Want to find out which is the most durable leather of all time? Ha! Bet you thought you were satisfied with the protection your cowhide jacket was offering you - wait until you get a load of this!
Yes, today we will be exploring four of the most strong and durable exotic leathers outside of the realms of your usual fodder.
1. Kangaroo Leather
One of the central contenders for the title of most durable leather comes in the form of kangaroo leather.
The tensile strength of all leather will depend almost entirely on the age, sex, and variety of animal from which it is procured. Not only that but the genetic makeup of the hide has been streamlined by thousands of years of evolution that contribute to the overall strength accrued.
All in all, the direction of the leather collagen fibers, the morphology of the leather, and the thickness leather all contribute to the great strength of this exotic leather.
Generally, one of the main cons of kangaroo leather is the fact that it is so thin. Sure, this loss of thickness doesn't necessarily impact the overall strength of the hide, though it certainly can if you are purchasing hide of lesser quality.
Further to this, just as with, say, goat leather or ostrich leather, kangaroo leather is considerably more expensive than cowhide leather, often averaging around double the price. And for good reason, cow leather may be iconic, but it is by no means a soft leather like kangaroo hide is.
Owing to the low-fat content and thin grain layer, kangaroo leather can be used for just about any ambition. The smooth surface is supple enough that it can be used for
- motorcycle suits
- automobile and domestic upholstery
- soccer cleats
- cowboy boots
and plenty more! The fact that this leather can remain strong even when stretched so thin is certainly one of the main pulls of using such a material in producing any item of clothing. In particular, it is called upon by motorcycle enthusiasts who want to take a tumble from the motorcycle without ruining their swag.
2. Stingray Skin
Another of the most durable exotic leathers on the market is made from stingray skin.
Something in its biological makeup causes the hide to be covered in a seemingly infinite number of calcium-filled bubbles that help the skin resist scratches, scuffs, and puncturing.
Alongside the fact that the hide bears fibers that run in random directions, this makes stingray skin more difficult to tear than cow leather hide. Most leathers will naturally have fibers that run in a generally consistent direction, thus separating more easily when put under external stress.
One of the most universally agreed upon cons of using stingray skin in the production of leather materials is just how rigid it is compared to other leathers. Indeed, compared with a variety like shell cordovan leather, stingray leather is incredibly rigid and won't even bend enough to prove that it can avoid creasing.
For precisely the same reasons that stingray leather is deemed desirable, it is also often avoided in favor of hide which is at least a little more malleable. The toughness is almost too much, making it difficult to even cut and sew into shape, which will subsequently result in a far more extensive production process, adding further expense to an already luxurious item.
Owing to the immense and stubborn strength of stingray skin, it has found uses in perhaps more utilitarian fields rather than for clothing and the like. Some of these uses include
- the top-coating of a table
- tool handles that are likely to meet hands repeatedly
- the handbags of hard cases or any other bag that is likely to be met with friction
- and boots that are going to be used for work purposes
and such. Investing in an item made from stingray skin is to ensure that you never have to buy another of whatever you are buying.
3. Shell Cordovan Leather
Of all the more exotic leathers here arrayed, shell cordovan leather is likely the softest and most supple of the lot.
Made from the flat and fibrous muscle tissue in the rump of a horse or other equine creature, the dense tissues provide anything made from it an incredibly high tensile strength no matter how thinly stretched. In this way, a strip of cordovan leather is able to hold more weight than an equally-sized strip of almost any other leather.
The surface is almost entirely resistant to scratches and scuffs - and any scratches that stick are usually easy to remove. This leather has a particular reputation for eschewing creases, no matter how hard it is folded.
Since this leather comes from the rump of a horse or other equine creature, the size is altogether rather limited, especially in comparison with the relative scope of hides from the likes of cows or bulls - don't forget about buffalo leather either.
Most shell cordovan leather hides are limited to around 2.5 square feet in size, devastatingly small in comparison to other varieties of leather.
Since this is an incredibly strong leather that is also uniquely resistant to creasing, it has found many uses, particularly in the production of:
- footwear - especially the kind of dress shoes that are polished to within an inch of their life
- wallets that are going to see plenty of light and darkness (pocket-style)
- razor strops for sharpening razor blades against
- bracelets for wearing while zooming down the freeway on a Harley Davidson in a Prada advert cosplaying as Johnny Depp
- straps for various things - e.g. guitars, handbags, etc.
- belts for keeping trousers from careering down to your ankles
- small handbags that are tightly structured and not prone to free movement
4. Arapaima Skin
Finally, we can take a look at the skin of one of the world's largest freshwater fish - sharing an area of the ocean with no less than the infamous piranha.
Arapaima skin has evolved to bear a unique and inimitable two-layer design that acts as a natural armor against predators. While the top layer of the skin is incredibly hard and puncture-resistant due to the strong scales, the bottom layer acts almost like a gel that can absorb the force of any impact.
Thus, arapaima leather is not only incredibly durable and resistant to scratches and impact of any kind, but it is also very flexible and supple in this way.
The central drawback for many aficionados is the fact that this genuine leather is not quite genuine enough - i.e. that it is not made from a mammal. For many, the fact that this is clearly made from fish scales will be a definite turn-off to many who simply want something with a more classic look.
This is also one of the most expensive leathers you can possibly purchase in its purest form, with the cost per skin being much higher than even shell cordovan leather or stingray leather. That being said, the size of these skins tends to be much larger due to the sheer size of the creature from which it is culled, so you can be sure you are getting your money's worth.
Like all the other leathers here arrayed, due to the exotic and singular nature of the leather, it is best suited to a few particular uses, including:
- large handbags with a loose structure
- garments that are fish-like
- pillows that you might feel like shooting at with your grandfather's old service pistol
- and blankets that you might feel like cocooning yourself in
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling informed and ready to go out into the world with your new knowledge.
FAQs Most Durable Leather
What Is the Most Durable Leather Skin?
There are a number of contenders for this title, especially if you are going to include subcategories for the best mammal leather vs the best amphibian leather, etc.
What Is the Strongest Natural Leather Available?
This remains to be seen by each individual user. For the most part, there is not really one single leather that trumps all others, though there are certainly plenty of contenders.
What Are the Toughest Exotic Leathers?
Leather aficionados will tell you that this is a toss-up between kangaroo leather, stingray skin, shell cordovan leather, and arapaima skin, all of which are incredibly expensive.
What Is the Most Durable Type of Leather for Furniture?
If you are looking to make furniture with leather, then you could easily go for something durable, though at the cost of having a piece of furniture that is altogether rather uncomfortable. Your best bet is to strike a balance between softness and suppleness, alongside durability and strength.
What Is the Toughest Leather for Gloves?
As with the procuring of leather for furniture, your best bet would be to strike a balance between using a soft and supple material alongside one that is also strong and durable, lest you be left with a pair of gloves that are warm and strong but that you can't move your fingers around in.
What Is the Toughest Leather for Cowboy Boots?
Though cowhide is the more traditional choice, many might suggest using kangaroo leather for cowboy boots. Not only is it incredibly strong compared to many other types of mammal leather, but it is also supple enough to be shaped properly and to eventually mold to your feet.