In Defense of Leather Backpacks

Why you deserve an upscale vessel for your stuff

leather backpack mobile
The leather backpack, a contemporary's briefcase / Edward Berthelot/GettyImages

In today's ever-evolving work culture that prizes jeans over slacks, the definition of "business casual" is changing. Starched button-downs and three-piece suits have been traded for comfort, and rightfully so. There is no longer a need to overdress for the workplace.

But there is one facet of the modern man's wardrobe worth elevating: The leather backpack, a contemporary's briefcase. 

A structured backpack can go anywhere and not look out of place: European vacations, cycling to the new office, a weekend brunch and a refined dinner. With hands-free capabilities, you can clutch that morning cortado and Slack your intern simultaneously on tomorrow's morning commute. It's the structured boost your closet is craving. Clearly trending, sales of backpacks will skyrocket to around $2 billion annually by 2021, according to this Technavio report.

Demand on these knapsacks is high, expecting the space to hold a laptop, phone, cords and chargers, gym clothes, a notebook, keys, wallet, and any other eccentric objects you may need in a day. Yes, you can save a few bucks by opting for a canvas bag. They're sturdy and will, in fact, hold your belongings. But will they recall the golden age of business attire while blending with current style culture? Probably not. 

So, what gear should adorn your shoulders? The following brands are flourishing. Take a look.


Pronounced "harvest," Haerfest is creating products for visionaries in motion, like you. Tim and Dan Joo founded the New York City-based company in 2011 to celebrate thinkers and doers and their insatiable need for travel. When work is a labor of love, beautiful baggage is born.

This H5 Capsule backpack holds "anything but the kitchen sink." Store your laptop, chargers, planners, water bottle and personal items all in a roomy main compartment, and utilize the inner and outer pockets for the rest. Made of cowhide and polished brass hardware, you can keep this baby for decades.

H5 Capsule Backpack // $645


Fossil's Estate Casual Leather backpack comes with great reviews and a killer price point. Made of 100 percent leather, this steal has four pockets and three pen holders. If you're worried about which of your possessions will fit, check out Fossil's "Compare Size" feature, revealing just how much space your 13'' Macbook Pro would occupy.

The Fossil logo is embossed in the lower right corner, not competing for attention, and the overall aesthetic is rustic but minimal. 

Estate Casual Leather Backpack // $328

This Is Ground

This Is Ground has cracked the code on leather backpacks, delivering the highest quality leather. And did I mention is contains every single pocket you could imagine?

Calling on the manufacturing energy in downtown LA, founder of the accessories brand Mike Macadaan utilizes raw materials and local craftsmen. With other amazing innovations like the cord taco (a taco-shaped cord organizer that will eliminate your tangled headphones once and for all), the brand creates beautiful items that solve your problems. 

Though pricey, the Venture 2 Backpack is the last one you'll ever need. Offered in five leather colors, each more covetable than the last, it contains a laptop sleeve, an eyewear pocket (say goodbye to scratched sunnies), pods for cords, cards and cash slots, writing tools slots, a deep battery pocket, a large catch-all zipper pocket and pockets for small goods.

Venture 2 Backpack // $925 

Frank and Oak

Below competitors' price tags, Frank and Oak's Leather Backpack is a bargain hunter's dream. With the prerequisite laptop sleeve, exterior pocket, and roomy interior this option ticks all the boxes. Its full-grain, veg-tanned leather will only get better with age.

Designed in Canada and launched in 2012, the brand has taken major steps toward sustainability. They are definitely one to watch.

Leather Backpack in Tobacco // $199

Want Les Essentials

Want Les Essentials is one of those brands that—if given the opportunity to replace your entire accessories wardrobe with pieces from their shelves, you'd gladly discard your current line-up. 

The Kastrup Leather Backpack is sleek and sophisticated. The asymmetrical zipper brings flare to an otherwise minimal silhouette. An internal laptop pocket, keychain and zippered privacy pocket make for easy storage. This is hands-free living at its finest. 

Kastrup Leather Backpack // $695

Are you convinced?

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