Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saddleback Leather Company's Tote

I recently received a request to do a review of my Saddleback Leather tote.  Here it is Steph!  For those of you who haven't visited Steph's blog (My Once Upon the Moon)...go take a look!  It's a fantastic read.

I'm going to review my small Saddleback Leather Company (SBL) tote.  This tote comes in either small or large and can be purchased with or without the liner.  This way you can buy one bag with the liner and if you want the same bag in a different color you can then buy just the "shell" without the liner and use the one liner for both bags (the liner is detachable).  I'm not going to talk about what I can carry in the tote since I did that here.  Suffice it to say that the tote can hold quite a lot!  And this is the small so I can only imagine how much the large must hold.  For this post I'll be reviewing only its features.

The tote is made of thick full grain saddleback leather and is available in four different colors: tobacco brown (mine), chestnut (you can see this one in my What's In My Bag post...I just sold this one), dark coffee brown, and carbon black.  I sold the chestnut tote because I preferred the tobacco brown color (and the proceeds helped me to buy a different bag...I know, I've got a problem).

Front with Saddleback name


The tote has quite a bit of attention to detail.  It was designed by the company's founder's wife, Suzette Munson.  SBL products are made in Mexico.

Thickness of the full grain leather

The tobacco brown color is a lovely rich honey color that will darken and age nicely with time and use.  The leather is wonderful to touch.  It is soft and fuzzy.  It also scratches easily but that just adds lovely character to the leather and helps it age nicely.

The inside has a detachable liner that is made of pigskin.  You can detach the liner - with its contents in place - and move it to a different colored SBL tote, if you have one.  Great feature!  The liner is held in place by these "buttons" that snap into the shell.  Another great thing about the liner is that it is super easy to wipe clean if there are any spills.

"Button" and SBL logo - a labrador named Blue wearing a sombrero.
Blue was the founder's dog

The liner has an attached key fob, a cell phone pocket, and a larger pocket with a closure strap.

The liner gives the bag structure.  Without it the bag will still stand tall but is more pliable.

With the liner out you can now see that the bottom of the shell has a little surprise!  It has something that SBL calls a "false bottom".  It has a flap of leather where you can lift and place extra money, passport, important documents, etc. in.

This is a feature that can be used any time but would be extra handy when traveling.  If you are unlucky enough to get pick-pocketed, they won't take everything if you've hidden your passport and some money in the false bottom under your liner.

The tote has three ways that it can be carried: straight down the shoulder, cross body, and using the handles.

The built-in handles are incredibly comfortable to use and I tend to use them a lot!  I like the way the bag looks when being held by the handles and I like the way that it feels in my hand.

When the need arises for hands-free use, I use the shoulder straps.  The straps are adjustable using the buckles.  It has a buckle on the front and one on the back.  The straps can also be taken completely off the bag.

You've probably noticed that the tote has several D-rings on it as well.  It has a total of 8 D-rings (four on each side).  Besides being interesting accent pieces, they can serve to attach and hold things to the tote.  You can use a clip or a strap to attach one of SBL's other their pouch...or you could use a strap to attach an umbrella to the bottom D-rings.

The shoulder straps have an additional feature; one strap has a "button" on it while the other has holes for you to feed the button through it.  Suzette Munson added this to avoid having one of those pesky shoulder straps fall off of your shoulder while using the bag.  This way the straps are attached and solidly held in place on your shoulder.  It's a great concept but the few times that I've tried it I've noticed that half the time I'm able to get the straps to unbutton and separate.  Not sure how I manage it but I do.

I love using this tote!  I get compliments every time that I use it and I get asked many questions about it.  It is certainly an attention grabber.

Please let me know if you have any questions about it.  I'm happy to answer.  I'm really pleased with SBL products.  Along with this tote I also have their Big Wallet and their medium Classic Briefcase.

SBL and Colonel Littleton leather goods are my current favorites and I'm happy to blog ad nauseum about them.


  1. Looks like a great tote bag. Love the concept of an internal liner that snaps inside the bag.

    1. Thanks, Lynn! It's really fun to carry and looks super nice. There is rumor that there are more women's bags in the works for this company. Am hoping that is the case and that they incorporate detachable liners in those as well.

  2. Just discovered your blog and enjoying it! I feel like I can come out of the closet now with my bag, pen, and notebook addictions!:) I'm about to topple over the edge with a saddleback tote. Just having a tough time deciding large or small. I also love the tobacco color but concerned it will show dirt? Especially around the handles and bottom? I have a Rebecca Minkoff and the handles have gotten so dark with oils from my hand. Also, I have the SBL big wallet in chestnut. Live that color, too. You didn't like it so much?

    1. Yay! Welcome Skipper1994! Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Come out of the closet and join me! We are bag, pen, and paper addicts and we're proud of it! ;-)

      I must say that I love the Saddleback tote! As soon as I saw it and watched the video on it I was convinced that I had to have one. My first was the Chestnut one. I liked it so much that within a few days I purchased the Tobacco Brown. I am 5'2" and was afraid that the large would be too overpowering. Keep in mind that the bag is structured so when wearing it on your shoulder, the sides will stick out in front and in back of you....hope that makes sense. The larger the bag the more "stick out" you'll have. I've had some bags that stick out a bit and it's a bit awkward when I'm around people and have to keep apologizing because my bag keeps hitting someone.

      How much do you normally carry? Take a look at my What's in My Bag post (Sept 5, 2012) to get an idea of what I can fit in my small. Maybe that will help.

      I use the handle on my tote a lot! More than I thought that I would. The handle is starting to darken a little bit. The oils from your hand do add the patina to the leather. I personally like this look with this type of leather. I think it looks great on the saddleback leather. I can see how it might now be as much of a desirable look on a bag that has a different type of leather. Saddleback leather has that "tough" natural look to it so I think the darkening only adds character to the bag.

      The bottom of the bag is holding up really well. I've stuffed the bag under an airplane seat and have set it down on the floor several times and it still looks really good!

      I would definitely buy this tote in TB again! I really love it. I did sell the chestnut colored tote because after getting to tobacco and seeing the lovely texture and finish on that, the chestnut seemed a bit too shiny for me and I fell in love with the rich texture and muted color of the tobacco brown. It started my love affair with TB. I have their classic briefcase in TB as well. It's my favorite of their colors.

      Pardon my long reply! I hope this helps.

  3. Hi- I came across your blog today after I bought the Saddleback large tote in tobacco brown. I was searching for reviews of the bag and am glad that I made the right decision. Your pics are great and your "What's in my bag" post sealed the deal - I carry my life in my bag so I need a big one! I love your ostrich filofax - I discovered filofax in Aug - 3-weeks into it and I see all the reviews and videos on Gillio and now I have 3 Gillios coming to me. I will be carrying the planners in style in my new bag - I can't wait to receive it. Thanks for posting this!

    1. Rosena - Thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving a comment! Looks like you're well on your way to owning some incredibly lovely items! I'm assuming that you've received your bag and Gillios now! I'd love to hear which Gillios you purchased, how you like them, and how you are enjoying your new bag!!!!

  4. Hi, I would like to see a picture of you carrying the bag, so I can have an ideaa.. I am pretty small size too. I bought the large tote in tobacco and I find is kind of huge for me specially about what you said that the sides will stick out in front and in back of you.
    How do you find the fact that the tote is open wide? I live in Canada, where I have all 4 season.. and I was thinking that in snow and rain might be difficult for me, I dont want all my books to get wet.. Now I am thinking in returning my large tote for something else.. Does anyone can recommend me a bag for school? that can carry 1 book, 1-2 notebooks.. and is not heavy?

    1. Alicia - It sounds as if you are wanting to use the bag as a type of book bag and I'd suggest considering something besides the SBL tote. The small will be too small to use as a book bag. The small is a good size for a purse or to just add a small book and maybe some work files from time-to-time. Have you taken a look at Love41's bags? There is a fantastic tote bag there that has a zipper closure and is also expandable. You can see it here: The bag is made of SBL leather and canvass. The canvas that is used is a waxed canvas that does well in the rain. Take a look at that one! They also have a Backpack Tote that can be used as a shoulder bag, a cross body, or a backpack. It is made of the same waxed canvas and SBL leather.

      I've got both bags and have used them to carry books, files, and things for weekend trips. I recommend both! I hope this helps!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...