The Friday Read: A Heritage-Quality Leather Bag, New Buck Mason Jackets & The Best Summer Backpack

Just as with last Friday’s weekly recap, where I talked about the best bag to buy  for a weekend getaway, well, we’re back again in fine form with my latest summer travel gear pick for your reading and shopping pleasure. After all, there’s no better way to lead into the weekend than by buying one of the best leather bags and packing it up accordingly for a safe and long-awaited getaway. In that case, my friends, allow me to reintroduce you to Satchel & Page, makers of heritage-quality leather goods of all shapes and sizes. You can check out my Satchel & Page review from 2015 on the site, but the latest on the company is that they’ve only expanded and only gotten better in the years since then.

MW08 Active Noise-Cancelling True Wireless Earphones It’s the Satchel & Page Counselor Zip Briefcase that caught my eye, the kind you can haul to work and then use as a carry-on, but might I also recommend you check out the brand’s full line of the best leather travel luggage for men? Go right ahead and start adding to your cart (and your travel wish list).

See, there’s a closer look at the Satchel & Page Counselor Zip Briefcase above — how cool is that?? Such a sweet bag. But bear in mind that we’re not only talking about Satchel & Page today. My latest weekly roundup is packed with a touch of everything for your reading pleasure, including new jackets from Buck Mason. Speaking of getting a bit of everything: Have you subscribed yet to my twice-weekly music, menswear and craft beer newsletterEvery Tuesday and Saturday, for free, I send out The Style Guide In Brief: It includes a song to enjoy, some menswear to shop, and some craft beer or whiskey (or coffee) to imbibe all the while. It’s fun, it’s free and you’re going to love it (I hope). Give it a whirl and check out the rest of the Friday Read below, folks. Thanks for reading!

  • We’ll start off Friday with, well, another reading selection. This is a great gift for the outdoorsman and a great gift for Father’s Day upcoming: The Peter Buchanan-Smith Axe Handbook is beautifully designed and packaged, and quite the gem to have on your bookshelf (or near your workspace, or at your cabin). Any fan of Best Made Co., the company Peter founded, would also do well to check out this seriously cool book. And even if you’re not the most adventurous, this helpful handbook might just spur you on towards a new passion. Get it now at Barnes & Noble.

  • If you’ve read the blog, you know the brand pictured above. That’d be the all-American purveyors of some of the best jackets for men — I’m talking, of course, about Buck Mason. I got to take a deep dive for Maxim on three new jackets from Buck Mason, each crafted with plenty of style points and supreme durability (and heritage) for the season that’s upon us. Find your new favorite jacket today at Buck Mason, folks.

  • If you loved the refined, heritage-worthy appeal of one of the one of the best leather bags from Satchel & Page, well, here’s one of the best adventure backpacks for those more inclined to outdoor adventures. The Topo Designs Klettersack, a fan favorite that’s available at the UNCRATE Supply Shop, is built to withstand harsh designs while providing plenty of compact carrying capacity. It’s as fine a Friday pick as any, correct? Yes, indeed.
  • Last but not least, here’s a helpful guide to lead you clearly into the weekend. For The Manual, I wrote all about the best way to clean your glasses and sunglasses, some advice I’ve been trying to follow myself as of late. Read up and head into the weekend with a new outlook (see what I did there?).

MW08 Active Noise-Cancelling True Wireless Earphones

OK, folks — we’re all set in style and in new shopping (and reading) picks for the weekend, I should think. But just for fun, here’s one more must-have menswear pick to pick up right now on this fine May day. Get your new favorite T-shirt from the aforementioned men’s style masters at Buck Mason in this T-shirt buying guide on the blog, and reap the rewards when you discover it’s one of the best T-shirts for men on the market. Happy shopping, and stay stylish.

The Product Review: Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag

Editor’s note: For more product reviews covering excellent #menswear staples, head right this way.

Fit for the hills of Greece and the NYC commute, too: the Slim Mailbag from Satchel & Page.

Fit for the hills of Greece and the NYC commute, too: the Slim Mailbag from Satchel & Page.

As you go about improving your sense of style, it only makes sense that the details take on an added importance — as they should, and that’s the case with one of the best leather bags for men. Style upgrades in areas both big and small definitely contribute to a broader package in terms of your personal appearance. And there are a surprising number of companies allowing guys to get great quality for those upgrades while supporting up-and-coming brands (blog favorites like Pistol Lake and Apolis definitely fit this mold). Satchel & Page has certainly made a name for itself doing that, thanks to an initial Kickstarter run of simple yet handsome bags that raised nearly $230,000. The product focus has expanded since that time to include leather jackets and more, but its staple products — especially its well-known Slim Mailbag — are just as high-quality as ever.

I had the chance to chat via phone with founder Daniel Ralsky as I hopped on a plane to Michigan last month, and I had the good fortune to get my hands on the Slim Mailbag as I also hopped through Greece at the start of August (check out more on that trip here). And this rugged leather bag for men has proven every bit up to the challenge of navigating both international air (and ground) travel and the rigors of commuting in NYC. (Editor’s note: Before we dive in, although this bag is available right away, certain products — like the brand’s new line of belts — do fund via Kickstarter or the brand’s Web site).

Another shot from beautiful Santorini, Greece. The Slim Mailbag alongside a Goorin Brothers vintage ballcap.

Another shot from beautiful Santorini, Greece. The Slim Mailbag alongside a Goorin Brothers vintage ballcap.

This refined leather bag for men is, generally speaking, remarkably well-made and will absolutely only get better with age. It’s the type of piece I’m excited to get more use out of, because thanks to the excellent, rich leather, it should tell quite the unique story. Already, the patina is changing and actually looking all the better for it. It comes with a lifetime warranty and crucially, it feels like it could stand up to that test. The leather is thick yet not too stiff out of the box, ideal for a bag that was asked to do a lot right away, including lugging around my laptop and Issara leather laptop sleeve, plus various notebooks. Contained within the bag are also compartments for an iPhone, pens and business cards. The body of the bag itself has broken in remarkably well, a testament to the quality of the leather.

A closer look at some of the sturdy hardware on the Slim Mailbag.

A closer look at some of the sturdy hardware on the Slim Mailbag.

A leather shoulder strap rounds things out comfortably, and thankfully, it’s not at all tiresome to wear. The rest of the piece from Satchel & Page is quite remarkable in terms of quality. The 6-8 oz. rich brown, full-grain leather gets its rugged good looks from a hot stuffing method using oils and waxes — custom made by the company’s tannery, to boot. As you can see in the above photo, the bag is already beginning to take on unique nicks and scratches, which only make it look better (in my opinion). If you’re looking for a sleek, boardroom-ready briefcase, this isn’t the bag for you — but those who need something stylish, rugged and effective at carrying around the essentials will be more than happy to hear it stands up to the test. Note that this bag is three pounds, so it’s by no means a remarkably light carry if you only have a few items (say, not even a laptop).

A side-by-side look at the Slim Mailbag next to a slightly larger Kenneth Cole messenger bag.

But for those who like some history with their everyday carry, this bag’s got that, too — it’s inspired by the same style of bag carried by the U.S. Postal Service in the early 1900s, so it’s certainly up to a rigorous commute.  Officially as far as dimension go, the bag runs 11″ by 14.5″ wide by 4″ deep (so those with laptops running at 15″ should probably look to the brand’s larger, regular Mailbag). Hand-hammered copper rivets and antique brass hardware also lend the bag a lived-in look.

An in-depth look at the inside of this bag -- well-constructed and with just enough space for everything you might need.

An in-depth look at the inside of this bag — well-constructed and with just enough space for everything you might need. Photo courtesy of Satchel & Page.

Like some of the brand’s other products, this bag isn’t cheap up front, but it’s certainly durable and long-lasting enough to justify the price. Note that the relatively similar-in-looks Montague Leather Satchel from J. Crew retails for about $100 — if you can’t pony up the cash right now, that’d provide a slightly flashier approximation. It isn’t, however, the decidedly more casual waxed canvas and leather laptop bag that J. Crew also sells, which goes for just under $100. Yes, Satchel & Page’s Slim Mailbag provides both more sophistication and higher-quality leather and hardware than its peers in the market (although Navali’s Mainstay Messenger Bag would be worth your time as well if an in-between option was needed).

Not all will find Satchel & Page‘s rugged bag appropriate for their commute or their office, or with enough space to lug everything around, but the durability and quality combination is to be commended. The leather is rich and durable, the fastenings and hardware are sturdy, and the space is, for my needs, more than adequate. It’s the type of bag that looks great now and will absolutely improve down the line — hopefully, in both looks and performance.
Ben Sherman US