Updated April 14, 2020 by Brett Dvoretz

The 10 Best Leather Backpacks

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This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2016. There are few materials more durable and perpetually fashionable than leather, which is probably why these backpacks make such attractive choices for carrying around books, laptops, papers, outdoor gear, and anything else you need to get from one place to another. Available in vintage and modern styles, everyone from students to executives should find something they like. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Tumi Alpha Bravo Nellis

2. Coolcy Hot Style

3. Frye Logan

Editor's Notes

April 10, 2020:

When hunting down the best backpacks for this list, we decided that nothing less than genuine leather would do. With that in mind, we eliminated the UTO Rucksack, which was crafted from synthetic leather. We also got rid of the S-Zone Daily because its exterior tended to crack over time and high-quality leather shouldn't do that.

Leather backpacks can be fashion forward or have a more practical design, and we wanted to make sure to include both styles one this list. That being said, a compromise doesn't always have to be made, as illustrated by the Tumi Alpha Bravo Nellis, which perfectly balances style and usefulness. It is large enough to hold a laptop, its accessories, and some personal belongings or even a sweater, without being too large that it becomes cumbersome to carry. Plus, it is equipped with some great features for travel, like the wheeled luggage trolley handle pass-through and a tracking system to aid in recovery if it is lost of stolen. The ISM: The Backpack and Kenneth Cole Reaction are both have some great properties that make them well suited for travel, though we feel the ISM definitely lags far behind the Tumi when it comes to style.

If you prefer a backpack with a bit more of an adventurous charm, the Berliner Bags Leeds is worth checking out. It has a classic roll-top closure and a distressed appearance that only gets better with age. It's large enough to carry a lot of stuff too, and the wide shoulder straps should help it remain comfortable when doing so. The relatively few interior organizational pockets can be a deal breaker for some, though. The Frye Logan is another option that already comes with an appealing worn look, thanks to the hand burnishing that it undergoes during manufacturing. As with the Leeds, it will also get better looking with age.

Those who are in the market for something small and sleek will be well served by the Coolcy Hot Style, Bostanten Satchel, and Heshe Daypack, all three of which are very fashionable designs that come in a variety of standout colors. However, these are intended primarily for women and wouldn't be ideal for carrying around a laptop or school use.

Special Honors

Wilsons Leather Nicholas Vintage The Wilsons Leather Nicholas Vintage has a very rustic charm that makes it ideal for the adventurous soul, or anyone looking to cultivate that somewhat roguish charm. Its main compartment has a flap-covered drawstring closure, while the smaller front pocket has a zippered one, and the two side pockets have magnetic snaps. wilsonsleather.com

Rag & Bone Pilot Backpack Ii Crafted from luxe Italian lamb leather with cowhide trim, the Rag & Bone Pilot Backpack Ii is an elegant option that anyone would be proud to showoff. Adding to its high-end appeal is shiny nickel hardware, custom pushlock closure, and a faille interior lining. Its small size makes it relatively easy to carry as a handbag when needed. rag-bone.com

4. Solo Reade

5. Berliner Bags Leeds

6. ISM: The Backpack

7. Bostanten Satchel

8. Kenneth Cole Reaction

9. Piel Buckle-Flap

10. Heshe Daypack

The Benefits Of A Leather Backpack

But because leather breathes, you don't need to worry about opening it up to discover it has held onto the aroma of everything you've packed in it for months.

When you're picking out a backpack, leather may not be the first material that comes to mind. You may think about canvas or nylon, but consider giving leather backpacks a chance. The properties of leather make it highly durable. When taken care of properly, leather can last you decades. Sure, nylon backpacks may come with a much smaller price tag, but they puncture easily, and typically need to be replaced frequently. You know this if you're a parent — it can seem like every couple of grades in school, your kid needs a new nylon backpack. His poor little backpack looks like it's taken quite the beating.

Leather is also timeless. The material has been used in clothing, furniture, armor, and more for centuries, and has never gone out of style, so it's not so silly to predict it will stay fashionable. While backpacks made from cheaper material donning video game characters, celebrities, and logos come and go, you can be certain your elegant leather backpack will never go out of fashion. And it will age nicely with wear, too. If you buy a leather backpack for a college student, you might find he still uses it at his first job and throughout his career, because it's equally suited for the campus and the office. In fact, his colleagues toting around briefcases will be jealous of the man's far-more-convenient leather accessory.

Another important feature of leather is that it's a natural fabric. Synthetic fabrics can easily cause skin irritation, rashes, and other adverse reactions. Mentally, you just feel better when you wear natural materials — like you're more connected to the earth. Because leather is natural, it also breathes. If you leave certain items, like snacks or markers, in a nylon backpack, all sealed up for days, you may open it to find that your parcel reeks. But because leather breathes, you don't need to worry about opening it up to discover it has held onto the aroma of everything you've packed in it for months.

How To Take Care Of Your Leather Backpack

If you treat your leather well, it will treat you well in return. Again, it may not be the most affordable item upfront, but it can last you a very long time, which could be why it's remained in high demand in markets everywhere over the years. Here are tips for caring for your item to ensure it lasts as long as possible. It's important to treat your leather with some sort of conditioner regularly. Quality conditioners can prevent your leather from forming cracks, make it water-resistant, keep it from drying out, and do many other things that will keep your leather clean and strong. If you live in an area that sees a lot of rain and snow, it's crucial that you treat your leather backpack every three months.

Do not overstuff your leather backpack, because once leather is stretched out, it cannot return to its original shape.

Prevention is a key word when we're talking about leather care. Don't ever leave your leather item in the sun, since it is susceptible to UV damage and can lose its gorgeous color and dry out. Once leather has become dry, it becomes weak and can easily crack. Make sure you store your leather in a dry room or closet, since mildew and humidity can deteriorate it. As previously mentioned, leather breathes well, so let it breathe. In other words, don't store it in an airtight plastic bag. Airflow is important to the maintenance of leather. You should also be very cautious of what you store near your leather item. Once you scuff leather, it's very hard to remove the mark.

When it comes to removing stains, it's vital to know when you can do it yourself and when you need to go to a professional. A good rule of thumb is to do small items, like shoes, at home, and leave large items, like backpacks, to the professionals. No matter what you do, never immerse your leather in water. You can dab it with small amounts of water, but never dunk it in a full tub, as this can harm it. Along with stains, stretching is a big concern with leather. Do not overstuff your leather backpack, because once leather is stretched out, it cannot return to its original shape.

How To Choose Your Leather Backpack

If you are getting a backpack for a student, make sure it has a large inner section. This backpack will likely need to carry the child's lunch, books, change of clothes and shoes for sports, and more. Just keep in mind that kids shouldn't carry more than 10 to 20 percent of their body weight in their backpacks — overdoing it can cause pain and posture issues later in life. So, if your child carries a heavy load, get him a wheeled backpack.

So, you may want to get a backpack that conforms to carry-on size requirements and can transform into a messenger bag.

Having plenty of organizational pockets, including exterior ones, will help you access your wallet, cellphone, and other valuables right when you need them. If you'll be traveling with your parcel and carrying nearly irreplaceable items, like your passport or birth certificate, it's important that your backpack closes securely, either through locks or strong buckles. Speaking of traveling, when you're a globe-trotter, you want to bring as few items as possible to avoid those hefty airline luggage fees. So, you may want to get a backpack that conforms to carry-on size requirements and can transform into a messenger bag. That way, it can be your pseudo-suitcase on the plane, and your more sophisticated day bag while you sightsee.

There are plenty of styles to choose from, too. If you're an adventurer who stays in more humble accommodations and even hops on a safari from time to time, you may want a backpack with a more weathered appearance. Those needing a backpack for business meetings may want an elegant, sleek, all-black model, with minimal exterior pockets and a simple snap enclosure. If you want a backpack that can take you from the office to your nighttime social events, you may find one with fashionable accents like two-tone leather, and shiny exposed zippers.

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on April 14, 2020 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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