Soft Leather Vs. Hard Leather: Which Reigns Supreme?

Posted by The Green Tanners on 14th Apr 2023

Soft Leather Vs. Hard Leather: Which Reigns Supreme?

Leather has long been applauded for its durability, versatility, and timeless elegance. However, not all leather is made equal. There are terms like "soft leather" and "hard leather" buzzing around in the market, leaving you wondering which one is the superior choice. The answer entirely depends on your preferences and needs. 

In this article, we'll take a closer look into the soft leather and hard leather to ensure that your next leather purchase suffices its value for you.

First things first.

What makes leather soft or hard?

The softness or hardness of leather depends on the type of animal it comes from, as well as the preparation and treatment of the hide. For example, leather from young animals is typically softer than leather from older animals. 

Additionally, the type of tanning process used on the hide can also affect the softness of the leather. Chrome tanning, for example, results in a softer leather than vegetable tanning. 

Finally, the way the leather is finished and treated can also affect its softness. Oiling and buffing, for example, can make the leather softer.

Soft leather vs. hard leather - A quick look

Soft Leather

Hard Leather

The feel is extremely soft, super supple, and heavenly tender.

The feel is hard and rigid.  

Soft leather items are pliable, exceedingly comfortable to wear, and delightful to the touch, lending a less formal feel.

Hard leather items are thick, sturdy yet sophisticated, exuding a corporate feel.

Soft leather is highly flexible and malleable, and is not prone to maintaining its form.

Hard leather isn’t flexible. It can be molded using different techniques to make different products.

Soft leather is usually made from cowhide, deerskin, calf hide, lambskin, and goatskin. 

Hard leather is typically made from buffalo and camel skin.

Soft Leather wears out faster and wrinkles up easily with time.

Hard leather ages gracefully.

Less durable, attractive texture, supple, thin, lightweight, and easier to cut and sew. 

Durable, long-lasting, thick, has a fine texture, and can be used for wet forming/molding.

Soft leather is used to make products with irregular shape. Often used in clothing or upholstery, sneakers, tote bags, backpacks, golf bags, aprons, and leather accessories.

Hard leather is used to make products with a definite shape. Typically used in heavy-duty belts, straps, boots, motorcycle bags, dice cups, hunting flask cases, hunting horn cases, and so on. 

Soft leather explained

Soft leather is a term commonly used to describe a type of leather that is known for its softness and flexibility. This type of leather is often associated with specific types of animal hides, like cowhide, lambskin, and deerskin, but can also be made from other hides such as calfskin, goatskin, or exotic animal skins. 

There are two common types of soft leather we use based on the leather thickness to make our products. These include:

Cowhide leather with a thin gauge normally between 0.9 mm and 1.2 mm. It's more durable than other types. We use this leather to manufacture regular garments. 

Cowhide leather with a soft feel but thicker gauge usually between 1.3mm and 1.9 mm. It’s different from regular leather garments.

Advantages of soft leather

  • Comfortable to wear, as it molds easily to the shape of the body or foot.
  • It has a luxurious look and feels making it highly valued in the fashion industry
  • Have porous qualities and can be dyed in a variety of colors.
  • More affordable than hard leather

Disadvantages of soft leather

  • Less durable than hard leather, and is more prone to scratching, scuffing, and general wear and tear.

Soft leather products at The Green Tanners

Soft leather is a suitable option for items that can withstand the rigors of daily use. This type of leather we use to manufacture golf bags, golf pouches, and accessories like crossbody bags, sling bags, etc.

If you’re at The Green Tanners to buy something made of soft leather, check out these products.

  • Stylish leather bags for men and women

We offer a wide range of leather bags for both men and women, including trendy totes, practical crossbody bags, convenient sling bags, and reliable leather backpacks. Our bags feature high-quality zippers and multiple compartments to help you keep your belongings organized. Moreover, the texture of our bags is designed to offer a smooth and pleasing feel to the touch and an attractive appearance.

leather bag, leather sling bag

  • Leather aprons

Our leather aprons are handcrafted with genuine cowhide leather and rust-proof hardware to ensure longevity. They make it easy for you to carry your tools handy in multiple pockets. Additionally, our aprons have an adjustable waist and neck straps to fit according to your body type.

Leather aprons, Leather woodworking apron, Aprons

  • Leather golf bags

A stylish and high-quality leather golf bag can make the golfing experience more exciting on the course. Our golf bags and golf pouches are made with high-quality cowhide leather, featuring a sleek and polished look.

Hard leather explained

The term "hard leather" can refer to a range of leathers with varying degrees of stiffness and durability. Its thickness gauge is much thicker, usually between 2.5mm to 3.5 mm.

Hard leather is produced by a tanning process that involves applying heat, pressure, and chemicals to remove excess moisture and make the leather more compact. Common types of hard leather include chrome leather and vegetable leather.

Advantages of hard leather

  • It is highly durable and resilient, able to withstand wear and tear.
  • Provides excellent protection against abrasions, cuts, and impact
  • Ideal for products made for outdoor and industrial use.
  • It has a firm texture, a natural sheen, and a unique aesthetic appeal that makes it more attractive.

Disadvantages of hard leather

  • More expensive than soft leather.
  • Less comfortable to wear than soft leather.
  • Require more maintenance and care as it’s more susceptible to cracking and drying out over time.

Hard leather products at The Green Tanners

Hard leather is commonly used for products that require a high level of durability and resistance to wear and tear. It can also be used for accessories where the firmness of the leather adds a unique aesthetic appeal. 

At The Green Tanners, we use hard leather to make Hunting flasks, horn cases, dice cups, etc. Check out these products.

  • Dice cups

Leather dice cups are a great addition to any board game that uses dice. Their ribbed interior helps reduce the chances of dice rolling off the table and also contributes to quiet shaking. Made from genuine cowhide leather and hand sewed with thick thread.

Leather Dice Cups, Leather dice shaker, Dice Cups
  • Hunting flask leather case

Our hunting flask leather case is made from 100% genuine cowhide leather making it the perfect accessory for your next hunting trip. It features thick brass hardware, strong stitching, and adjustable buckle fastening making it easy to attach to your saddle. 

Leather Flask Bottle, Leather Hunting Flask Bottle, Flask Bottle, Leather Hip Flask Bottle
  • Horn case

Made from genuine cowhide leather and thick brass hardware our hunting horn leather case is a perfect piece for fox hunting. It features an adjustable buckle strap so you can easily attach it to the saddle top ring and bottom straps for girth adjustment.

Fox hunting horn, leather fox hunting horn, 1 band fox hunting horn, 4 band fox hunting horn, 3 band fox hunting horn

How to identify soft or hard leather?

You can identify whether a product is made from soft or hard leather by considering the following factors:


Factors

Soft Leather

Hard leather

Texture

Soft leather has a smoother and more pliable texture. Touch and feel it.

Hard leather has a stiffer and more rigid texture. 

Flexibility

Soft leather is more flexible and bends easily. Perform a bend test by folding a small section of the leather in half. If the leather bends easily and doesn't crease or crack, it’s likely soft leather. 

Hard leather is less flexible and will resist bending and may crack or crease when bent.

Water test

It is more porous and will absorb water quickly. Put a small drop of water on the leather and see how quickly it’s absorbed.

It will repel water when you put a drop on it.

Appearance 

Soft leather can have a smooth and supple appearance, with a gentle sheen or matte finish depending on the type of leather and the finishing process used. 

Hard leather typically has a more rigid and structured appearance compared to soft leather. The surface may be smoother and less textured, with a mate or glossy in finish depending on the type of leather and any the process used.

How to maintain your leather products?

Leather products (both soft and hard) require care and upkeep to remain strong and attractive over time. Follow these tips to maintain leather products.

  • To prevent excessive dryness, store your product in a dark, temperature-controlled room like a closet when not in use.
  • Keep it out of direct sunlight to avoid drying out from too much heat.
  • Use a suitable leather conditioner to polish your leather product, but first test it on a small area to avoid damage.
  • Use cushioned hangers for soft leather products to retain their shape.

Conclusion

So now you have got the idea of soft leather and hard leather, you might be wondering which one is the best? Well, it depends on the product you’re buying and how long you’re going to use it. Both soft leather and hard leather have their own benefits and unique characteristics, and it's difficult to determine which one is better than the other.