n my search for the ultimate lifetime bag, I came across a new addition to my collection: The ColsenKeane 4313 Minimalistic Satchel in Crazy Horse Leather.
In a world where everything is mass manufactured in some off-shore location by assembly line factory workers, ColsenKeane is truly a throwback in time of old-timer leather craftsmen. Meet Tony Bozeman, one of two leathersmith working at ColsenKeane led by designer and founder Scott Hofert. Tony literally put together my bag start to finish. When an order is placed, these guys pull out a roll of hand selected leather and put blade to hide. The effect is a bag that’s perfectly imperfect, made by someone that loves their craft. This bespoke approach and American made means the bag is spendy. Like any piece of art, I like to factor in the time and materials it takes to make a bag like this and you appreciate the value you get for the price.
I live in the world of digital and analog. My tools are digital, spreadsheets, databases, and computing devices. What ColsenKeane has done with their bags is take a very grungy and beefy piece of leather and craft it into a minimalist, slick, and modern design. Every part is built with a specific purpose and no more. It’s made of one think piece of thick 10oz leather that makes up the front, bottom, back, and flap. Two side pieces are stitched together with heavy duty waxed nylon thread forming the rectangular briefcase-like body. I noticed that it’s double stitched, meaning two thick strands of thread are woven in an overkill fashion. This is not a high fashioned bag, the fit and finish is rough by design. It feels like a cow was slaughter, tanned, and woven together in the back country for the modern day man. It balances out and warms our cold machined aluminum products.
Two belts are woven throughout the satchel making it a part of the bag, not just through loops like most bags. The handle is just a simple strip of leather that’s hooked into the two belts, forming a cohesive structure, not just individual elements.
The leather comes from high end US tanneries and I chose crazy horse. It has waxes that are buffed in. As a result, when you touch the leather, fold it, or scratch it, the colors change and comes to life. Every time I touch the bag, it seems to change. Crazy horse also looks antique out of the box and only gets better with age. I can’t wait to see how this bag changes over the coming months as it breaks in.
The bags come with a variety of options including:
- Front and bag inside organizers made of natural tanned leather that patinas to a beautiful golden brown
- Magazine pocket in the back that holds quick access documents
- Luggage belts that hold the satchel onto your travel roller bags
- Convertible backpack option that allows you to carry the bag like a backpack
- Exterior pocket that gives an additional 1″ of storage
I went with a very simple design, no organizers on the inside and a magazine pocket on the outside. This completely free form space allows me to update my bag as my technology and needs change. For now, it’s a weekend diaper bag when I’m out and about with the baby. It’s also my thinking bag when I need to get away and focus on life.
This bag is the balance of two worlds, modern and old world. The design is modern, yet the materials are old world with copper rivets that will form a beautiful patina. It can carry our technology like laptops and tablets yet balances out all that tech with rugged organic, taking us back to a time where we were more in touch with nature. The minimalist design is offset by the manual process used to create the bag. Edges are raw and hand cut. Copper rivets are hammered by hand. The leather celebrates the imperfections of the hide. In a world where everything is mass produced, this is a product that truly is uniquely you.
Finally, I find that the satchel’s closure design requires extra effort to open and close. In a world where we’re looking for quick release mechanisms, I do find and appreciate a system that requires you to slow down. It’s just a reminder to stop running around all day and take a moment and enjoy the tactile feel of lashing in the belt to the buckle and strapping it down.