Tagged: Filson Luggage

First Look: Filson Zippered Tote 261

Last weekend, I picked up a new Filson Zipper Tote (261) and I wanted to share my first impressions of this extremely versatile daily-use bag.

CC Filson canvas tote bag-best carry on luggage review


  • Price: $140 USD
  • Dimensions: 15″ W x 14″ H x 7″ D
  • Layout: (1) main compartment; (2) full-length exterior pockets; (2) exterior end-pockets (utility pockets) and a double bottom.

At first glance, this is one of the simplest bags that Filson makes, but it is also one of the most versatile. It is basically one large, zippered compartment with two long strap handles that allow the bag to be hand-carried or easily slipped over the shoulder. The bottom of the bag (and the sides) are all double-walled, which gives this bag a very rugged feel and provides structural rigidity.

The Filson 261 does not taper at the bottom like many other tote bags, which gives it a more masculine look and maximizes its carrying capacity. The utility pockets on the ends of the bag are large enough to hold 1 Liter water bottles and the full-length side pockets are perfect for an iPad, a newspaper or some reading material.

Filson Tote 2

I was pleasantly surprised how much this tote bag holds. The 261 would make a perfect gym bag (or daily use bag) and would also make a great travel companion for a 2-3 day weekend getaway (using packing cubes).

I will post my follow up impressions in a month or so, but I can already tell that this bag will become a personal favorite.


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 Filson.com 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.