These guys get style points for design, as with the Leatherback Writer 3. Here’s the Riff, front and back:
Chic, for sure. Inside are pockets for a couple cards, a phone, a pocket notebook, a snap for earbuds, and–YES–a pen loop.
Here’s another look inside:
The Riff is fun, and while it won’t substitute for the wallet part of your EDC (you’d still need something like this), it’s great for housing two (or three) pocket-sized notebooks, whether the 3.5″ x 5.5″ ones from Field Notes and Word. or the 3.5″ x 5″ ones from Baron Fig. The red 3.5″ x 5″ notebook above, by the way, is from Scout Books. Je suis un big fan of what they do. More on them later.
My preferred use for the Riff, then, has been a few notebooks, a pen, and the business card. You don’t need to worry about sliding the notebooks into the pocket, either. Since the Riff zips closed, you can just stack your notebooks in, zip, and go.
Because of the pen loop on the right, the notebook you insert on that side feels just a tiny bit tight toward the zipper track, at left. Using the smaller Baron Fig or Scout 3.5″ x 5″ helps.
Here’s a closer look at that earbud snap closure:
There is no zipper pull with the Riff. This would have been a nice inclusion, especially since the product page shows a classy leather pull. For the $175 this case costs (!), I’d expect a nice touch like that. Hopefully future iterations will have it.
The material surrounding the zipper track is much wider than I expected. Its size and the black (on brown) overshadows the leather in terms of the aesthetic.
On the flip side, its width is what makes it possible to cram more than one or two things into the Riff.
As for construction, the stitching looks great.
It’s machine-stitched, so you may not end up with a lifetime product. But the construction is still careful, with the exception of two pieces of leather coming together next to the pen loop that weren’t totally aligned. (You can see it in the pen loop image above.) This is maybe being picky, but for a $175 Field Notes cover, one might be justified in noticing.
As for the Riff’s leather, the product page only says “100% cowhide,” but that doesn’t specify whether it’s full grain. Given the price point, I’d been assuming it is, but usually leather makers selling you full grain specify that it’s full grain. This may not be. If I find out more, I’ll update the post accordingly.
Overall the Riff is a good-looking and thoughtfully designed product. TIG feels sort of like a luxury brand. It’s hard to find the Leatherback Writer 3, but that’s about half the price, and does just about all the same things the Riff does. If you’re a Mod junkie, though, and you don’t need the insert that series features, you might want to check out the Riff anyway.
Thanks to the good folks at TIG for sending me the Riff for the purposes of the review. Their kindness in sending the sample did not keep me, as you may have suspected, from an honest and objective assessment in my review.