- Buyer's Guide
Gear Bags & Duffels
In our world dominated by high tech laminates, welded constructions, and various other modern design philosophies, the enduring appeal of heritage brands stands as a testament to timeless craftsmanship and style. For the modern Carryologist who appreciates the fusion of authenticity, tradition, and contemporary aesthetics, Loyal Stricklin is a name to know.
Michael Stricklin and his team have been creating and designing high-end, heritage goods for over a decade. Getting his start by churning out small leather goods from his college bedroom; he focused on his craft throughout undergraduate and graduate school, and in the end it paid off; Loyal Stricklin went full time with a handful of employees, and besides a few details like a move to Nashville, the rest is history. Today, we’re offered a curated lineup of casual menswear and a killer range of heritage bags.
Each bag in this lineup is handcrafted from a sturdy 10.10oz waxed canvas, sourced in the USA, for the main shell and various pockets. The Martexin wax coating leaves a dry finish that’s incredibly impermeable to the elements, durable, with a soft handfeel, and most importantly, is completely non-hazardous to our environment. With C6 DWR coatings becoming unfavorable, and wax-based C0 DWRs replacing them, the world has come full circle back to where it started.
The detailing and straps are almost entirely full-grain leather; from handles and adjustment straps, to zipper pulls and high-wear bases. The trims and zippers are mostly all lovely antique brass. The UCAN G2 zippers are some of the smoothest around. They won’t slide around on their own, but actuating them is like sliding them through warm butter; it’s such a pleasant experience. To tie things off, large, hammered copper rivets keep everything in place while looking stellar.
The Field Backpack
The Field Backpack is a true heritage-style pack, without much of the baggage of more modern design elements – and that’s a good thing. It was designed from the ground up to be a simple, timeless piece that delivers high on functionality and comfort. The silhouette is classic and flows naturally from the office to the hills; dress it up or dress it down and it’ll weather the perils of the boardroom and the homestead.
The front panel of the bag has plenty of organization for your smaller bits; a surprising amount even. While the top compartment is a simple slip pocket, the lower has several slots and sleeves for pocket tools, writing instruments, and a notebook or e-reader. It has a ton of volume, and the top-down entry gives nice and easy access to all of your gear.
Around the sides are two well-sized bottle pockets with some built in expansion and retention. I had no problem fitting my Snow Peak Aurora bottle, so the slightly larger Nalgenes should fit just fine. More importantly, the bottles didn’t budge when I needed to bend over or scramble. When not in use, they sit pretty flush against the pack so there’s no worry of snags and it keeps the silhouette clean.
This is also where we see our compression straps. They have a good amount of adjustment but I found them wildly more useful for gear retention than I did for compression on a pack this size. A small hatchet or pruning saw, a tripod; these all fit great and the compression straps held them secure. The Fidlock buckles make all of this a breeze, but here is where my only true complaint about the bag comes in – the 17337 straps and branded, plastic Fidlock buckles just aren’t a great aesthetic fit for the rest of the bag or even the rest of the lineup. Imagine watching an engaging, immersive movie – your eyes are fixed on the screen and you’ve transported yourself into its world. During a turning point in the story, you see the hero is attached by a wire (or someone left a Starbucks cup on a table). You know why it’s there, it makes sense, but it breaks you out of that immersion. Long story short, they work great but I can’t help but wish for a solution that was more in line with the vibe of the rest of the pack. YMMV.
The interior is simple yet functional, with a dual tablet/laptop/notebook sleeve on the rear side. It’s roomy, and easily accessible with the generous slightly-more-than-half-zip opening. The buttery smooth G2 zips only make this experience better. The front wall of the main compartment also has some padding / structure to it, to keep the overall shape of the bag and provide some protection between the items in the front pockets and the items in the main compartment.
The straps and backpanel are surprisingly well padded and shaped for such a classic pack. I hauled a ton of gear around in this bag and it was comfortable and breathable the entire time. It’s a sleeper-harness, one that rises well above its station. That’s only made (aesthetically) better by the luxurious 10oz leather straps that connect the harness to the base of the bag. Speaking of the base of the bag; it’s a 5oz full grain piece of leather, so drag away.
All in all, the Field Backpack is a wonderful example of a heritage, made in the USA bag. The combination of high-quality, full grain leather and waxed canvas really drives the entire package home, and it’s a great addition to your collection. Use and abuse it with confidence.
The Weekender Duffle
The Loyal Stricklin Weekender is a nearly perfect, heritage-style duffle in my humble opinion. It offers just enough organization without being overbearing or getting in the way, and holds well more than enough for a weekend. Though you won’t find it too bulky, large, or heavy and I suspect most would be able to even pack an entire week or more of clothes and accoutrement inside. The make-up is similar to the Field Backpack, with buttery smooth G2 zippers, a single piece, padded leather base, leather handles and accents, with hammered copper rivets and brass trims.
The leather trimmed pockets on the front side provide quick access to your gear while enroute, and the rain flaps keep it all protected from the elements. These pockets have a bit of their own volume and won’t suffer too much from an overstuffed main compartment.
Inside that main compartment you’ve got a generously advertised 35L of space for cubes, boots, and anything else you need for your trip. One wall has two open top slip pockets for smaller bits you don’t want getting rustled around.
I love totes. I use totes more than any style of bag save for my daily crossbody. I use them for market runs, for heading to a friend’s house with some snacks and drinks, or even for some extra, stylish carry around town. Outside of some more mass-market brands, the heritage style tote hasn’t seen a lot of limelight. The Loyal Stricklin Carryall scratches that itch with all of the same great finishing touches we see on the rest of the collection; waxed canvas, full grain leather, G2 zippers, etc, etc.
A bit of simple math and guesswork puts this tote just a bit under 30L when compared to similar bags. It’s a big tote, and it can hold a lot of stuff. I’ve even used it to haul camera gear around. There are two simple, open top slip pockets on the Carryall, one on the outside and one on the inside. It’s everything a tote needs to be and nothing more. The Carryall brings a touch of luxury to the world of EDC totes, where we don’t often see it outside of high fashion brands.
Just like the duffle, the Carryall has a full leather base, but I do wish the patterning had accounted for a single panel rather than a dual panel. It can sometimes cause difficulty standing up on its own unless you pack it somewhat evenly on either side of the seam. Just a nitpick, if I had to have one.
Loyal Stricklin doesn’t just provide us with a functional piece of gear; Michael and his team deliver authenticity, tradition, and craftsmanship. These bags will stand the test of time, and if you embrace them, they’ll become an extension of yourself and your personal style.
The bags you see here today start at $250, and are also available in a few other colors and materials directly from Loyal Stricklin.