Saddleback Leather iPad Case (Review)
For your $600+ iPad purchase, I submit for your approval, the Saddleback Leather Company iPad case made of full grain cowhide leather. The inside of the case is pigskin. Pigskin is softer, more forgiving, and snuggles your iPad a bit better than the stiffer cowhide alone would. As soon as you hold any of Saddleback’s products, you know that they’re made of quality materials. Dave, the owner, has meticulously designed each item to exacting specifications and has spared no expense, except on labor (more on that later), in creating these beautiful products. As you’d expect, genuine leather products aren’t inexpensive. For just over $100, the iPad case isn’t a bad buy, especially if you consider the price of the device that you’re wrapping up in it.
Saddleback Leather Company, mostly located in San Antonio and Fort Worth Texas, is a locally owned and operated business. You can hit the website to find out Dave’s whole sordid tale of how he started the company way back in 1999.
The iPad case is sturdy and the iPad fits into its spot very well but without binding or stressing. Leather is forgiving but if it’s too small, it’s just too small. This case is just right for the thickness and for the iPad size. The case, when reversed and straps engaged, stands up so that you can watch videos or use as a screen or with a Bluetooth keyboard. The controls are easy to reach but recessed enough so that they’re protected from accidental drops or scrapes.
The cowhide-pigskin layering gives the iPad enough cushion for comfort but enough protection and shock absorption to deflect damage from carrying height or table height drops. The screen is fully visible in the case with no screen overlap. A lot of thought has gone into the creation of this formidable case. I’m assuming Dave, or a family member, owns an iPad and wanted it protected but without being hermetically sealed inside an Otterbox or something that distances you from the iPad. The Saddleback case puts you in contact with the iPad but without fear of accidental damage.
That said, it’s still possible to damage your iPad if misused, so don’t purposely try to damage your iPad and then complain. Also, you can’t prevent fluke damage from drops that hit edges or land oddly.
The leather case is very attractive and has the look and feel of real hand-tooled leather–thanks Wilford Brimley. But seriously, this is a very handsome case. I’ve never seen one like it. Every time I carry it out of the house, someone asks about it. The leather is very tough and rugged. It should last a lifetime or longer.
As a side note, I had some beef kabobs from one of those street vendors in New York and I almost called Saddleback to tell Dave that I think I’d found him a new leather source for his products. Wow, that was some tough meat. I looked like a cow chewing its cud instead of a Texan having a beef snack on a stick. I guess I’ll stick to Canton’s First Monday stick-skewered meaty treats from now on.
Saddleback offers a standard iPad case, an iPad mini case, and leather sleeves for the standard and mini. An Ipad Air case is also available.
Dave spends a lot of time and energy (and humor) on his website convincing potential customers that the products are, in fact, very high quality. They are. His efforts aren’t wasted but it’s also probably not required to the extreme that he goes to either. We get it, Dave, you make great stuff and you had us at Howdy.
What Dave doesn’t tell you (although he alludes to it) in the video “How to knock off a bag” is that his products are made in Mexico. This is that place where I get to rant a bit about hiring locals to do the work that he’s sending to Mexico. He spends a lot of time and sarcasm in telling us how to knock off his bags but fails to mention that you should send your materials to Malaysia, China, India, or Bangladesh to get cheaper labor than he does to produce them. Just saying. That’s really my only complaint is that his stuff isn’t made in Texas.
Anyway, I checked out the Saddleback iPad case for my iPad 4. It is indeed very nice. My iPad feels well-protected and it feels good in my hands. The particular model I received for review is the tobacco-colored model. It looks more like natural tanned cowhide and pigskin (to me) than the other colors. I like the natural look. It feels more rugged and I also don’t mind the scratches, scars, mars, and buffs that the leather receives along the way. It’s a natural product and that’s to be expected and is actually desirable. I also like film photography for the same reasons.
It’s obvious that Dave is a skilled craftsman and is very knowledgeable about leather.
It’s also obvious that people love his products. He gets a lot of repeat business and has hundreds of 4 and 5 star reviews for his handiwork. As of this writing, there are 91 reviews of the iPad case and 92.3% of the reviewers would recommend the product to other customers.
One of the reviews makes me wonder when the other customers wrote their reviews. There’s one reviewer that observed that as leather ages, it loosens and this causes the iPad to slide around a bit and not stand up as shown in the video. I can’t speak to that since I’ve only had this one for about two weeks and haven’t had any issues so far. Everything is tight and stiff at this point in time. Now, in a year or two, it might be a different story. I have several cases that I use and switch between so I’m not sure that my use case is really standard.
Why it’s Frugal: Anything that protects your expensive tablet this well is frugal. Even at just over $100, it’s a good investment. Saddleback products are well made and made of quality materials which means that it’ll probably outlast you and will certainly outlast your iPad.
Saddleback leather products are beautiful, well liked by customers, made of quality materials, and protect your electronics like only thick cowhide and pigskin can. In fact, anytime I go anywhere that I want to impress people, I’ll strap on the Saddleback iPad case. If nothing else, it will be a conversation starter, and that’s a good thing for a freelance writer.
Recommendation: If you want to impress someone, buy a Saddleback product as a gift or as a show piece for yourself.