April 1, 2015

Written by

Chris Gonzales

We write about a lot of products here at Tools & Toys, and thus we write a lot about manufacturing materials. It kinda comes with the territory.

Of all the materials we’ve written about, leather is one we keep returning to time and time again. There’s a reason we as a society are using the same basic materials today that our prehistoric ancestors did — when properly taken care of, the stuff can last a lifetime (or longer!) and only grows more beautiful with time.

So today, we’re celebrating this important and historic material with some of our favorite leather items. Take care of them, and they will likely outlast you.

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The ONA Bowery leather camera bag and insert. ($249)

The ONA Bowery leather camera bag and insert. ($249)

ONA Bowery Leather Camera Bag and Insert »

Our favorite camera bag of all time. It’s small, incredibly handsome, versatile, and has a ton of personality. You can fit an iPad mini in the back sleeve pocket perfectly, and it’ll hold your mirrorless camera plus a few extra accessories. Heck, it’s versatile enough you can use it for carrying just about any of your small daily essentials.

What’s more, it works as either a standalone camera bag or as a bag insert/organizer, wherein the entire thing (sans detachable strap) can be placed inside a larger bag for organizational and protective purposes.

The leather Bowery comes in your choice of antique cognac (pictured above) or dark truffle. Need something a little bigger? Check out ONA’s Prince Street messenger bag.

Tap & Dye's Camera Wrist Strap. ($48-58)

Tap & Dye’s Camera Wrist Strap. ($48-58)

Tap & Dye Camera Wrist Strap »

When our friend Ben Brooks originally reviewed the ONA Bowery above, we were drawn to the photo of his camera because of the beautiful leather wrist strap attached to it. The next day, he put up a short review of that strap, which turned out to be made by a company called Tap & Dye.

This wrist strap is made from full-grain cowhide leather, the underside of which is beveled and sanded for purposes of comfort. They hand-polish and wax every camera strap with essential oils, which gives the leather better durability and longevity.

The Ruck Strap by Hold Fast. ($145)

The Ruck Strap by Hold Fast. ($145)

Hold Fast Ruck Strap »

It’s hard to find a camera shoulder strap that is made entirely from leather and is still comfortable for long-term wear. So, we’re going to cheat a little on this one.

Made in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Ruck Strap is made from duck canvas and leather, and cleverly features a few places to keep small items. The two front pockets allow you to store credit cards, cash, memory cards, and other such things, while the elastic band on the back is perfect for backup camera batteries.

The Ruck Strap's reverse-side battery slot.

The Ruck Strap’s reverse-side battery slot.

The strap itself is wide for comfort, which is especially nice for all-day shoots. Not to mention how ridiculously handsome the thing is. It’s available in five colors: tan (pictured above), navy, black, red, and yellow.

Want something even more eye-catching? Check out the gorgeous Hang Camera Strap from Hard Graft’s “Ocean” collection.

Bell & Oak's Texas Tan Leather Coasters. ($30 for set of 4)

Bell & Oak’s Texas Tan Leather Coasters. ($30 for set of 4)

Texas Tan Leather Coasters »

These sets of four leather coasters by Bell & Oak are handmade in Texas from 10-11oz English bridle leather and measure 4″ in diameter, with edges that are burnished, dyed, and waxed by hand.

But mainly, they’re gorgeous. These are the kind of coasters that will pique guests’ attention rather than sitting there ignored while your nice furniture accumulates condensation rings. They pair nicely with these leather jar sleeves.

Bellroy's Note Sleeve wallet. ($90)

Bellroy’s Note Sleeve wallet. ($90)

Bellroy’s Note Sleeve Wallet »

Most traditional wallets are plain and lifeless. They have the expected layout for your cards and a spot for your cash and receipts.

Our ideal wallet is the type that manages to keep things slim and simple yet still retain some character. With that said, Bellroy’s Note Sleeve is a favorite of ours. The quality is top notch, and it’s full of personality. Highly recommended.

Saddleback Leather's passport wallet. ($70)

Saddleback Leather’s passport wallet. ($70)

Saddleback Leather Passport Wallet »

We’d be remiss to publish an article about leather items and not mention Saddleback Leather. Their products are of the highest quality and craftsmanship, plus they have a philosophy about leather that we can totally get behind. They also make entertaining videos.

Now, about their passport wallet. If you frequently travel internationally and want a wallet that will last you the rest of your life, look no further. It holds up to ten cards, along with cash and boarding passes, and has an RFID-shielded inner sleeve that can hold up to four passports (useful for family trips). Fair warning though: this is a large wallet (4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″), better suited for being in a bag than a front pocket.

Worn & Wound's Model 2 Watch Straps. ($59)

Worn & Wound’s Model 2 Watch Straps. ($59)

Worn & Wound Model 2 Watch Straps »

Introduced less than a year ago, the Model 2 straps by Worn & Wound have already become pretty popular in the watch world, and for good reason. They manage to strike a balance between rugged and elegant, looking just as great on sport watches as they do on dress-casual timepieces.

Each strap is made from premium Horween leather, hand-tied with thick waxed linen thread, and sports stainless steel hardware. They will only look better and better as you wear them, gaining a gorgeous patina and the usual nicks and scuffs along the way. They’re available in 20mm and 22mm widths (both are tapered at the end) and in several colorways, each adding a distinct character to your watch:

Brooks Leather "Challenge" tool bag for cyclists. ($90)

Brooks Leather “Challenge” tool bag for cyclists. ($90)

Brooks Leather “Challenge” Tool Bag for Cyclists »

Simply put, this is a beautiful leather bag that attaches to your bike saddle and keeps your cyclists’ tools handy at all times. The buckles of the attachment straps are located inside the bag, as well as the enclosure strap which wraps around your tools and keeps them from rattling about during your ride. They’ve got a wide variety of colors to choose from, the one pictured above being the “Honey” model.

Hellbrand Leatherworks Field Notes cover. ($45)

Hellbrand Leatherworks Field Notes cover. ($45)

Hellbrand Leatherworks Field Notes Cover »

If you love Field Notes or other such memo books as much as we do, you’ll appreciate having an awesome leather cover for it.

The Hellbrand Leatherworks Field Notes Cover is undoubtedly one of the best covers out there, and considering the size of the market, that’s saying something. The thick leather and durable stitching will both keep your memo books protected and help the cover itself stay in great condition for years to come.

Honorable mention: The DDC Stuff Sheath, which is now available in three colors. Direct link to the sheath here.

Chamberlain's Leather Milk. (Prices vary; individual bottles are ~$20)

Chamberlain’s Leather Milk. (Prices vary; individual bottles are ~$20)

Chamberlain’s Leather Milk »

If you’re going to have all this leather stuff, you should properly care for and maintain the leather’s finish over time. Chamberlain’s Leather Milk is the right tool for the job, and is even what Saddleback Leather recommends for their products.

There are actually five versions of the stuff, each with a different purpose:

  • No. 1 — Conditioner: If you buy only one bottle, make it this one. Almond-scented, good for light surface cleaning and scratches.
  • No. 2 — Cleaner: More of a deeper treatment. Cleans leather quite thoroughly, so only use it occasionally. Should be followed by No.1 or No. 3 to replenish lost oils.
  • No. 3 — Protector: A conditioner with heavier natural oils and waxes to protect the leather from the elements. Doesn’t have any cleaning properties, so we recommend applying No. 2 beforehand.
  • No. 4 — Auto Refreshener: Sort of like No. 1, this one cleans and conditions leather and vinyl inside your car so that it lasts longer despite regular exposure to sunlight.
  • No. 5 — Furniture Treatment: Same idea as No. 1 and No. 4, but designed for—you guessed it—home furniture.

Each individual bottle goes for about $20 on Amazon, though there are numerous combinations and price points to choose from. Whatever your choice, your shipment will conveniently include at least one soft terry cotton applicator pad.