Hey everybody, Dave here posting from Africa. I’ll be around from 5-7 PM Texas Time to answer as many questions as possible. Saddleback is the result of several years journeying across North America with my dog Blue to create bags and other products made to outlast their owners. Ask me anything about my adventures in Mexico and across the world, our mission for quality and character, our products, why buy-it-for-life is important, or whatever else interests you. Here’s a link to Saddleback: http://saddlebackleather.com

And, since I know I’ll get asked, I’d rather fight 100 duck-sized horses. You could make a lot of cool stuff with all that leather. Let’s get started.

Proof: https://twitter.com/saddlebackbags/status/342452568141750272

EDIT: Thanks everybody for all your questions. This has been a lot of fun. It's after 2:30 AM here in Rwanda though, and my fingers are getting tired. I'll stick around for a few more minutes to answer some more questions and then I'm going to head off. Thanks again. I want to do this again sometime. Check out our facebook page (http://facebook.com/saddlebackleather) if you'd like to follow the work we do.

Peace to you,

Dave

Comments: 1697 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

SirKrimzon155 karma

Dave...why dont you use chromexcel full grain leather from Horween?. You claim to use only the best possible materials.

DaveMunson444 karma

It doesn't seem right to throw out a completely subjective claim that makes all companies who don't use a certain leather from a certain American tannery look mediocre and then leave the statement there to be held as truth if it isn't confronted. I didn't do this AMA to argue with people, but this needs to be addressed because it is wrong and to address something that is wrong is the right thing to do.

Horween has a great reputation of being one of America's real good tanneries. It's true. But, there is absolutely no evidence that what Horween calls "Chromexcel" leather is any better that what any other reputable and excellent tannery produces. In fact, it's probably inferior to what we use, but I have no proof of that. It does have a nice name though.

I just can't imagine how a leather could be any better than ours for the purpose we use it for. Of course there is leather more supple and buttery soft. Unborn calf is supposed to be a really nice leather, but that just seems wrong. We use really great chrome tanned leather and I would love to see SATRA or any other scientific company prove otherwise.

It makes me suspicious that you are saying that the other leather is the best possible material. And then you and a few others post the exact same thing throughout this entire AMA to make sure everyone reads it. Later on down the page, someone is basically saying that whoever doesn't use Horween's specially named leather, that their bags are mediocre at best. If one carries that argument out, it would be to say that that tannery is the best tannery in the whole wide world and everybody is inferior to them. Them's big words. Feel free to post some evidence. Hmmm... why are you really asking this question?

DaveMunson90 karma

It sounds like it's a great leather. I've never heard of it before, but it sounds like good stuff and Horween has a really good reputation. They are in the Chicago area and we make our bags in Mexico. If I happen to get a batch of bad leather, it would be a real drag to send it back to Chicago and would stop our production. OR, we would have to keep loads of raw materials on hand if we wanted to use leather from Horween, and everyone knows that large amounts of inventory can really hurt a business.

SirKrimzon3 karma

Dave, I'm not sure how you haven't heard of it before. Additionally, on your website, you show your "competitors" who are mostly high end designer companies such as "Coach" competing with you in regards to leather goods. Why don't you put some ACTUAL leather goods companies on your competitors list? Such as corter, tanner goods, hollows? Is it because they use chromexcel and consequently a superior product?

DaveMunson24 karma

I'm not sure how you got the idea that chromexcel is the best leather in the whole wide world and that anyone who uses anything else is making low quality bags. Are you a salesman for Horween?

The reason I don't list the smaller leather companies is because I don't know if they are quality or not. The ones I listed are known for their consistent history of quality. Their return policies are excellent and customer service is great too. There are a lot of high quality leather companies entering the market, but they haven't stood the test of time like these have.

DaveMunson8 karma

Please submit scientific evidence that Chromexcel is actually better than normal Chrome tanned leather. If you can't, then this question/complaint just sounds super suspicious to me. For all we know, it's an inferior leather. And I'm sure there are several hundred leather experts around the world who would love to argue the point that Chromexcel from Horween tannery in the Chicago area is the best leather on the planet. They would also wonder about this post since there is no evidence to support your claim.

DaveMunson72 karma

Because I believe that our leather is in no way inferior to that leather. In fact, I suspect that theirs could be inferior. I'd love to see scientific evidence to prove otherwise. Claiming that Horween's leather is the best in the world is a big statement that would be hard to defend against to any scientist at SATRA.

dibadiba28 karma

Go figure you'd get downvoted for asking a question like this. The B.S Saddleback spouts on their website is an insult to craftsmen everywhere.

DaveMunson53 karma

I'm sorry you feel that way.

Cdnpdi21 karma

Hasn't Chromexcel been around for quite awhile and also been a staple in the Horween line a long time? I see many craftspeople using it and promoting it in their retail products.

dibadiba4 karma

It has. Horween is one of the most well-known tanneries in the world, and Shell Cordovan, along with Chromexcel, are likely the most well-known of their leathers.
I can already tell you that 'Cost' is actually the answer. Horween leather isn't cheap.

DaveMunson49 karma

Cost is not the answer. I answered that earlier. I've heard that Horween has a great reputation for quality, but it sounds like you're saying that anyone who does not use Horween is not using the best leather in the world.

DaveMunson1 karma

How do we know that it's not one of the most inferior leathers in the world. I'd love to see some scientific evidence to back up these suspicious claims. Who was it that you said you worked for?

thegreatdetective152 karma

Dave, what's your favorite book? Movie?

DaveMunson572 karma

My favorite book is the Bible. Just being honest. It's changed my life like I never could have imagined. I also like Atlas Shrugged a lot.

Movie? Indiana Jones for sure.

absurd_olfaction71 karma

What lessons did you take away from those two books?

DaveMunson234 karma

Work hard and God loves people and is very patient and forgiving and kind.

BedouDevelopment152 karma

Hi Dave--i am putting one of your briefcases through some serious wear and tear in the Saudi desert (been working out here 3 years). What's the biggest mistake i can make in handling/maintaining my bag in hot, dry, sandy conditions?

DaveMunson240 karma

Letting a tank run it over would be one. Let's see, I guess that's all I can think of. Send a pic. You need to take your bag out to play too. Otherwise it can get bored

BedouDevelopment245 karma

You couldn't have done this AMA yesterday? I had 5 tanks run over it this morning!

DaveMunson144 karma

Did you get any pics? That would be super cool

PlumPudding148 karma

Best bags ever. Mine's been holding up great. How did you come up with the catchphrase "they'll fight over it when you're dead"?

DaveMunson215 karma

When I was describing the way I wanted my original bag made to the leatherworker, I told him that I wanted it durable and overbuilt so that when I died, my grandkids would fight over it. And so I had to shorten that and I came up with the phrase. You're the first to ever ask that. Cool.

Nashapple126 karma

When will you guys make a dog collar?

DaveMunson170 karma

Been working on it for a long long time. So, I tend to make things complicated and so I went and designed my own custom hardware for them and now it's taking forever to get it prototyped and made. But, it's coming.

rboymtj85 karma

Listen, I'm not saying you should give the first person asks for a big discount on a Thin Briefcase a discount, but I would if I were you. Also, can I have a discount. I'll buy it right now.

_beacon78 karma

do you recommend treating the wallet when you first get one? or at all?

DaveMunson141 karma

Butt sweat is great for conditioning leather. And, we already conditioned it right before we sent it to you. So, you're good for 6 mo. to 1 yr.

rboymtj76 karma

Are you able to treat your employees well with high quality products? I'd be disappointed if you had to pay minimum wage and didn't offer benefits.

DaveMunson201 karma

Yep, we pay them enough so that they know they're appreciated. And their homes smell like leather. We offer benefits and all that stuff. And we have purpose. Only one person has ever quit. And she took the head coach job at UT Dallas' women's basketball team.

Reverend-Johnson61 karma

I bought your wallet a month ago. Lost it the second day I had it, Lady Tequila is a mean bitch. I found it a week later at Mahmoods late night grocer. I bought smokes and left the whole shebang!

I've got it back and things are going wonderfully. Thanks for making cool stuff.

DaveMunson44 karma

Thanks for joining us.

CatieO57 karma

Five years ago, I saw a guy with an AMAZING bag walking around town. I didn't remember his face, but I remembered his bag. Later on, that same bag walked up to me at work, I brought up the bag, and we dated for 2 years. At the end of it all, when we decided to part ways, he gave me the bag.

I started using it for travel, and I've made great friends out of random people on the street who have stopped me and asked me about my bag and the story behind it.

It's been to 12 countries with me, performed in 5 Shakespeares (and was once separately credited in the program), was backstage at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, met celebrities, famous politicians and ambassadors, been handled by hundreds of school kids all over the country, and continues to be my favorite adventure partner in the crazy, amazing story that is my life.

I love it.

(Sidebar/shameless self promotion: If you ever need a writer/content creator/designer, please consider me. I'm a huge fan of the brand and I'm awesome at what I do, and it'd be a dream come true).

DaveMunson29 karma

Thanks for writing that. It was easy to read. I really like it that my bag was adopted by someone like you. It is living the life it was meant to live. Thank you again.

stanislavsky197151 karma

Hi Dave, Greetings from Mexico!

Reading the story behind Saddleback Leather (from your website), and I believe that the whole project is amazing. More intriguing, for me, is how was it working for a Mexican Mafia Family or more likely Narcos? and what is the story behind the crooked federal sent out to kill you?

I live near Juarez, and always find fascinating all this little stories that develop in such places and situations like that.

Kudos !!

DaveMunson67 karma

Thanks for the kind words. The family I worked for were total asphaltholes. They fired my brother for not standing up when their mom entered the room. She would also make everyone get off the elevator when she wanted to ride it. Our boss got his job back for him though. We were selling real estate on the property. I don't think they were narcos, but they weren't nice people. But I needed the money.

On the side, I was also selling land for a guy named Mario. He was super crooked too. Anyhow, I set up a deal to sell $400,000 worth of land to a group out of Mexico City and my commission was 10%. So, when my boss from the country club wanted a share for introducing them to me, Mario told me that he would just have him killed. That's when I got nervous. Then a federale showed up at an outdoor wedding and came over to my Land Cruiser and started talking. And then he said, "Is your dog's name Blue" And the story goes on.

shickey28 karma

Go on...

more federali story please. By the way, I bought your slim wallet. I liked it.

DaveMunson28 karma

Liked (past tense)?

keefermilton45 karma

http://imgur.com/a/Zwda7

Hey Dave,

Wanted to send some appreciation your way. Today I am packing my Saddleback xl briefcase in chestnut with the items from a list in my Saddleback small notepad in chesnut to go to the hospital with my wife who will be delivering our first born tomorrow.

I take comfort in knowing that I will send my daughter to school with this notepad and send her off to college or her first job with this briefcase.

Thank you for making an heirloom quality product that I'll be proud to use the hell out of and pass down to my kid with many years of use to spare.

DaveMunson51 karma

That is so cool. Congratulations in advance. Your daughter sounds like she has no choice but to be married to a quality guy because she'll be looking for someone who is like you and who appreciates quality. Cool to hear. Thanks for telling me that.

GeekAndDestroy36 karma

Is Blue the dog in your twitter profile pic? If so, are you aware that he is in fact black, and not blue?

DaveMunson38 karma

He was so black that he was kind of Blue. I actually met about 7 other black labs named Blue. And, over in Australia, a friend of mine told me that the name Blue is the most common name for dogs there. But good catch though.

TheHugeJohnson34 karma

I don't mean to sound like a dick, but what makes your products so expensive? Is it the quality of the leather itself? Or the time it takes to put together a bag? Or maybe something else?

DaveMunson80 karma

You don't sound like a dick. That's just an honest question. The price of the leather is a majority of the price. Then the rest of the profit pays for employees, taxes, research and development, marketing, website expenses (it's really really expensive to pay for our website and system to be up and running).

And then, what I say on the website is, "Well, I lived for three years in a $100 a month apartment in Mexico with no hot water, because of these bags. My dog, Blue, and I drove for thousands of hours all over the North American continent because of these bags. I had a crooked Federale sent to kill me because of these bags (I convinced him that Señor Alarcon would never pay him) and we became friends). I've shed gallons of blood and tears and sweat and at least a quart of other people's, because of these bags. I've slept in my car or on the rack of my old Land Cruiser at least 150 times because of these bags. I've lost weeks of sleep and have gone hungry for days because of these bags. I was broke for years and even had to trade two of Blue's little puppies for a month's worth of tacos in order to eat because of these bags. I've been detained by who knows how many Mexican police because of these bags. I've thrown away thousands of dollars and made hundreds of mistakes because of these bags. I've been stolen from, taken advantage of and robbed because of these bags (they even stole Blue once, but I got him back). All of these things and more have happened to me because of these bags. They cost me a lot."

lowtec26 karma

Do you have any recommendations or plans to make gun holsters?

DaveMunson30 karma

None. I wish I did though.

arnie_apesacrappin21 karma

Hi Dave. Just wanted to let you know my wallet hits its two year anniversary this month. I just had someone ask me if it was new. Seriously the best wallet I've ever owned. When my current bag dies, I think I may have to buy one of your backpacks.

Guess I should ask a question. Do you have any non-religious charities that you really like?

DaveMunson27 karma

Yes, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is a really great one that we support fairly heavily every year. Check it out. Charity Waters is a good one too.

Cdnpdi20 karma

How many people does Saddleback employ in the U.S.?

DaveMunson55 karma

About 32. Looking for a job?

Brinaht19 karma

First, I appreciate that you bring a quality item into the market where so many companies have chosen to make quantity not quality. I have had so many compliments on my iPad case that I can't wait to keep purchasing more from your company.

What product has been your favorite to produce to date?

DaveMunson15 karma

Thank you for the kind words. I think the suitcase has been the favorite so far. It is just of such high quality in so many ways. And I've been testing those out for quite some time and they've been holding up and look way cooler now

Brinaht13 karma

I gave my father one of your bible covers a couple of years ago as I believed that my pastor father could not live without a bible cover that could hold a cigar.

DaveMunson12 karma

I actually thought of putting a cigar holder on one once.

billyvegas14 karma

Recently got an ID wallet for myself and a large tote for my chick. She loves the bag, and I'm super impressed by the quality. Add to that, your customer service is top notch. Worth every penny, and look forward to growing the collection. How's Africa, what part, and how's the food?

DaveMunson18 karma

You trying to get her to marry you or did you already persuade her? We do have GREAT customer service because we're just really good at hiring really good people. I'm in awe at the people who we've convinced to come on with us.

We're in Rwanda right now and will be heading over to Kenya in a couple of days for a couple of days. The food is pretty much like Mexican food, but not as spicy. Tortillas and beans and rice and cilantro. Serious, it's great.

Savaric13 karma

Hey Dave, I picked up one of your thin briefcases (Dark Coffee Brown - awesome color) last year to use as a carry on for moving. It's been through a few trips for military moves that I've had over the past year for training and has been holding up very well. Very happy with that purchase.

Any new products coming out in the not-too-distant future?

And since I know you've done a ton of travelling, what would be some of your favorite countries to travel to?

DaveMunson20 karma

Glad to hear one of my bags is in the hands of someone serving the rest of us. Thanks for that.

As soon as we get the custom hardware done, we're launching the dog collars and leashes. Those are going to be really really great. I've been testing out a new set of suitcases too. Those are super cool, but I'm not sure if they'l launch though. I'm still testing. I don't want someone to get 2 years into using them and they fail somehow.

New Zealand and Slovenia and Czech Republic are great. Mexico is way up there though. Of course, I'm partial to Rwanda.

Frinkey13 karma

P.S. the article on your site about your dog...made me slice some onions.

DaveMunson6 karma

I've never heard it said that way before. You must have experienced what I experienced. Sorry for your loss too.

Cdnpdi13 karma

As a % of sales, how much does Saddleback donate to the charities it promotes?

mattlmorrison-2 karma

I've seen some of the charities that Saddleback donates to. The coolest thing about the company is that every member of the team is intimately involved with their relationship with Africa. What I'm trying to say is they invest more than money, they invest their entire lives.

Cdnpdi4 karma

I understand but if I buy a Saddleback product, how much of the purchase price goes toward the charity?

DaveMunson10 karma

About 25% - 30% goes out to charity. Something like that. I'm not good with numbers. I'm not even sure how much I make. Our goal is not to necessarily give away a million dollars a year or even ten million one day. Our goal is to be able to have such influence that others give away a billion a year because we were able to speak into their lives. Either they give it away or someone else gives it away once their dead. Why not get the joy of giving.

erickanchuger9 karma

[deleted]

DaveMunson39 karma

And the bummer was that after living there for 3 years, about 3 weeks before I moved back to the U.S., I found one of the best taco stands in the whole city just about 2 blocks from my house

DaveMunson35 karma

Juarez. About 3 blocks from the Rio Grande and about 8 blocks from the raunchy strip

DaveMunson26 karma

I regularly got offered drugs or a prostitute around my apartment at night.

Skyhawk19 karma

[deleted]

DaveMunson32 karma

African you must mean

DaveMunson18 karma

I haven't timed any while I've been here

thegreatdetective5 karma

How much do your bags cost the company to make? What's the markup?

DaveMunson12 karma

Each bag has a different cost and a different mark up. We try to do a markup that will keep us free to grow and improve. I guess it's a standard one. For instance, the travel case costs us a lot to make and our mark up was around 17%. That's awful. "Mark up" can be calculated a lot of different ways depending on the accountant.

NenadaPlakat5 karma

Dave, it has been known for a while now that the screw type clasps are a faulty design that can lead to unexpected release of bags carrying valuable objects. Although SBL willingly replaces them upon request, why bother shipping them in the first place? Why not save everyone the trouble and just use the dog leash clasps from the get go. Is it really less expensive for you to ship them as opposed to just eating your volume purchase of the clasps? Won't the supplier take them back given the fact that they are faulty? Essentially what is your reason for keeping them around?

DaveMunson5 karma

Good question Peter. You're right that they are faulty, but not all of them. Only some of them were. And by the time we learned that some were faulty and it wasn't just a random quality control issue from the hardware factory, we stopped using them. You're also right that we keep them around. We have about $5000 worth of those clasps that are just sitting around collecting dust. But of course, instead of not selling anymore products that had that shoulder strap on them until we could start working with a new hardware provider, we decided that the wisest thing to do was to double check them to make sure they weren't faulty and then send them out. There's so much more to it behind the scenes. But to think that someone would actually send out bad hardware on purpose so that people could be disappointed with it would be weird.

press_mute4 karma

Dave,

First off, I love your products. I have a classic brief, thin brief, and a few accessories that I use almost everyday. But what happened to the strap accessory packs? I use the straps (medium I think) to tie various things to my bags when I travel, and a couple of them have frayed and/or snapped. I need replacements but they are not on the website anymore!

Any chance you guys have some hidden in the warehouse?

filledwith_anger3 karma

no real question, just wanted to say your bi-fold wallets are spectacular. For the price, the quality is amazing. When I scratch some money together I would like to try out the medium dry bag as well.

keep up the good work.

DaveMunson5 karma

What are you doing these days?

filledwith_anger1 karma

Light hiking/camping type situations. So it would be just a carry-all for various things in the woods. I have learned to appreciate a good bag that is light and can be carried to one side if I have my hands full. Don't know if that is the ideal bag for me, but it would appear to be the right size.

DaveMunson1 karma

It's kind of heavy and since it's large, people tend to fill it with as much stuff as they can stuff in it. And then it gets really heavy. I carried a medium briefcase around Eastern Europe and North Africa for about 6 weeks once in backpack mode and it was great and heavy. I'm a better man now because of it.

filledwith_anger1 karma

I think that may be more appropriate. Or the classic travel case looks like a nice size too. Hmm, I have some things to consider. Thanks for the responses

DaveMunson0 karma

You're welcome

DaveMunson4 karma

Thanks for the kind words. I had been wanting to do that dry bag for years and finally did it. I remember being so impressed by the dry bags when we went white water rafting, that I just was kind of obsessed.

filledwith_anger2 karma

how well do they hold up under that kind of water against them? I just wanted it for light field use, and dealing with occasional rain. I am sure if it can handle white water rafting,light rain will be nothing it can't handle!

DaveMunson4 karma

The dry bags we used were plastic or rubber, but the design is what I loved

Cdub1003 karma

Dave,

I follow you on FB and you post a lot of pictures of your travels which is very cool. I also this it's amazing you get to take your children with you. Was there ever a time on your travels where you got your family into a situation that made you second guess bring them along?

DaveMunson4 karma

Not yet. I won't take them into the Congo or some place that is questionable. I'm too protective for that. The hippos wandering around our tent in Kenya last year was cool, but safe. There was a Maasai warrior out in front with a spear just in case.

mattlmorrison3 karma

Hey Dave, Matt Morrison here from Portland, I got to meet you, your wife and the "john's" at Collossae. Nice to see you. Here's a question for you, did you start making bags out of leather, or did you have a prototype with canvas etc. Also, a friend and I have a bet is that your grandma taught you to sew, He thinks you were self taught--- settle it for us?

DaveMunson3 karma

Leather was the first one. Now we make prototypes out of canvas or felt first so we don't waste so much leather. Sometimes it takes 12 different tries to get one right.

I learned how to sew in Home Economics in 6th grade. But I forgot most of that.

Rprzes3 karma

For those who missed it, perhaps, on his site, one of the videos for the satchel sizes has an, "Australian Bottle Opener". It's a pair of kangaroo testicles. Laughed when I saw him take it out of the satchel.

DaveMunson3 karma

You caught that? Sweet.

PounderMcNasty3 karma

I'm sorry to hear about Blue. Have you got a new dog?

DaveMunson10 karma

Thanks. You must understand. Sorry for your loss too. We have a chocolate lab named Chi Chi. She's great, but not as great as Blue was

prepend3 karma

Did you notice that Ethan Hawke had a Saddleback medium briefcase in the recent movie, The Pledge? Did you pay for this? Or is it just because your products are awesome?

Any other movies using Saddleback products?

DaveMunson5 karma

I just found out about it in the Purge. Nope we didn't pay for that or any of the other movies or t.v. shows. Pretty cool that they did that. National Geographic Wild has a few shows with our bags on it now and then. Piers Gibbon uses a messenger bag on all of his shows.

sb4903 karma

I have a wallet from you guys and I absolutely love it. I can tell the time that went into it and the craftsmanship. What inspired you to make great leather products?

DaveMunson2 karma

I think it's built into everybody to desire being in nature and owning quality.

CUNTHPOUNDER3 karma

Your bio about Blue brought me to tears. I then ordered a Tobacco medium wallet and I absolutely love it.

Great company. Stand up people.

DaveMunson5 karma

Thank you. I appreciate your comment. I still tear up when I read about Blue too.

km_phee3 karma

Hey Dave! I heard about your business a while back and I really dig the product. I've been doing a bit of leatherwork myself (slacking as of recently) and I want to progress. Can you give me any books to look into or projects that would help me understand basic leatherwork better? I would love to make a bag that could hold a candle to yours someday. Thanks!

DaveMunson2 karma

You'll want to go take a tour of a tannery near you or take a trip to visit one or make your roadtrip pass that way. Learn as much as you can by people who know about it. Sometimes a salesman is new and doesn't really understand. But those who have been working it for a long time know what's what. You could go down to the Tandy Leather Factory nearest you and look at their business card board and call some of those guys and ask questions.

Frinkey2 karma

Dave, I've been holding off pulling the trigger on the medium thin briefcase which ive been wanting oh so badly. I know you're adamant about using full grain leather. I just read that there are different grades of full grain leather and that saddleback doesn't use the best. Care to comment?

DaveMunson-2 karma

Not sure how our full grain could get fuller. I wonder if that comment was from a leather expert or someone who is not a leather expert. Because the last time I checked, the leather we're using is the best that the tannery produces.

And the tannery we use recently won a prize for one of the overall best tanneries in the world. They are certified green with a very large association of tanners out of England. They use American hides. They are kind to their workers, they are clean and exact. Their tanning materials are top quality. Not sure about the person who says we don't use the best.

It's up for debate if Chrome tanned is better or if Veg tanned is better. The tannery owner told me that he believes Chrome is the best.

UncleZed2 karma

Do you get your leather from local ranchers, and do you do the tanning yourself?

How much could one expect to make if they sold a quality piece of leather to you>

DaveMunson8 karma

We buy our hides from the tannery we buy from in Mexico and they buy the hides from slaughter houses in Omaha and Wisconsin. From what I understand, most local ranchers take their cows to be fattened up and then slaughtered, whether it be 3 or 333 cows at a time.

As for the price of a hide, I'm not exactly sure. I just know that it's gone up like 30% - 40% over the last 3 years.

So actually, it's so expensive now, it's hurting the tanneries because companies are using alternative materials to make their things because leather is so stinking expensive now.

Jonreign2 karma

Dave, I have many pieces from Saddleback Leather. How do I get the buckle off of my tow belt to put another buckle. It looks like it screws off but I can't seem to get it off.

DaveMunson14 karma

Try putting a piece of rubber onto the flat side of the rivet and then pressing really hard on the screwdriver as you turn. And remember, righty tighty, lefty loosey

hollymgrrl2 karma

Happy Monday Dave! I kinda assumed from your history that the magic happens in Mexico ~ but I see that Saddleback only uses American Cows ~ so... where does the magic happen?

DaveMunson9 karma

The American cows donate their skins to a tannery in Mexico who gets it ready to be made into a heavy duty bag. It's pure magic down there. And our leather workers are such nice people too.

pancakeses2 karma

No question. Just want you to know I love Saddleback! Excellent quality on everything!

Pretty crazy story. Glad things have worked out.

DaveMunson1 karma

Things didn't always work out. The bull got me in that bullfight by the way. But in the long run, they are working out. We've been blessed. But thanks for the kind words. I appreciate you for saying that.

ponyone222 karma

Dave, I don't have anything for ya buddy, love your products, got 5-7 of them floating around the house. 100 year warranty is the shit. Keep up the amazing work.

DaveMunson4 karma

I love you.

MrFiggie2 karma

One day I will buy your products when I can afford it. One day. Sigh..

DaveMunson3 karma

By perseverance, the snails reached the ark.

TheOneAndOnlyTBone2 karma

Dammit, I read the "in memory of blue" page, now I'm all sad and shit...

also I hope that after I graduate I'll be able to peruse your products knowing that I'll end up with some of it.

DaveMunson3 karma

You must have lost a good dog too. Sorry to hear it. No need to wait until you graduate. Ask for an early graduation present. It doesn't hurt to ask.

doombuggy1102 karma

Not much of a question, but I have a number of your products, and they've absolutely spoiled me for all things leather. After a back injury, I couldn't carry my full size bag around with me, and was looking at the thin satchel. If not for the cost (though I can completely understand why), I would have that. Everything I've had that you made was incredible, and your staff is great. Thank you so much for providing such a great product.

DaveMunson2 karma

Thank you for the kind words. Very nice to hear.

Privy_the_thought2 karma

As a broke recent college grad seeing you travel around the world with your bags, I can't help but hope that I can soon do that myself. I've somehow managed to scrape by enough to see Brazil and I wish I could take one of your bags with me.

I wanted to ask do you have any other types of bags in store? I think motorcycle satchels would be cool.

DaveMunson4 karma

You're off to a great start. Brazil, I've heard, is vast and beautiful. I'd love to do motorcycle stuff. It won't happen anytime soon, if it does ever happen at all. I do have something else in store, but I can't describe it or when. But let's just put it this way, we're going to break the internet when we launch it one day.

sinlad2 karma

What piece of leather work was the most fulfilling to design? Some of the bags and briefcases seem pretty intricate.

DaveMunson3 karma

I think the waterbag was. It's just so amazing. I still just stare at it sometimes. Something about it just screaming quality.

Strijdhagen2 karma

Hey Dave!

I'd love to buy a Saddleback Leather wallet but we Euros need a coin compartment for our Euros. Is there any chance!

DaveMunson2 karma

Never thought of that. But it makes sense. Let me mull that one over.

moktor1 karma

I have one of your bi-fold wallets and I absolutely love it! It has been wearing in amazingly well.

What is the most stunning place you've ever been?

DaveMunson2 karma

Glad to hear about the wallet. It's cool how they kind of compress and round and all that.

The most stunning place I've ever been was inside the overwater bungalow in Bora Bora on my honeymoon. Outside the bungalow would be my second favorite place. New Zealand was pretty amazing

quezi1 karma

Hi Dave, the site looks really nice, great job!

Just wondering - do you have any plans for a tri-fold wallet? I love them but can never find a stylish, well made one!

Cheers.

DaveMunson1 karma

Working on a larger trifold right now. Actually, it's perfected, I just need to be patient for getting it made and photographing and all stuff.

quezi1 karma

Awesome, great stuff! Do you have a rough idea of when it'll be up on the site?

DaveMunson0 karma

I think before the end of the year, but don't quote me on that. It's a secret.

cshaxercs1 karma

What was the most difficult obstacle you came across trying to start your own business?

What made you go into this line of business?

Cat or dog person?

DaveMunson1 karma

Dog

DaveMunson1 karma

Not knowing how to do business. Also, I was really disorganized. I used to keep all of my receipts on and around a table and then when I moved over to America, I swept them all up into plastic bags and put them in a box. Getting people around me who were better than I was at those things, I didn't do.

forbucci1 karma

I have one of your briefcases and Ive taken it across Africa, into the Sahara desert and deep into the Amazon. It weighs a thousand pounds but I won't go anywhere without it.

Thank you

DaveMunson1 karma

Now you're the kind of owner I would want to have if I were a bag.

ItsVictorB1 karma

Dave, there is a lot of demand and interest in the old checkbook wallet. Are there any plans to bring it back or at the very least do a limited run similar to what you guys did for the small briefcase?

DaveMunson8 karma

Not happening. If I ever do bring back that checkbook wallet, I will give you $20,000 worth of brand new leather as my punishment for breaking my word. What's out there is out there and there won't be anymore. Good question.

uudmcmc1 karma

I have one of your large bi folds and love it. What is the number one thing you would go back and change if you could that is too far along to fix.

DaveMunson2 karma

I go back and fix things that I think could be better, all the time. It is a continual process of improvement which means updated details here and there. I don't know if I'll ever stop going back and changing things if I think it could be better.

thegreatdetective1 karma

What advice to you have for entrepreneurs?

DaveMunson9 karma

Surround yourself with people who are wiser than you are in many areas. Delegating things to people and letting them mess up is key. Once they do, they get better at making decisions and thinking through things.

WillandEko1 karma

I drove over 15,000 miles around the US with my dog and my Saddleback bag. Out of the three of us, my dog and my Saddleback Waterbag are tied for best looking. I am a distant third.

I know you have been in the lab working on it, but I just wanted to check in and see if there are any updates on your dog collar design? I hope to be able to pick one up for my four-legged adventure buddy. And thanks for running an outstanding company - Saddleback is the high watermark for how it should be done. Best of luck in the future.

DaveMunson2 karma

You're a very kind person. Thanks for the encouragement. And I'm glad to hear that my/your/our bag is living a good life. If only all of them could experience life like yours does.

Believe me, I want that dog stuff out more than anyone on this planet. We designed custom hardware and it's taking FOREVER. But, it's not fast food type hardware either for those dog collars and leashes.

3point141592653581 karma

Hi Dave

I found about about SBL around four years ago when I was trying to find a replacement strap for an old leather bag of mine. Google pointed me to you guys, and the customer service was so good, I couldn't resist coming back a few months later and splurging my tax return cheque on a large dark coffee brown round satchel.

I have now taken that satchel to work every day since then (I am a suit and tie guy by day) and not a single morning passes without me looking at the bag and thinking "holy shit that's a good bag" before I head out to work. Twice in the last week strangers have stopped me to ask about it, and a few months back, one lady collared me on my ferry and said "I've been admiring your bag for months, and I just had to let you know, it's gorgeous."

Nothing to ask, and no response required - but I just wanted to thank you for being so focused on great products, awesome customer service, and above all, transparency in the way you conduct your business.

Best to you and your beautiful family, and I hope you enjoyed your time in my neck of the woods last year (NZ).

DaveMunson1 karma

That is a really cool story. Thanks for sharing it. I wish you would post a pic of it on our FB page so we could see it. Thanks again. And next time i'm in NZ, I'll buy you lunch. Bring the satchel.

ArchmageJesus1 karma

As someone who graduated college a little more than a month ago, and is about to enter graduate school, and then hopefully the professional world, I literally can't think of anything I'd LOVE to have more to help start this new chapter of my life than one of your bags...

However, for someone who put himself through college with literally no help (i.e. money) from my parents, and is about to take on even more student loans, they're just so expensive! Obviously the products you create are beyond reproach and are made to last, but that initial cost hump is so much....I saw your picture contest on Facebook, but have you ever thought about implementing some sort of student price?

I would definitely do whatever I could to save up the money to get one at that point, if you ever did something like that.

Keep doing the good work!

DaveMunson1 karma

I was super broke in college, but I somehow was able to eat out for lunch quite often. I added it up one month and it was about $300. I was shocked. Let's say there's a bag that costs $600. That's $50/mo. for a year or $25/mo. for two years. I know you can do it. It'll be even sweeter when you get it than the guy who asks daddy to buy him one.

sfsports1 karma

I'm 20 and I got the bi-fold wallet for my birthday and I just want to say that it is absolutely awesome and I'm hoping to live to 120 so I can see it when its' 100 years old.

DaveMunson2 karma

I'll be 140 yrs. old then. Not sure if I want to be around then, but talk to my great great grandkids and tell them that we chatted. They'll like that.

Sultan-of-swat1 karma

I commented on the pic you posted this morning on Facebook with the satchel and watch hoping watch straps are a reality. Any plans to make watch straps?

Also, I bought one of your medium briefcases in 2010 my sophomore year of college. Because of the bag I was introduced to the VP of Advancement at my university, we became friends and as a result he committed the school to pay for my flights to and from Washington DC as I interned over the last summer!

The networking that has come from the bag has opened so many doors. In fact, connections from the initial conversation have set me up for a job in China this fall as I finish my masters, and all because I bought a bag three years ago!

DaveMunson1 karma

No watch straps on the horizon. But that was a cool pic though. Believe me, you're not the first person to ask for watch straps. There are a lot of you out there.

As for the networking, that's great to hear. I've heard of people getting hired because of their bag. Thanks for the story. I love stories.

Realsaintnick61 karma

Hey Dave, I have your small briefcase for work here in NYC. It has been holding up nicely, but I was hoping to add something more travel worthy for the future. I am looking into the standard duffel bag, but am unsure as to how flexible (can be pushed, smushed, etc into overhead compartments) the bag really is. So how does it do in those situations? Also, if you ever get the chance to see Operation Condor, with Jackie Chan, I think you would highly enjoy it.

DaveMunson2 karma

I've seen that movie I think. And I think I enjoyed it too because anything with Jackie Chan I enjoy.

For squooshing in overhead compartments, I'd go for the utility duffel. I use both for traveling and the utility duffel is more flexible and even squooshes into the small jet overhead comparments.

Donniej5250 karma

How important are animal rights to you? Is your company cruelty free?

DaveMunson0 karma

The tannery we use just won a huge worldwide award for being green and excellent. The slaughterhouses in the U.S. are highly regulated. I love animals myself. I was even way out in the desert once and ran across a rattlesnake and just left it there. There was no reason to kill it. It was innocent. I am very conscious of the right treatment of animals. But since the cows are not killed for their hides, I feel good about it. I am very much against animals being killed only for their skins.

Cdub1000 karma

Dave,

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the leather business?

DaveMunson4 karma

Get to know leather very very well. Learn as much as you can learn. Visit the tanneries and ask a lot of questions. Really really understand it. I'm still learning new things about leather. Did you know that some leather is tanned with brain?

Cdub1001 karma

Brain? I did not know that. What are some of the strangest things you've seen in tanneries?

DaveMunson0 karma

Nothing really strange, but just super nasty gross. When they dump off the hides that have been freshly or not so freshly peeled off of a cow, that's nasty.

rvrbly0 karma

Dave, I know you are a world traveler, what is your greatest overall trip, and what did you learn from it?

DaveMunson1 karma

Greatest overall trip was in 2010 when we went to a bunch of places like Scotland, Spain, The Seychelles, Tanzania, Rwanda and then to Ireland and then home. That was GREAT. And what I learned was that I wish I had known about and had more compassion for the hurting people in the world. And how much more someone's presence means so much more than money to so many people.

onequickmarauder0 karma

I've been a lurker on Reddit for two years. This AMA got me off the fence. My first post. Dave, got your large black brief about two months ago. Loving it. I'd like to help the leather soften up a bit faster. Will a leather conditioner help in this regard? any other suggestions other than letting my kids use it as a trampoline for the next ten years?

DaveMunson8 karma

Lime juice and baby oil. Or you can roll it around and twist it and fold it over and over and over. That's what I do. But a good leather conditioner will help. I use Chamberlain's Leather Milk.

DaveMunson0 karma

Glad to know that we are passionate about the same things.

DaveMunson0 karma

The trampoline thing works nicely too though. Batting practice isn't a bad idea