Happy New Year to all my faithful readers! It has been a busy holiday season, but now it is time to get back to business. For the first post of 2013, I thought I would share an alternate use that I recently discovered for my Filson 257 Briefcase Computer Bag.
As I stated in my earlier review, for many people the Filson 257 is a little too large to carry everyday (unless you have a unique situation that requires the extra room). However, in addition to a briefcase, I think it makes a great carry-on bag too.
I am known by friends and family to be a very light packer (and a borderline minimalist), but my travel philosophy is always focused on packing only the essentials and trimming clutter when at all possible. As you can see from the picture (taken after unpacking from a recent trip), I was able to fit the following items into my Filson 257…
- Packing Cube*
- MacBook Air
- Kindle Touch
- Nalgene 16 oz water bottles (x2)
- Beats Audio Headphones
- A hardback book, a legal pad and some pens
*I am easily able to fit two casual outfits, two pairs of underwear and socks, as well as a few toiletry items into the Eagle Creek packing cube by rolling my clothes.
Granted, not everyone can get away with packing this light, but this system works remarkably well for me on short getaways. The Filson 257 has just enough internal organization, coupled with a spacious main compartment to fill this role quite well.
This bag now serves a dual role in my Filson collection (as both a daily-use bag and as a carry-on bag), which makes the cost ($275 USD) much easier to justify for those on a budget.
Bottom Line: don’t think of the Filson 257 as merely a briefcase. It is a versatile chameleon in the Filson lineup.
The Filson Sportsman’s Bag 266 is a well-thought-out design that makes a great choice for travelers and sportsman alike. It is loaded with Filson’s classic style, but more importantly, it really delivers on function.
Price: $295 USD
Dimensions: 18″ W x 11″ H x 12″ D
Layout: (1) main compartment with (2) snap dividers; (2) large exterior compartments with zipper closures and organizational pockets/sleeves; (2) large end pockets; and (2) full-length stow pockets.
This bag includes two twill dividers (with three snaps on each side) that can be configured in a number of different ways. I typically only use one divider in the main compartment to seperate shoes from clothes or dirty clothes from clean. I like being able to quickly change the layout of the bag to suit my travel needs.
2. POCKETS AND SLEEVES
Inside one of the exterior zippered compartments is a set of four pockets with stitched bottoms. In the other compartment, you will find four sleeves with open bottoms. This sleeve construction was also used in the Filson 257 computer briefcase, but has recently been changed (due to customer demand) to closed-bottom pockets. I am not sure whether Filson intends to also change the layout of the Sportsman’s Bag, but my particular bag has the sleeve/pocket configuration, which certainly provides more options.
3. GENEROUS END POCKETS
Located on each end of the Sportsman’s Bag, there are two generously sized pockets that will transport 1-liter water bottles with ease.
The intended use for this bag, is as a case to haul hunting/camping/fishing gear and it is at this task that it excels. There are as many ways to seperate and store your gear as there are potential users for this bag. Zippers, pockets and sleeves are literally everywhere and it makes finding exactly what you need fast and efficient.
The Sportsman’s bag also makes a great carry-on for certain travelers. In general, I stick to my recommendation that the Filson Medium Travel Bag 246 is the best all-around carry-on, but if you would prefer to trade some space in the main compartment for better organization, than the Sportsman’s bag would be a great alternative. Keep in mind that the exterior dimensions of the two cases are very similar when full, so it is personal preference which style you choose.
HANDLE CARE IS A MUST
There is one drawback to the Sportsman’s Bag that I want you to be aware of. The zippers are very rugged and can be quite sharp when the bag is left open. If you are not careful, the zippers from the side compartments can chew up the bridle leather handles a bit.
The easiest solution is to flip the front handle down and roll the lid if you plan to leave the bag open in order to prevent this type of wear/damage to the handle material.
AT FULL CAPACITY
I find this case to be very comfortable to carry over the shoulder, with one caveat…try not to stuff the compartment closest to your body to maximum capacity. I tend to put softer items in this compartment to prevent the case from standing off my hip too much. I also keep computer chargers, my cell phone and any other non-clothing items in pocket furthest from my body. At full capacity, I still find the Medium Travel Bag 246 to carry a little better.
The Sportsman’s Bag is one of the most unique pieces that Filson makes, because it can be configured to suit many intended uses with the internal divider system and its plethora of pockets and sleeves. If you want a great carry-on for short weekend trips, but need more integrated organization than the Filson Travel Bag 246, the Sportsman’s case makes a great option.
Bottom Line: the Filson 266 keeps your stuff well-organized and ready for action. I highly recommend adding it to your collection.
Today, I will be reviewing the Filson 240 Small Carry-On. This bag is very similar (in both design and function) to the Filson 232 Medium Field Bag, so I will be highlighting the differences between the two in order to help you decide which is the best choice.
- Price: $265 USD
- Dimensions: 15″ W x 11 1/2″ H x 5″ D
- Layout: (1) main compartment, including storm flap with double leather buckle closure; (2) front bellows pockets with snap closures; (1) back exterior pocket and (1) small carrying handle.
The Filson 240 is a basic messenger-style bag that can be worn over the shoulder or carried cross-body. It features a spacious, main zippered compartment with no built-in organization. It also has two expandable “billows” pockets on the front of the bag (under the storm flap) that snap closed.
The leather trim on edge of the storm flap is one of my favorite design elements and it gives the bag a classic, timeless appearance. It is secured with two leather straps and two brass buckles. Another nice detail is the embossed Filson logo on the ends of the leather straps, which adds a feel of quality to the overall design.
Real World Testing
The Filson 240 is certainly a versatile bag, but it does have some potential drawbacks that would cause me to consider a couple other Filson models before purchasing this one.
1. Difficult to Access
I really like the overall look of the Filson 240 and the zipper/flap/buckle combination provides excellent security for its contents, especially in crowded environments. However, it also makes the bag very cumbersome if you need to frequently access your stuff. The three primary storage compartments each require the user to open two different fasteners to access them (Buckle/Snap or Buckle/Zipper).
2. Strap Attachment Points
On most messenger bags, the attachment points for the shoulder strap are located on the side of the bag, towards the top. On the Filson 240, the attachment points are located on the back of the bag approximately a quarter of the way down from the top.
Why does this matter? This design causes the bag to lean away from you when it is slung over the shoulder. When I carried the bag, I found that I was always fighting to pull it toward me in order to make it more comfortable. The attachment points also create an awkward carry-angle when using the small leather handle. This bag is most comfortable when it is carried cross-body.
3. Short Back Pocket
The small pocket located on the back of the 240 is much shorter than the exterior pockets found on other Filson bags. This is a function of the low attachment points for the shoulder strap. I did not feel comfortable with my iPad in the back pocket because it never quite felt secure. This pocket was not very useful due to its size and placement.
The Filson 232 is a better choice for most buyers
I was left with a lukewarm feeling about the Filson 240 after my real-world testing, but there is a silver lining. If you really like the classic style of the Filson 240, there is a much better option…the Filson 232 Medium Field Bag.
The overall style of the Field Bag is nearly identical to the Small Carry-On, featuring the large storm flap, leather trim and the front bellows pockets. However, the Filson 232 eliminates the zipper over the main compartment.
By using only the buckles, the 232 is much easier to access and by removing the zipper, Filson was able to add two functional end-pockets and a double-bottom to create a much more functional and durable bag. As an added bonus, the 232 retails for only $225, which will save you nearly $40 off the MSRP of the 240.
Choosing the perfect bag is always a function of your intended use…
In the Field: if you are working in the field and are looking for an open-concept bag to carry small equipment, notebooks and gear, then the Filson 232 Field Bag would be a fantastic choice (and would work much better than the 240).
For Travel (as a Carry-On): for short trips, when being used as a carry-on, I find the Filson 261 Zippered Tote, which features more interior volume, a double bottom and four functional exterior pockets, to be a much better choice than the 240.
For a Student or Office Worker: as a day bag for a student or city dweller to carry books, a laptop, lunch and perhaps a small jacket, the Filson 257 Briefcase Computer Bag is a much better choice than the 240.
In conclusion, the Filson 240 Carry-On is a handsome, well-made bag, but it is a bag that is functionally stuck in the middle between a multitude of other choices that are all better suited to task.
This week, I am selling a brand new Filson 220 small Duffel Bag in Otter Green. This bag includes the shoulder strap and all of the tags are still attached (except for the price tag). I purchased this bag from the local Filson dealer for review purposes.
Here is the description from the Filson web site: Our water-repellent heavy-duty Small Duffle is designed to carry plenty of cargo and built to take a beating. Features an inside pocket at each end, leather pulls, leather grip with two-snap closure, adjustable and removable leather shoulder strap with leather pad. One-way brass zipper. Made in USA
This duffle bag measures 18″ W x 10 ” H x 11″ D
The retail price of the 220 is $225 (plus tax). I am selling this one for $180 USD including USPS Priority Mail shipping with Delivery Confirmation to CONUS. This bag has been SOLD