- Buyer's Guide
The Hopper | WILL Leather Goods
The Hopper | WILL Leather Goods
Here at Carryology, we appreciate all kinds of bags. Lately we have been covering more tactical or military type bags. Lots of straps, compartments and ballistic nylon. But what do you do when you are attending a conference, or you work in an environment where PALS loops on your bag looks out of place? On occasion I am faced with that scenario and was glad when WILL Leather offered up a Hopper for review.
Inspired by his work as an actor in Hollywood during the 80’s and a nostalgia for the golden era of cinema, Bill Alder started WILL Leather Goods 30 years ago. Currently based in Eugene, Oregon, the company has a diverse portfolio of leather accessories for men and women and even has the contract to produce the leather goods for Nike, another Oregon native.
The Hopper, named after the actor, is a classy looking messenger bag that does not look out of place on the shoulder of a young professional. The one that we got to play with is a subtle tobacco color and is accented with bridle leather. The washed cotton canvas bag measures 16.25” across, 13” high, and 3.5” deep. I consider it on the larger side of small, or a small medium. In other words, right between, and for messenger bags of this purpose, I think that’s an ideal size.
Use of leather: I really dig how and where Adler incorporated leather into the bag. For example, the portion of the padded shoulder pad that touches your body is a large piece of textured leather. It is supple and spreads the load, and the grain is slightly textured to prevent slippage. All the edges have thin leather accents which not only looks great but serves to prevent fraying of edges. The bottom left and right corners have large pieces of leather for added strength for heavy loads as well as extra security for the part of the bag that meets the floor.
Secured by metal: I really dig that nearly every attachment point, where one material meets another, the point is secured by zinc alloy hardware. [Note: I was told brass would have added too much weight.] Whether it’s the simple rivet points, of which there is over a dozen, or the rings connecting the shoulder strap to the bag, I think they add a muted luxuriousness to the bag.
Interior design: In a surprising contrast to the conservative exterior, the insides are lined with a fun plaid fabric. They also included a removable, padded, laptop sleeve with a leather strap enclosure that rivals any third-party one I have seen. Speaking of the interior, there are pockets galore here for you to enjoy. There’s an open front slot area, that runs the width of the bag. This is perfect for flat items you need to reach quickly, such as documents or a Kindle or iPad. It is quite spacious however, able to accommodate thick widths, so if you are planning on carrying thing items like a few sheets of paper, I would recommend putting them in a manila envelope or some sort of rigid document holder. In the rear of the interior, there are wide deep slots perfect for a business card holder or digital camera and a single pen slot. Also, a zippered slot that runs about 9 inches across. I keep my checkbook in there but it’s quite large and could hold a lot more.
No carry handle: I must sound like a broken record by now but I really don’t like it when bags don’t have a top carry strap. It just makes it so awkward when you’re putting the bag on or off. I suppose in this case, it would throw off the aesthetics a bit, but still!
Flap gape: Bike messenger bags are some of the only satchels that have worked out how to gusset the flap so you don’t get ‘Prince Charles ears’ into the main section. The Hopper suffers this flap gape a little (we’ve seen much worse), which slightly limits your performance when rain or dust storms sneak up on you.
Best suited to
Business professionals: Although, I think someone who works in a very stuffy environment or is in a high position (e.g. CEO), would want something perhaps a bit more elegant, the Hopper is perfect for almost everyone else. The only looks it’d draw are those of admiration and remember, it’s better to be overdressed than under.
Not suited to
Commuters: This bag was not designed for the commuter (read: cyclist) in mind. There is no belt strap, hydration support, and wears better as an on-the-shoulder bag than an across-the-chest one, in my opinion.
The WILL Leather Hopper messenger is a refreshing change in the world of the standard (bike) messenger bags I’m used to using and reviewing. It’s a classy affair with a nice mix of cotton canvas and vegetable tanned leather and while looks reserved in it’s presentation, actually packs some well thought out features in execution. The finger bridge snaps solves a niggle I’ve long had with that type of closure. The interior has just the right amount of organizational help and the removable laptop sleeve seems more an equal with the bag rather than an afterthought. The price point is up there, but not a far stretch for a bag of this caliber, in this market. For a young professional rising the ranks or looking to transition out of the jeans and flip-flop look, I think this bag would be ideal.