FAQ: What are the properties of different animal leathers used in Oak Roads travel gear?


  • Bison Leather - Bison leather is thick and very durable. It is noted for its distinct, deep grain patterning which gives it a textured, rustic look. The larger pores of bison leather also give it greater breathability.
  • Buffalo Leather - Buffalo leather requires special care and attention during the tanning process. When expertly tanned, however, the result is a very high quality leather with a rich patina and texture. As with bison, this leather is prized for its characteristically large pore size. The resulting deep grain pattern offers a uniquely rustic look as well as great breathability.
    • We carry some great buffalo leather items on Oak Roads as we love its distinctly rugged look and feel.
  • Calfskin Leather - Made from the hides of cattle that haven't fully matured, calfskin exhibits a lot of the same benefits as cow leather. It's also soft to the touch, however, and provides a broken-in feeling even when new. The pattern on the young hide is so dense that it can appear to have almost no discernible grain. It is typically rarer and more expensive than cow leather, often reserved for high-quality items that need to withstand wear while still being very soft and pliable.
  • Cow Leather - Most leathers you see today (approximately 65%) come from cattle. If the type of leather isn't specified, it will almost always be cow leather. Cow leather happens to be thicker, stronger and less prone to cracking than most other animal leathers. It's durable and it ages well, typically lasting much longer than than fabric. Motorcycle riders wear it due to its resistance to tears, punctures and abrasions. Products made from cow leather tend to be flexible and supple, while still retaining their shape. It also breathes well while naturally repelling moisture and resisting damage from exposure to cold, heat and UV light.
  • Goatskin Leather - Goatskin has a pebble-like grain that provides distinctive ridges and often takes on a different tone or appearance based on the direction you're viewing it from. It is one of the few leathers considered to be more durable than cowhide, yet it is also softer and more flexible, meaning that goatskin products typically don't have to be broken in. Goatskin is also warm, breathable, and surprisingly water-resistant. Kidskin, fashioned from the hides of younger goats, is highly prized as being even more supple and delicate than lambskin. The main downside is that goat hides are simply much smaller than cow hides, requiring a leatherworker to split their pattern across multiple hides. These multiple hides will exhibit different character and the seams where they are joined introduce a potential stress point in the design, potentially making the piece less durable overall.
  • Lambskin Leather - Lambskin leather is supple and smooth and is renowned for its luxurious feel and warm, insulating properties. It is the softest, thinnest and most lightweight of the commonly available leathers. Because there is almost no discernible pattern to the grain, lambskin leather can appear to have a subtle shine.
  • Pigskin Leather - Pigskin, sometimes known as boarskin, is a dense leather that combines softness and suppleness with very good durability and it is a popular leather for many applications. It exhibits a high degree of water resistance and items fashioned from pigskin typically remain soft and pliable, even once wet. Its natural, lightweight grain structure produces remarkably delicate patterns and textures. Despite their nickname, footballs are actually made of cowhide.
    • We don't carry a lot but here are some items that include pigskin leather in their construction.
  • Exotic Leathers - The skin of almost any animal, even fish and stingrays, can be fashioned into a leather, each with its own unique properties. We generally steer clear of exotic leathers here on Oak Roads but we do carry the occasional item. Of these, alligator and crocodile leather is strong, supple and durable, with a prominent scale pattern rather than a more typical grain. A bony layer within the skin adds a protective shield that isn't found in more typical leathers and, because these animals live in water, the skins are prone to drying which will cause cracking if not properly cared for. Lizard skin is also scaled and has an irregular, pebbled appearance, sometimes with elements of iridescence. Individual scales may get damaged over time due to wear or exposure so regular care is recommended.

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