In the 1970s, luggage maker American Tourister ran a TV commercial in which a gorilla savagely beats up on one of the company’s hard-sided suitcases to show its durability. Such a product may be good protection for the bags you leave to the devices of merciless luggage handlers, but for the valise that you carry personally a little more style is in order. When storing overhead and for short weekend trips, go to the soft sides of a leather bag.
You may even be surprised how hard-wearing a bag with a natural exterior is—especially since leather, just as you do, develops character with age. Small nicks and bruises can be rubbed out and stains cleaned with saddle soap.
Searching for the sublime leather bag can be a bit confusing as the protocol for naming is a bit lax. They’re variously called overnighters, carry-alls and weekenders. One prominent moniker—duffle bag—is even a misnomer. That’s because these bags are neither made from the coarse duffle cloth named for its origin in Duffel, Belgium, nor do they draw closed at one end of a cylinder like the duffle seamen throw over their shoulders. (But, hey, those reptiles on polo shirts that people always call alligators are actually crocodiles, so . . .)
Whatever you call them, you’ll find a range of handsome choices. From Manny Iriarte comes Fuente The OpusX Society bag (shown) that subtly announces your cigar allegiance. (Comes in camel with a plaid lining, $2,038.) Tusting, of the U.K., offers three sizes in three colors, as well as canvas bags with leather trim ($850 to $1,150). The WaterBag from Saddleback offers three colors, including tobacco, and is secured with rivets and three closing straps with metal buckles ($889). The use of cowhide adds to its rugged appearance. Still, don’t let a gorilla handle it.