The Filson Lightweight Duffle (70314) is basically a lighter, thinner version of the classic Filson 220 Small Duffle. The dimensions (18″ x 10″ x 11″), handles and pocket layout are exactly the same. If you like the small duffle in classic twill, you will like this bag; however, if you are not a fan of the minimalist design of the classic duffle, then this bag will not change your mind.
I happen to love the classic twill duffle and find it to be an excellent travel piece, so when Filson released a much lighter nylon version I placed my order immediately.
When I first unpacked this bag, I thought “wow, this thing is even lighter and thinner than I expected.” But is that a good thing?
If you look closely, the attention to detail in the stitching and the quality of the leather is top notch. There are no loose threads to trim (as there typically are on the twill bags), high stress areas are bar tacked and the fit-and-finish is very precise.
The fabric is a 12 oz. water-resistant nylon and has a very nice semi-matte textured finish on the outside. The underside of the fabric (as you can see in the photo of the rain flap) is softer to the touch and lighter in appearance.
While, the nylon feels very nice to the touch, and the bag is considerably lighter than its twill counterpart, I am curious why Filson did not source its fabric from a well-known nylon manufacturer, like Cordura. As nice as this fabric is, it does feel a bit under-matched to the heavy leather bridle trim, causing the bag to feel very floppy when empty.
In these pictures you can see just how thin the nylon (green) is, compared to the classic twill (tan)…
Filson stands behind its products, so I would not be overly concerned about the longevity of the bag; however, this is an entirely new fabric for Filson and the long-term wearability has yet to be fully proven.
This bag also comes with Filson’s leather trimmed nylon shoulder strap, which I actually prefer to the bridle leather. It does not need to be broken in and it distributes the weight very well across your shoulder. In fact, I use this strap on my other Filson bags now and I highly recommend it.
SHOULD YOU BUY NYLON OR TWILL?
This is a fantastic bag with excellent build quality. It is a great option for city dwellers that want the Filson aesthetic without all the additional weight of the classic twill; it would also make a great travel bag for weekend car trips.
However, as good as this bag is, I prefer (and would recommend) the 22oz. twill version. For airline travel, outdoor adventures and rougher handling, the 22oz. rugged twill is much better suited to the task. In addition, the twill bags will acquire a wonderful patina over time that this bag simply will not.
Another thing to keep in mind…the rugged twill duffle only costs $20 more than the nylon version and (in my opinion) offers a lot more value for the money.
If you are looking for a modern interpretation of a Filson classic for lighter tasks, then this bag may fit the bill. However, if you are looking for a Filson bag that better embodies the rugged, adventurer spirit that the brand is known for, stick with the classic twill.
- 72-Hour Briefcase (Tin Cloth) – – The Perfect Briefcase?
- Briefcase Showdown II (256 Original vs 72-Hour Tin)
- The Journeyman Backpack Review
- Cloth Showdown – – Twill vs. Tin vs. Lightweight Nylon
- Reinventing an Icon Lightweight Nylon (Duffles)
- Strap Showdown – – Bridle Leather vs New Nylon
- How to Properly Break In a Leather Strap and Shoulder Pad
- The Magnum Photography Collaboration (Harvey Line)
In the final part of this series, we will be enjoying pictures of Mark’s beautiful waxed Filson 239 XL Outfitter Bag. I personally own the Large Outfitter and it is one of my favorite bags. I was so surprised to see that it was discontinued in late-2012. It is truly the perfect bag for hunters, fisherman, skiers, snowboarders, etc., basically anyone that needs to be able to separate wet clothing from dry.
The bag feels more substantial than most of the other Filson pieces in my collection and with the interior and exterior pockets is a true display of classic craftsmanship. At the end of the day, I think the bag was discontinued because it became too expensive and labor-intensive to build without raising the retail price to a level that the market would not support. It will certainly be missed…
As always, I will let Mark’s words tell the story of this great looking Filson 239 Outfitter…
“This bag was a labor of love or a lot of labor anyway. I bought it 4 or 5 years ago from a guy in Ohio for a very good price. It had a terrible musty smell upon arrival-like it had been stored for years. But it has wonderful character that looks better in person. I aired it out and filled it with cedar for weeks, sprayed it with Frebreeze all to no avail.
Then I soaked it in a bucket four or five times for an hour or so, scrubbed it, dried it in the sun, aired it out more–and all that helped a lot. Let me tell you, it is hard to soak that canvas! Unfortunately the leather took a beating, which my concern from the start, but I knew I wouldn’t use the bag unless I got it clean. The leather became very stiff so I slathered it in Obenauf’s Leather Oil and LP for days resting it in the sun to help it soak in. The leather looks new but is very stiff and cracks in places. It will take a long time to soften, but I think it will.”
“This bag is HUGE and HEAVY and I really love it. I only use it for car trips. I can’t imagine lugging it through an airport. I’m not that tough.
I think its fairly old, as it has no inside pockets like you mentioned in your review and like my 2005 catalog states. I spent hours waxing it, but it’s a little harder to tell than on my rucksack, which gets more use and is thrown around more. You can see how the wax flattens out the canvas nap or grain and it has a low luster.“
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.
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.
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…
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.