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A se­lec­tion of the best by lo­cal ar­ti­sans


R2 990,

This slim­line bag is equally suited to car­ry­ing a lap­top for meet­ings in the city or for short ad­ven­tures in the out­doors. It has thick pad­ding (ideal for pro­tect­ing elec­tron­ics), two ex­te­rior zip pock­ets and two com­part­ments on the in­side. The leather is re­fined and feels smooth, while the un­der­side of the straps is made from seat-belt ma­te­rial for added strength and dura­bil­ity. It’s clear the de­sign­ers take pride in the de­tails (the zips are cus­tom made) and have cre­ated a bag that strikes a good bal­ance be­tween style and func­tion­al­ity. It comes in char­coal grey, black, tan, choco­late brown and tof­fee.


R1 900, row­dy­bags.com

This ruck­sack makes you feel ready for a Tom Sawyer-style ad­ven­ture: chuck in a few ap­ples, some fish­ing tackle, a har­mon­ica and off you go. The main com­part­ment has a small, in­side pouch and is closed by a draw­string and flap with a sin­gle strap. There’s also a zip pocket on the back for valu­ables. My clumsy fin­gers found the front pouch with its two straps a lit­tle te­dious to get into, but you would prob­a­bly get used to it. I liked the raw look of this worn brown ver­sion (pic­tured), with its nat­u­ral im­per­fec­tions, but it also comes in matte black, rich wax brown, blonde and sa­hara.


R2 495, mally.co.za De­signed with par­ents in mind (no sur­prise it’s wa­ter-re­sis­tant), this back­pack can also be used as a lap­top or cam­era bag. For those who love a well-or­gan­ised tote, the num­ber of com­part­ments are the main at­trac­tion. There are five in­side pouches, two zip pock­ets, two outer bot­tle hold­ers, a dummy and car-key clip, plus an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble big pouch on the out­side. Con­cep­tu­alised in the Klein-Karoo, the bags are pro­duced in Cape Town by in-house leather crafters, and gives em­ploy­ment to un­der­priv­i­leged women. The back­pack comes in brown (pic­tured), tof­fee or black.


R2 795,

A hand­crafted back­pack with some lovely touches: the brass buck­les have hid­den mag­ne­tised clips that save the has­sle of fas­ten­ing the straps; the padded base

pro­vides ex­tra pro­tec­tion; and the branded lin­ing and brass riv­ets give it a classy look. There are two side pock­ets, an in­side zip pocket, a large zip pocket on the back (ideal for a tablet) and a pouch on the front – also with a mag­ne­tised clip

that looks like a strap. A nice fea­ture is that you can per­son­alise the bag, on the top flap just be­low the FOM logo. The Bobby comes in three shades of brown: tof­fee, tim­ber-land and pe­can (pic­tured), and in a smaller ‘Baby Bobby’ ver­sion.


R2 750, antelo.co.za

An el­e­gant duf­fel bag that keeps its shape nicely and smells like my mom’s shoe cup­board (a good thing!). There’s a zip pocket on the side for small items and an­other one on the in­side. You can carry it us­ing ei­ther the sturdy han­dles or the ad­justable sling strap. The bag is made from full analine bovine leather, which is a type of dyed leather that re­tains the hide’s nat­u­ral sur­face. That’s how it has the green hue (called ‘olive’) and also the look of leather. Other colour op­tions are tan, brown and Mo­roc­can choco­late.


R2 988, thandana.co.za

This beau­ti­ful bag, made in Zu­l­u­land, has slightly dif­fer­ent di­men­sions to the other duf­fels I looked at – it’s not as long but has more height. The padded in­ner lin­ing is made with the San-in­spired Thandana logo fabric and has one zip pocket. The straps are con­nected by gun­metal loops, which seem like they could last for­ever. All of Thandana’s prod­ucts are eco-friendly and treated with a wax-based, wa­ter-re­sis­tant coat­ing that elim­i­nates the use of plas­tic. The bag comes in hazel­nut (pic­tured), to­bacco, black and grey.


R2 999, chapel­go­ods.co.za

This is the bag you’d use if you were a stylish squash player from the 80s. It has one large com­part­ment with a hang­ing pouch on the in­side, as well as two zip pock­ets on ei­ther end of the bag. There’s no lin­ing so the in­side is the in­ner suede of the leather, which gives it a rugged look. I think that’s what Chapel was go­ing for be­cause the com­pany says it was ‘de­signed for the city, in­spired by the bush’. The guar­an­tee in­cludes re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing any­thing that breaks at no cost. It’s only avail­able in this shade of brown.


R2 950, fsp­col­lec­tion.com

As the name sug­gests, this smaller duf­fel is bet­ter suited to a one-night stay than a long week­end. It’s a sim­ple de­sign, with a zip pocket on the in­side and sturdy han­dles. The shoul­der strap is my favourite fea­ture as it can be ad­justed like a belt, and looks like one too. FSP (Fash­ion Sen­si­tive Planet), one of a hand­ful of leather com­pa­nies based in Wood­stock, Cape Town, sources hides with the least num­ber of nat­u­ral de­fects to en­sure the leather is of the high­est qual­ity and has a clean look. It only comes in the colour shown.

Wine and cheese aren’t the only things that get bet­ter with age. So do leather bags. Gear Ed­i­tor MATTHEW STERNE found eight lo­cally crafted ones for un­der R3 000, that all meet air­line carry-on specs

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