Filson Introduces Navy Rugged Twill

Filson has recently announced that some of their most classic (and iconic) styles will begin shipping in a fourth color…Rugged Navy Twill. The underlying fabric is the same 22oz 100% cotton oil-finish twill that we all love and the bags will be trimmed in dark brown bridle leather.

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The following styles are currently listed on the Filson site:

(NOTE: some are backordered through mid-May)

  • 222 Duffle Bag (Medium)
  • 256 Original Briefcase
  • 258 Padded Computer Bag
  • 246 Travel Bag (Medium)

The obvious omission from this list is the 257 Briefcase Computer Bag. I am curious why all of the other briefcases (256 and 258) will be offered in Navy, but the 257 will not. Perhaps, this is a subtle clue regarding the relative demand for the 257. If the new color is a success, I am confident that Filson will roll it out to other styles as production increases.

In the past, if you wanted any Filson bag in navy blue, you had to pay a premium and settle for a slightly thinner (and less durable) fabric by ordering a special edition. The demand for this color appears to have been so great that Filson has decided to add it to their standard lineup…and I am very excited about it.

Stay tuned for a review and more pictures when my Navy Rugged Twill test piece arrives next month…

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Filson 257: An Alternate Use

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.

Filson 257 Carry On

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.

Review: Filson Sportsman’s Bag 266

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.

Filson Sportsman's Bag Canvas Case
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QUICK STATS

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.

UNIQUE FEATURES

1. DIVIDERS

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.

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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.

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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.

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BEST USES

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.

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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.

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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.

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SUMMARY

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.

December 2012 Update

Hello everyone! I apologize for not posting as often as usual in the past week. I have been doing some traveling and enjoying time with family during the holiday season. I just wanted to let you know what to expect in the coming weeks.

1. Review: Filson Sportsman’s Bag 266

The Filson Sportsman’s bag 266 is a very unique bag and I have never seen so many zippers (or pockets) in one place. Where does this bag excel? Where does it fall short? Is it the right bag for you? Stay tuned…

2. Filson 257 an Alternate Use?

We all know that the Filson 257 is a great briefcase option for students or for those days when the 256 Original Briefcase just doesn’t cut it. But I have been using it in a different way and I think you may be surprised how versatile this bag truly is.

3. First Look: Filson Small Duffle Bag 220

I will also be posting a First Look mini-review for the Filson Small Duffle Bag 220. This bag seems like it would make the perfect weekender. Find out what I think after putting it through its paces and find out which models may be better for your particular needs.

So that is where we are headed by the end of the year. I will also continue posting more iconic Filson images and offering my advice. Which reminds me, answering your questions (and responding to comments) is one of my favorite parts of FilsonFan, so please keep them coming.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy new year!

Charles

Filson Tote Bag 260

Today’s iconic Filson image comes from Midwestyle. The guys over there have posted a fantastic review of the 260 Tote Bag ($110) that I want to share with my readers.

My wife owns this bag in classic Tan and uses it every single day. From hauling yoga gear, to transporting binders and documents to court, this bag can literally do it all. In addition, at only $110, it is one of the most affordable Filson pieces, so it is a great way to introduce newcomers to the brand.

CC Filson Tote Bag Canvas Bag

Filson Tote Bag 261 from Midwestyle.com

Filson 257 Images

I love finding great pictures of Filson bags out in the real world and sharing them with you guys. Today’s picture comes from an iconic fashion retailer in Victoria, British Columbia called the Still Life Boutique. The image depicts a beautiful Filson 257 briefcase in classic tan, waiting patiently to start another day at the office.

Briefcase Showdown: Filson 256 vs 257

One of the most hotly debated topics in the world of Filson, especially to newcomers, is the decision between the Filson Original Briefcase 256 and the Filson Computer Briefcase 257. They share a design aesthetic and differ by only two inches in width, but there is a bigger difference here than initially meets the eye. So let’s get started…

EXTERIOR DESIGN

Both briefcases share the same basic design. They both have a zipped main compartment with a storm flap that snaps closed and they both have two full-length exterior pockets, two carry-handles and a shoulder strap. Here is how they differ…

HAND GRIP

The 257 comes from the factory with a two-snap hand grip attached to the carry handles. This serves two purposes. First, it distributes heavier loads across your hand to make carrying the bag very comfortable. Second, it keeps the handles neatly together when you place the bag down or are carrying it with the shoulder strap.

The 256 does not include the hand grip, but Filson will install it for you for $20, so if it is important to you, there is a work-around. I am in the minority, but I definitely prefer the 256 without the hand grip. I find that the two bare handles are very comfortable with my typical load and I like the casual character of the floppy handles as they break in. In addition, it makes access to the main compartment easier if you are constantly in and out of your bag.

SHOULDER STRAP ATTACHMENT POINTS

The 256 has the shoulder strap attachment point stitched directly to the canvas. Whereas, the 257 uses a large leather baseplate to connect the attachment point to the bag. This will spread the load over a larger surface area and should allow the bag to handle very heavy loads slightly better.

ABILITY TO STAND UP

The 257 has a wider base and will stand up on its own. The 256 will need to be leaned against a desk or a chair because of its narrow base.

WEIGHT AND OVERALL SIZE

In person, the 257 definitely feels bigger and bulkier than the 256. It only weighs about three ounces more, but overall it feels like you are carrying around considerably more bag. Whether this is a good or bad thing is entirely subjective. If you are a student and carry lots of textbooks or have a more sizeable laptop with a charger brick and want to carry a water bottle, a jacket, etc., then the bulkier 257 may be just what the doctor ordered.


It is hard to truly understand how different the two bags feel without handling them in person, but you can get a sense of the size difference in this picture.

INTERIOR ORGANIZATION

The inside of the 256 is fairly basic. The bag has a spacious main compartment sandwiched between two full length interior pockets, one of which has six smaller pockets (of various sizes) sewn onto it for pens, business cards, calculators, cell phones, etc.

The full length interior pockets are perfectly suited for a small laptop (13″ MacBook Air), a legal pad holder or an iPad. If you want to use a 15″ laptop with this bag, you will need to put it in the main compartment.

The 257 is a little more complex inside. The following schematic (from the Filson web site) is the best representation of the interior. It starts with the basic 256 layout and adds a large, full-length laptop divider (which is not secured to the bottom of the bag) and three additional large sleeve pockets sewn to the inside of the interior pocket.

I find both layouts to have certain advantages. The 256 is simpler and cleaner and provides all the essential storage that I need for most days. While the 257 includes more pockets and dividers, they do intrude into the interior space a bit if you don’t need so much partitioning.

Because I use a 13″ MacBook Air, which easily fits in the interior side pocket, I often wish that the 257 did not have the extra computer divider so I could make better use of the main compartment. If you use a 15″ MacBook, you may need to put it in the main compartment anyway so the laptop divider may be rendered superfluous.

For many years, the three sleeve pockets on the inside of the 257 did not have a sewn bottom, meaning that they are designed to secure larger cargo, but cannot be used as conventional pockets to hold smaller items. I actually love the sleeve design because I am able to fit two 16 oz Nalgene water bottles and use the remaining sleeve for my laptop accessories.

In the last few months, I have read reports that Filson has changed the design (in response to customer demand) and is now sewing across the bottom to create closed pockets. This change is definitely something to be aware of so that you can be sure to get the layout that suits you best. My 257 was purchased locally one month ago with the open sleeves and it is my preferred layout.

WHAT WILL THESE CASES HOLD?

You may be surprised how much the 256 Original Briefcase actually holds (I certainly was). Here is a visual representation of how I use the bags on a daily basis. Here it is full and ready for the day..

Here is a top view of the bag’s contents…

Here is an inventory of the contents and a picture of everything unpacked…

  • iPad 2 (with Saddleback case)
  • 13″ MacBook Air with neoprene sleeve
  • Leather legal pad holder
  • (2) Large hardcover books
  • 3-Ring Binder (1.5″)
  • Assorted pens and pencils
  • Magazines and catalogs

If you need to carry heavy textbooks (or more than a couple hardcover books), then the 257 may be a better choice. I would definitely recommend the 257 for college/graduate students.

WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?

Bottom Line: both briefcases are excellent, but unless you have a specific and compelling reason for the extra size/bulk, choose the 256.

CHOOSE the Filson Original Briefcase 256 if you…

  • are looking for a well proportioned bag with just the right amount of storage;
  • use a 13″ laptop and do not need to carry a lot of chargers or peripherals;
  • are having trouble deciding…the 256 is a better choice for most people.

CHOOSE the Filson Computer Bag 257 if you…

  • are a student or professor who carries multiple large, heavy text books;
  • work in an occupation that requires you to transport large binders or significant amounts of paperwork (a lawyer for example);
  • are a frequent business traveler who would like to fit a change of clothes and some toiletries along with your business items;
  • you work in the field and need to carry tools, lunch, water, or specialized equipment in addition to a computer and some paperwork.

If you have any other questions that I can help you answer, please leave them in the comments. Also, I would love to hear about your 256/257 experiences. Thanks for reading:)