I have been meaning to do this for a while now but for some reason, it keeps slipping my mind.
Before I left for Scotland, I decided to invest in a bag (or two!) that would be able to hold up against the wet and stormy weather of Scotland and the possible amount of books and miscellaneous crap that most girls carry around. I stumbled upon Saddleback Leather and immediately fell in with the bags, the story of the company, and its customer and product policies. Every bag comes with a 100 year warranty! I finally saved up enough to make my first purchase, a large tobacco brown satchel and so far, it has held up pretty well! I use it as a carry-all bag and took it with me on a weekend trip to Inverness. It was able to hold my wallet, my camera (it’s a small portable one), a change of clothes, a pair of pajyamas, my organizer, and a few pens and miscellaneous stuff I picked up along the way. And despite being hit by rain, mist, sun, and my own neglect, all within 48 hrs, it still looks amazing.
But, the main thing I wanted to address was the conditioning of the bag. Because it is full grain leather, it can withstand a beating but I didn’t want to risk it too much because I know that it will be in the rain quite a lot and the tobacco brown colour does show rain and water splashes more than its other dyed counterparts. So, here’s my experiment on conditioning the bag.
I have read that others have used Kiwi mink oil for boots with pretty good results but I was hesitant to try it because I personally thought it might ruin the nature of the leather. On one of my trips down to Seattle, I managed to find a conditioner made by Frye, the shoe company. I thought it would be a good candidate to try since it is used primarily on boots that are made of a similar calibre of leather.
I was pretty impressed when I opened it. While it looks more yellow in the picture, it’s actually a more milk clear whitish colour. Even more impressive is that there’s no distinguishable smell. I used an old black t-shirt (hence what looked like black pieces of lint in the conditioner pot) to rub the conditioner in. So here are the results of my experiment:
All in all, I am pretty happy with this conditioner. I didn’t want to darken the bag drastically. I personally find the tobacco brown colour has its own unique character and to hide that would ruin it. And while after the initial conditioning, it looks darker, after a few days, it did lighten a bit and looked more like its original colour the first time I received it. There wasn’t a huge difference in colour and I am exceedingly happy with the results. Now, apart from the normal scratches from wear and tear, it’s still that same beautiful tobacco colour!
I also have a medium chestut satchel from Saddleback Leather but I have yet to conditioner it because it hasn’t shown much signs of needing it yet!
I hope that helps with anybody who’s looking around at conditioning their leather. Just be careful that you know what type of leather it is. There are quite a few good sites out there that explains the different types of leather and the ways to go about conditioning it or to help develop a nice patina. I don’t claim to be a leather expert so here’s a couple of sites that really helped me out:
Saddleback Leather: Leather 101 : Saddleback Leather’s own page about the different types of leather
LeatherHelp : Really good resource where he talks about different types of leather in different uses and how to care for them
Anyways, since I’m in Scotland and all, here’s a picture of the bag, post conditioning and a bit beat up from my weekend trip to Inverness.
Note: Because there’s been some issues that has come up from other sites but this is a non-endorsed post and is based on my personal opinion. I’m in no way affiliated with Saddleback Leather or Frye. If I was, I wouldn’t be in Scotland trying to finish my Masters so that I can get a “real” job.