Product Review

Leslie Wylie checks out the Ice Block Bag by Mission Mercantile Leather Goods.

The Ice Block Bag by Mission Mercantile Leather Goods. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The Ice Block Bag by Mission Mercantile Leather Goods. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

We equestrians are a people of great paradox. On the surface, our lifestyles might seem one hinged on old-fashioned elegance — all plaited manes and velvet helmets and burnished leather  — but by equal turn we’re about as tough and gritty as they come

To further complicate things, it seems as though we’re constantly diving from one realm into the next, swinging back and forth between barn grubby and show-ring polished ad infinitum. It’s hard enough to keep up with all that shape-shifting ourselves, much less find gear that can match pace!

That’s why I was so immediately taken by the Ice Block Bag from Mission Mercantile Leather GoodsThis all-purpose leather and brawny canvas powerhouse may masquerade as stylish arm candy, but in reality it’s a take-no-prisoners piece of straight-up gear.

Per Mission Mercantile’s description, the bag is “a direct aesthetic and structural descendant of a time when back-breaking blocks of ice were carried into homes and businesses by hand. Indeed, when the iceman cameth to replenish the icebox he did so with this essential instrument — replete with a small handle under the base for conveniently swift, single-motion unloading.”

Since acquiring it at the beginning of the summer, my Ice Block Bag has been to two four-star events on two different continents, picnics, camping trips, lake outings, a music festival, the farmers’ market, and of course, more times than anything, the barn.

It’s toted bottles of rosé and hefted flakes of alfalfa. I’ve paired it with sundresses and with muck boots. It’s been a bed-and-breakfast overnight bag, and it’s been a barn chore workhorse. It’s like a one-man play, alternately seamlessly between the roles of rugged and sophisticated.

It’s as at home carting around my stuff at the horse show …

At 17.25" (length) x 7" Depth (depth at bottom), 17" (depth at opening) x 19.25" (height), it's big enough to carry all my tack in one trip. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

At 17.25″ (length) x 7″ Depth (depth at bottom), 17″ (depth at opening) x 19.25″ (height), it’s big enough to carry all my tack in one trip. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… or hauling bulky stuff, like firewood …

Firewood = no problem for this heavy-duty bag! Photo by Leslie WYlie.

Firewood = no problem for this heavy-duty, utilitarian bag! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… as it is hanging out at at a champagne picnic in the steeplechase infield.

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All class and style. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

In fact, it may be the most versatile piece of gear I own!

In addition to its solid construction, I appreciate the bag’s attention to all the little details. From padded shoulder strap and 7″x10″ interior hanging pocket …

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Necessary, as a bag this size can swallow car keys whole! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… to the craftsmanship and quality of materials used, including 100% full-grain leather (I love the rich chocolate of the Oil stain, but it’s also available in Oak and Rust colors), 18 oz. waxed canvas and antique brass rivets …

Mission Mercantile backs all their products up with a "handshake guarantee" of excellence. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mission Mercantile backs all their products up with a “handshake guarantee” of excellence. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

… this is more than just a highly attractive, highly pragmatic bag. It’s an heirloom.

And it’s just one of many heirloom-worthy products created by Mission Mercantile. From distinguished waxed canvas and leather bags to durable hunting gear and gentlemanly wallets, wash bags, padfolios, gifts and accessories, everything they offer is earmarked by stunning craftsmanship and uncompromising quality.

While it’s clearly all steeped in a sort of robust, outdoorsy tradition, Mission Mercantile has also applied its aesthetic to some modern amenities as well. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this Laptop Sleeve, featuring a padded suede interior and the same waxed-canvas-meets-full-grain-leather construction as the Ice Block Bag.  

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

This item, too, seeks its source in timeless tradition: “Reminiscent of the classic courier’s pouch that once carried urgent documents between heads of state or original manuscripts from authors to their publishers, this handsomely austere leather and canvas complement to our backpack securely accommodates all your vital documents where they live today — in laptops or tablets.”

I’ve owned plenty of laptop bags in my life, each one seemingly more complicated than the last, sometimes with so many pockets and zippers that I actually find myself losing items into the abyss! I love the no-frills simplicity of this bag, which holds notebook devices up to 16″. My 15″ MacBook Pro fits in it with room to spare for cables, mouse pad and accessories.

I also think it would be lovely repurposed as a document pouch, perfect for keeping my horse’s health papers, horse show entries and registrations together in one place.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Considering the fact the Ice Block Bag and Laptop Sleeve are virtually indestructible heirloom items, they’re an absolute steal priced at $265 and $115 respectively.

To further protect your investment, all are backed by a lifetime guarantee: “Mission Mercantile was founded to create and proudly stand behind our products, built by craftsmen using materials, that with proper use and care, will live on, passed down the generations as heirlooms enriched and refined with age and memories of past personal journeys.”

We invite you to peruse Mission Mercantile Leather Goods’ complete product line at their website here. Go Mission Mercantile, and Go Riding!

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

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