A good leather weekender is an easy thing to come by, actually. Finding one that is of good quality and doesn’t cost more than $500 is quite hard. And frankly, there aren’t many options. More often than not, ones that I have seen of leather that are for less than $500 are often of sub-par quality leather; which just won’t work for me. Fortunately, there are a few options. One of which, Benchmark Bags, approached me a number of months ago asking me to review their bags. I obliged. Benchmark Bags was started after its founder’s fruitless search to find a good leather briefcase for less than $500. Since he couldn’t find something up to his standards, he started his own brand and thus Benchmark Bags was born.
Malcolm Conley, the aforementioned mentioned gentleman behind Benchmark Bags was nice enough to send me one of their Weekender bags in Chestnut to review. The Tobacco is also a nice shade of brown, however, the Chesnut for one reason or another drew me to it more.
Benchmark Bags uses full grain leather for its leather goods. The leather has a nice supple feel to it as well as a rather smooth appearance. It is not the type of leather that I expect to deteriorate quickly with wear. On the formality scale, it is a more formal leather because of the smooth and unworn look. Although I’ve paired it with a casual look in these photos, it also works well with a suit.
The design of the bag is not groundbreaking or revolutionary (I probably wouldn’t be reviewing it if it was, we all know I like more classic looks), it is more classic. Overall the bag is well proportioned and if anything comes in on the lighter looking side of things. Which may or may not be the look you are going for. The bag provides enough room to fit a couple changes of clothes and a spare pair of shoes, making it adequate to get you through a weekend or an overnight trip.
Although the quality and design of the Weekender are both solid, the primary critique I have of the bag is the hardware. It is not poor quality hardware, I just do not like the finish on the hardware. It has a clear coat over the metal, perhaps it is enamel. I personally, prefer just straight metal for hardware. What you prefer is obviously up to you. But either way, this isn’t something to cause one to not buy the bag. It would also be nice if Benchmark offered a fuller line of bags and accessories. They only have the Weekender and Briefcase, which also looks nice. Perhaps a dopp kit or portfolio could be a nice addition.
Unfortunately, I have not had a many opportunities to use this bag as I would like, but so far it has held up well and I expect it to continue to do so. Overall, I think Benchmark Bags’ Weekender is a solid entry to the sub $500 leather duffel bag category, at $370 it is even in the more rare sub $400 category. Either way, a needed addition to the market. An addition certainly worthy of consideration if you are in the market for a leather bag and don’t want to have to sell one of your kidneys to be able to afford it.
Note: studio photos by Justin Jeffers, outdoor photocredit to Lexy Pierce.