Leather backpacks are one of the best investments for men. The nature of quality leather means it gets better with age; its rugged look and beauty is versatile and timeless too. But what else should you look for in a men’s leather backpack?
Before investing in a men’s leather backpack, there are a few things to consider. Think about the purpose of the pack, since it will influence the kind of leather you choose and its price. The backpack should also be comfortable, have quality hardware, and be the right size for your needs.
Read on below to learn more about shopping around for the best mens leather backpack.
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What Makes the Best Men's Leather Backpacks?
Men’s leather backpacks are timeless. They have been around for decades, but their popularity has never waned especially among men who are looking to invest in a backpack that will last a lifetime.
With such a wide array of high-quality men’s leather backpacks on the market, how do you choose what’s right for you? Below is a guide to help you select the best men’s leather backpack.
Leather backpacks are so versatile that they can be used in many scenarios. It’s an appropriate backpack for daily use at work, though they can also be used for traveling, special occasions, or as a weekend bag.
How you intend to use your leather backpack should influence other factors in choosing a pack, especially the kind of leather used. Are you looking to invest in a pack that will last decades, or one that you can use for a few years? Understanding the purpose of your purchase can help you decide on a bag that’s right for you.
There are different leather varieties to choose from, which are also known as leather grades. Each kind of leather grade has its own unique features and benefits as well as disadvantages which are important to understand before you buy a backpack.
Genuine leather is the best quality leather. It will last you decades even if you use it daily. Top and full grain leathers are the best quality, costing at least a few hundred dollars though they last the longest and get more beautiful with time. Other leather grades following these are of lesser quality, cheaper, and won’t last as long.
Below is a list of the common leather grades used in men’s backpacks:
1. Full grain leather
Full grain leather is obtained from the top layer of the animal’s hide, which has been exposed to the elements, making it the most durable and tough type of leather. However, that means that full grain leather also has some visible imperfections because it was not altered or split.
The imperfections are usually minor such as scars and even dots which were once hair follicles; these are considered part of the beauty of any product made with full grain leather. Its patina, which becomes even more beautiful with use and age, is highly sought after. Full grain leather is obtained from cows, calf, horses, kangaroos, pigs, goats, and sheep.
Full grain leather moisture-resistant, exceptionally strong, and smooth after removing the animal’s hair. Since full grain leather is the highest quality leather, it’s also the most expensive. It’s less stain resistant compared to other kinds of leathers, and some may find its inconsistent surface markings to be a disadvantage.
When it comes to maintenance, the best way to keep full grain leather backpacks in good condition is to routinely apply leather care products such as conditioners. These will prevent it from over drying and ensure that it stays clean. When certain parts of a full grain leather backpack are extremely dirty, you can use a damp cloth then allow it to air dry in room temperature.
2. Top Grain Leather
Top grain leather is another leather grade made from the best part of the animal’s hide. Compared to full grain leather, top grain leather undergoes more processing such as sanding, buffing, and pigmentation which results in a smoother and more even surface.
When water or oil comes into contact with top grain leather, it can simply be wiped away. The natural pores of the animal’s hide have already been sealed, which can be appealing for men who need a more moisture and stain-resistant backpack.
Top grain leather, just like full grain leather, is found in luxurious and durable backpacks. For those who are willing to shell out a serious amount of cash for a backpack that can last a lifetime, these two types of leathers should be on the top of your list.
Just like with full grain leather, top grain leather should be cared for so that your backpack investment lasts a longer time. Wipe spills away using a damp dry cloth, and send it to a leather professional if it requires intensive cleaning.
3. Bonded Leather
Bonded leather is made from leftover hide, including any shavings or dust. These are pieced together typically with latex or polyurethane, which act as a binder. They are then painted or embossed to result in an end product that resembles full grain or top grain leather.
Bonded leather is more affordable, though there is no way of telling how much of the leather is natural or genuine, unless the manufacturer discloses it. It’s considered the lowest leather grade, hence its cheaper price.
The best way to preserve bonded leather men’s backpacks is to keep it out of the sunlight. Due to its significantly lower quality, they may only last a year in some cases before they begin to peel, flake, and crack.
4. Split Grain Leather
Split grain leather is made from the bottom area of leather, after it has undergone a splitting process. Suede is a common type of split grain leather, known for its distinct fuzzy texture which is usually pigmented. This is not ideal for outdoor use since suede easily gets soiled by water and oil, and can be very high-maintenance.
Split grain leather is commonly used in many backpacks and bags though it’s of lesser quality. It tends to last just a few years and is more affordable than top grain or full grain leather. In some backpacks, split leather is also used as trimmings instead of the entire backpack material.
5. Corrected Grain Leather
Corrected grain leather is still derived from the animal’s hide. What makes it different is that it has been subject to sanding and buffing to get rid of any visible imperfections. In some cases, corrected grain leathers are imprinted with artificial grains or textures, or dyed and pigmented.
Corrected grain leather backpacks are durable and a great choice if you like its texture and appearance. They come in a variety of colors and finishes. However, the buffing strips it of its natural softness and there is no patina.
Unfortunately, corrected grain leather tends to crack with age. It also has a less natural feel.
Faux leather, also known as vegan leather, is man-made. They come from materials that have been processed to look like authentic leather such as plants, vegetables, and even recycled materials.
Faux leather is a popular choice for the price and environmentally-conscious man. These are widely used in many stylish men’s backpacks but they are more affordable and low-maintenance. They don’t last as long as genuine leather but you can still get a few years of good use, provided you follow the manufacturer’s directions in care and maintenance.
Unlike other backpack materials, the comfort of quality leather backpacks will change over time. But the main benefit is that high-quality leather gets softer and more comfortable the more you use it.
This means that it may not necessarily be the most comfortable to wear the first time. It will take some breaking in, especially when investing in full grain and top grain leathers. For men who prioritize comfort from day one, consider leather backpacks that have padded shoulder straps.
Inspecting the hardware used in men’s leather backpacks will help you determine its quality. These also play a role in the backpack’s overall look, functionality, and durability. There is much more to hardware used on a leather backpack than aesthetic: it should also help you protect the very valuables that you keep in the pack.
Here are some things to look out for in hardware:
- Buckles should be made from solid brass or stainless steel. These are strong and won’t decompose over time.
- Zippers should be of YKK or other renowned zipper brands. The quality of zippers is often overlooked but if you are buying a leather backpack, good zippers don’t give you the problems of getting jammed and stuck which can cause damage and rips on the leather.
- Stress points in the backpack should have rivets; solid brass again is always recommended. These are necessary for securely holding leather together even when your bag is heavy.
Men’s leather backpacks come in many sizes. Keep in mind that genuine leather backpacks tend to weigh more; their empty weight can vary from 2 pounds, to as much as 6 pounds for larger packs.
Choose a size based on your needs and the purpose you intend to use the pack for. If you intend to use it for traveling, the dimensions of the leather backpack should be under 27 x 14 x 9 inches in order to be used as a carry-on. There’s no right or wrong way to select a men’s leather backpack size though to preserve the leather quality, avoid overloading it with heavy items since this can cause stretch marks.
Other Features To Consider
There are other helpful features you may want to consider when shopping for the best men’s leather backpack:
Having several ample pockets, both inside and out, will help you stay organized. All pockets especially those on the backpack exterior should be sealed properly, such as with a solid brass buckle, for security. If you intend to use the bag for work, a laptop compartment will come in handy.
Leather comes in a wide range of colors, though shades of brown are the most popular since they look natural. Leather also comes in black as well as other hues.
Our Recommendations for Men's Leather Backpacks
To make your shopping easier, here are some recommendations for premium men’s leather backpacks:
Samsonite Classic Leather Slim Backpack: The sleek, elegant look of the Samsonite Classic Leather Slim Backpack makes it ideal for professionals. Made with top grain leather, it has a sophisticated look though it’s just as functional: it has a dedicated laptop compartment and organizer pockets for everything you need to stay ahead.
Lannsyne Vintage Genuine Leather Backpack: Made with Italian full grain leather, this spacious and durable leather backpack is perfect for traveling. Inside, it has two generous main compartments as well as two exterior pockets that are handy for your travel documents. The Lannsyne Vintage Genuine Leather Backpack makes for a great weekend and camping backpack.
If you are investing in a men’s leather backpack, it doesn’t get better than owning one made from top grain or full grain leather which only improves with age. However, for the more budget-conscious, there are other excellent alternatives to choose from too. This guide can help you narrow down the best men’s leather backpack for your needs.