Finding the best leather bags for men can be a fun challenge if you know what to look for. And we’re all about a fun challenge. So, here are the 5 main things to consider in your search:
Leather quality matters. And the best leather bags for men (and women!) are made of full grain leather. Period. Full grain leather is the highest grade leather that money can buy. It’s more expensive for manufacturers to buy and more difficult for them to work with—and yes, this is reflected in the cost to you. But you get what you pay for, and in this case, you’re getting a lot.
First, full grain leather comes from the top layer of the hide and includes all of the natural grain (hence, “full grain”). The natural surface of full grain leather bags tells a story. Its unique texture reveals natural imperfections, marks, and even light brands in the surface. The natural grain also contains the strongest fibers in the hide, making it extremely durable. As full grain leather ages, rather than wearing out, it burnishes and beautifies, developing the sought-after patina and unique character associated with the best leather bags.
Hardware includes zippers, snaps, buckles, clasps, rivets, embellishments, and any other non-fabric element of the bag. Just like high quality leather, the best leather bags for men include durable hardware. We can keep this one simple as well: look for metal hardware. (Does plastic hardware even count as hardware?) If you see brass, nickel, or iron in the description, you’re on the right track. Consider these full grain bison leather bags that feature antique nickel hardware, or these vintage leather bags featuring brass and iron.
Consider the intended function of the bag and how he’ll likely carry it. Then, be sure the bag’s handles and/or strap is up to the task. Will he carry the bag across his body like a messenger bag? Or does he prefer the traditional briefcase carry? A strap ought to be padded and adjustable to accommodate cross-body or over-the-shoulder wear. Handles ought to feel comfortable in the hand and be positioned for a quick grab-and-go. One of our top picks for the best leather bags for men, this leather briefcase bag is the perfect combination of carry handles and a shoulder strap.
Okay, let’s talk color. “Leather” bags can be found in any color of the rainbow. But we can easily narrow down the color question for you: the best leather bags for men celebrate the natural beauty of leather. You can find extremely well-made leather bags in shades ranging from light tan to dark oak. Consider this leather attaché in a warm medium brown, or this leather laptop messenger bag in a deep earthy brown. Above all, when it comes to the best leather bag colors, remember that high quality (full grain!) leather will change over time as it develops that beautiful character and patina you want.
Even with all the attention demanded by the exterior of the bag, the best leather bags for men will give just as much attention to the interior. Is the interior lined? If so, with what? (The herringbone patterned lining in these premium leather bags is top notch.) However, since you’re presumably starting with a bag crafted of full-grain leather, interior lining is a perk, but certainly not required. For example, these vintage leather bags make the list of best leather bags, even without fabric or suede lining inside. The exposed underside of the leather offers its own unique interior surface.
Beyond lining (or not), the best leather bags for men have pockets for organizing and padded laptop sleeves to boot.
Bottom line: start with the right materials, then add thoughtful design and detailed craftsmanship, and you’ll find the best leather bags for men. The bonus? They get even better with time.