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The ultimate guide to goatskin leather (and why it’s better than the rest)

Here at Billy Tannery we consider ourselves to be experts in goat leather.

After discovering that thousands of goat hides leftover from the food industry were being thrown away each year, we found a sustainable solution. And today we’re the UK’s only tannery that specialises in producing premium goat leather.

But what’s so great about goatskins? We get asked many questions about our beloved leather, from how long it lasts to whether or not it smells (it doesn’t by the way).

So whether you’re a leather connoisseur or simply want to know more about your goat leather goods, here’s our ultimate guide to goat leather.

Goat Leather Best Leather

Goat leather = good quality

Goat leather is an extremely versatile material made from tanned goat hides. Its natural strength and softness make it an ideal leather for bags, boots, gloves, rugs and other products that benefit from flexibility.

For the highest quality leather, always choose full-grain. This type of material is much more unique than mass-produced leathers that are often sanded down and printed for a more uniform look.

Our signature goat leather has an especially pronounced grain that results in a long-lasting, one of a kind material with a beautiful texture. By vegetable tanning our leather, we’re able to best celebrate the natural marks and variations of each hide. Therefore each piece of our leather - and therefore our products - is completely individual.

How does goatskin compare to other leathers?

Goatskin is lighter weight than other leathers yet still boasts unparalleled strength. 

  • Goat vs cow / calf leather: goatskin matches cow hide’s tensile strength yet is lighter, softer and more breathable
  • Goat vs sheep leather: sheepskin is the softest type of leather yet goat hides are much more durable
  • Goat vs lamb leather: goat leather and lambskins are equally flexible yet goat hides are much thicker and stronger

  • Want to know more about the different types of animal hide? Check out our guide to goatskin vs other types of leather.

    Is goat leather durable?

    Goatskin is one of the most durable forms of leather and can last for many decades when well looked after. Some of the oldest known leather artefacts are made from goat leather, including a thousand year old bible. It’s unsurprising when you consider that goats are hardy mammals that survive in dramatic climates around the world - therefore their hides are naturally tough and hard-wearing.

    Is goat leather soft?

    Goat hide is a particularly soft and supple leather with unmatched flexibility. This is due to the natural oils (known as lanolin) found in the skin. Its lightweight nature is also complemented with lasting strength, which makes it perfect for on the go accessories, bags and home decor.

    For these reasons, we designed our one of a kind Roll Top Backpack, a large goat leather rucksack with 26 litres of volume. Any other kind of leather would be too heavy for long-term use but our signature goatskin ensures it remains comfortable to carry for hours on end.

    Goat Leather Roll Top Backpack

    What does goatskin leather feel like?

    Authentic goat leather has a striking grainy texture, with distinctive ridges that resemble pebbles. This is caused by the goat’s coarse coat of hair which leaves clearly defined markings on the skin.

    Goatskin has a completely unique look and feel to any other type of leather - one of many reasons why we’re advocates of this beautiful material.

    Is goat leather waterproof?

    Like all other types of leather, goat leather isn’t naturally waterproof - despite what many people think. If not protected, water can cause damage and cause the material to become stiff.

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your bag out in the British weather. Leather is somewhat water resistant so don’t fret if you get caught in a light drizzle.

    So, can goatskin leather get wet? The benefits of goat leather is its high levels of durability and water resistance - which makes it a fine choice for outdoor products such as bags, shoes and wallets. Just make sure to regularly treat your leather goods to keep them in tip top condition (find out how to waterproof your goat leather).

    How to clean goat leather

    Regular cleaning not only makes goat leather more waterproof - it also means it can last for generations to come.

    To wash your goat leather bags or accessories, first you need to check for other materials that may require special treatment such as suede or artificial leather. If your product is 100% full-grain goat leather, then you can carefully clean your product with water before leaving it to dry naturally away from direct heat.

    The next step is to condition and polish your goat leather with a suitable protection product, such as Collonil’s Leather Care Kit (our go-to brand for all our goat leather here at Billy Tannery). Check out our step-by-step instructions on how to clean a goat leather bag for more details.

    Find out more about how we source, tan and make goat leather here in the UK at Billy Tannery.

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