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.
Table of Contents
- What Makes the Best Men's Leather Backpacks?
- Our Recommendations for Men's Leather Backpack
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. There is simply nothing that compares to them: they are sturdy, timeless, and only become more beautiful with age.
With such a wide array of high-quality 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 bag.
Leather backpacks are so versatile that they can be used in many scenarios. It’s an appropriate backpack for daily use and for the office, though it can also be used for travel, 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 lower 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 that 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, calves, horses, kangaroos, pigs, goats, and sheep.
Full-grain leather is 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 leather, 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 and then allow it to air dry at 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 leather should be at 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 long 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 acts 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, 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 lower 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 subjected 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 their 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 men who are environmentally as well as price-conscious. 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 thing to wear the first time. It will take some breaking in, especially when investing in full-grain and top-grain leathers.
In addition, leather backpacks should have padded and adjustable shoulder straps. The padding is critical for reducing stress and pressure on your shoulders, especially when carrying a heavy bag on your back for long periods of time.
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, function, and durability. There is much more to the 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 from 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 to the leather.
- Stress points in the backpack should have rivets; solid brass 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.
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 quality of leather, avoid overloading it with heavy things since this can cause stretch marks.
The best men’s leather backpacks come in many different sophisticated styles. From simple minimalist designs for everyday use, to elaborate backpacks with various pockets to accommodate travelers and commuters. Many leather backpacks are also designed with a vintage look, using antique hardware and components to create a timeless look for all seasons.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the best design for you. It all comes down to your own personal preferences.
Pockets are an essential organizational feature for men’s leather backpacks. Be sure to choose a backpack with the right compartments based on your needs, because they won’t just make it easy to locate your belongings, but pockets can also provide protection.
For example, if you are carrying a laptop with you, a padded laptop sleeve is essential. Just be sure to check the dimensions of your laptop before you buy a bag to ensure it's compatible with the laptop sleeve.
On the other hand, if you plan to travel with your leather backpack, zippered or anti-theft pockets for your passport, and other important documentation, it is beneficial for added security. Anti-theft pockets are designed to be hidden from people, and their location in the pack is only known to you.
In addition, side pockets are also handy for keeping an umbrella or water bottle during your commute.
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. Vegetable-tanned leather is also a great option; it has a unique, rich brown color produced by using plant leaves or bark extracts.
It’s no secret that leather products are higher maintenance than other backpack materials such as canvas, polyester, or nylon. They shouldn’t be exposed to the sun and rain, since both can prematurely damage even the best quality leather.
Before you buy a leather backpack, read the manufacturer’s care and maintenance instructions. Each bag may have its own requirements for keeping it clean and in good shape.
Men’s leather backpacks cost anywhere from $30 to as much as $700. Some designer leather backpacks have an even higher price point. Vegan leather backpacks are affordable as well as more sustainable.
There are many options for a quality leather backpack for under $100 if you aren’t brand conscious. If you have the financial capacity to invest in a luxury piece such as a leather backpack, it’s something that simply makes a good investment. But again, there’s no need to break the bank to afford a good leather backpack with all the affordable options out there.
Our Recommendations for Men's Leather Backpack
Shopping for a leather backpack best for your needs can be overwhelming with all the choices out there. Save time by checking out this list of popular leather backpacks in various categories and prices (note: we earn a small commission if you decide to purchase any of these bags):
Best Overall Men’s Leather Backpack
Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack: The Kodiak Katmai is one of the best all-around men’s leather backpacks because it’s extremely versatile and can be worn on many different occasions. In fact, it can also be used by women. Whether you need a sturdy handmade backpack for the outdoors, business travel, or work, this bag has many features to appreciate.
This backpack is 16L in capacity, which is enough space for carrying everything you need for the day - though it may be a little too small for others. Its dimensions are 16” x 12” x 5” (height, width, depth). The exterior is constructed from stunning top-grain cowhide leather that ages beautifully.
The Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack is available in three colors: dark walnut, saddle (rust), and black. No matter what your fashion style is, there’s a color in this range for you. Each color has a black nylon interior.
If organization is important to you, you’ll love all the pockets and compartments on this backpack. The padded laptop compartment is located on the back wall, while the backpack’s exterior features a small, medium, and large zippered pocket for other goods. Two of these front pockets also have smaller pockets for storing your mobile phone, pens, and credit cards.
In addition, it has two side pockets outside. The price of the Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack is just right given the quality of the leather and its craftsmanship.
Best Men’s Leather Laptop Backpack
Tiding Leather Convertible Briefcase Backpack: Business travelers and professionals who always carry a laptop around will find the Tiding Leather Convertible Briefcase Backpack useful. Unlike other backpacks that simply have a leather sleeve, this bag can actually be converted and used as a briefcase. It also comes with a detachable shoulder strap whose length ranges from 26.5 inches to as long as 39.3 inches, so you can wear it as a messenger bag as well.
This bag has room for just about anything you need for work. Several compartments and pockets make it easy to segregate documents, your laptop, a tablet, and notebooks. In addition, it has a front zipper pocket that has pen holders and a pouch for your wallet or phone.
The Tiding Leather Convertible Briefcase Backpack has two spacious main compartments plus 3 small interior pockets and an inner zipper pocket. The brass hardware creates elegant details, and they make use of only quality YKK zippers for superior durability. Each bag is carefully handmade by artisans.
It is a drawback that the bag weighs a hefty 4.86 pounds, which is much heavier than many other leather backpacks. When you add a laptop, tablet, and other items inside, users can expect to carry a burdensome pack. But if you don’t mind that, or you only plan to use it during short commutes, then this is a high-performance choice for a leather laptop backpack.
Best Men’s Vegan Leather Backpack
LXY Vegan Leather Backpack: It’s hard to tell that the LXY Vegan Leather Backpack is actually made from faux leather. The quality leather looks like the real thing, but no one can tell that it’s vegan and so much more affordable than genuine leather.
Despite that, it’s just as beautiful. This bag is available in two colors: black and tan. The bag’s design has a retro feel thanks to its square silhouette, plus solid metal hardware adds to its vintage charm.
The LXY Vegan Leather Backpack is a winner when it comes to capacity. Open the flap to reveal the interior. Inside, it can fit up to 14” laptops, a tablet, a few books, and notebooks.
When you don’t need that extra space, simply make use of the hidden side buttons to slightly compress its size.
Additionally, if you are carrying valuables, you can keep them in the anti-theft pockets, which no one knows about except for you. The smart pockets also provide quick access to your essentials.
However, this bag would have been more convenient for individuals carrying around lots of small items such as keys if there were zippered interior pockets.
This leather bag is affordable, practical, and comfortable. The shoulder straps are wide enough and thick, made out of synthetic leather, and bound together with nylon for durability. The LXY Vegan Leather Backpack is a great all-around vegan leather backpack for men.
Best Budget Men’s Leather Backpack
Lannsyne Vintage Genuine Leather Backpack: The Lannsyne Vintage Genuine Leather Backpack is a steal. Made from refined Italian full-grain cowhide leather, this backpack is ultra-spacious and perfect for weekend trips, traveling, camping, and short hikes.
It’s 16 inches high, 4.7 inches wide, and 11 inches long; the bag weighs a total of 3.5 lbs. There are not one but two main compartments for efficiently segregating your valuables. This bag is handmade, with superior craftsmanship that is visible all over the bag.
The Lannsyne Vintage Genuine Leather Backpack is designed with a luggage belt, allowing you to easily attach it to your suitcase. The leather handle offers versatility in carrying, while the two padded and adjustable shoulder straps are comfortable to wear.
It has a padded laptop sleeve that can fit laptops up to 16 inches, as well as a tablet sleeve. However, it would have been better for the wearer if the laptop sleeve wasn’t on the back sleeve as it lacks protection from drops or bumps.
Inside, several other sleeves and pockets inside the bag are perfect for organizing your electronics, wallet, credit cards, mobile phone, and headphones too. The vintage cowhide gets more beautiful with age – and given the price of the Lannsyne Vintage Genuine Leather Backpack, it’s a practical choice.
Best Minimalist Men’s Leather Backpack
Mahi Classic Backpack: Minimalist men are drawn to the Mahi Classic Backpack, and for good reason. The classic oval shape is timeless and versatile, but it’s functional too. You can opt for a classic brown or black color, though the 100% full-grain leather exterior is also available in navy, mahogany, light blue, cognac, and cork colors.
Mahi previously released a Classic Backpack, though this is an upgrade and has many new improvements. The older version didn’t have a laptop sleeve nor did it have side pockets for water bottles. It also didn’t have a luggage strap on the back – though all these new features are available in the new model.
Additionally, elegant brass hardware is used both inside and outside of the bag. Durable YKK zippers are also used, so you can have peace of mind that the zippers won’t just break down.
It looks compact, but this backpack actually has a roomy 23L capacity, which is more spacious than most other leather backpacks. Inside, it has a padded laptop compartment that can fit laptops up to 15 inches.
This lightweight leather bag also has an internal zipper pocket and smaller sleeves for keeping your mobile phone, wallet, and keys. The Mahi Classic Backpack has external side water bottle pockets, and this new version has waterproof cotton lining. It can be used as a daypack, gym bag, overnight bag, or travel backpack.
Just remember that, given the variations of leather, there are no two backpacks that look exactly the same.
If you are looking for a minimalist yet unique leather backpack, this affordable bag is highly recommended. Each bag is handmade and comes with a free dust cover for protection.
Best Men’s Travel Leather Backpack
Harber London City Backpack: The Harber London City Backpack is a fantastic choice for urban use as well as traveling. The slim shape of the bag makes it easy to navigate crowded places like airports, while the top handles make it convenient to remove the bag from the overhead cabin of a plane.
This gorgeous leather backpack has a 13L capacity, and the laptop compartment can fit 13 up to 16” laptops. It also has a tablet pocket for iPad Pro, or smaller tablets, a stylus pen, and a portable keyboard. Business travelers will find these features extremely convenient.
Incredible craftsmanship can be seen throughout the bag’s construction, from the full-grain cowhide leather all the way to the custom aviation-grade aluminum. Meanwhile, the cotton twill interiors are made from soft-woven natural fabric to protect your fragile electronics.
The bag’s dimensions are 16.53 x 11.61 x 4.33 inches, and it weighs 2.2 kg. Excellent functionality, luxury, and quality can all be found in this bag. This is higher end though, ideal for people who are looking to make an investment in leather pieces.
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.