The American Bison is of great importance to the United States—it helped shape the Great Plains. These large, majestic beasts are responsible for forming the ecology of the one of the country’s largest areas, and they’re pretty tasty to boot. Did you also know they make awesomely strong leather belts and bags?
A Brief History in Bison Hide
Modern American men aren’t the first to recognize the value in bison hide. Native Americans were hunting these great behemoths since 8500 BC for both food—do you think they knew the wonders of bison jerky?—and clothing.
In case you haven’t seen an American bison in person, they’re mighty big beasts. Native Americans would hunt the bison for the pride of bagging such a large trophy and found numerous ways to put their gigantic bodies to good use. The bones of the bison were turned into a myriad of tools and needles while the horns could be harnessed to make utensils and bows. The men also knew bringing home a bison could potentially net them a pretty nice wife, too. It doesn’t quite work that way these days, but it should.
The most treasured part of the bison was always the hide. That’s because the rugged leather hide of a bison could be converted into all types of clothing, from moccasins to winter coats. The Native Americans learned early on bison hide could hold up during any season, no matter what the weather spirits threw at them.
Bison Hide Cannot Be Beaten
With so many cows readily available for making leather items you might be wondering why someone would go through all the trouble of tanning a bison hide. Well, my friends, it’s because bison hide is the best—at least in terms of looks.
The truth is bison hide is similar in strength to cow hide, though some argue it can be up to 40 percent stronger. They’re both used in garments and bags thanks to their ability to withstand stretching, meaning they’ll last a long while. The difference lies in the size of bison hides.
When cowhides are harvested they’re capable of reaching up to 50 feet due to being stretched for maximum consumption. It takes a lot of money to raise a cow, after all. Bison, on the other hand, is never stretched due to its highly desirable grain patterning. Bison hide has a distinctly rustic appearance not found in cowhide, giving it a more vibrant and manly appearance. You won’t look like you’re carrying a purse or wearing a belt bought in the women’s department at Macy’s with bison hide.
Bison patterning is unique and no two patterns look exactly the same. As it’s not stretched like cowhide, it’s also thicker and more durable.
It’s Easy to Care For
Bison leather contains compact fiber that protects it from water damage, meaning it can last through decades of outdoor use. One of the biggest perks of bison hide is it contains thousands of small pores that help circulate air through the leather to help regulate the temperature of your body. You’ll never be too hot or cold in bison leather.
To keep these pores from clogging avoid using conditioner designed for cowhides. Look for bison hide conditioner, instead. You definitely don’t want to put your bison bag or belt anywhere near the washing machine, either. All it needs it a cool old-fashioned scrubbing with a little mild soap and water to keep it clean.
Bison hide is one of the strongest and distinctly American-made leathers on the market. We believe no hunter is ready for the great outdoors without a well-made belt of bison leather. If your pants stay up all on their own, don’t fret; you still need something to carry your booze or a sturdy case for your gun on your next trip and we’ve got you covered.