I've had this bag for a few months now (medium - tobacco) and it's and truly magnificent piece of over engineered simplicity. I use it for as many things as I can think of, from going to the bakery to travelling abroad. it's been a trusty companion and will remain so for the rest of my life I imagine.
The build quality is sublime and it's a very practical piece. I also use it for carrying lenses for my DSLR and it protects them well enough.
I first stumbled upon Saddleback Leather in 2008 when I became frustrated with a falling apart Frye leather backpack and began searching for "the best leather backpack". Back then Saddleback was quite a bit smaller and had far fewer offerings. They had a website but a lot of their stuff was sold in 1 day ebay auctions and I picked up a large briefcase that I used in backpack mode for a while. Then I gave that to my husband and bought the only true backpack they sold at the time, a bag that has since been discontinued and replaced with the squared backpack. But that wasn't quite right either so I tried backpack mode with all 3 sizes of satchels, the small briefcase and the messenger before Saddleback finally released the simple backpack. As soon as I saw it I knew I needed to try it, and I've never looked back. I've been carrying it daily for about 3 years now.
The medium simple fits a lot as other reviews will tell you, and you can really over stuff it since it's less structured than many other Saddleback bags. It can also flop down to a relatively small form factor when it's not bulging full. This is quite nice, especially if you're moving around a crowded city street or subway. Mine is the first generation model so it has the fully removable shoulder straps with the padded sleeves. I hear you can still order the sleeves and slide them on from the bottom on the new fixed top straps. The side pockets are great for a phone, small water bottle, etc, though I do wish they were a little larger like the ones on the front pocket backpack. I didn't love the utility strap closure so I punched some holes and added a leather drawstring like the bucket backpack has and it keeps it closed much tighter, particularly when it's less full. I also riveted on a key strap. But I tend to want to tinker since I dabble in leather work. This backpack will last pretty much forever and I plan to keep it that long. I really love this bag, it was a long road to get to the perfect backpack but I finally made it.
I have the simple backpack in chestnut leather large. I am 6ft5" and find that it's appropriate for carrying around my university campus without looking overly large. It currently contains: 3 large textbooks (1000pg ea.), 3 exercise books, a small ultrabook (weighing approx 1.3 kg), charger and a cardigan as I am approaching winter.
I have had the backpack for a short while however am finding it a practical/fashion god send. The backpack is dead simple as Dave states in his video. The middle bucket (though currently under used) could easily fit 3 days/nights worth of clothes and supplies. Compared to other reviews for the chestnut colour, I am finding the leather marks up nicely and is breaking in really quickly (constant use for 3 weeks). The straps fit me nicely (I am on the 2nd last hole). I am finding the gap between the side pockets and the main buckets very practical for things like pens.
My only knitpicks:
I am finding that the side pockets take quite alot of time to open and am dumping things like my phone and wallet into the main bucket out of laziness/to save time (where they wouldn't necessarily belong). If you are intending to use the backpack like me there are no ways I have found to stop the books/laptop moving around while walking which makes a slapping bongo sounding sound (I have overcome this with occupying more space with previously mentioned cardigan).
Things that went over my high standards:
The backpack has a ridiculous amount of space for it's size and I'm finding that a medium sized suitcase would fit the same amounts. I have very large hands and find the handle very useful and comfortable (can fit the paws underneath them). They attached a small saddle back key accessory which I found a nice little gift (small but unnecessary).
I am a university student and found that this bag costed me just shy of a grand in my currency. For customers looking to purchase internationally, I found the staff lovely and the delivery time extremely efficient (took less 5 business days from Texas to Newcastle, Australia) I have absolutely no regrets with the purchase and am checking the site daily talking myself down from purchasing even more.
I bought the Large simple back pack, for travel mainly as a piece of luggage not as a every day carry. It works great for flying it fits in the overhead no problems or under the seat even when stuffed completely full to the max. I flew on the big aircraft with the large bins and one with the smaller bins still fit. The pockets behind the side pockets work great for tickets and to put your wallet in so you don't have to dig it out of your pocket or undo the straps on the pack every time you need it. The wallet fits secure and won't fall out. This pack will fit about three days worth of cloths and shaving kit shoes with a few extras in the main pack and all my accessories for my phone battery charger cord with room to spare in the two side pockets. I am a big guy so thats a lot of stuff(240LBS). My wife could probably fit double that(100LBS). The straps are padded and work great just slung over one shoulder or with it on your back. It also has a pad between the pigskin and leather to cushions your lower back. These packs are spendy but you get what you pay for. If you take care of it I don't know why it wouldn't last foooooorEverrrrrrrr. This pack is very large in my opinion for an everyday carry and would recommend getting the Medium if that what you want if for. I do not have a medium but going by the dimension it is not as tall. It is a simple pack as the name implies thats why I love it not complicated easy to pack. I already have some great scars from my travels and the bag is wearing in nicely. Overall great pack and would recommend it to any one.
I had been wanting a SBL bag for years. I am a professional stand up comedian and I travel a ton and I was looking for the perfect travel bag/companion for my tours. When Dave came up with the Simple Backpack I jumped. You should see the look on peoples faces when they notice my bag - it is a conversation starter to say the least. Here's an interesting story that is very telling of how incredible it is - and should lay all reservations to rest if you are on the fence:
I was recently doing a weekend gig in Seattle and (being a lover of great companies who sell great outdoor gear) I went to Filson's flagship store (wearing my SBL Simple BP). They were having a big holiday sale and the store was packed with extra workers. As soon as I walked in an employee clocked my bag and sort of followed me around like a sheepish child. Finally he worked up the nerve and came up to me, "Hi welcome to Filson...um...is that a real Saddleback?" It was like I was holding a Honus Wagner T206 - he almost couldn't believe his eyes. I let him examine the backpack. Then another employee came over. And another, and another - until there were about 7 employees around the bag all drooling over it. They hovered around me and the bag for about 10 minutes (not exaggerating) each telling how they had always wanted a Saddleback but didn't know if it was all just hype. Finally they broke off when they realized they were neglecting other customers. Filson is known to be one of the most reliable and durable brands for outdoor gear and usually puts other bags to shame - and there employees are insanely knowledgeable about their products and their competition. These employees were just blown away by the construction and quality of materials. They all walked away saying that they NEEDED a SBL after seeing mine. One employee said he felt guilty that he liked my my bag so much - like he was cheating on Filson. Another looked at their leather briefcase and said, "This thing looks like garbage to me now." I think that says it all (especially if you know filson's products - they are great and I own some). Buy this bag and you will never need another. Thanks Dave - I can't wait to save up for the medium water bag in tobacco. This stuff is addictive for a reason. There's nothing else out there like it.
I realize I wrote my first review pre-maturely. (Previously given 4 stars)
After taking this backpack on a few more adventures, I realized its downfall was two-fold for a person who likes to walk a lot with a pack (and subsequently sweats a lot as a result).
I took this bag to Canada over the summer to Jasper and Banff, which involved a lot of hiking. That area isn't a hot destination by any means, but one day it got a bit toasty (80 degrees) as I did a 7 mile hike with this backpack. Upon reaching the top of my hike, I took the bag off to realize how little this bag allows for air circulation. In fact, it stayed stuck to my back as I sweated and the dye actually stained onto my shirt.
Upon contacting Saddleback, (their customer service is top notch), they offered to pay for my dry cleaning and "re-seal" the bag. Wow I thought this is amazing. Just as I was about to part with the bag for a few weeks while it was in the Leather shop (slightly odd having to exercise a 100 year warranty less than a year in), I read through their warranty to realized it states "Exposure to any harsh chemicals like salt, chlorine or conditioners that result in corrosion, discoloration or a breakdown of integrity of material, or damage caused by dog chewing, pool water exposure, road rash, etc., is considered abuse and will void the 100 year warranty."
That's when I realized this bag will never be utilized fully by me if sweat (containing lots of salt) will continue to be an issue with this bag.
Breathability of a full leather backpack will be limited, no matter how you engineer it. So sadly, I sold the bag and it is no longer part of my adventure arsenal.
On my next hiking adventure last weekend to Big Bend, I took an Osprey bag to be relieved by its breathability and weight compared to this backpack... I'll just have to sacrifice some fashion going forward, but I'm glad I experienced owning the Simple backpack in spite of a fatal flaw.
Disclaimer: I still own 12 other SBL products - just not ones I will have sweat around.
I purchased this backpack about 8 months ago and love it. I am a student/TA at a local university and carry a lot of books and a 17 inch macbook pro. Not only is this bag tough enough to handle it, but it also looks (and smells) terrific. The leather looks more and more beautiful over time.
I am confident the bag will hold up and live to be what they advertise. Would I buy it again? Yes. But with the quality and beauty of this bag, I'll never have to buy another one again.
So, I decided to go for the Simple Backpack but could not decide between the medium or large. I knew I could fit my 15" company issued laptop in either one. My only concern was the look of the bag - especially the large bag. I just thought it would be too much since it's really just a big floppy bucket (for reference, I'm a hair under 6' tall).
But, oddly, that's what was appealing, too - a big floppy bucket of leather that would fit anything you need. I picture myself carrying my laptop everyday but also using the bag to carry my clothes when I travel. I try to always travel light. Unless I need a suit, all I take is a bunch of t-shirts, shorts, track pants, socks, underwear and toiletry bag. That should fit into a large bag especially if you roll everything up.
I do wish Saddleback stuck with the original shoulder straps with the padding. I don't have an issue, per se, with the current straps and they'll likely wear in much faster (which is good - they're really stiff right now!) but the original straps seemed to fit the bag's overall look a bit better.
This is going to be my everyday bag. I got the Tobacco one (it's pretty much the only color I buy) which will look amazing but it'll take time. The darker colors like DCB and Black would fit the corporate look right away. I wish Saddleback offered a "break-in" service for Tobacco. I'd sign up to be a volunteer right away :-D
I never thought I would carry a backpack. Then again, I never thought I would be starting college north of 45 years old. Now I am doing both and I am so thankful for this backpack. Upon starting school, I purchased the simple tote in Chesnut. I love it! However, it became very heavy with my daily essentials and I soon found myself at the chiropractor with back pain. I decided to bite the bullet and transition to a backpack for school days.
I bought the simple backpack, medium, in Chesnut. Gorgeous and comfortable! I was afraid it was going to be too big, too bulky, too heavy, and too rugged looking. Nope, nope, nope, and nope. It looks and feels wonderful. My back pain is gone and I did not have to sacrifice my style. I am able to carry everything I need plus there is room for much more. I live in a rainy climate so I usually carry a small umbrella in one of the side pockets and the other side pocket fits my iPhone 6 Plus perfectly. With those items in the open pockets, there is still plenty of room in the pockets with flaps. I know this backpack will last through graduate school and beyond and I will be proud to carry it.
My only suggestion would be for a key clip inside for my car keys. In lieu of that, I clipped a small carabiner to the top D-ring so my keys can be stowed safely under the flap or flipped inside the backpack.
Thanks again, Saddleback, for another great product!
I started with a Medium Briefcase back in 09. I carried that for years but was trying to find something lighter. I tried several different messenger bags. They were lighter but I carry a lot of stuff with me everyday and I needed more room. I bought this a month ago. I can carry a ton of stuff and it still be a light bag. I wish they had a key ring clip inside like many of their bags do. (which they'll probably add later to the next one). The pockets behind the pockets don't seem like they'd hold much.
I did a lot of research into all types of different brands before purchasing this bag. I wanted a bag for work that would last a very long time, but was functional. I am a female but refuse to carry a tote long-term as it hurts my back/a woman can look just as professional with a backpack. I carefully looked over the sizes offered by saddleback, and ended up ordering the medium in chestnut. It's a beautiful bag with amazing quality. The leather is so thick and firm it almost seems like it would have to be plastic. That being said, I have to return the bag. I am a woman who is 5'6" and about 115 pounds, a size 00. The bag looks comically big on me. I looked over the measurements and thought they were fine. Though the width of the exterior is 12 inches as stated when measuring along the back rectangle, it flared out much more, especially with the pockets, to the point at which is is closer to 14-15 inches in width. It looks much bigger than in the pictures. Not professional at all. I would purchase their bucket bag, but do not want to spend over $100 on shipping for all the products. Though the backpack shows up in the women's section, smaller ladies be warned.
I've been looking for a good leather backpack for a long time. Saw the large coffee brown simple backpack in Dave's deals section at 10% OFF. Went ahead and ordered it. Got it yesterday and to my amazement, I could hardly find a fault in the pack. I like the texture and feel. I have no regrets and this is gonna last me a long long time. Worth the investment, and most of my friends were envious of the pack. It's stylish too.
Thanks, Dave for making such superior quality products. I like the fact that part of the price goes into helping the needy in Rwanda. You are a blessing to these orphans.
I bought the Simple Backpack prior to a cross country trip, it was delivered a few days before I left. I bought the medium and its cavernous. The amount of stuff you can put in the pack is truly amazing. This was my carry on for the trip. It being new the straps etc are a bit stiff, but that's s a short term issue, the more I use it the more the leather soften. I waited a long time before I ordered this bag as it is somewhat costly, it was worth the wait and the cost.
After almost 2 years of contemplation and saving, I have finally decided to get this bag (L-Dark Coffee Brown). It is almost perfect, except I have found 6 stress points on the bag that is in danger of breaking if no intervention is to be done. As a result, i asked the local leather shop in my area to put additional rivets on those 6 stress points. And i also added a false bottom(for security reasons during travel).
Now I can say that i am securely contented with this bag with the additional reinforcements.
All in all, this bag is well-built and a true attention grabber.
I have been using various Saddleback Leather products for about five years now. I have had a couple different sizes of satchel, a few iterations of the big wallet, and my husband has a medium classic briefcase. I have always wanted to carry SBL products but found the satchels too heavy for what I was able to fit in them and the briefcases even more so. Since I have a busy toddler I have been using backpacks more often to be completely hands free. I was worried about the size and weight of this bag but decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did.
It is a gorgeous backpack. I went with the medium and though I am 5'6" and only 125 pounds I didn't feel dwarfed by it at all. Packed with everything I need for a day long family outing it was still comfortable to wear for the entire day. Is it heavy? Compared to a classic cordura backpack- yes, it's heavy. Compared to other SBL products- the weight is so manageable with what I am able to fit in it. And it will outlast any cordura backpack out there by a long shot. The back and flap, which are lined in pigskin arrived a bit stiff but I know they'll soften up with use. Same goes for the side pockets. Definitely give this backpack a chance- you'll be glad you did.
You know how you get on a site a see a bunch of five star reviews and you skip them because surely the company posted them? When I stumbled recently upon Saddleback, I skimmed the glowing comments and went right for the criticism. I then got on Facebook and checked out the postings. Low and behold, I got my bag this past week and realized that the glowing remarks are real and justified. The Simple Backpack (in carbon) is simply beautiful. I have never owned a heartier, more well made bag then this one. I was initially concerned about the size and weight -- I'm 5'4, 140 pounds - but the medium is just right. The large would have been too big. Note, however, that hearty means hearty -- it's not a light bag. It's a big hunk of amazing leather that will wear well and hold up for decades.
My backpack has been with me for about 4 months now. It's been to several trips with me and I was abusing it LOL - so it can soften up faster! :) At first my friends were afraid to toss the bag in the trunk because they said it looks fancy and didn't want to break it. I was wondering the same thing so I told them we can give it a try during this trip. The bag got so many compliments after the ski trip. It was holding up so well and showed no signs of wear!!
I'm 5"2, about 100lbs, and my bag is medium simple backpack in chestnut (just in case if you guys are having a hard time picking the size). It looks a bit big on me for every day use, but when I go travel it's just the right size. That being said, I'm planning to get a medium satchel as my EDC now.
Great leather is very addictive. You might end up buying more stuff than you were looking for =P
As a young female world traveler I was looking for something that was classier than a typical daypack, and I need it to last. I do a LOT of travel to locations that are less than luxurious and I needed a bag that could handle the harsh environments. After much research and some digging around the internet for photos of well-loved and used pieces, I decided on the medium Simple Backpack in Dark Coffee Brown. Within the first week of owning this bag I flew to Istanbul, Turkey and used it daily as I explored the city. I have to say it was surprisingly comfortable from the moment I took it out of the box and it is getting more and more comfortable by the day! The buckles took some getting used to, as it does take more time to manage than a zipper or magnetic clasp, but it got much easier within a couple days of consistent use and it is nice to know that no one will be able to quickly or easily get into this bag while I travel. For items that I needed to access quickly, there were the two open pockets behind the side pockets. It is a great size for my average female frame (5'7" 150lbs.) but I can still pack everything I need inside! I worried that it would be too masculine, but I found that my local saddle-maker (who was very impressed by this bag) was making leather roses for valentines day, so I bought one and tied it to the front strap for a little feminine flair and it's perfect! I love this bag so much and get compliments on it often. I am definitely excited to take it with me on all my world travels! Well worth the investment!
I have used (and loved) a medium classic briefcase, a medium satchel, and a large tote for my every day carry. I was researching the old boomerang backpack straps to use with my briefcase when a friend recommended a medium simple backpack. I purchased one (sort of on a whim), and I can't even believe how much I love this bag. It seems to hold twice as much stuff as the large tote or the medium briefcase, but is so light and easy to carry. I was skeptical about how comfortable the straps would be, but they are soft and mold perfectly to the shoulders without any pressure spots. The bottom of the backpack is padded where it sits on the lower back and it doesn't dig in or cause any discomfort there either. It's the perfect size for me, and I am 5'2".
I recommend this bag to anyone who will listen. As with all of my SBL pieces, it garners attention and compliments everywhere it goes. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it ages and softens up over time. The medium simple is my new favorite bag!
I have the medium simple backpack in carbon. This bag is so versatile. It holds so much stuff!! I can put two cable bags (one carbon and one tabacco), medium bifold (also carbon) gloves, a 6 inch knife, a multi tool, a flashlight, my 3ds, a carthartt duck jacket (rolled up), a thermos, my overflowing keychain, and a dry shirt and socks and still have room for anything extra. I have the medium!! I can only imagine what the large will fit. I've had this bag for roughly 2 months and I carry it every day. The leather is really starting to soften. It feels amazing! I've never weighed the bag fully loaded but I guess 20 lb. The stitching shows no sign of stress. If your worried about the weight then you should look elsewhere. This backpack is designed , excuse me, over engineered to pack a load. It begs to filled and used. It doesn't want to sit in a corner and gather dust. It craves adventure. Oh, and if you do decide to purchase this backpack, do yourself a favor and order the chamberlain's leather milk. I treated mine yesterday with it and that stuff is sorcery. There's no sense spending this kind of money on fine leather ond not taking care of it!
I just got my simple backpack (medium) and it looks and feels great. Every time I check the website I am always taken back at how expensive the products are. However, everytime I finally decide to make the plunge I realize there is a reason for the price...because Saddleback sells the best quality bags and the best leather. I have previously purchased a medium duffle and it has aged amazingly well. I can't wait to see how well this will age with time. I expected the backpack to weight a lot but I have to say its much lighter than I expected. I think the raw lining has made a huge difference in the overall weight. Love everything about this bag. Oh and the smell is to die for...if your into that kind of stuff.
I purchased this backpack several months ago and wanted to wait until I got to put it to good use before I wrote a review. So here it goes.
First off, I LOVE this backpack and would recommend it to anyone who is considering it. There are some considerations to take into account as well that I will get into.
- The look of the bag is beautiful out of the box, and it only gets better with time. I have the tobacco, and it will get slightly darker over time. It is bigger than it seems in the pictures. I got the smaller of the two, and it fits a few days of clothes inside with anything else you can think of for a long weekend trip.
- The design is simple as Dave says, and it is very well thought out. If you are an organizer (like me) you may want to splurge the extra 100 bucks and get the square backpack. If that's not a big deal, this will work fine, there are other ways to organize. The side pockets work very well for cables and small items. The pockets between the side pockets and the main body of the bag are very handy for things you need quickly like your phone and travel docs. They also sit there securely.
- The overall quality of the bag is TOP NOTCH. This thing will definitely outlast you. The leather is thick (not too thick) and strong. The thread is also thick and strong and you will never have to worry about it coming out. The hardware and straps are top quality (like a high end belt. The pads of the shoulder straps can be removed, but they break in pretty quick.
- My overall impression of this bag is a must get for anyone who is considering it. You will not be disappointed, I promise you. If you are a traditionalist who appreciates quality and the value of putting good money towards it, this is the bag for you. If you are the kind of person who needs all kinds of different compartments and places to hide things away, you may want to look elsewhere. There are many video reviews on the internet of Saddleback products; I highly encourage anyone considering a bag to watch those to help you decide.
This is one of about five or six items that I have purchased from Saddleback...and it won't be the last. My original search started because I needed a briefcase for work (Banker...don't judge!). I'm a country boy with southern roots so carrying a "Man purse" is not for me (not judging). Until June of this year one of my favorite hobbies was bull riding. I was injured in June, had surgery and ended up on crutches...I got stomped. Not being a stranger to crutches I quickly realized that I needed an extra hand to help me with the little things in life that tend to be taken for granted, like among other things, carrying things. Naturally I bought the Simple Backpack in dark coffee brown, matching my chocolate lab Sam. The backpack was and continues to be a life saver. I'm finally off of the crutches, but I continue to suit up for meetings with clients, the Board, to whatever with my Simple Backpack. Five stars, Dave...Five stars.
I just got the simple backpack in chestnut (medium). I was actually surprised how big it was even with the dimensions given. It's a gorgeous bag with more than enough room for my 14" laptop and a change of clothes. It's also really comfortable to wear even though not fully broken in yet. At 6'1" with a little heft the medium bag definitely does not look to small. The large probably would have been to big especially if you want a bag for daily commuting purposes in addition to traveling, the medium can fit plenty. Tremendous purchase, and thanks to Saddleback for such a great product
I own the tobacco medium.
Saddleback markets their products extremely well. They make you believe their bags are ideally suited for adventurous travelers to inspire an Indiana Jones-esque feeling when you strap one on. For the typical city dweller with disposable income, it hits a certain primal trigger in the brain to buy one and romantically indulge in that daydream.
This bag will get a lot of compliments. If you're a bit insecure and like to have people comment on your style choices, this bag will give you a few dopamine rushes as you take it around. It's not just that, fortunately. Like people have said, the bag is well constructed and I like the idea of 'breaking' in my bag. After 2 months of ownership, it's barely broken in and the only parts really softening are the shoulder straps... I love that a year or two down the road it will be a flappy concoction molded and discolored by me. I own the new tobacco medium bi-fold and comparing the two, it's unreal how well the tobacco color ages beautifully with wear and tear. You would never guess the two started off the same color (more or less). I just took it on a two week trip to the Galapagos exposed to sand, rain, sun, sea water and it did just fine as expected, gaining some character along the way.
On to the practical side. I backpacked and traveled around the world for 1 year recently. A travelers best friend in that case is a balance of size, weight, compartments and quick access. Some days you walk over 10 miles with your stuff, take it in and out of trains / buses in 3rd world countries, leave the bag at the mercy of the bus services in places like Myanmar when they cram every inch of people into buses, or you really need to secure some items like cash or passport. For that type of extended travel, I wouldn't recommend this bag. It's perfect for day trips, weekend getaways or as a companion bag for a longer trip. Despite it being one of their lightest backpacks, it's still a bit bulky for my taste at times just due to the high quality leather and 316 steel used. No way getting around that. It looks great but for practical purposes, it can get a bit cumbersome to carry for miles compared to an REI counterpart. As a disclaimer, I like to travel extremely light and streamlined so some may disagree.
For my next long trip I considered taking this bag as a companion bag along with my 65 liter, but it's too bulky for that purpose honestly. Don't get me wrong I'm trying to find every excuse to use this bag, but for any trip extending longer than 2 weeks, it will likely be staying home.