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This leather briefcase is over-engineered. The leather we chose is the most resistant, tightest and strongest cow leather we can buy. And it’s thick too. The full tough top layer, called grain, is still there. None of it was shaved off to get rid of scars or natural marks. That’s why it’s called “Full Grain”.
It was designed with no breakable parts like zippers, velcro, magnets, buttons or snaps. And any piece of leather on this briefcase that gets tension at all, gets reinforced with a rivet or hidden polyester strapping or both. Leather naturally stretches but those straps don’t. And then we line the leather briefcase with pigskin, which is stronger than the cowskin, instead of some shiny fabric with a world map on it.
They don’t say, “He fell apart at the seams” for no reason. Seams are the weakest link of almost all briefcases. Our rocket science solution was to create as few seams as possible. So, I designed this one with a few very large pieces of leather instead of a whole bunch of little ones. The fewer the pieces, the fewer the seams. A briefcase made with a lot of little pieces sewn together makes it cheaper to produce but it will fall apart sooner. Watch our fun seam explanation video where I show a leather duffle bag made with 85 leather pieces.
One time, in New Zealand, I interviewed an old sailmaker who called the sewing machine a perforation machine because the needle makes a lot of holes for it to tear, all in a row. That’s why sailmakers sew most parts in a zigzag pattern. It keeps the needle holes from being close to eachother or being in a row. If we sewed in a zig zag pattern, it would look dumb, so sew with only 5 stitches per inch to put more leather between needle holes. This leather briefcase is designed for you to be the first owner, but not the last. Your job is to break it in for the generations to come. And that’s why we over-engineer all of our leather bags. It seems like the right thing to do.
This leather briefcase is made of only the highest grade of leather there is, full grain. So you ask, What’s the difference between full grain vs. top grain leather? Read and see a simple explanation of them here. Basically, the grain is the tough dense fibers on the top quarter of the hide. They’re tough as nails and tightly woven together. That grain resists water, stains and tearing. The trick of a lot of companies is to ask the tannery to shave or sand off the top of the hide. With the scars and character gone, they can cut up and use almost the entire hide and save a lot of money making briefcases. Our leather is mineral tanned with Chromium (Cr) to make it even stronger. Chrome tanned leather is the most corrosion resistant leather there is, which means your briefcase is corrosion resistant too. It’ll laugh at the rain and extreme heat and then thrive on neglect. To learn more about leather, simplified for 5th graders to understand, read here. And it’s also thick leather. The tannery has to request “Heavy Steer” from the slaughterhouse to be able to make our leather.
Our hardware is 316 Stainless Steel. That won’t mean much to most people, but metallurgists usually gasp for air when I tell them. And then a tear forms in their eye. There are different grades of stainless steel, but this is the toughest one. Our clips can actually hold up to a 750 lb bag of cats over the edge of a 2000 ft. cliff without breaking. But add one more whisker and I don’t want to talk about it. I’m trying to forget. Let’s just say it’s the kind of metal you’d want to use if your life depended on it.
Our thread is a German thread they use for making sails for ships. It is a UV resistant industrial marine-grade Polyester thread and the strongest and toughest we could find. And it’s thick too. Nylon thread deteriorates with heat and UV rays from the sun. But ours doesn’t. Polyester is good and bad. The good part is that it lasts forever. The bad part is that it lasts forever. It’s really good for you if it’s in the form of thread and really bad for you if it’s in the form of bed sheets or underwear. To read my eye opening explanation of Polyester, click here. Apart from selling my soul to the Devil, I don’t think I could design a longer lasting more durable leather briefcase.
Coolness features are cool and this leather briefcase has a few. First, it has the cool Gladstone Bag closure. It opens wide and stays open until you say otherwise. The second coolness feature is the secret hidden flap on the inside bottom. We put one on the bottom of all of our briefcases. The third is the pockets behind the front pockets. Instead of sewing on the front of a pocket on, and then a flap, so that we saved money on leather, we sewed a complete pocket and then sewed it on. You’ll see.
I put a hole all the way on the tip on the briefcase strap just in case. In case you wanted to close your briefcase but keep it kind of open so you could carry a tube horizontally or vertically in the opening.
I then attached d-rings to the bottom four corners of the briefcase in case someone needed to attach something to the bag. They also act as little feet on the bag to keep it off the ground a little.
Dimensions (W x H x D)
Closed: 17.37" x 11.5" x 8"
Open: 17.37" x 14.25" x 8"
Weight: 7.35 lbs
A Story About Buying Tickets to Mysterious Places
In 2018, we decided to go check out Gabon in Central Africa since they had just opened it up for tourism the year before. Word on the streets has it that the French government had kept it closed for as long as they could, to keep all of the oil, timber, minerals and other natural resources for themselves. They say it could be the Dubai of Africa with how naturally rich the country is. The only foreign visitors carried leather briefcases and spoke French.
Here’s all we knew of this mysterious destination. It was on the equator, right below the big overhang on the left side of the continent of Africa, technically called Central Africa. They only spoke French. The most recent Tarzan movie was filmed there. They had a lot of gorillas and Leatherback turtles and Humpback whales migrated there. And they only had two or three ATM’s in the country.
We only found a few pictures and reviews online and those were mainly in French. We couldn’t even find the name of the local currency. It was a kind of tourism black hole. All of that’s a recipe for a good time.
But the American embassy said it was safe, and that was all we needed to hear after our last trip to Kenya a couple years earlier. I took the wife and kids to an island off the coast of Kenya, just a few miles from the Somali border and we really wished we would have checked with the U.S. Department of State first. My bad. Had I known they had put Lamu County at a Level 4 out of 4 danger level because of the Al-Shabaab terror attacks and tourist kidnappings, we never would have gone. But a friend said Mike’s Camp was a cool barefoot luxury place, so we went. It got hairy in a hurry when we sailed to a quaint little Al-Shabaab terrorist village on the mainland. You can read that story here.
Back to the story though. So Suzette bought tickets far enough in advance that we couldn’t change our minds. The kids and I loaded up French lessons on Duolingo and we packed our leather backpacks and duffle bags. I left my leather briefcase back with a lot of our leather luggage in Rwanda and our son rolled up our leather travel chess set and we headed that way. Since we were already visiting our friends and Rwandan boys in East Africa, it was only ten hours in the air to get there.
We flew to Nairobi and then caught one of the few flights of the week to Libreville, Gabon. On the way, we landed in Cameroon and sitting there on the runway, I asked Suzette, “So, are you excited?” She kind of smirked and slowly shook her head and said, “Not really. Are you?” To which I responded, “No, not really. I don’t really know what to expect”. The kids weren’t excited either. We had a good laugh at that, but the thrill of the unknown is always a big part of the fun.
It ended up being one of the greatest trips we had ever been on. The country is learning English in schools and a lot of hotels and lodges are being built. We found out they have about 130,000 Gorillas (of which we saw 10), Chimpanzees, 30% of the world’s Leatherback Turtle population (October to December laying eggs and January to March hatching), the famous surfing hippos on the beach, the massive crocodile hatch in December, black panthers, world record fishing all year, at least 60,000 elephants all over the place, spectacular Pelican nesting and one of the most massive Humpback Whale migrations on the planet in August and September. We all agreed that trip ranked as one of the best trips of our lives. We didn’t see it all, but we hopefully will soon enough.
I tell you this is because I want to encourage you to put your briefcase down and buy a ticket. Where have you wanted to go all of your life? Buy a ticket to the biggest city in that country for a year out and I promise you, you WILL go. It’ll set you in motion to get a passport, figure out where to stay, save some money, learn some of the language and figure out what to see and experience. You don’t have to know everything about where you’re going. You just go. Trust me, it works. Go buy a ticket today. Here are a few suggestions we know you’ll LOVE. Marrakech, Morocco - Sahara, Gabon - Loango, London, Prague, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Canada - Tofino, Kenya - Maasai Mara, Mexico - Guanajuato, Guanajuato,. Hawaii - Hana. And if you do take your leather briefcase, take a picture of it when you get there and send it in.