacture[r] would prob[ably] miss. And then help us interpret our designs. Since we are a rather small company and team, it has been helpful to work with reliable small manufacture[r]s that we trust.”Xan (CEO)
While some people are sticklers about buying only American-made products, I don’t mind at all that this bag is made by a family-owned leatherworking manufacturer in India.
I will say, though, that I found it to be a little ironic that this bag is branded with an American bison logo when the leather is actually full-grain water buffalo. (They’re quite different animals. Check it out).
At first, I thought that maybe Buffalo Jackson was trying to pull the wool over my eyes, but then I realized that while the bison is their logo, “full grain water buffalo leather” is clearly listed in the duffle’s materials section online.
Also, Buffalo Jackson does have at least one duffle made from American Bison leather.
Another time I was on a train with this duffle in hand and a group of teenagers said, “Man, you got rizz!” I sheepishly said, “Thanks.” as I found a seat. Luckily, after quickly consulting Urban Dictionary, I discovered that “rizz” isn’t derogatory. (Hint: It’s derived from “charisma”).
So there you go, if you want “rizz” get a Roosevelt Travel Duffle.
What’s your go-to duffle bag? Let me know in the comment section!