I’m the type of person who spends months researching a product before buying it. As much as I try to buy high-quality items, I’m still afraid they’ll break after a short while. I keep the boxes for everything I purchase just in case something needs to be sent back—that’s on top of the prodigious amount of packaging I have as a part of my job. So I’m grateful when a product feels like a good long-term investment out of the box, the kind of thing you’ll only have to buy once.
That’s what the Savage Industries Apron is like. Handmade in California by Mafia Bags, it’s designed with aging and weathering in mind; it’s built to be battered. The leather panels on the thighs and the durable canvas material look and feel great once you get them broken in. The more scuffs and stains, the better! Seriously. This apron looks so plain initially. But like a blank canvas, it doesn’t live up to its full potential until you do something with it.
Like a Glove
Savage Industries, as the name suggests, produces and sells gear designed by Adam Savage of Mythbusters and Tested fame. Savage opened up shop to create durable products inspired by ones he designed for his own use. The Savage Industries EDC One bag, one of the company’s first products, is a WIRED favorite. I picked up an EDC Two bag some time ago, and I can definitely see what all the fuss is about. The Apron has big shoes to fill.
It doesn’t hang around your neck or go around your waist like a typical kitchen apron. Instead, the shoulder straps form an X across your back and cinch tight with the help of a plastic quick-release buckle. Once you adjust the strap length to your body shape, it’s a snug and comfortable fit. The lower part of the apron is split in two, like pant legs, and each leg has a smaller clasp and strap to wrap around your thighs. It comes in small, medium, and large, so make sure to measure yourself and use the company’s size chart to find the best fit.
The strap design is ergonomic and intuitive, but the strap material leaves something to be desired. Like the apron as a whole, it’ll get softer and more pliant over time, but even after a few months of testing, the straps still feel rigid and kind of cheap. Compared to the silky-smooth and flexible strap on my EDC Two bag, for instance, the apron’s straps just have a lesser quality to them. It’s a minor issue but something to consider if you’re sensitive to textures.
On the other hand, the plastic quick-release buckles have held up well to all the rigors I’ve put them through. (I am tempted to replace them with metal though.)
The form-fitting design is a welcome addition once you’ve laded the apron with tools of your craft. The loop on either hip easily fits hammers or handheld sickles. The two large hip pockets are deep enough for rolls of tape but also work well for clip-on tools. I’ve clipped a Leatherman Wingman multitool and a garden trowel on them with ease, and they stay put thanks to the rigid canvas and durable stitching.
There are a few narrow pockets across the chest of the apron, large enough to fit sharpies (with a bit of stretching), pens, pencils, small screwdrivers, meat thermometers, and anything else narrow and roughly pen-shaped. This is an apron that begs to be loaded up. After you’ve got it all set up, it feels great to have all your various implements ready to go when you don it. It’s like a tool belt for your whole body.
Heavy-duty tasks like gardening will leave some impressive scuffs, and it mostly keeps my clothes clean. But it’s the sheer number (and placement) of pockets and tool loops that make it a must-have. The highest endorsement I can give this apron is that it just makes working with your hands easier. It intuitively puts your tools and accouterments right where you need them.
Once you’ve worn it a couple of times, you’ll find yourself reaching for tools before even realizing you need them. It’s like having an assistant to hand you instruments like you’re a TV surgeon barking for a scalpel, stat.
During testing, I found myself wearing it for tasks that don’t typically require a workshop apron. I had it on while doing the dishes to protect myself from the backsplash. I wore it when I was frying some tofu to protect from the spicy backsplash. I even donned it when I was building a new PC. Having little pockets on my chest for tiny screwdrivers and pliers (for retrieving screws that inevitably yeet themselves into crevices of my PC case) was incredibly handy, and I never want to do PC maintenance without it ever again.
Not only does it scream to be scuffed, but it also begs to be customized. I’d love to add a hook so I can easily hang it up, for example. I’m planning on further tweaking it to better fit my unique use-cases, and at $95, I don’t feel like I’m defacing an ultra-luxe product. It’s relatively affordable, and it’s the kind of item you’d purchase with the intention of custom-tailoring it in some way.
It’s not specialized for any particular task, which means you can specialize it for your tasks, and I love that. The chest pockets are a comfy way to hold my Copic pens for finishing up linework on an illustration, or tiny brushes for model painting—or even nail art. This is a craft-neutral apron. In that way, it’s a standard-bearer of the maker spirit championed by its namesake.