Bandit44

Super Member
1,015
United States
NC
Charlotte
I thought I’d share a few words (and photos) about my recent briefcase purchase. When I was gathering information, I noticed there were many leather briefcase reviews floating around on blogs and forums, but few were recent, and fewer still offered decent high resolution pictures. Hope the photos are helpful. After looking at Saddleback, Hartmann, and Colonel Littleton, I finally settled on Custom Hide, primarily because they were willing to build to my specifications. Initially, I was leaning toward the US Army or the Scholar, but ultimately, I decided against locks, wrap-around straps, or other doodads that I don’t need. Here’s what I asked them to make:

Classic Briefcase
· Whiskey leather with wheat/cream stitching
· 13" high x 17" wide x 5.5" deep
· No interior organizer panel
· Single rivet reinforcement added to each closure straps sewn to the front flap
· A leather-lined interior
· The thickest, sturdiest leather you can source




After a twelve week wait, it finally arrived. Upon opening the box, the first thing that struck me was the leather: thick, vegetable tanned with a smooth, waxy finish. Because of the stock photos on Customhide’s website, I was hesitant about choosing whiskey over brown, but I decided to risk it, hoping that the lighter color would show a patina more quickly. I was pleasantly surprised. There are plenty of “character marks” that should help the bag age gracefully. Compared with a Levenger folio of similar color, the differences are stark. The folio has a one-dimensional, flat, painted appearance, while the briefcase has a wonderful depth to it.



The hardware is heavy duty, solid brass and should hold up for a long time. The thick, comfortable handle is both sewn and riveted to the flap and secured by a metal handle frame hidden underneath the lining. I requested that the closure straps also be sewn and riveted. Push latch closures function well, but I’m not convinced they are any better than simple buckles. The adjustable shoulder strap is made from double thick leather attached by lobster claw style clips. One detail they’ve overlooked is the edges of the strap, which should be rounded more for comfort. Mostly, I’ll be using the handle, so it’s not an issue for me, but they clearly need to improve their straps.



I made small changes to the dimensions, but overall, I wanted to keep it close to the original design. I carry a few books, a notepad/folio, my lunchbox, a thermos, and if the forecast calls for rain, galoshes and an umbrella. To maximize interior space and to keep the briefcase simple and elegant, I requested no pouches, pockets, or interior dividers. In the event I need to pack small items, I prefer to use zippered canvas tool bags. The bottom of the bag is flat and wide enough to sit sturdily on the floor, but when in motion, it isn't obtrusively wide. I prefer this style to the accordion design of a multi-compartment briefcase. After loading my bag with my daily stuff, there is plenty of room to spare.



Two issues I’ll nitpick. The interior is lined with black suede. While this might hide dirt and stains, I would have chosen a smooth, tan leather lining. The blame lies squarely on me because I did not specify the color and materials of the lining. That said, the more times I open it, the more I like the contrast between the interior and the exterior, so this is something I can live with. The other issue I cannot bear: I did not request my initials be embossed on the exterior.;) A bag this nice screams for personalization. Perhaps I can have this done locally.



As you can tell, I’m pleased with the final product. It was well worth $350. I’ll treat it well and hopefully, after a year or two, I’ll report back on how it has held up.
 

ricardofrancisco

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
283
Philippines
NCR
Paranaque
For the price and what I see, it is a very beautiful bag. I'm now thinking of getting one myself.
 

drlivingston

Connoisseur
7,003
United States
of
America
I like it better than ancient reindeer leather and it is considerably cheaper. Great acquisition!
 

Watchman

Advanced Member
2,208
United States
IL
ChicagoLand
Bandit,

I am sooo close to ordering one of these bags. How well has it held up in the last few months and how is it aging?

Thanks
 

MRR

Senior Member
860
United States
New York
Batavia
I am sooo close to ordering one of these bags. How well has it held up in the last few months and how is it aging?
I have had one for over four years. I found their leather to be inconsistent both between the sample they sent me and the final bag, as well as throughout the bag itself. Thickness is inconsistent and the leather acts more like a tissue than cardstock. I highly doubt that the hardware is the solid brass that they advertised, and the lock that then installed on mine pops open just by picking up the bag.

All that aside, the bag has held up remarkably well. The oils from my hand have darkened the handle beautifully. There are no tears in the leather, no popped stitches. I consider it worth the few hundred that it cost and I have trouble believing that I would ever need to replace it.
 

Watchman

Advanced Member
2,208
United States
IL
ChicagoLand
I have had one for over four years. I found their leather to be inconsistent both between the sample they sent me and the final bag, as well as throughout the bag itself. Thickness is inconsistent and the leather acts more like a tissue than cardstock. I highly doubt that the hardware is the solid brass that they advertised, and the lock that then installed on mine pops open just by picking up the bag.

All that aside, the bag has held up remarkably well. The oils from my hand have darkened the handle beautifully. There are no tears in the leather, no popped stitches. I consider it worth the few hundred that it cost and I have trouble believing that I would ever need to replace it.
Thanks for the info. It seems that the general consensus with Custom Hide is that the good far outweighs the bad. I have seen some incredible designs coming from them, consistent with the aesthetic of us here on AAAC. Rugged and yet refined all at once.

I am looking at the 1945 Army Bag. Wow, what a Man-Bag that is!

http://www.customhide.com/1945-US-Army-Briefcase-Single-p/9201.htm
 
Ratio Clothing Custom Shirts