New Designs: Filson Original Sportsman Bag
In the last few months, Filson has been quite busy releasing a bunch of great new luggage pieces. There are three trends that I have noticed:
1. Use of Tin Cloth
The company is starting to incorporate their iconic Tin Cloth into many of their classic designs (like the Tin Cloth Original Briefcase #70016 for example).
2. Two-Tone Variations and Accents
They are also adding a lot of bold new two-tone color variations (and accent colors/patterns) to existing designs. This is apparent in the addition of Navy as a new base color (Spring 2013), as well as in the use of plaid, wool and orange accent pieces.
3. Retro Minimalist Designs
Filson is bringing back some classic/minimalist designs (the Game Bag Messenger #70077 for example) to fill gaps in their existing product line to accommodate many different types of end user.
One new bag that has really caught my eye is the Filson Original Sportsman Bag (#70073). Interestingly enough, it reflects all three of the trends that I have just discussed.
This bag is a streamlined, minimalist version of the iconic Filson Sportsman Bag #266. It utilizes the same basic structure as the full-zipper Sportsman, but it replaces the large, more bulbous exterior side pockets with trimmer (flap-style) pockets. This entire outer layer of pockets is constructed from a contrasting color Tin-Cloth to give the bag additional weather resistance and, in my opinion, provides a fantastic two-tone look. Finally, the main compartment flap is trimmed in bright orange for a pop of color.
Another important change is that the bridle leather strap has been replaced by a great looking nylon webbing, which I am a huge fan of for a couple reasons. First, the strap is lighter than the traditional bridle leather. Second, it is wider so it distributes weight more evenly across the shoulder (and there is no need to break in those finicky stiff leather shoulder pads). Finally, the strap is impervious to the elements and really matches the character of the weather-resistant tin cloth.
My one complaint about the other Sportsman (Filson 266) was that when fully loaded, the exterior pocket worn closest to the body caused the bag’s center of gravity to sit far away from you and made it a bit more awkward to carry. This new “Original” Sportsman appears to have remedied this problem.
Charles – great review, this might be a good replacement for my aging dog bag.
On another topic that might interest Filson lovers, I learned this week from correspondence with a Filson customer service rep that the company has suspended its custom product service. This was the program that allowed long time customers (all customers) to order items with special sizing requirements or to get styles that had been “retired” or no longer in catalogs. I’ve used this to order my favorite shorts, Style 576, even though they haven’t been offered for some time. I was about to order another 3 or 4 pair the other day to replace those that need replacing (according to my wife, not me) when I learned that they no longer do those sorts of orders because there are so many new products being added. To me, the custom product program was another of those things that make Filson truly “the Best”. Maybe if enough “Filson Fans” wrote or called about the custom product service, then maybe they would reconsider the value of (offering) this old tradition. Just a thought. Let me know what you think.
Thanks for the great info, Blaine. I agree with you…the Custom Product Service was a great benefit for customers and was one of the things that helped me justify Filson’s rapidly increasing prices (20%-30% in one year on many luggage pieces). In past years, the service has been suspended during the holiday season, so perhaps it will return in the new year. Keep your fingers crossed:)
Charles, I recently bought the discontinued Sportsman 266 at a great price for a trip overseas I just took. I was curious how it would function as a carry-on for my transatlantic business trips. It actually worked really, really well and I enjoyed the functionality of the wide opening to the main comparment and the multitude of pockets compared to my Filson small duffle. Sure, it’s not the best bag if you’re going solely carry-on and want want a “maximum carry-on bag” as you trade some capacity for compartmentalizaion, but as a companion bag to a checked piece or an overnight or weekend trip, it is perfect. So I am a little disappointed that this bag was discontined in a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” vein. The new version above seems like a decontented version at an increased price: 1) no leather strap; 2) no large zippered pockets; 3) no internal holders/pockets within the pocket. With the sole exception of perhaps being less bulbous when stuffed. What are your thoughts?
Hi Ash…thanks for your thoughtful remarks about the 266 Sportsman. I agree with you…it is a great bag for short weekend trips and I love the U-shaped flap and adjustable dividers. It is very easy to configure and customize for many uses and the external pockets are very useful as well. I also agree with your comments re: the new version. Much like the Outfitter 238, I think Filson moved in the wrong direction when they re-designed the bag. Hang onto that 266…it is a future classic!