For a good three to four month stretch I spent a lot of time looking into getting a better briefcase. I looked at all sorts of models, makers and materials and read way more reviews and threads on StyleForum than I probably needed to read.
While I was content with my leather briefcase, there were a few things I wasn’t entirely happy about. It was heavy, it was hard to stuff extra things into (like a change of clothing or a jacket/sweater) because of the interior padded laptop compartment and I wasn’t a fan of the rigid dividers.
Plus, I wasn’t really sure that I needed a leather briefcase anymore — it felt like overkill for the new job. I couldn’t really bring it with me casually to carry stuff for a day trip, nor could I even fit my Fujifilm X-10 in it (and that’s a pretty small camera, too).
I felt that instead of going with a leather bag, I’d look into canvas instead. The obvious choice is to go with Filson. Everyone who has one raves about it. I’d seen them several places and thought they certainly could do the job. But I looked around some more.
In the end though, Filson was the only one that really impressed me. I’m sure others will rave about their preferences, and that’s fine. But I trusted the Filson name, the large volume of support it has from others who have had them for years and the design appealed to me in several ways.
I wanted one with a zip-top so I could seal it and make sure nothing valuable inside would fall out. I also wanted a flap to cover the zipper so it could keep water out in the event I got caught in the rain. The side stash pockets were a nice bonus on the outside of the 256 model and the interior’s dividers worked well enough for my needs.
I’ve been using the bag since April and the stiffness of the cotton canvas is beginning to go away. The bridle leather straps are really great (probably the only thing I was really worried about), but they probably could use some leather conditioner soon.
My biggest gripe though is the shoulder strap, which doesn’t stay on my shoulder very well and the shoulder pad is virtually worthless. I also feel the strap is too long and has a lot of excess leather that kind of flaps around when it’s set on the shortest hole on the adjustment buckle. I’m considering finding someone to make a new custom strap for me that’ll be more useful.
As far as being able to carry my stuff, you can see the images below that I’ve stuffed it really damned full of things. I put a Barbour Liddesdale, a Macbook Pro 13” with leather sleeve and power supply, notebook, mini umbrella and my X-10 camera all in the bag’s interior. Probably overkill, but it does fit and that doesn’t even include the exterior pockets.
I was impressed enough with the bridle leather straps on the briefcase that I also decided to pick up a 1.5” wide belt from them, too. I found that skinner belts just didn’t look right on denim that had wider loops, so this belt worked out just fine. As far as sizing goes, I just went true to size (i.e.: I wear a 34” trouser, so I bought a 34” belt).
As far as belts go, a lot of people make great leather belts, but I felt the price of this one was very reasonable at around $50. I wear it almost daily. It’s a really dark shade of brown, but I don’t mind much about that. It looks good, feelts great and does its job.
If you’re looking to buy something from Filson, then please take a look at Hilton Tent City. Use code FSNREG11 to get 15% off all Filson products they stock. Plus, you get free shipping on orders over $50. That’s pretty much the cheapest price on Filson products you’ll find on the web (and, yes, I spent a lot of time looking). Their site is a little old, but they delivered quickly and I didn’t have any problems with them. They even have Filson’s “Red Label” tote bags in stock.