LederMann Bridle Leather Camera Bag review

LederMann1

Ah, leather! One of the oldest and most durable materials humans have found to use, yet it still causes us to react warmly when we feel the texture or smell the scent. Whether it reminds us of new school shoes as a kid or that folio we were given at graduation, we all have a special reaction to it. So when Julie asked the team about reviewing some of a collection of bags from LederMann, a new vendor, they didn’t stay available for long. I was sent a traditionally-shaped Bridle Leather Camera Bag. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?Photos can be clicked for a larger version.

The Leder Mann camera bag is a traditional size and shape, in a buttery-soft brown leather.

The Leder Mann camera bag is a traditional size and shape, in a buttery-soft brown leather.

The bag is made from a very soft, richly finished brown leather, which quickly developed a nice patina. It’s a very simple bag, with a 12″ x 9″ x 7″ single compartment, a 5″ x 7″ x 1.5″ pocket on each end, and a 10″ x 6″ x 1.5″ compartment on the front under the main flap.

The strap clip swivel is very smooth and heavy duty. Attachment points are double-riveted.

The strap clip swivel is very smooth and heavy duty. Attachment points are double-riveted.

On the back where the bag rests against your body when slung, there is an exterior zipped pocket, as well as an interior zipper pocket that shares the same fabric wall. On top of the flap, there is a grab handle, and over each side pocket is a D-ring where the included leather shoulder strap clips in.

The side pockets, as with the rest of the interior, are lined with a striped fabric, and double-stitched on the flap.

The side pockets, as with the rest of the interior, are lined with a striped fabric, and double-stitched on the flap.

Every interior surface is lined with a fabric that is double-stitched along each edge. Along the bottom, there is an extra piece of the same leather as the rest of the bag stitched on, and secured with four brass feet on each corner. The joints at each corner of the opening into the main compartment are reinforced with brass rivets.

The side pockets, unlike the main flap pocket, can only be accessed from a true buckle, which tends to be clumsy and time-consuming.

The side pockets, unlike the main flap pocket, can only be accessed from a true buckle, which tends to be clumsy and time-consuming.

During testing, hardly a day went by when someone didn’t comment on how nice the bag looked. Friends would feel the leather and “ooooo” and “ahhh” like game show contestants. I still enjoy the feel of the bag and the nice look, but there are some drawbacks, and they’re enough to make me not keep this bag as my daily driver. It holds a huge amount of stuff, and if you’re one who keeps things in bags and Grid-it-type holders, you’ll be able to cleanly access things. If you’re a camera user, you’ll want to invest in one of those foam inserts for your gear.

Everything fits, with room left over for my work shirt, and buckles in with room to spare.

Everything fits, with room left over for my work shirt, and buckles in with room to spare.

Everything fits, with room left over for my work shirt, and buckles in with room to spare.

Everything fits, with room left over for my work shirt, and buckles in with room to spare.

First, the pockets. The one large pocket is nice, and it holds a huge amount, but I’d like to use the side pockets for smaller or less-used items. They are a good size, and I did put a spare phone charger in one, but then the buckle would almost not re-buckle at the same top hole, and it took several minutes of wrangling to get the pocket open in the first place. It’s not a “quick access” pocket if it’s more difficult to access than the main pocket. The other pocket (besides the side covered pockets and the main compartment) is a pocket across the front, under the top flap. This open area is great for stowing things that you don’t want to filter to the bottom of the bag, but by not being closed, I found that many times, smaller items (a USB stick, lip balm, etc.) would fall out of it if the bag was shifted to either side. Again, not good for storage. I never found a use for the two zipper pockets, but their position back-to-back would make them only good for very flat items: airline or rail tickets, camera filters, passport or paper money when going through security, etc.

The other real issue I had with the bag has to do with the finishing. The lining comes up to the very edge and is double-stitched, but it is trimmed off even with the leather. This means that, over time, the edge of the fabric starts to ravel out. I don’t mind the rough edge of the leather, but I think folding the fabric back under to present a folded edge, rather than a raw edge would have increased the long-term survival of the lining, as well as the overall looks.

The last item that I was disappointed with was the clip on the end of the leather key strap. It’s a typical thumb-operated gate clip, but the spring and action was so bad that I could not get it to open reliably. I attached a small carabiner and made do, but that’s not good for one’s overall impression of a bag.

All in all, this is a well-made, beautiful bag. The leather quality and stitching are first rate. But the design and pocket issues are enough to prevent me from really wanting to use it regularly.

 

Product Information

Price:$300
Manufacturer:LederMann Leather
Retailer:LederMann Leather
Requirements:
  • Stuff to carry.
Pros:
  • Full Grain leather
  • Tight sewing and rivets on stress points
  • Good size and layout for pockets
Cons:
  • Some hardware is not up to snuff
  • Side pockets are really difficult to access
  • Edges of lining are merely cut off flush with leather, not tucked under before stitching
Posted in: Bags, Camera Gear, Reviews

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Mark Rosengarten July 4, 2013, 5:15 am

    Want a camera bag about the same size and price with one of the best inserts available and is seriously water resistant? Try the Billingham Hadley Pro. It’s coming with me on my storm chase this year after evaluating quite a few bags beforehand. Compact, yet fits a ton, expandable with optional Avea side pouches and though it is a gorgeous bag, in basic black no one will ever know you are carrying a camera…unless they are already familiar with Billingham.

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  • Chris K July 5, 2013, 8:56 am

    These bags look awfully similar to Saddleback Leather products — even their website looks like it was “heavily inspired” by Saddleback’s. The product line is quite similar, even down to the stitching patterns. Seems like a cheap imitation, to me, but not having seen one of these in person I couldn’t really say.

    Disclaimer: I own several Saddleback products and I love them all. I think it would be interesting to compare the two.

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  • Julie July 5, 2013, 9:53 am

    @Chris K We were offered 3 LederMann bags to review. The first 2 reviews were by writers who do not have Saddleback products, but the last review coming soon is by Dave Rees, who has reviewed several Saddleback bags. His review talks about the differences between LederMann bags and SB bags. So stay tuned!

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  • RA Foster July 5, 2013, 10:38 am

    I’m a little disappointed that you would promote a company that appears to copy Saddleback Leather. Dave Munson at Saddleback Leather make great products, has a better warranty and gives back to the community.

    I expected “the-gadgeteer” to have higher standards than this.

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  • Julie July 5, 2013, 10:50 am

    @RA Foster I don’t consider it promotion. I consider it information and a service to our readers. We’re letting people know about this product good or bad so they can better decide if it’s worth spending their hard earned money on. I totally agree that SB makes great products, but they are expensive. For someone who wants an SB style bag, but doesn’t have the cash, they might be considering a LederMann bag. So we’re telling them what to expect if they go that route. It’s not the responsibility of The Gadgeteer to police how another company gets their designs. If SB wants to go after them for copying their style, that’s completely up to them.

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  • Matthew July 5, 2013, 2:17 pm

    @ Julie – You have done a great job and your review is great! We have the senses and capability to decide which bag would suit us most, better decide to spend our hard earned money.

    Looks like there are Saddleback fans and followers here – I own 2 Saddleback bags, 2 Vagabond Traveler bags and 3 LederMann bags. They are different players in similar product line. No copyright or patent protection in style and design of the bag so they are free to produce their best bag! I love their website and color – It’s like “RUGGED” and “Old World”. All of their leather was of good quality but was not particularly impressed with the workmanship on Saddleback. The handle on my saddleback bag fell apart and the rivet on the strap popped off. SBL bags are nice but do have breakable parts (all bags from any company or brands do have breakable parts!), I don’t really care about their 100 years warranty, and they are overpriced. It have been few years since I using my bags and I still prefer my Vagabond and LederMann bags. Their leather and hardware was of good quality and heavy duty, and their prices are reasonable. I’ll be ordering a casual messenger from Vagabond and a leather duffle bag from LederMann by this month.

    * They are also new companies in similar product line, eg. crazyhorseleather and ML. I’m going to get one from them too.

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  • RainyDayInterns July 5, 2013, 2:51 pm

    @RA Foster…if reviewers were to use your standard then one should only review the “first” of many gadget, laptop, or software which makes it to market as many are derivative or closely inspired by earlier successful ones.

    We can see your objection if LederMann was passing themselves off as Saddleback, but they are not. Nor are they using a similar name (ie: Rolexx, etc) intended to deceive.

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