While offering all the storage a cloth brown duffle bag is known for, our full-grain brown leather cleans up the look with a rugged, yet sharp appearance. Don’t be surprised if the guy next to you asks where you found your bag. Our brown duffle bags are available in full-grain cow leather, full-grain bison leather, and full-grain buffalo leather.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LEATHER QUALITY
There are four main types of leather – and the differences matter.
FULL GRAIN LEATHER
Full grain leather is the highest grade of all leather types. It’s the top layer of the hide, including the full thickness of the skin – that means it’s not sanded or buffed to remove natural marks or imperfections. The full thickness makes this the most difficult type of leather for manufacturers to work (which is reflected in the premium price for the consumer). All the grain in the hide remains in full grain leather, which allows fiber strength, durability, and breathability. Rather than wearing out, the natural surface of a full grain leather bag develops a desirable patina over time.
Top grain leather is the second-highest quality and is the type most commonly used in high-end leather products. This leather has a split layer with imperfections removed, making it thinner and more workable for the manufacturer (and generally a bit less expensive for the end product). The surface of top grain leather is sanded and given a finish coat. The finish coat means the leather will not develop a natural patina and greatly reduces breathability, but it provides protection against stains that would otherwise sink into full grain leather.
Corrected grain leather and “genuine” leather are two names for the same type of leather. This is the third grade of leather and is produced from the layers that remain after the top layers are split off for the better types of leather. An artificial grain is applied to the surface and then sprayed with stain or dye to give it a more natural appearance.
Bonded leather is bottom-of-the-barrel leather – literally. Leftover scraps of leather are shredded and ground to a near pulp, then bonded together using polyurethane or latex onto a fiber sheet. The varying degree of actual leather in the mix (versus chemicals) affects the smell, texture, and durability of the product. Bonded leather is the cheapest to produce and is often resurfaced to look like higher quality types of leather - so watch out.
TAKING CARE OF LEATHER DUFFLE BAGS
Learning to clean a leather duffle bag without losing its natural, time-worn look is a valuable skill. Follow these 3 simple steps:
4-5 Soft, clean cloths
(*be sure to spot-test any products before applying to your entire bag!)
Begin by removing any surface dust and dirt from the exterior of your leather duffle bag with a brisk dusting. Quickly dry-dusting your bag using a clean, dry cloth is a great habit to repeat every few days.
Using a clean cloth, apply your leather cleaner in a circular motion. (Be sure to use a cleaner that is specially formulated for leather!) Work in large sections, panel by panel, to ensure you clean the entire bag evenly. Then, use a slightly damp cloth to remove the cleaner. This type of cleaning is suitable for regular care and maintenance and should be done a couple of times a year—up to once a month. (If you have a more specific leather cleaning crisis, check out our article on how to remove stains from leather bags.)
After cleaning your leather duffle bag, it’s important to condition the leather. High-quality leather is a natural material, and without proper conditioning, it will dry out over time. To promote the longevity of your leather bag, apply leather conditioner to a soft cloth (don’t apply it directly onto the leather) and gently rub a thin layer into the entire surface of the duffle bag. Again, work in large sections, panel by panel, to ensure even coverage. Take special care around zippers, pockets, and embellishments. After applying the conditioner, use another soft, dry cloth to gently buff the leather surface. Plan to condition your leather duffle once or twice a year (even more often if you live in a dry climate).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why is it called a duffle bag? (And is it duffle or duffel?)
Duffle bags are named after the town where their thick cloth was originally made. The name of that town is Duffel. (So, yes, technically “duffel” is the correct spelling, but today, duffle and duffel are completely interchangeable.) The town of Duffel is in Belgium, near Antwerp, and its production of coarse, woolen cloth dates back to the mid-17th century. That’s the kind of material originally used for this type of bag, and historically, the term duffel bag or duffle bag referred to one specific style of bag: one that is large, cylindrical, and closed at the top with a drawstring or zipper. Over time, however, the term has grown to include any large “hold-all” bag made of thick material.
2. How do you pack a duffle bag?
There may be multiple ways to spell duffle, but when it comes to packing one, there is definitely a right way.
Make a list and gather items. Making a list helps ensure you don’t forget any necessities, and gathering your items first (rather than stuffing them in your duffle bag as you grab them) will help you make the most of the space you have available.
Pack heavy and/or low-priority items first. If you don’t think ahead, you’ll make the mistake of throwing in heavier items on top at the last minute, crushing and wrinkling what’s underneath. Or, you’ll end up having to dig through a layer of low-priority items to access your essentials near the bottom of your duffle.
Pack your clothes like a pro. Roll shirts into cylinders to save space and prevent extra wrinkling. Then, place items in a row in your duffel bag. Pack smaller and lighter-weight items (like socks) inside shoes and other small remaining spaces.
Add higher-priority essentials. Things like toiletries, medications, and food can be added to the top of the main duffle bag space or tucked into zippered pockets if your bag has those.
Still have more to pack? Give that big brown duffle bag a shake to help the contents settle, and you’ll get a little more space to work with.