Category: Comparisons

Which Filson Color is Best?

You have decided which Filson bag best meets your needs, but there is one final decision to be made. What color should you choose? Classic Tan or Otter Green?

Everyone is drawn to certain colors for a variety of different reasons, but there are some fundamental differences between the two that may make your decision a little easier.

#1 The issue of Contrast

Most Filson bags are made from 22 oz weather-treated cotton twill trimmed in dark brown bridle leather. It is this contrast that is the hallmark of the Filson brand. In addition to the leather trim, the bright gold zippers also create sharp visual contrast in the design.

The bridle leather shows the most contrast against the classic Tan canvas. However, the exposed zippers tend to really pop next to the Otter Green. Because of the varying ratio of zippers and leather trim on each individual design, some styles tend to look better in Tan and others tend to look better in Otter Green. I recommend comparing the colors in person before you make your final decision.

#2 The issue of Patina

Choosing a Filson color really boils down to your preference for patina. Tan canvas will darken and pick up dirt, light stains, etc. They look fantastic, but tend to have a mottled appearance and show the most character over time. In addition, the classic Tan is more casual in its appearance and tends to make a bolder statement.

The Otter Green canvas tends to hide dirt/stains better than the Tan and has a tendency to fade or lighten over time. If your preference is for a worn-in look with a ton of patina, then classic Tan is your best choice. If you want your bags to look new a little longer or you will be subjecting them to harsh travel conditions, then perhaps you would prefer the Otter Green.

Here is a great image showing these patina characteristics from the web site:

According to my local Filson Flagship dealer, the classic Tan outsells the Otter Green by a ratio of 2 to 1. It is the color that is most quickly identified with the Filson brand and it is a color that most styles look great in. If you simply cannot make a decision, I would recommend defaulting to classic Tan.

The Otter Green is a beautiful, dark color that will fade with heavy use. It is the rarer of the two colors, so it tends to be a little more unique than the tan. It offers a more subtle contrast with the bridle leather trim and is very resistant to stains. Therefore, it makes a great choice for larger travel pieces and tends to fit more conservative office environments a bit better.

Choose TAN if you…

  • want the most classic (and popular) Filson color;
  • tend to dress more casually or want to make a bolder statement;
  • enjoy lots of patina and character as the bag darkens and shows dirt;
  • want a bag that screams, “Filson” from a mile away; or
  • cannot make a decision

Choose OTTER GREEN if you…

  • want a color that is a little more rare;
  • prefer a bag that will fade over time;
  • will subject the bag to harsh conditions and want to hide stains; or
  • want a more conservative looking bag for certain office environments.

What about Brown?

In addition to Tan and Otter Green, many Filson bags are now offered in dark Brown. I have chosen not to include Brown in this discussion because 1) I do not own any Brown Filson bags and I like to speak from personal experience, and 2) I do not find the color to be as visually appealing.

Part of what makes Filson bags look so great (to me) is the contrast between the leather and the canvas. When you take away the contrast, I think you take away a little too much of the classic Filson design aesthetic.


First Look: Filson Outfitter Bag 238

Today, I received my new Filson 238 Outfitter Bag (Large) in the mail and I wanted to share my first impressions of this unique piece of luggage.

First, the bag is huge. When full, it measures 20” wide, 18” tall and 14” deep. It is too large for carry on travel, so it would need to be checked at the airport. However, it would make the perfect weekender for camping, hunting, skiing or snowboarding.


  • Price: $415 USD
  • Dimensions: Top 20”W x 12”H x 14”D ; Bottom 20”W x 6”H x 14”D
  • Layout: (1) main compartment; (1) wet/dry compartment; (2) full-length exterior zippered pockets; (2) open exterior end-pockets and (2) full-length interior side pockets.

Comparison Pics to Filson Medium Travel Bag 246

To help you get a true understanding of the size/volume of this bag, I have taken a few pictures of it next to the Filson Travel Bag Medium 246:

NOTE: this is the Large Outfitter bag. Filson also makes an Extra-large Outfitter Bag 239, although I am not sure it would as practical due to the weight when full. The Large size seems to offer the best tradeoff between capacity and ease-of-use.

Build Quality

I own many other Filson bags, but this one definitely takes the build quality up a notch. The main sides of the 238 are double-walled to create full-length exterior zipper pockets and there are also two interior pockets that run the entire length of the bag.

The leather straps are much wider on this bag than on my other Filson pieces and the handles continue in one solid piece across the bottom (unlike the small Duffle Bag (220) and the medium Travel Bag (246) which both use a split strap design underneath).

NOTE: I chose Otter Green, because I tend to prefer darker colors for travel-size pieces that will need to endure rougher handling and wetter/dirtier conditions.

Unique Features

The most unique feature of the Outfitter bag is the spacious zippered compartment (on the bottom) that is nearly 6” tall. It is designed to keep wet/muddy clothing/boots separated from the other gear stored in the main compartment.

In addition, this compartment is designed to collapse when it is not being used, thereby reducing the overall dimensions of the bag and making it much more manageable. In fact, when the bottom compartment is flat, this bag is very similar (in both function and appearance) to the large Filson Travel Bag (248).

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend this bag to anyone that needs a go-anywhere, do-anything travel case that can move a lot of wet or dry gear in style. The Large Outfitter exudes quality and seems rugged enough to tackle any task you can throw at it.