Whipping Post Vintage Messenger Review
The starving artist who met his niche. That’s what comes to mind when I think of Ryan Barr’s Whipping Post leather. Ryan’s a maverick and a minstrel, and his soul strums a succinct tune of unstoppable momentum. Here at the Milk Farm, we’re actually a short jog away from a Whipping Post stockpile, where those leather goodies are shipped out to lucky customers all over the world. Today, my colleague sneaked over and snagged one for a review. Ryan, if you can hear me, we swear, we put it back just the way we found it!
I jest. Ryan’s a fascinating person. As aforementioned, prior to his coronation with the leather crafting niche, he was donning more of a starving artist look: a college age rock star with no audience. It was a bit of a letdown for Ryan that his passions couldn’t synchronize with a pragmatic world. He diverted, running the guises of teacher, carpenter, and defibrillator salesman, among a number of other “crap jobs.” Nothing had the pique to tune his inspiration. Eventually, the weary strummer was getting to the end of his 2-0s, and realized he needed some kind of an upset. What followed was magic.
Facing the Whip
You know those once-in-a-lifetime epiphanies you get? Where everything becomes clear, you’ve got an idea, you’ve got the inspiration, and everything falls together like a Jenga tower in reverse? That’s what happened. Ryan surrounded himself with a bunch of leather (good company for the weary soul) to make a strap for his guitar. It was a stress reliever at the time, with one thing following another, and pretty soon, the Barr-man realized that he kind of liked making leather. He set his trajectory, and took a plunge through opportunity’s hatch.
The meister up-and-coming networked his way around the leather world, eventually crossing paths with none other than Dave Munson, king of Saddleback Leather. Dave mentored Ryan for a while as he interned at Saddleback and learned the biz. As time went on, Ryan realized he had a unique style of leathercrafting, different from Dave or anyone else. A short while after saying his goodbyes, strapping on his hummingbird guitar and hitting the open road, the Whipping Post was born.
Go and check out Ryan’s site, he’s got the most concise and epic rendition of an autobiography that has ever graced my eyeballs. I got teary. Man’s got groove.
But I can’t get past the name. Whipping Post? Slightly unorthodox; then again, the best things are. Turns out this suavey sobriquet was named after an old song by the Allman Brothers. In their piece, the Whipping Post is metaphorical for a guy who’s been hit with everything life can throw at him. Ryan liked that. “…I like that a Whipping Post is designed to take abuse. We hope the products we make will be able to take whatever abuse you throw at them and stand the test of time.”
Beating the Beat
So without further ado, let’s check out what Barr’s whipped up for us.
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This is the Whipping Post Vintage Messenger bag in all of its leathery glory. Take a moment. Take it all in. It’s a nod to earlier century postal worker bags by design. Ryan wanted to capture the best of old school craftsmanship balanced with a functional, lean, and streamedlined machine to last the many decades to come. It’s got a nice, smooth feel to it too – very supple, with every flex and ripple vibrant in its texture, very much fulfilling the vintage feel Barr was going for. Whipping Post Vintage Messenger looks aged, yet fresh at the same time: compendious in all its elements, yet infinitely functional. Right off the bat, it feels the sort of bag that can take everything the whip’s got and give it all back. I likey.
Whipping Post Vintage Messenger’s got some perky functionality too. It’s got two pockets to speak of (unless Ryan has shrewdly concealed pockets that have evaded my scrutiny). The front pocket, positioned around the top and center of the bag, has some nice flexibility that can swallow a host of small items pretty well. The stitching felt tough when I tried to pull it, so your threads will have some good durability to them. The back pocket, which can easily fit larger items like notebooks or laptops, is similarly flexible and spacious. There’s even a wide horizontal strap riveted into the fabric hovering above the pocket to secure things that might poke out. Nice foresight there, Ryan!
As far as the main compartment goes, you’ll be able to fit a slew of things in the Whipping Post Vintage Messenger without compromising comfort or integrity. The bag’s got a 18.5” x 11.5” x 4” dimension to it, with the inside taking full advantage of that. It’s split with a divider that provides ample space for lots of good stuff, so long as you aren’t planning to pack a semester’s worth of titanesque textbooks in there (strap wouldn’t fit to the latch – is this some sort of sign that I’m carrying too many books around with me?). The Whipping Post Vintage Messenger did, however, fit most everything (sans one book), so I was impressed. Also on the plus side is a nifty keychain strap, removable shoulder belt, and a soft, suede interior.
The Whipping Post Vintage Messenger leather’s texture feels like it borders between top grain and full grain, but I was unable to determine its particular make. I’ll update when I can confirm that. Likewise, the surface feels to me of semi-aniline substance, which is a nice balance between finished and unfinished. It’s also vegetable tanned leather, which is a major plus. With vegetable tanned leather, you’re getting leather closer to its natural form, without so many chemicals involved in preserving it. The process to make it often takes a couple months – as opposed to chrome tanned leather’s week – and it generally lasts a lot longer than other leathers, will be entirely unique (vegetable tanned leather is strongly diverse), and is most capable of developing a patina. Strangely, vegetable tanned leather is among the more expensive varieties of leather, but Whipping Post has made some of the most affordable vegetable tanned products I’ve ever laid eyes on. (Read more about vegetable tanned leather in our blog “Leather Tanning Methods.”)
Whipping Up a Keeper
The Whipping Post Vintage Messenger is available on Whipping Post’s website for $265. It’s an absolutely ravishing piece of work, and I can’t recommend it enough. Or, if you’re in the mood for even more adventuresome stuff, their store’s got a pretty smooth flock of stylish leatherbears: Duffles, Totes, Wallets, Guitar Straps and Cases (really stylish cases), and even picks! I tend to be more of a Stoney End Brittany-22 Harp chap myself, but this leather’s almost enough to pull me over. Mayhaps Ryan will let me join a band with him. Or make me a case. Are there bands with harps?
That Whipping Post’s made of tough stuff, leathermancers. Take it on. I double-dog-dare you.