Most things we buy today are made by cold soul-less machines. The idea is to produce more goods to reap the benefits of economies of scale (lower price per unit). At first blush this practice appears innocuous, but the impact to small businesses can be extreme -ask any business owner located near a Walmart.
Larger companies may be able to produce the scale necessary to out-price their competition, but they absolutely cannot reproduce the level of quality and craftsmanship found in products created by human hands. The concept of use-it-once, throw-it-out creates heaps of landfill fodder. Whereas quality goods last a lifetime and can often be passed down for further use.
This is why handmade goods have found their way back into the marketplace. Many of us (especially us Americans) have seen the impact planned obsolescence has had on the environment. We have begun the slow process of accepting sustainable goods as best practice. The bags pictured here are a perfect example of this mindset.
Ketzal Bags was formed after founder, Miles, completed a trip from California to Patagonia. While touring South America, he went canyoneering in Nicaragua, off roading in Columbia, mountain climbing in Guatemala and rafting in Honduras. Participating in these diverse activities, Miles realized that he needed a way to keep the things that he reached for time and time again close to hand. He knew that driving through remote areas meant that he would have no way to exchange a defective piece of kit, so instead, he designed one that wouldn’t fail.
To create Ketzal’s leather goods, Miles turned to the capable hands of master artisans located in Colombia and Guatemala. For those who don’t know, South America has a well deserved reputation for having some of the best textile artisans in the world. The expertise and love for their craft can be seen in every stitch. All Ketzal products are 100% genuine cowhide leather. The smell and feel of the leather takes me back to when raw leather still came with the rancher’s branding marks on it.
The bag Ketzal sent us for this feature has an attractive tobacco brown finish. The surface reveals marks when hard materials brush up against it providing each bag with a unique finish. All seams are double stitched by passing the thread through both sides of one set of holes. This is known as a “saddle stitch”. This technique ensures that if one thread breaks, the second thread will hold the piece together. If a machine stitch breaks, the piece will unravel. This is just another example of the superiority of handmade goods.
Overall, I am earnestly impressed by the workmanship and materials. If I had to find one gripe, it would be the use of an elastic strap to secure the bag in place. The elastic is incredibly strong and likely well suited to most seats, but on my huge Ram truck seats, it was extremely snug. Since this particular bag is meant to be universal, I think an adjustable nylon strap would have been a more appropriate. Having said this, I believe that this won’t be an issue for most vehicles as the Ram’s seats are exceptionally bulky.