Since 1932, Carradice has been hand making their luggage at its Nelson factory, here in the UK. We take a look at their Kelbrook Satchel to see if it can hold its own in the 21st Century
This satchel, named after a town local to Carradice HQ – Kelbrook – was made by Andrea. I know that, because it says so inside. Every bag they make is signed by the creater. It’s a lovely touch, but how does the bag match up in a crowded market place, where you can buy a modern messenger bag for a lot less than £130?
We’ll start with the stats. It’s 17 litres on the inside, with a zipped compartment and a removable laptop sleeve (this bit was made by ‘Keeley’).
There are a couple of other simple pockets, but the bag lacks the kind of multiple storage options you see on many other messenger bags, with their Velcro, zips and mesh panels.
Whether you think that’s a good thing is up to you. Personally, I only really want a safe spot for my keys, wallet and phone, and the Kelbrook can easily handle that modest request.
The main material used for the bag is cotton duck, a tough and traditional waterproof fabric. The main flap that covers the whole bag has a snug closure, and always kept out the rain. But if you’re constantly carrying different loads, adjusting the tightness of the main flap can become a bit tiresome. You’ll need to do this though to ensure your valuables remain dry.
The buckle closure system, which oozes quality, is slightly laborious. Same goes for the waist strap, which has a double button closure system, which I found difficult to close, until the leather had softened.
Where there isn’t any cotton duck, tough leather is used, including on the whole underside of the bag. Much of the detailing is leather too, and it’s very nicely put together.
After six months’ continuous use, the Kelbrook stubbornly looks almost new. I’m fairly delicate with my kit, but even so, after so much time I would have expected any flaws in the quality to start appearing by now, and frankly, they haven’t.
There’s no denying the quality and workmanship involved with this Carradice Kelbrook Satchel. The materials are tough and rugged, and although they’ve softened slightly, they’re still brushing off any challenges to its exterior construction.
At £130, you have to pay for the quality, but personally I like the ‘Handmade in the UK’ ethos, and although I’ll never meet Andrea, I appreciate her skill.
But this isn’t a bag for everybody. The lack of internal divided storage will irk some, and the finicky waist closure will put off people who just want a bag that’s really easy to use.
Many modern-style messenger bags, with zips, plastic clips and Velcro galore have that option. Carradice know this though, and they also offer a cheaper and more modern alternative, the Super C Courier bag.
This places the Kelbrook in a slightly more niche market. It’s a product designed for people willing to pay a higher price in return for a handmade product, with a particular type of style. As Carradice puts it: “top quality cycle luggage – taking you from bike to boardroom.”
More information over on Carradice’s website
It does have its flaws, but we really appreciated the charm and honest simplicity of the Kelbrook Satchel