Leather is a unique material. Although it’s fairly common today, you need to think about a few things before you get a leather bag for yourself. Here’s your crash course on 5 important things to understand about leather before you get a leather bag:

1. Leather Quality Matters

You see words like nubuck, top grain, suede, bonded, and full grain leather thrown around all the time, but do they actually matter? Without a doubt, this is the single most important detail about any leather product you’re looking to buy!

Full grain and top grain leather are the absolute best quality leather items. They’re more durable and functional than any other type of leather. Lower quality leathers won’t last as long and may not hold up to a more active lifestyle.

Pay attention to the quality of the leather used, especially if you’re buying a bag you’ll be using on a regular basis, or if you’re buying a travel bag. If you’re going to pay for leather, you may as well buy something that’s built to last.

2. Details are Everything

From the stitching quality to the zippers and clasps, you have to pay close attention to the detailing on a leather bag. Look at how well it’s stitched together, because this plays a huge role in the bag’s durability over the long-term. Poor stitching shows an overall poor build quality and results in a product that’s more likely to fail. Seams shouldn’t come apart from regular carrying and wear.

Hardware on a leather bag is also important. If your clasps, buckles, zippers, and other elements fall off, break, or stop working properly, the whole bag is a lot harder to continue using. If hardware isn’t made from strong metals, your bag won’t be as functional. Look for long-lasting, strong materials like brass.

3. Some Maintenance is Required

Leather is pretty simple to maintain, but you do have to do a few things here and there to keep it in good condition. This is usually as simple as the occasional spot cleaning and full conditioning. You can’t wash leather bags the same way you’d clean other materials, but the cleaning methods are easy to learn, even if you’ve never done it before.

4. Function Over Form

You might love a sleek, pocketless messenger bag, but if you’ve got a lot of small things to carry it may not be a great choice for you. Look at the functionality of a leather bag before you look at its aesthetics, or you may end up with a great-looking bag that you hate using.

Many bags are made for many different purposes. You have travel bags, tote bags, briefcases, duffle bags, backpacks, rucksacks, messenger bags, and more. Decide what you think is the most useful element a bag can have, then look for a bag that meets that need. If you need a wide-open space in a smaller bag, look for a messenger. If you’re in search of a light travel bag, look for a larger tote or a small duffle bag. There’s something for everyone, but you need to think about function first!

5. Handmade is Better

With a handmade bag, more care is taken with every stitch and detail. For the best leather products, look for things that are made by hand the whole way through. Avoid highly processed and machine-built leather products if possible.

Buy with Confidence

When you’re buying from Denali Leather Goods, you can rest assured that you’re buying quality. We help you address all your needs and find the perfect leather bag to suit you, or whoever you’re gifting the bag to. Our handmade, full grain leather bags are top quality at a price you can justify.