Looking for a top-quality, reliable bag you can take with you on a weekend getaway?
Leather duffel bags are always a great choice. They're practical, long-lasting and can really show off a vintage style.
But what should you be looking for from a leather duffel bag?
Should you go for full grain leather or top grain leather? Do you really need a shoulder strap? And what style is right for you?
In this guide, we'll take you through some of the things you should be thinking about before buying a leather duffel bag, then go over what we think are the top 7 bags this year.
Types of Leather
If you're new to the world of premium leather, you might be seeing confusing words like patina or grain out there. Here's what you really need to know:
If you're looking for a long-lasting, great looking, premium leather bag, you need to go for either a full grain or top grain leather bag. Avoid anything that says 'bonded' or 'genuine' leather. These are just fancy terms for the lowest quality of leather.
Full Grain Leather
Confusingly, top grain leather is actually not the best quality available. Full grain leather is generally considered the best quality out there. This leather essentially comes straight off the animal onto the bag. It's the very top layer of the hide, as natural as it gets. No chemical processes are permitted.
Full grain leather is super thick and therefore notoriously difficult to work with. That's why it's a little more expensive.
Make sure you're aware that full grain leather is 100% natural skin and will have blemishes and imperfections - just like our own skin!
As no chemical processes are applied, full grain leather is usually the longest lasting. It'll develop its own pattern (sometimes called a patina) over time.
Take a look here at our full grain leather duffel bags.
Top Grain Leather
Top grain leather is still the top layer of the hide (the best layer!) and is really premium quality leather. However, this time, chemicals and finishes are permitted.
Chemicals and finishes will give a really even, smooth finish and for this reason, top grain leather is often the go-to fashion choice. If the blemishes and imperfections of full grain leather aren't for you, then top grain leather will be the way to go.
Top grain leather is easier to work with due to the chemical processes that can be applied, making it usually a little more affordable. Note though, it's unlikely to be as hard-wearing.
Check out here our top grain leather duffel bags.
If you're looking to go on vacation for a few days, you'll need a bag that can carry all your gear. For this reason, it's super important you take a look at the storage system of any leather duffel bag.
Sure, a bag with just one big interior compartment can work just fine. But, how much easier would it be if all your gear could have its own compartments?
Look for a leather duffel bag that has thought out its internal storage system.
You don't want to lose all your smaller gear with your clothes and shoes. It's often really handy if your leather duffel bag has a special place for your tablet, laptop and even pens and business cards.
One that's always overlooked, but it can be super useful. Look out for a leather duffel bag with external pockets that make for easy access.
If you plan on taking your leather duffel bag with you when travelling, it can be super convenient to just take out your passport and airline ticket from an exterior pocket instead of needing to dig around inside your bag.
Nicely placed exterior pockets can really make travelling with your leather duffel bag a breeze.
Bonus! Some duffels now come with totally separate shoe compartments. If you're going hiking during your vacation (or have notoriously smelly feet), these can be a lifesaver. You can put your dirty shoes in a separate compartment, and not worry about them dirtying (or stinking up!) your clothes or accessories.
Be super careful with this one.
If you haven't had a real leather bag before, you'll likely find a leather duffel to be heavier than anything you've used before. We do recommend only buying men's leather duffels with a shoulder strap. This really helps with ease of carrying.
Aside from that though, be wary of the size of the duffel bag. For most, a 20 inch duffel will carry enough stuff for a couple of days. You'll easily get in a few changes of clothes, along with your shoes and any accessories.
For a long weekend, you might want to upgrade to a 24 inch so you can take your laptop, a few more gadgets and maybe a few more choices of outfits.
If you're looking for a duffel to keep you going for up to a week, we recommend you look to an extra-large duffel (sometimes these will go up to 28 inches).
Top 7 Leather Duffel Bags for Men 2020
So now that you know what features you're looking for in a men's leather duffel bag, it's time to look at a few different designs. The following is a list of some of our top leather duffel bags that our customers love the most. We'll break down why each one might be right for you.
The quintessential leather duffel bag. The Duffel is made with premium top grain cowhide leather and is built with an advanced compartment storage system. It's perfect for weekends and even comes with a separate shoe compartment.
A bit more on the vintage style side, The Traveler is a real throwback. Made with premium full grain leather, this duffel is built to last. With four large compartments, you can fit a whole bunch of stuff in this bag - it'll easily keep you going for a long weekend.
This distressed leather duffel is a real attention grabber. Made with premium full grain leather that then undergoes a distressing process, this duffel is designed to give a classic look. It's also extra spacious, and has convenient outer pockets for any items you need easy access to.
With four colors to choose from, The Executive Duffel is a real premium find. It's got multiple pockets on the exterior and is built so that you can give every item its correct place. Rugged enough for the outdoors, but smart enough for the office, The Executive Duffel is at home in any situation.
Built with an advanced design in mind, The Denali is a true one of a kind. Built to get you through airport security faster, its superior design means you can easily remove your laptop, shoes and other items from the bag, without ever opening the central compartment. Made from premium top grain leather, this duffel is available in 3 colors.
With its unique design, The Two Tone is sure to turn a few heads. Its compact and easy to carry, but can easily fit enough gear for a weekend away. A great briefcase/duffel blend, this bag is great as an everyday carry. You can easily fit all your documents and gadgets in here, but still carry your gym gear too. Available in two colors.
A real retro throwback, The Rounded reflects on time when circular duffels were the norm. A really great bag to hold a whole bunch of clothes, we find that this duffel is a great choice for a gym bag or for a retreat in which you're disconnecting from technology.
So there you have it. Everything you really need to know about buying a real leather duffel.
- Be sure to get something long-lasting - go for full or top grain leather.
- Pay close attention to the size - don't go too big if you don't need it, these things are heavier than you might expect!
- Make sure you get something that is convenient to use - pay close attention to interior and exterior pockets.
We recommend investing a real quality leather duffel that can be with you for the long haul.
If you do that - well, we think you might just get a companion for life.