Looking to elevate your office accessories? Check out Saddleback Leather Co.!
While I write online for a living, my friends will tell you that I’m a pen-and-paper kind of guy.
While keyboards facilitate digital communication, they bring with them a sense of sterile uniformity and exactness. On the other hand, the experience of spreading ink with a nice fountain pen feels organic and allows for branching out thoughts organically.
The omnipresent “cloud” makes it so digital files can be easily accessed by digital devices anywhere. The trouble with paper and pens, however, is that they must be carried from place to place.
My recorded thoughts are important to me, so I figure that I might as well carry them in style.
I’ve found that Saddleback’s Document Holder and Portfolio are almost perfect for my needs. I use them to carry my notes, important (and not-so-important) papers, and other small doodads.
The Bear Trap Leather Pen Case is also a quality accessory, even if it’s not my cup of herbal, non-caffeinated tea.
Here’s a brief history of Saddleback Leather Company and my review of three of their office products.
Saddleback Leather Co. History
The founder of Saddleback Leather Co., Dave Munson, and later his wife Suzette, began his quest to make quality leather goods accessible in Mexico in 2003.
It all started when Dave, then a volunteer English teacher in Mexico, asked himself how he could more easily carry his books. He wondered, “So what would Indiana Jones carry?”
He found a leatherworker, sketched out a design, and “told him I wanted it to last forever, I wanted people to fight over it when I was dead. He made it, and everywhere I went, people loved it.”
That was just the beginning of Dave and Suzette’s crazy journey to creating a renowned leather goods company. I highly recommend checking out The Saddleback’s Story, as well as Dave’s interview with Forbes for a more complete picture of the fascinating and often hilarious tale of Saddleback’s genesis.
Saddleback Bear Trap Leather Pen Case
In the past, I’ve used small pen pouches to keep my family heirloom pen from getting scratched in my pocket. Since I only rarely carry that favorite fountain pen (it’s on desk duty these days) I normally stow a trusty FP in my pocket without any protection.
However, realizing it’s probably still a good idea to use a pouch or case, I requested Saddleback’s Bear Trap Leather Pen Case in Dark Coffee Brown.
This quality, full-grain tumbled leather soft case closes with an internal steel spring mechanism up top. The case is easy to open and automatically snaps back into place after use.
The stitching is excellent, and the edges are double-folded — a hallmark of a well-constructed leather product.
This case is larger than I would have liked. It could fit about six pens or pencils side-by-side. I guess I didn’t pay close enough attention to the dimensions when ordering. It’s too big for me to comfortably fit in my pants pockets, but it could fit in an overcoat pocket or be easily stored in a briefcase or backpack.
Since it can hold more than one pen, I think it would’ve been better if multiple pen slots instead of one big pocket which leaves written implements vulnerable to scratches from one another.
Personally, I don’t care very much about micro-scratches on my pens, but I know that for some pen collectors, it’s a big deal.
Finally, while the steel spring closure is cool, I’d prefer a waterproof zipper closure. Since I’m mainly storing the case in a bag, I really want to do all I can to prevent potential leaks.
Only very rarely have I had a pen leak, but when one does it can be a disaster. A case with a zipper would contain leaks should they occur, ultimately protecting other items in my bag.
- Quality full-grain tumbled leather
- Large size that can carry multiple pens
- Could potentially double as a soft sunglasses case
- Seams hidden internally
- Stitching is excellent
- Doesn’t fit comfortably in pants pockets
- I’d prefer a zipper closure
- No separate pen slots
Saddleback Leather Document Holder Review
Saddleback says that the doc holder is made “with only one solid piece of full grain leather.” That’s not entirely true, but I can see what they meant. The holder appears to be made from six pieces of leather: the main envelope is one piece and the pigskin lining is another.
I think that’s what Saddleback meant — the body of the leather document holder is one piece of leather.
The closure tab is attached to the main envelope with three discreet black rivets. This tab looks like it has two layers of leather stitched together. The tab inserts into a loop which also is comprised of two layers.
I’ve mainly been using this document holder to carry my workout notes. I bring it with me to the gym to track my progress between sets.
I like that I can easily store a pencil, and even toss in my keys and phone while I’m working out.
The document holder often gets chalk marks on it, but they easily wipe off. It looks like it would be decently water-resistant, but I haven’t tested that yet.
While it’s surprisingly great for the gym, this document holder is even better for more formal occasions. It’s an accessory that pairs perfectly with a suit.
I once carried it to a meeting even though I didn’t need any papers in order to appear more professional. (And if there’s one thing that this doc holder says it’s, “I’m a professional.”).
It’s hard to think of a way this holder could be improved. This is nit-picking, but I’d have preferred not to have any visible branding. (There’s a very subtle “Saddleback Leather Co.” branded on the tab). The other leather accessories also have branding, but since this document holder is more formal, I feel it’s more out of place here.
Also, I think that the stitching on the tab and loop could be more minimal if they were made from one piece of leather each, instead of two. This would make the holder even more streamlined and minimalistic.
The Leather Document Holder was my favorite item from Saddleback — I know I’m going to be using it for many years to come.
- Streamlined look, great for meetings
- Smooth full-grain leather, cleans easily
- Holds dozens of pages without bulging
- Easy to use tab-and-loop closure
- Tab and loop could look even more minimal
- Visible branding
Saddleback Medium Leather Portfolio Review
While the document holder is basically a big leather envelope, Saddleback’s Medium Leather Portfolio is a heavy-duty leather folder.
The Saddleback portfolio makes it easy to quickly take notes or access your tablet.
Like the Document Holder, this heavy-duty folder is lined with pigskin. It’s big enough to fit an A4 size notepad or spiral-bound notebook.
It also has a place to stash a pen or pencil, three slots for cards, and a spot to carry a tablet.
I’ve been using this Portfolio for meetings, and it’s way more useful (and stylish) than the paper folder I used to carry.
One thing I like about it is that, when closed, it makes a great lap desk.
The Portfolio is a little bit more cumbersome than the Document Holder for, well… holding documents. In other words, I’ve found that the Portfolio doesn’t hold as many pages, and I sometimes notice the bottom corner of pages getting bent if I’m not careful while inserting them into the slots.
Lastly, the edge opposite the fold looks kind of like a diagram of tectonic plates — there are a lot of layers. I count ten layers of leather along this edge when the folder’s closed.
It’s cool that Saddleback uses so much leather to make this Portfolio, but the somewhat rough exposed edge with its alternating colors is a bit distracting from an otherwise simplistic design.
One thing I’ve noticed about Saddleback’s products is that it seems that each piece of leather is the same thickness throughout. In other words, there is no tapering along the edges even where you might expect it (such as the tab on the Doc Holder or the edges of the Portfolio).
I’m no expert leatherworker, but perhaps strategically tapering some of the leather pieces would help create even finer finishes.
- Can hold a tablet
- Fits A4-sized notepads and notebooks
- Heavy duty construction
- Uses tough German industrial marine-grade polyester thread
- Has a loop to hold pens/pencils
- 3 Card slots
- Can fold down paper corners
- Very thick, multicolored edges
Common Questions About Saddleback
Here are answers to a couple of frequently asked questions about Saddleback Leather Co.:
Where are Saddleback’s leather products made?
My Saddleback products are stamped “Made in Old Mexico.” Saddleback Leather Co.’s site indicates that their factory is in the city of Leon in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Is Saddleback Leather worth it?
I think that Saddleback’s products are worth it, overall. The Saddleback Medium Leather Portfolio cost a bit more than I’d expect, but the price is still reasonable considering the quality of materials and craftsmanship.
Overall, I really like the items I tested out from Saddleback. The Leather Portfolio, Document Holder, and Pen Case were well-constructed from good materials.
It was difficult to find critical feedback on these three pieces. Generally, I think the value for dollar is excellent except, perhaps, for the Portfolio.
I’d expect it to cost about $100, but $169 seems a bit pricy to me. Then again, it appears that quite a bit more leather was used for the Portfolio than the $100 Document Holder.
All things considered, I could definitely recommend Saddleback’s leather office products.
Do you have any questions or comments? If so, leave them below!