The days pass while living abroad as they do back home. Some people go through ordinary days in strange ways and I marvel at the strange days I go through in ordinary ways. The exotic and even the frightening quickly become everyday and you feel almost at home until something reminds you of what you left behind. It is almost always a small thing that triggers the nostalgia, the one mysterious bag of Tostitos in a Mumbai grocery store, the sound of Hank Williams playing on a tinny Russian car speaker in the Carpathian Mountains, or the sympathetic Texan voices of the folks at Saddleback Leather Company.
It’s always a little strange calling the U.S. from India. The 9 ½ hour difference means you are usually talking to someone beginning their day as you are finishing yours. I had a few questions about some of Saddleback’s products. I decided to call in my order and I’m glad I did because the staff there was friendly, helpful, and it was good to hear those Texas accents at a point when I was feeling pretty low here in South Asia.
I ended up ordering heavy leather passport cases for my family, and eyeglass case, and one of their “Indiana” shoulder bags. I have long wanted a general purpose shoulder bag for days when I don’t want to carry any more complicated kit than a small camera, notebook, and maybe a paperback or e-reader. The “Indiana” bag might be named for the State between Ohio and Illinois or it might be named for the most famous archeologist who never was (and therefore after a dog) but if you choose this as your shoulder bag then you will have… chosen wisely…
Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr. needed some key gear that didn’t fit into the pockets of his twill pants and leather jacket. He carried a British Mark VII gas mask case (which is actually a slight anachronism as the Mark VII case dates to the 1940s and Dr. Jones’ most famous adventures take place in the 1930s). The Saddleback “Indiana” bag may or may not take its inspiration from a British gas mask holder but it improves on such a thing in every regard. This is a bag purpose-built to hold your EDC gear and not a gas mask. If your EDC gear includes a gas mask then most likely you have other issues and a lot more gear.
This bag truly lives up to Saddleback’s motto, “They’ll Fight Over It When You’re Dead.” It is made of extraordinarily heavy waxed, dark olive green canvas and dark brown leather. The strap is the same heavy canvas and leather with steel hard-wear. The entire back of the bag is a slab of saddle-grade leather affixed with copper rivets and open at the top to provide a handy place for an easily accessed notebook (a must for any bag I own). The bag opens to reveal a pen sleeve right under the top flap and a simple, slim, divided space to separate small items while keeping the inside open for maximum storage.
My wife likes to point out that I own more “purses” (camera bags, thank-you) than she does but when she saw the Indiana bag she immediately asked if it came in a slightly smaller size. It comes both smaller and larger, imaginatively named the “Small Gear,” and “Large Gear,” bag. I ordered her one and she carries it nearly every day. Similar versions to these bags also come in all leather.
The Saddleback “Indiana” bag easily holds my Moleskine journal, pens, and a Fuji X100s with aplomb, leaving plenty of space for a few basic archeology tools (or an iPad). For those of you international men and women of mystery with small kids, well, you can fit an outing’s worth of baby gear in a bag that shows you can change a diaper and punch a Nazi. It is hard to imagine that a bag could be better made than this one and it looks great, getting a coffee at the corner shop, on a casual night out, or robbing a jungle tomb. FP
Order one for your next adventure through their site here.