Tough and stylish, leather is built for the outdoors.
By Gibbs Milliken
There is something about the smell and feel of fine leather, both old and new, which brings about visions of the sporting life. It is most certainly a primal sense, kindled by eons of familiarity and pride of possessing a once-living fabric. Rich in deep, earth colors, after long hours of preparation, and in the hands of a skilled craftsman, these leather products exemplify quality.
Practical leather can start on top of your head with a Minnetonka Outback Fold-Up Hat, made of rough-out leather with a multi-perforated crown for good ventilation. This unique creation can be folded in half for storage, and later pops back into shape without a crease. Complementing the hat is a pair of rugged, dust-colored Ariat Rambler Boots. These come with a comfortable, custom-fit athletic insert, low walking heel and non-slip sole, perfect for casual or field wear.($39.95, Fold-Up Hat #9535, Minnetonka, 800-658-6855, www.minnetonkamoccasinshop.com) ($124.95, Rambler Western Boots, Ariat Boots, 877-609-6655, www.ariatbootstore.com)
Reptile leather at its best is found in this handsome Leather Belt, featuring the distinctive natural textures and rich translucent colors of farm-raised Australian crocodile. It has a snap-on buckle that can be interchanged for any personal design of your choice.($329, Dress Belt, Sporting Wood Creations, 419-529-5599, www.sportwc.com)
Control your sporting dog using a 5-foot Coyote Leather Lead with a snap-on, solid brass catch. This leash, made in Texas, is tightly woven of individual weather-resistant latigo strands and is strong enough to hold the most active canine. ($65, 5-foot Lead, Coyote Leather, 972-262-2050, www.coyotecoleather.com)
The Gladiator Walking Seat Stick is a classic and practical design of European origin. It is aluminum and made adjustable in height using a locking pin. The central shaft is fitted at the base with a terminal spike for a secure ground-bite. The folding leather seat is a handy perch for watching outdoor events or taking a temporary stand while hunting. ($75, Seat Stick #001, Gladiator Sports, 703-878-9434, www.gladiator-sports.com)
The Mulholland Brothers Fly Fishing Cases are made of thick Vino Latigo leather and represent the best in “old world” design and craftsmanship. The Travel Rod Case is shown with a G. Loomis Cross Current GLX Rod. Completing the travel set, a matching Clamshell Reel Case with a lining of natural lamb’s wool protects a fine Islander LX3.8 Reel. ($270, Rod Case, $88,Reel Case, Mulholland Bros., 877-685-4655, www.mulhollandbrothers.com) ($635, Cross Current GLX, 9-foot, 4-piece, 8-wt., Fly Rod, G. Loomis, 800-456-6647, www.gloomis.com) ($575, LX3.8-G Reel, Islander Reels, 800-475-7335, www.islander.com)
With time and use, items of real leather take on their own special patinas. The inevitable scuffs and scratches add character. All it takes to keep them serviceable for ages is the application of products like mink oil or other leather protectors to keep the finish pliable and water resistant.