Don’t Bother: An Insider’s Guide to Buying A Leather Backpack


July 2, 2012 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Leather Backpack


Were it the still the early twentieth century and materials like nylon and sailcloth were not readily available, most would probably tell you to run out to your local outdoor sporting goods store and pick up a leather backpack for all of your camping, hiking, and hunting needs.  However, it is not, in fact, the twentieth century, but the twenty first.  And as it is the twenty first century, you will want to be aware of the problems that may arise from purchasing a leather backpack.

First of all, most reputable sporting goods companies have all but stopped making a leather backpack specifically for camping and other outdoors events.  You may be wondering why this is.  Leather is a fairly volatile material, and, when it is not reinforced, it can be a little unpredictable when it accidentally slides down a rocky mountainside.  Also, real leather tends to shrink in the rain.  No just imagine you are hiking along, and you get caught in a rain or snow storm.  Now imagine that you feel as though your entire upper body is getting tighter and tighter.  No, you aren’t having a heart attack, your leather backpack is just shrinking because of all of the moisture it is absorbing.

And speaking of moisture: leather doesn’t hold up very well in rain and snow.  Just think of your most expensive pair of dress shoes.  Do you want to wear them out in a monsoon?  No.  You’d rather wear your nylon running shoes and change when you get to the office where it is dry.  The same theory holds true for a leather backpack, except out in the wilderness, there’s really no where dry and certainly no place to discard your wet backpack.

Many have been soaked all the way through their clothes before (and possibly, you have been too).  And in situations like that, the only thing you can really look forward to is putting on dry clothes.  Well, if you have a leather backpack that has absorbed every drop of moisture in a 3 mile radius, the chances of your finding dry underwear in your pack is significantly less than it would be had you purchased a nylon or other backpack made of waterproof material.  And to be completely honest, no one wants to smell like wet cow leather.

Let’s face the facts: if you buy a regular leather backpack the way manufacturers are making them now – as purses or school book bags – you will end up hating yourself for it.  It’s true that for urban activities a leather backpack is a great item to have.  But when you’re wandering off into the wilderness for a few days, the best advice would be to buy a newer style of backpack, something made of nylon and plastic.  It’s cheaper, sturdier, and much more reliable.