It's always a pleasure to meet with Brian and Kari Holmes from Pad & Quill, and last week at Macworld/iWorld 2014 they greeted me with a sample of a new iPhone 5/5s case that's unlike any other I have seen or used before. The new Traveler Case (US$79.99, introductory pricing of $69.99) does away with the plastic or wood case liners used in a number of other leather case -- it's all leather, all the time.
- Weight: 1.3 ounces (36.85 gms)
- Compatibility: iPhone 5/5s
- Materials: American full-grain leather, 3M clean-release adhesive
- Colors: Onyx black, Whiskey brown
Do you like the fragrance of a new pair of shoes? That's what you're greeted with when you open up the packaging for the Traveler. The Pad & Quill team used all of their leatherwork experience to craft an all-leather case that does away with the need for any other stiff material like wood or plastic to protect the sides of the iPhone. While the Traveler grips the sides of your iPhone quite securely, there's a patch of 3M clean-release adhesive in the back of the case to make sure that the phone doesn't pop out unexpectedly.
Cutouts for the camera and flash, mute switch, and speakers/Lightning port are well-placed. However, if you're used to using your on/off button or the volume toggle, you might not be happy with the Traveler as those controls are hidden away. Surprise, though -- they work just fine through the leather without the need for any "pass-through" mechanism.
On the back of the Traveler is a pouch for credit cards and identification. As Brian noted, it took trial-and-error to determine the right shape (a trapezoid) of leather to create a pocket that would actually hold more than just one or two cards. A leather pull tab allows Traveler owners to get their cards out in a jiffy.
Installing the Traveler is as simple as peeling the paper backing off of the 3M clean-release adhesive patch and pushing your iPhone into the case. Once it's in the case and touching the adhesive, the iPhone stays in place.
As noted, the on/off switch and volume toggles work just fine through the leather. That was a bit of a surprise to me because of the stiffness of the surrounding leather.
The big question, though, was how many credit and ID cards I could stuff into the back of this case. Usually I'm lucky if I can actually get two into the typical iPhone wallet case. With the Traveler, I was able to stuff five cards in and still get them out relatively easily. In most cases, though, I think you'll want to max out at four.
On the Pad & Quill website, owner Brian Holmes notes that the inspiration for the Traveler case was a leather coin pouch that his father carried for years. I think his Dad would be pleased with this tribute -- a handmade masterpiece that should last longer than Apple will probably make smartphones in the iPhone 5/5s dimensions. The case is pricy, but extremely well-made and definitely unique. The Traveler will start shipping in May.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible