Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing a duffel and a backpack from local brand Arden Teal.
Arden Teal is more known for their shoes – I’ve reviewed them here, here and here – but the brand recently introduced their own line of work bags, crafted from the same leather that is found on their shoes. They sent me their Sevilla backpack and Bogota duffel to review – let’s see if the bags are any good!
Arden Teal – the Brand
I’ve previously covered the brand story of Arden Teal in my first review of their shoes. For those interested in learning more about Arden Teal, do check out that article here.
Arden Teal Sevilla Backpack – Review
Backpacks are slowly gaining in popularity amongst the working crowd, for one chief reason – they are convenient. As compared to the usual briefcase, backpacks are more versatile (you can wear one to work, but also out on weekends), and easier to carry especially when one has weighty items inside.
Like their shoes, Arden Teal’s bags are crafted from Argentinean full-grain leather. For those who are uninitiated about leather, leather comes in three general grades – genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, in ascending order of quality. With natural full-grain leather, the suppleness is obvious, especially when compared to the standard “genuine leather” offerings. In addition, full-grain leather patinas pleasantly over time, developing a nice, vintage aged look. In contrast, lower quality leather cracks/peels off after prolonged usage, especially those of the “genuine leather” quality. As such, I’ll always advise readers to look out for either top-grain or better yet, full-grain leather in all their leather products, such as in this case with the Arden Teal Sevilla backpack.
Even the straps are made out of the same full-grain leather, so they will patina evenly alongside the backpack. The back of the bag is fitted with breathable mesh padding, ensuring that it doesn’t get too hot even in Singapore’s tropical climate.
Moving on to the hardware of the bag, I found the zips to be decent. I’ve had no troubles opening/closing the compartments of the backpack, though I still would have perhaps preferred “branded” YKK zippers here – just as an assurance of quality and durability, as the zips of a bag are often the first area to spoil.
The Sevilla backpack comes with two main compartments, including a smaller front zippered compartment. It’s big enough to fit an Ipad, and other smaller items. I personally found myself using it to store some of my tech accessories, such as my portable charger, earphones, mouse, etc.
On the inside, the main compartment features an internal zippered compartment and two internal pockets. I found myself using the internal zippered compartment to store some of my smaller items – keys, hand sanitiser, packet tissue, etc. If I’m being honest, I seldom found the need for the additional two internal pockets, but I definitely appreciated the option for having more storage capacity, which I can see coming in handy especially whilst travelling (though not much of that is going on at the moment).
Most importantly, there’s a padded laptop compartment, which can fit the usual 15-inch laptop with no issues. A laptop compartment is an absolute necessity for a work bag, and I’m glad Arden Teal decided to include one here.
Overall, the Arden Teal Sevilla backpack is a well-crafted product. It’s made from full-grain leather that will patina nicely over time, has multiple practical compartments, and has a design that – while not exactly eye-catching – is sufficiently formal for work, yet casual enough for a trip to the cafe as well. However, the strongest aspect of the Sevilla backpack is perhaps its price. At $224 (after promo code below) the Arden Teal Sevilla backpack is one of the most affordable full-grain leather backpacks one can find. For comparison, a canvas backpack from Gnome & Bow costs more than the leather Sevilla backpack. If you’re looking for a full-grain leather backpack, the Sevilla backpack will fit the bill nicely without breaking the bank.
Arden Teal Bogata Duffel – Review
Next, let’s take a look at Arden Teal’s line of duffel bags.
Like the Sevilla backpack, the Bogata duffel is made from full-grain Argentinean leather, quality leather that will patina nicely over time – though the patina effect will be less obvious on this black colourway. If you’re not a fan of the leather patina effect, go for a black bag.
On a duffel bag, the handles are often the first area to spoil as that’s where the most stress is. As such, I’m pleased to see that the handles on the Bogota duffel are attached to loops – increasing its durability – instead of being stitched on as one might find on more affordable bags.
Like the Sevilla backpack, the Bogota duffel uses generic zippers – I would have liked to see brand name zips used, especially at this price point.
There’s also a leather name tag holder included, which is handy to have especially if you’re planning on bringing the Bogota duffel for a quick trip overseas.
The Bogota duffel has a pretty spacious interior, and I found its storage capacity to be more than adequate. You should have no problems fitting clothes, books, documents, and other items in the duffel, though there is a conspicuous lack of a laptop compartment. However, there are three interior pockets that allow you to compartmentalize your things, which I used to store my smaller items such as my power bank, hand sanitiser, etc. Most notably, there’s also a shoe compartment on the side, which I found very handy. I found myself bringing the Bogota duffel along when I play tennis, and storing my tennis shoes in the shoe compartment at the side. I can imagine it being a useful feature to have as well on overseas trips, especially business ones where you might need to bring an additional pair of dress shoes along.
As the Bogota duffel can get quite heavy – especially if you intend on maxing out its storage capacity – I found the shoulder sling to be a godsend.
All in all, the Bogota duffel is a strong value proposition. It’s definitely a practical bag, one that can be brought to the office during the day but also to the gym after work. It’s a viable choice for a staycation or a quick weekend trip to Bali too. Stylistically, the Bogota duffel is once again classic in its looks. The strongest plus point for the Bogota duffel is arguably its price point. Despite requiring more leather to make, the Bogota duffel has an affordable price of just $224, which makes it the cheapest full-grain leather duffel bag in the local market – at least to my knowledge. If you’re looking for a no-frills, pragmatic leather duffel that will last long, the Bogota duffel should be a definite consideration.
Conclusion – so Arden Teal bags “shiok” or not?
I would say so. Both the Sevilla backpack and the Bogota duffel are well-made, practical, and stylistically versatile enough for both work and play. The strongest asset of the bags though are their prices. At $224 (after the promo code below), both bags are amongst the most affordable full-grain leather backpacks/duffels that one can get in the local market. Though not the most design-forward bags out there, Arden Teal offers great no-frills leather bags that should last you a long time.
For those interested in purchasing, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK25” for 25% off all bags from Arden Teal. After the discount, Arden Teal’s leather bags cost a mere $224, which makes them great bang-for-buck. The promo code is only active until the end of April, so do keep that deadline in mind if you’re intending on buying one.
In addition, you can still use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all other items from Arden Teal’s web-store, such as their dress shoes – I highly recommend their blake-stitched collection – and other accessories.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.