Saddleback Leather Company Tablet Notepad Holder review

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If you’ve been a reader of The Gadgeteer for any length of time, you’ll know that we love leather covers and cases, and one of the most popular and loved maker of leather cases, bags, and covers is the Saddleback Leather Company. We’ve covered many of their products over the years and I’m happy to say that we have one of their newest products to introduce to you today. It’s the Saddleback Leather Company Tablet Notepad Holder, which combines your favorite digital tablet with your favorite analog supplies. Let’s take a closer look.

What is it?

The Saddleback Leather Company Tablet Notepad Holder is a portfolio style holder that has been designed to hold and protect a 12.9 inch sized iPad Pro tablet along with other accessories like the Apple Pencil, notepads, and more.

Design and features

The Tablet Notepad Holder is made of one large piece of full-grain leather on the outside and is available in 4 colors that include standard Tobacco, Dark Coffee Brown, Chestnut, and Black.

The edges of the leather are sewn with a double row of stitches both to reinforce the seams and to give it a traditional look and feel.

You’ll find no snaps, zippers, or Velcro (ick) being used on this holder. A simple riveted leather tab and loop style fastener keeps the cover securely closed and the only branding you’ll find is the Saddleback Leather logo on the bottom right corner on the outside of the cover.

When you open the cover of the Tablet Notepad Holder, you’ll see a layout of pockets that include 2 pen/pencil slots at the top, a pigskin lining and sleeve for your iPad Pro 12.9, and 3 additional pockets that can hold flat accessories like the iPad keyboard, notepads, and other papers or folders.

I didn’t have a 12.9-inch iPad Pro to test with this holder, but I was happy to find out that my 12-inch MacBook fits in the tablet sleeve perfectly.

The tablet sleeve is about 11.75 x 8.75 inches so it can fit a variety of laptops and tablets.

That little squiggle stamp in the lower right corner of the sleeve is Saddleback Leather Co. founder Dave Munson’s dog Blue wearing a sombrero. You can read all about Dave and Blue’s adventures south of the border here.

With the Tablet Notepad Holder loaded up with gear and the cover secured in place, the holder is not bad as far as bulk. Granted, a full-grain leather case like the ones made by Saddleback Leather Company is never going to be considered lightweight or slim, but I was surprised by how nicely everything works together with this case.

What I like

  • Plenty of pockets to hold flat items and 2 pen slots
  • Holds the 12.9 inch iPad Pro or small laptop
  • Great craftsmanship
  • 100-year warranty

What needs to be improved

  • Pricey
  • Doesn’t hold a device charger

Final thoughts

Whenever I receive an SB product to review, I know that it will have a rugged design and will be made to last for a century. I also know that bags, cases, and holders made by Saddleback Leather Company are not everyone’s cup of tea in both style and price. But for their loyal followers and collectors, the Tablet Notepad Holder will protect their favorite digital and analog gear while making them feel like they just got off a train in Westworld.

Price: $199.00
Where to buy: Saddleback Leather Company
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Saddleback Leather Company.

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10 thoughts on “Saddleback Leather Company Tablet Notepad Holder review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Michael ODonnell

    I’ve been using the SBL Macbook sleeve for a couple of years now (no longer being sold beyond ebay). It resembles their iPad Pro sleeve but specific to the 12″ MB. As with all the other SBL products, the sleeve fits my MB like a glove. To bad (for me) this one came out after I bought my SBL sleeve.

  3. Long time reader, first time poster 🙂
    How would you compare this notepad holder to the others they offer? I have seen posts online about new leather colors or feels compared with their older leather from Saddleback. What do you think? Is it a different leather quality now or just changes in colors/textures? I don’t even know if these new products are in the new leathers I have read about. What color is the one you reviewed (Chestnut?)? I saw this product when they released the new designs but was hoping for a little more about this compared to previous offerings and what has changed with the products since the last saddleback reviews on the gadgeteer a while ago. These are expensive so I am looking for some reinforcement before buying or going with another brand.

    1. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a Saddleback bag, but it looks and feels the same as what I remember, I can’t give you much more info than that. It’s a quality product, built to last a lifetime.

      I believe that the Tablet Notebook Holder they sent me is Chestnut, but I’m asking them just to make sure. And I’m asking if there are any differences in the leather of these new designs.

      1. I just heard back to Saddleback about their leather:

        Our leather supplier hasn’t changed, but there are often slight variations in the leather color as it can vary some between hides or batches of chrome tanned leather. We’re still using full grain in our four primary colors, although we made a recent change (last year) to a more roughed up version of Dark Coffee Brown.

        Also, to confirm, the holder is in Chestnut.

        1. Hey, James. I’m a contributing writer for the Gadgeteer and a bit of a leather nut. To expound on what Julie said the quality of the actual leather offered by Saddleback has never changed although finishes have changed many times over the years. It is and has always been full grain leather. What has changed over the years is the finishing process or how the leather feels to the touch and whether it has pull up (when the leather gets lighter in color when stretched), a characteristic many people like in darker leathers but it’s a matter of personal preference.
          The black is pretty much unchanged as I understand it but has a lower wax content. Wax makes leather feel slick and more “finished”. Less wax keeps some texture and natural feeling in the leather. The new tobacco is like it was a few years back after many customers asked for the “rough tobacco”. It has a rugged texture and subtle color variations that really add character. The wax content is very low so it has a lot more texture and a less refined, rugged look.
          The dark coffee brown they are making now is unbelievable. It has a lower wax content than before and has the most amazing pull up I have seen offered by SBL. It has a smoother finish than the tobacco but isn’t slick like it was a year ago.
          The chestnut (like in Julie’s review) also has a lower wax content than previous generations and is consistently a very deep chestnut and not really red like other companies. It is beautiful in person. Some like this others don’t but it’s a very rich and subtle chestnut, which is why I imagine you asked what color it was.

          This tablet holder is essentially the same footprint as the medium notepad holder but like Julie said, offers a large pocket for a computer, tablet or letter sized documents. This will not hold legal pads. It has a closure, which is not offered on the notepad holders and offers a second pen loop so you can put your Apple Pencil or a second pen in there if needed. I have this in another color and have enjoyed it even though I don’t yet have a computer that will fit in the slot. Is it bad that I want to buy a new computer so I can carry it in this? ? This notepad holder is for those who want to carry a computer/tablet or needs a lot of space for files. If you don’t need either of those the medium notepad holder would probably be best. I hope this helps! Cheers

          1. Thanks to both of you for the follow up info. That’s just what I needed. Good hearing that the new leather is different than some of the other stuff I read about and how this is different than the other products. I’m pretty new to the high quality leather product market and I only have a couple small items but I think I’ll take a chance! Keep up the good work. I love the reviews!

          2. This is the info we need given the recent and almost constant changes to the Saddleback designs and leather. Thanks Julie and Ryan for the additional information.

  4. I am considering this but saw comments on other boards about previous versions where the leather was too thick on the right side. Essentially, the pages on the notepad would bunch up because the leather flap was so thick the paper would not lay flat. Do you find this to be a problem on this version? Thanks for a thorough review with great pictures.

    1. The leather of this holder is thick like all of Saddleback’s bags and cases, but it depends on the notebook and where you put it in the case. You could put the notebook in the slot made for the iPad and pull it out when you want to use it.

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