Looking for a backpack that's a bit more rugged?
How about something that can stand up to a bit more of a bashing around?
Leather backpacks can be a great choice for a bag that's hardwearing, convenient and also gives a real premium look.
However, if you're new to the world of leather, it's entirely likely that you're not sure what to go for. Well-made, real leather backpacks won't come as cheap as their fabric or nylon equivalents, so you'll want to make sure you're getting something that you'll get a bunch of use out of.
- Should I go for full grain or top grain leather?
- What sizes should I go for?
- Should I get a rolltop style?
Are all things it's smart to be thinking about before you buy.
In this guide, we'll list what we think are the main things to be thinking about before you buy a men's leather backpack, then we'll go through what are our 5 favorite best leather backpacks for men in 2021.
Types of Leather
There are three main types of leather you’ll want to be aware of when buying a leather backpack. The type of leather you choose will not only change the price, but also the wearability and the look of your bag.
Full Grain Leather
This leather essentially comes straight off the animal onto your bag. It’s the very top layer of the hide, the most in demand and as natural as it gets. No chemicals processes are permitted.
Because no chemicals are permitted, this leather is really tough to work with – that’s why it’s the most expensive.
You’ll find full grain leather is super thick and maybe a little heavier than you’re expecting. This leather is 100% the natural skin, so you’re likely to find imperfections and blemishes – just like our own skin.
As no chemical processes are applied, full grain leather will usually be the longest lasting leather type for your leather backpack.
Take a look here at our full grain leather backpacks
Top Grain Leather
This type of leather is still the top layer of the hide and super premium quality. However, this time chemicals and finishes are permitted.
This makes it easier to work with and means any blemishes and imperfections can be cleared away. You’ll find top grain leather bags have a perfect finish. If you’re looking for something smoother and blemish free, top grain leather is the way to go.
Most leather backpacks we see are top grain leather – it’s often the go-to fashion choice.
Top grain right for you? Look here at our top grain leather backpacks.
This leather is made from the remaining hide once the top layer of the hide has been used for full and top grain leathers.
It’s still real leather and will appear so, however it’s unlikely to last as long as full or top grain.
Chemical processes are usually applied to give a look similar to top grain leather and as it’s the least in demand, it is usually the most affordable variant.
Want to know more about the different types of leather? Check out our full guide here: Different Types of Leather: A Buyer’s Guide.
Choosing the Right Style
Although this one is super personal, it's worth knowing about 3 main categories you can fit leather backpacks into. Think carefully about what style you'll want to carry around.
If you go for something made of full grain or top grain leather and you look after it properly, it's entirely likely your leather backpack could last decades. Therefore, make sure you think about what style future you might want too!
Usually the most popular, vintage leather backpacks are a throwback to a simpler time when quality ruled the roost. These will usually be styled to look decades old, and you expect people to assume they are just that.
Usually, these bags will be finished with buckles and clasps instead of the more modern zippers and velcro. You're unlikely to find much in the way of modern compartmentalization or design, but that's not what you'll be looking for in this type of bag. They're great for storing things we've been carrying for decades like clothes, a water bottle, your wallet and more. These are something Indiana Jones might have appreciated.
In recent years, more modern designs of leather backpacks have come to the fore. It is now entirely possible tom combine that old style leather material, with modern backpack designs that have room for your laptop, tablet, smartphone and more.
You'll find these bags will have multiple pockets and compartments for all your gear and they may even have secret pockets for your valuables.
Zippers and velcro can secure your gear and make it so that it's easily accessible.
Another design that is quite unique, but definitely deserves a mention is the rolltop leather backpack.
These leather backpacks, we find polarize opinion. Some will love them, some not so much. They're designed to expand and retract depending on how much gear you're carrying. So if you've only got a little amount of stuff, you can really roll it up and the backpack will look much smaller. It's the opposite if you're carrying a load of gear.
They really give you a lot of flexibility and are a great option for those who are looking for a leather backpack for a daily carry, but also a weekend getaway bag.
Picking the Right Size
The first thing to know, is that leather backpacks are heavier than you’ll be used to. You’ll want to make sure you’ve got room for all your gear, but perhaps be mindful that you don’t buy something that’s just way too big or heavy for what you need.
Our advice is to measure your laptop, and find something that it fits perfectly into. If your laptop is 15 inches in diagonal length (think how you’d measure a TV!), look for a leather backpack that claims if fits ‘laptops up to 15 inches in size’.
Be sure you’ve seen inside the bag before you go ahead and buy. We always like it when leather backpacks have hidden inside zippers or a real thought-through compartment system. Look for something that can hold your laptop in a padded sleeve, but also might have compartments for your pens, wallet, cell phone, papers, files and books.
Measured your laptop?
Check out our leather backpacks for:
Top 5 Men's Leather Backpacks 2020
A vintage classic, The Rucksack is one of our most popular leather backpacks. It's fitted with retro buckles and clasps and is designed to hold a whole bunch of gear.
A really popular design, the vintage leather backpack is admired by both men and women. With a zipper on the top, this backpack has been really thought through.
A modern spin on the classic leather backpack, The East Side uses premium leather, but is carefully worked with zippers to give a great minimalist look.
Another modern spin, The Urban is a great everyday backpack. Designed for all your gear and gadgets, this backpack will fit your 15 inch laptop in an either black or brown color.
Quite unique, the Rolltop is perfect for any occasion. Whether you're going on a long trip away, or just a day in the office, you can expand or retract the backpack to hold as much as you need.
So that's our rundown of the best men's leather backpacks in 2020. As a final piece of advice, we recommend you think about buying something that you (or a loved one) is going to want to use for years.
Think deeply about getting a backpack of real quality, that has just the right mix of vintage style and convenience.