I enjoy using leather products because of their beauty and durability. Recently I had the opportunity to review Waterfield’s Cozmo 2.0 laptop leather bag. It was a very well made, wonderful laptop bag but a little too spacious for my personal preferences. I recently received the Kanzek Slim Safe Portfolio to review. I discovered that it is a beautiful, high quality, well-made leather portfolio large enough to accommodate a 13″ MacBook Air (according to Kanzek). But surprisingly, the document pockets do not fully accommodate Letter-sized paper (only A4 size). There are a couple of other minor issues that I found that may or may not be overlooked based on your personal preferences, so is it worth the purchase? I’ll let you know what I think then you can determine if it will suit your needs.
- Kanzek Slim Safe Portfolio
- Kanzek phone case (this may be an additional purchase)
- Discount card for your next purchase (this was included in my package, but I cannot say if it will be included in all shipments)
- Dimensions – 34cm Width x 24cm Height x 1.8cm Depth or 13.3″ Width x 9.4″ Height x 0.7″ Depth
- Weight: 0.3 kg
- Version / Colors: Vintage Cognac.
- Leather: Full grain calf leather.
- Pockets and compartments: A pen holder, a phone pocket, a tablet compartment, a business cards holder, two document compartments
Design & Build Quality
The Kanzek Slim Safe Portfolio is made of a soft, supple, Vintage Cognac (color) full-grain calf leather. This leather is relatively thick and flexible (as is the suede-like materials used in the lining of the pockets). It has a velvety feel to it and the nylon thread, the stitching, and other materials give this portfolio a premium feel and look. According to Kanzek, the leather is “chrome tanned” and not tanned with vegetable oil making it “more resistant – both to water and to time.” This also allows the portfolio to develop a unique color in a natural way over time. Additionally, the portfolio is also slim and lightweight. It is made by two master craftsmen in Marrakech, Morocco, and takes about six hours to complete just one according to the Kanzek website. I can say that I am truly impressed with the beauty of their work.
The side of the portfolio shown in the photo above displays their logo (it appears to be a camel’s head) imprinted on the leather.
The portfolio has two premium YKK zippers from the Excella line that enclose the portfolio ensuring that nothing falls out.
The other side of the portfolio is classically simple – just the way I like it! Notice that the leather handle is not attached to the portfolio with metal rings, but rather is held in place with strips of leather that are sewn into the body of the portfolio. This allows the handle to sit flush against the spine of the portfolio when not in use and allows the portfolio to lay flat when opened. I cannot say if this design will be durable over the years, but it is different and something that I find unique, very attractive, and functional.
The interior front portion of the portfolio (the left side of the above photo) has a large document pocket, key ring holder, a pen/pencil/thumb drive/lipstick holder, phone pocket, and seven card slots to accommodate any business cards or credit cards you may want to carry with you.
The key ring holder is attached to the portfolio with a snap to allow you to keep your keys in the portfolio or to take them out when needed. The left and right ends of the pen/thumb drive/lipstick holder also have snaps as does the phone case to hold your phone inside the pocket to keep it from sliding out.
The large document pocket on the front portion of the portfolio is lined with a soft, tan colored suede-like material.
There is a center section to this portfolio as well. The right side of the photo above shows the front of the center section with the Kanzek logo stitched into it. There are no pockets on this side.
Flipping the center section over reveals a half pocket on the back of the center section which is lined with tan colored suede-like material, as shown on the left side of the above photo. This pocket will accommodate a large tablet, a small tablet, or magazine. On the right side of the above photo, is the small laptop/full-sized tablet pocket. This pocket is lined on both sides with the same soft suede-like material. It is important to note that there is no padding in any of the pockets so it is advisable to have some protective case for your tablet when placing it in this portfolio.
The Kanzek Slim Safe Portfolio that I received for review also came with a large phone case that is made of the same high-quality full grain calf leather and quality stitching and is lined with the same tan colored suede-like material.
The Kanzek Slim Safe Portfolio is a fantastic product with a few relatively minor issues. When using it, I filled the front portion of the portfolio with the following items: a yellow pad of paper, two Uniball pens and a Sharpie, a Nexus 6 phone, and seven of my credit cards and business cards. It was then that I noticed that placing documents into the large document pocket was a little difficult for two reasons. First, the papers do not slide into the pocket because of the snug fit and the friction caused by the suede-like material. But once the papers were in place, they did not shift or slip out. And second, when trying to insert Letter sized (US ANSI A) papers into the document pocket, they did not completely fit down inside this area leaving about one inch of space in the lower or bottom portion. This is illustrated by viewing the visible portion of the yellow pad of paper sticking out of the pocket along the right side (closest to the spine of the portfolio). The pad of paper sits on top of the one inch of vertical stitching located at the bottom right side of this pocket (as shown on the left side of the above photo). Also, notice how the pad of paper sticks up at the top of the portfolio, but this does not prevent the portfolio from being zipped closed. Because the Letter sized papers did not fall out of the document pocket (a benefit of having suede-like lining material) and because I was able to easily zip the portfolio closed, I found that these issues were relatively minor for me and did not detract from the overall function of the portfolio.
A4 sized paper, however, fits in the large document pocket fine. It did take a little bit of effort to get them to fit completely down inside the pocket too because of the snug fit and the friction of the suede-like lining. Yet, once inside the pocket, the papers did not slip out. I also noticed that if I used the pen holder to hold three pens, they hindered access to my phone when it was in the phone pocket. However, if I carried only one pen in the far left area and used the other sections to hold smaller items like thumb drives, my phone was easily accessible. The last issue that I discovered was that I was unable to snap my Nexus 6 phone into the phone pocket because the phone strap was too short. However, I did not find that it was necessary to snap it in place because the snug fit prevented my phone from slipping out of the pocket.
Flipping the center section over reveals a half pocket on the back of this section (shown on the left side of the above photo). The primary purpose of this pocket is to accommodate tablets, e-readers, or magazines rather than documents. This pocket does successfully hold an iPad with an OtterBox case; however, I found that I liked using this pocket as a document pocket. So, it should come as no surprise that when trying to slide a pad of paper into this pocket I had the same issue as with the front document pocket as illustrated in the photo above.
The small laptop/full sized tablet compartment (shown on the right side of the above photo) easily accommodates an iPad with an OtterBox case.
As with the front document pocket, the center section pocket does fit A4 sized paper but again it does not slide easily into it because of the lining material.
I contacted Kanzek to ask them if the portfolio needed any special care and to comment about the issues I found. Mr. Othmane Sghir, co-founder of Kanzek, promptly answered me via email stating the following:
To take better care of it, you can use a waterproofing solution and a protector cream or gel treatment which you could get for anywhere between $5 to $15 on Amazon. I would recommend the Collonil gel for that:
Those treatments are good picks you can use for all your leather goods.
He also addressed my comments about the issues that I discovered while using their portfolio:
- Large pockets size:
The two pockets on the back side are geared towards storing your tablet / Kindle and a magazine, I believe A4 papers fit while US ANSI A might hardly do so. However, the half-open pocket / storing compartment on the front side can store both A4 and ANSI A papers.
- Phone pocket:
With the rise of bigger-sized smartphones notably the iPhone 6+, you are absolutely right regarding the phone pocket -especially the strap- than should be extended. Not most people have phones of that size, but you are right in saying that we probably should adopt a bigger-sized pocket. Thanks a lot for pointing this out -especially the strap length, we’ll definitely adopt this change when renewing our inventory.
- Pen/lipstick/usb holder:
We designed it in a way that would allow to have the possibility to arrange 3 items on it. While the very left part can store a pen without having the phone pocket interfering with it, you are right about the two other parts not giving this possibility. Thanks again for pointing this out. Although the two other parts can store other smaller items, your suggestion of moving it above the cardholder is a better way to go!
Not only was Mr. Sghir prompt (he responded within a couple of hours), he was also very receptive to my comments to the point of potentially altering the portfolio in the future to improve its functionality. This kind of responsiveness thoroughly impressed me and thus, I will be looking forward to any improvements that they make on this portfolio. This kind of customer service is rare today which is unfortunate because good customer service goes a very long way in maintaining your customer base. Kudos to Kanzek!
The large leather phone case is also very nice and accommodates my Nexus 6 phone as long as there is no other case on my phone. The slot in the bottom allows you to push your phone out when you need it, however since this case is also lined with suede-like material, it was a little difficult extracting my phone. Yet, I imagine that over time, the case will loosen up making this process easier in the future.
I found the Kanzek Slim Safe Portfolio to be a classy, slim, lightweight portfolio that is very well made with very high-quality materials. I spent several hours online looking for other zippered leather portfolios that contain all that the Kanzek portfolio has (a place for my pens/pencils, phone, tablet, small laptop, documents, and business/credit cards). None of them had all these pockets and those that came close were more expensive and not nearly as appealing to me as the Kanzek portfolio. Even though the large document pocket did not fully accommodate Letter sized paper, the portfolio was long enough to contain the papers allowing me to zip the portfolio closed. If I carried only one pen and used the other pen holder areas to carry thumb drives, this cleared the space above my phone so that I could easily assess it. And over time, I suspect that the portfolio’s documents pockets may loosen up and allow me to more easily slide my documents into place. If Kanzek made the document pockets slightly wider, moved the pen holder to sit above the card holder, and made the phone strap longer, this would be the perfect portfolio for me. Even so, I found that I liked it so much that I was willing to overlook these relatively minor issues and continue using the portfolio.
Source: The sample used in this review was provided by Kanzek. Please visit their website for more information or to purchase one.