The Postal Back-Pack!

I was intrigued by the concept which Sugar Cane has been developing in the past couple of years – “Romance Fiction”.

Turning something that once was common into something that is special today. That is the “Romance” aspect I’m assuming.

Turning something that once was functional into something that is relevant today. That is the “Fiction” aspect.

With that in mind I asked Scott Willis at Don’t Mourn, Organize! to make me an American-style postal mailbag with a twist:

This is the kind of carrier that I imagined Mr. Postal would have used when there were simply too much mail during X-mas time.

It’s still mad of a “natural” coloured leather, it still has copper rivets, it still holds stuff… now it’s just a whole lot bigger and upgraded in every aspect!

A “Romance Fiction” on the classic mailbag 🙂

Of course, there is no “original” postal mailbag.

From the early days of Pony Express until the 1070s when US Post discontinued the use of the traditional leather carriers, there have been dozens if not hundreds of designs.

There were bags, carriers, satchels and pouches.

I needed something bigger though, so why not a back-pack?

This design is closer the 1930s to 40s originals.

Paying homage to the designs of old, copper burr rivets feature heavily, and the “U.S. Mail” semicircular logo has been substituted by an accent patch.

Needless to say, stress points are reinforced, and then reinforced again.

As you can probably tell, Scott put a heap of time & work (& leather) into this thing.

It’s probably the largest custom leather I have commissioned so far – certainly not a bag for a smaller person, as all the leather gives it a good weight!

Just like the mailbag I commissioned a while back, the actual materials involved are significantly upgraded over the oil-tanned leathers that feature on most of the old postal bags.

I know it’s historically inaccurate, but I am more leather enthusiast than reproduction nerd 😛

The front flap, body panels & shoulder pad linings feature a vegetable tanned American buffalo leather from Sante Fe.

Buffalo leather is much stronger than the leathers that were used on the old postal bags, and is quite abrasion resistant.

The dense, naturally ridged grain will age beautifully as the recesses begin to darken and the grain softens & opens up.

It’s a little bit more finished than the rawest buffalo leather I’ve seen, but as a large carry goods leather that’ll get knocked about, I think this is a good thing.

Not all copper rivets are the same!

These are good ones.

The accents, flap lining & bottom panel feature Horween’s natural Chromexcel cattlehide (a re-tanned leather).

People go all crazy over it when it’s on a pair of shoe, though I reckon it’s a fantastic leather for carry goods as well.

It scratches more easily than the buffalo  – much more easily in fact – but due to its re-tanned nature is more easily buffed & restored, not to mention its great water-resistance.

The straps and handle are made from 1st grade vegetable tanned horsehide, also from Horween.

Absolutely beautiful stuff~ the horse markings shines through even in this “natural” state.

It’s tensile strength is much higher than that of cattlehide, making it a perfect upgrade when it comes to straps.

The horsehide is matched with high quality stainless steel roller buckles which fit tightly and roll smoothly.

A rolled top gives the opening good integrity.

The inside features a pocket compartment with a NOS military snap, and the bottom of the bag is further lined with natural Chromexcel.

The holding volume is huge… just the other day I had 15 kg of cat litter in the pack, and the pack was only half full!

There’s no doubt this is a man-sized back-pack, and certainly properly made to endure heavy weights year after year.


All in all, quite a big undertaking as far as realizing a design from imagination – credit goes to Scott for tweaking the design into something workable.

Too many little details to show in a blog post, and the only way to really experience it is to have it resting on your shoulders.

The Postal Back-Pack will be my new best friend on longer trips away from home, and certainly there’s plenty to explore when it comes to the evolution of the 3 types of leathers featured.

Big props to Scott – a massive job well done!


11 thoughts on “The Postal Back-Pack!

  1. Mike,

    I cried. They are so well made! I am trying to reach Scott for a bag too.

    What was the price point & how long did it take?



    1. Cheers Sig!
      It was a too and from of a couple of months between us… The making of the bag itself maybe took 3 weeks?
      The pricing could vary a bit based on design and leather choice though, so perhaps it’s best if you take this question to Scott.
      Have a good one!

  2. Mike, kudos to you! You can say proudly that someone is wanting my bad badly. and that person is me! hahaha!

  3. incredible man! especially on the buffalo, real hardy looking. gives oomph to the bag. how do you plan on cleaning or maintaining?

    1. Hey Andre! Yeah, the buffalo will be more hardy than most cattlehide skirting given the nature of its grain.
      I guess I’ll be mostly wiping down and brushing the leather from time to time, maybe a conditioner every 6 months or so?
      I’m not exactly sure how this buffalo leather might react just yet…

  4. Beautiful bag. Love the variations in the leather types used, it’s going to age wonderfully.

    I’ve been hunting everywhere for a nice, medium sized leather gladstone or duffle bag, without luck.

    Saddleback is nice, but a bit heavy for my tastes. Tailfeather (I’m in Melbourne too) is a great maker, but doesn’t have anything suitable. Wood & Faulk is an option though.

    Do you know of any other, leather-based, makers that you’d recommend?


    1. Hi Andy! Scott is the only guy I get my medium to large carry goods from at the moment…I’m afraid I don’t have too many recommendations as far as complete custom jobs go.

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