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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Saddleback Leather Medium Bifold Wallet

  After some consideration, and a leap of faith, I finally convinced myself to buy Saddleback Leather's "Medium Leather Bifold Wallet." Before I go on to write a review on the actual wallet, I am going to talk a bit on Saddleback Leather itself. 

  Saddleback Leather was founded by Dave Munson, a man desiring to make some of the best leather bags on the market. Eventually, Dave's vision caught on, and his bags started selling like hotcakes. Once things kicked up, he started coming out with more and more designs for not only bags (business or casual), but also belts, wallets, suitcases, coasters, and many other leather goodies. He recently lost his dog, Blue, which is why many of his newer products feature a small inscription of a lab somewhere on them. However, the main thing that puts Saddleback Leather products a cut above the rest, is not the incredible story, but the incredible quality

  Saddleback Leather uses good, thick leather in all of their products, but with thick leather (if you want to be honest), comes a much longer tanning time (and, if your getting a bag, a much greater weight). Saddleback Leather buys fully tanned, full-grain leather hides, and also uses quality materials for the rest of the bag. Most of the metalware is nickel-plated brass. If it is a part that will not receive stress, it is nickel-plated stainless-steel. For their thread, Saddleback Leather uses "marine grade thread made from several long high-tenacity strands of polyester."And if you had any doubts about how long the products will last you, Dave throws a 100 year warranty in with every product, so if anything breaks, snaps, cracks, or anything of the sort, it will be immediately rectified. Most their products are made from as few pieces of leather as possible, reducing the need for stitching, thus creating a stronger, better product. Another nice thing about Saddleback Leather, is that I can honestly say that they have the nicest, most friendly customer service I have ever dealt with. Over multiple emails, I have inquired as to many details regarding their products, and they have always been pleasant, cheerful, helpful, and humorous in their responses.

  Unfortunately however, if something sounds to good to be true, it probably is. One downfall of almost all Saddleback Leather products is their price. Most of the bags are in the $500 range, and his smaller products are proportionally expensive. But, before you scoff at the price and walk away, consider the fact that anything you buy from Saddleback Leather will definitely outlive you, and instead of buying fifteen semi-nice bags throughout your life, it might be better just to, as Dave says, "Buy the best, [and] cry once." Another thing that is less than appealing is one of the 'ingredients' they use in some of their products. Glue. I don't know what it is, but something about the feeling of having glue in an awesome, timeless piece of art bothers me, but hey, if anything goes wrong, you do have a warranty. An additional thing many people complain about is the weight. If your going to get a bag, full-grain leather is not exactly light, especially after you load up your bag. Unloaded, their bags come in around 6-8 pounds. The last thing that is unfortunate about Saddleback Leather, is that they won't tell you where they get their leather from. I inquired once, seeing as I would really like to have some quality leather to make different things of (sheaths, workshop aprons, etc.) and they wouldn't tell me. I understand their reasoning completely, after all, if they told me, I could just make myself a bag for significantly under $500, but it is still too bad that they don't just sell it straight off their site, even if at a greatly increased price.

  Now, on to the review you've been waiting for. As you can tell, I am relatively biased towards Saddleback Leather, and was expecting great things from the wallet I ordered. I waited expectantly, and finally, it came. I excitedly tore open the package. Enclosed was a chestnut, medium leather bifold, surrounded by a small plastic bag. I open the bag and took out the wallet. Pure awesomeness. I quickly tore everything out of my current wallet, and put it in the beautiful, new, real, leather wallet. I almost instantaneously noticed that the wallet seemed quite thick, but I stuffed it in my pocket anyways. It was definitely bigger than my last wallet, and this time bigger was not better. As you can see in the pictures, the wallet is very thick, and tall. This is accounted for by the quality, but thick leather and the pigskin lining that is present in all six of the credit-card pockets, as well as the cash section.  The pigskin leather, unlike the regular leather, does not easily receive scratches. The pigskin leather is very tough and is very hard to scratch, and if scratched, the scratch is nearly invisible (see if you can see the scratch I made in the picture - I'll bet you can't). As thick as the wallet was, I must admit, the stitching on it was literally flawless. Not a bad stitch or lose thread could be found. Unlike other reviews of this wallet I've read, I did not have any problems with credit cards breaking or lamination wearing off. I also tested some European bills of mine in the wallet, seeing if they would fit (with most wallets they don't - they are normally too tall). They fit very nicely, and did not stick up over the top at all.

In summary, I would definitely recommend Saddleback Leather as a company, but not this particular wallet. I would recommend trying out their "Classic ID Wallet," even though I have not had the chance to do so myself, for I've heard good things about it. I am willing to sell my wallet for $40 with free shipping. Please comment if you have any questions or would like to purchase the wallet.

For further information about Saddleback Leather visit any of the following links.
Gear Patrol - Interview: 30 Minutes with Dave Munson, CEO of Saddleback Leather
Saddleback Leather - Dave's Blog
Saddleback Leather - Quality Built to Last
Saddleback Leather - Homepage
Saddleback Leather - Medium Bifold Wallet (Chestnut) - Picture 1
Saddleback Leather - Medium Bifold Wallet (Chestnut) - Picture 2
Saddleback Leather - Medium Bifold Wallet (Chestnut) - Picture 3
YouTube - Saddleback Leather Medium Bifold Wallet
Art of Manliness - Profile: Dave Munson

(The Left side of the wallet, three credit card slots and one receipt slot underneath.)

(Same as above, but the right side. Notice Dave's earlier mentioned dog (Blue) in the bottom right corner.)

(The front of the wallet. Note the Saddleback Leather logo on the bottom right.)

(The back of the wallet. Note the two beautiful creases formed by even just a little time of use.)

(The side of the wallet, with everything in it.)

(Everything I keep in my wallet. List: Bills (both European and American), credit-card sized tool, seven credit/membership cards, coupons, some medical and driving papers, and a few more miscellaneous papers.)

(The wallet, when empty.)

(The cash section of the wallet, lined with pigskin.)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Carhartt Leather Work Gloves

I recently came in possession of a pair of large "Carhartt Leather Fencer Gloves" ($15) and am now doing a review on them. The glove is available in only one color, but many sizes (small, medium, large, extra large, and extra-extra large). The picture on the website is a bit deceiving, as they have changed the glove a little bit since they posted that picture, so I hope my photos help clear things up.

Anyways, on to the reviewing. I have been in search of a good, rugged pair of gloves that would not be excessively hot in the summer. These gloves pretty much fit the description. Carhartt made these gloves out of good, sturdy leather, but as leather is a good insulator, they did not make them so thick as to melt your hands. They have no insulation, padding, or lining of any sort, just tough raw leather. Sure, it isin't the most comfortable glove I've ever worn, but if your going to be using a rugged glove like this, your probably not going for comfort, but protection. The leather is thick enough to easily handle wood, chainsaws, or even small thorns, but not thick enough to take away all your dexterity. It is still pretty easy to maneuver one's hand around wearing these things, allowing for a bit of precision if needed. The one thing they have, that I can't say is all to useful is an elastic for the wrist. The elastic really doesn't work all that well, and is so weak that it serves to do little but give it a 'buying reason'. Overall, Carhartt, as always, made this glove a rugged, work-worthy product that you will not regret buying.

(As always, beware that the seller's photo's always come first, followed by my own.)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Moonshine - A Gentleman's Cologne

Recently "Moonshine for Men"sent me a sample of their cologne ($72 for 3.4 oz) to review. The first thing that struck me about their cologne is it's utter manliness. It has a woody smell to it, as well as a little hint of leather and tabacco. The scent is hard to describe, but it can definitely be said that it seems to speak of a lifetime of experience. It expresses a steadfastness of character, and smells like something you would find Teddy Roosevelt wearing. It speaks of the outdoors, and of a man who has spent much time in them, but is not overpowering like many other colognes. Unfortunately, I only received a small vial, but as you can see, the box looks pretty dang manly as well. You will notice the wooden box, with a simple little bottle overthrown by a small burlap bag. The one downside to the cologne is it's cost, but for the awesome bottle, bag, box, and smell, it is definitely something I can see myself purchasing more than once in the future. In summary, it is a dang manly cologne that I would definitely recommend.

For any further information, you can visit a post 'featuring' them on one of my favorite blogs, The Art of Manliness or go to their website, moonshineformen.com.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monarch Playing Cards

   Today finds me reviewing "Monarch Playing Cards" ($6.95) by Theory11. Theory11 has many other decks of playing cards, but seeing as these were on sale at Huckberry, I thought I would get them and do y'all a review.

   The Monarchs, like pretty much all somewhat decent cards nowadays, were printed at the United States Playing Card Company. The box, simply put, is beautiful. The gold embossings are stunning, and it is by far the best card box I have ever seen. It has two latin inscriptions on the box, "De Duobus Maliz, Minus Est Semper Eligenoum" ("Of two evils, the lesser must always be chosen" -Thomas Kempis) and, "Cerca Trova" (Seek and ye shall find). The box is not quite black like it may appear, but rather a dark shade of blue.

   The cards, although made with imported paper, I found a bit disappointing. I thought the cards to be lightly gold colored, like it appears in the Theory11's pictures, but the cards are simply black and white. The "Premium 909 Finish" on the cards is very nice, but it handle's just as well as the Ellusionist's much more inexpensive Bicycle Masters. The face of the cards is nice, I enjoy the look of the royalties and the ace and jokers are uniquely charming, but I really was (as you can well tell, I'm sure) disappointed by the backs of the cards.

   So, in summary, would I recommend these cards? Well, as I said in the first part of my review, the box is stunningly beautiful, and so it alone almost makes it worth the money. I will probably place a different deck in the box of the Monarch's, just because the case is so beautiful. However, they are expensive at $7 a deck, and I would recommend buying the previously mentioned Bicycle Master's instead.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Roundtree & Yorke Classic Stretch Leather Buckle Gloves

Recently I purchased a pair of Brown "Roundtree & Yorke Classic Stretch Leather Buckle Gloves" ($21) sold at Dillard's. The are available in both black and brown, and after using them for a while, I decided to write a review for y'all. They are a nice pair of gloves, keeping you warm, but not toasty. They are appropriate for temperatures about 25-40° F. If you wear them at temperatures any colder than 20°, you'll wish you had invested in a warmer pair of gloves, but for cool (not cold) weather, they will serve you well.

The leather (unfortunately) is not full-grain, but it still wears well, and can handle a bit of abuse.  A buckle serves well to ensure that the glove stays on, but only two different levels of adjustment are provided, not allowing much personalization.

I have gotten several complements on the gloves, but personally would not recommend getting these gloves unless you can find them for a little less (I found them for $16 at a sale).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bombay Brown Leather Journal

This time I find myself reviewing the Bombay Brown Leather Journal (available exclusively from Barnes & Nobles). I received this journal about a year ago, but wanted to give it some good use before I reviewed it.

The leather is rather good quality leather. It is not very thick, but it is very durable and could probably endure a fair amount of abuse. The leather doesn't get scratch marks like some other leathers, which provides for a more 'perfect' journal, but also subtracts from the character.

The paper within the journal is thicker than your standard copy paper, but other than that, it is normal. It is not "acid-free," parchment, or recycled but rater just plain (and thick) yellow paper.

The journal is small, measuring in as 4" x 6", but that makes for a good, personal touch. The journal can also be ordered in black, or can be ordered as a 6" x 8.5".

Overall, I would recommend this journal. It's inexpensive price (around $9) is extremely reasonable for the quality you get. However, if you would prefer to go all-out and spend a ton of money on a leather journal, I would recommend getting a refillable pull-up leather journal (8 1/2 x 11) with a basic screwpost. Col. Littleton make a journal that fits in the middle of these two, and it is refillable. The refills can be ordered blank, lined, or for golfing or fishing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Caran D'Ache Black Metal Ballpoint

I recently purchased the Caran D'Ache Black Metal Ballpoint pen. The pen first struck me as exceedingly small. However, this small little pen is more than meets they eye. Coming in at around half an inch shorter, and slightly thicker than a pencil, one thing I really grew to like about this pen was it's size. Now, if your the kind of person who finds yourself frequently losing things, I can't say I'd recommend this pen, as it could easily get lost,.

The pen itself is very simple. It has very few pieces (three or four, including the ink cartridge), and is simple in design. The clip works well, and the pen extracts and retracts noiselessly, avoiding the common clicking noise. I bought mine from Kaufmann Mercantile, but they can be easily located elsewhere.

My only complaint about the pen is, unlike advertised, it doesn't always "drop a smooth, crisp line." Instead, it only writes slightly better than your average pen. This complaint, although seemingly nit-picky, really is a bit of a complaint, seeing as the main point of a pen is writing. At any rate, if you think you might be interested, I've included some photos below, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to comment.