Filson Original Briefcase review

A Man and His Bag: A Review of the Filson Original Briefcase

Saturday, July 22, 2017

There are some things I carry with me pretty much all the time. My custom leather bound Greek New Testament, my iPad Pro (the 10.5″) and a Moleskine notebook with a pencil. Finding a bag that is rugged enough to carry these things while having a bit of class has been quite the search. Until I found the Filson Original Briefcase.

I think I have finally found the bag that I’ll keep with me as my daily carry bag

I’ve gone through quite a few bags over the years, and I think I have finally found the bag that I’ll keep with me as my daily carry bag.

Recently, I switched to Filson’s “256” or Original Briefcase as my daily carry bag for my bible, notebooks, and iPad. Their briefcase is closer to a messenger bag than the traditional briefcase since it is made of heavy fabric.

Three things caught my eye with Filson’s Original Briefcase. The briefcase is well thought out inside the bag. It is rugged and water resistance outside.

And it had both of these while still looking like something that Professor Indiana Jones would carry to the classroom or an archaeological dig.

Filson Original Briefcase Review at SullysBrain

Filson’s Briefcase from the Outside

Outside, it is made of rugged twill, a water repellant, industrial fabric. It’s tough. Just out of the bag, you can tell it is something that will last for years.

Attached to the outside of the fabric are the saddle-grade Bridle Leather handles, strap and accents. It is stitched to the fabric with an industrial strength threading. This whole thing built to last.

Protecting my notebooks and iPad inside in case of bad weather was one of the biggest problem with my previous bags

I travel quite a bit and whether I’m running to a coffee shop, church, or walking through Rome, I want to make sure that the weather won’t ruin anything.

There are two strips of heavy duty leather for the two very solid brass zippers that close from either side of the top of the bag. Covering that is an extra rugged twill flap that buttons closed over the zipper.

Filson Original Briefcase Review at SullysBrain

I haven’t gotten stuck in a rainstorm with this yet, but when I do, I can feel confident that my notes and bibles will be protected. Nothing ruins a trip like needing to dry out all your books!

Another bonus Filson’s Original Briefcase has going for it is the three straps. Two straps are used as handles for carrying like a traditional briefcase, and the third strap is an adjustable shoulder strap. This is attached with brass clips and, again, is built to last. I’m not worried about this thing wearing out.

Finally, two open pockets are on the front and back of the bag. Throw a magazine into the pocket, or your phone, or anything else that you want to grab quickly. It isn’t protected from any weather, but it’s a convenient place to throw things.

Filson Original Briefcase Review at SullysBrain

Filson’s Briefcase from the Inside

All the lovely zippers, buttons, and rugged twill fabric are worthless if it doesn’t do one job: carry and organize my daily stuff. And I’ve got stuff.

I carry the same few items almost all the time these days: my iPad and not one but two physical bibles. I love reading from a physical bible for two reasons.

First, it forces me to focus on the text a bit more instead of getting tons of email or Facebook notifications from an electronic version. Second, it allows me to be a bit more visible with my bible.

This briefcase organizes my bibles and notebooks better than any other bag I’ve owned

Reading a bible on an iPad is too invisible for me. When reading on an iPad, for all anyone around me knows I’m playing a game or just reading social media. But having a physical bible allows me to more easily talk to others about Christ. When it’s just electronic bits, it doesn’t have the power of a physical book. It is just much more real and tangible. This is hard to explain and just a personal preference, but it’s important that I have a physical bible with me.

And I have found I am now carrying either one or both of the following bibles.

My ESV goatskin Clarion Reference bible is the first. It’s the best (English) reading bible I have ever found. Single column for reading scripture as it was originally written: in a single column, letter format, not two columns like modern bibles.

And since I started ancient Greek a few years ago, I also carry a custom leather bound Greek New Testament to study the original language. This is my favorite bible, by far. I rebound it (at Leonard’s Books) in a super soft goatskin, with three (tan, gold, and brown) ribbons. The binding lays in the hand so well as I read it and I love the Greek font they used. In addition, it has a Greek dictionary in the back for reference if (okay, when) I get stuck on a Greek word I don’t know.

Add to these bibles a few other books, depending on the day. Sometimes it is my Greek class book. On other days, a kindle or other physical books.

Needless to say, this means I want to organize these books and keep them from getting the pages creased by other items in the bag. So lots of pockets is a plus for me.

I love organization and Filson delivers with lots of it in this bag.

Inside, there are two larger pockets on the front and back insides. I can fit my iPad very comfortably. My 15″ Macbook Pro fits in it too, but I hardly every carry my laptop with me anymore since it’s getting pretty old and the battery holds a charge for about 15 minutes before dying.

I haven’t replaced my aging laptop yet because, honestly, I find myself using the iPad as my main computer. Yeah. There’s that.

On the inside edge of those two pockets are additional pockets. These are more for pens, phones, index cards, in-ear headphones, chargers, and other small items.

Total space is about 4 inches of inside depth before starting to feel like it is overpacked.

But I like this as it keeps me from overpacking. This bag is designed as a daily carry bag. If you are taking more than what can fit in here, you’re likely going to need a full sized backpack.

Who is the Filson Original Briefcase For?

Basically, anyone who is looking for a rugged and classy daily carry bag, this is top notch. It is solid in it’s build, and will protect what’s in it any day of the week, for years to come.

This is rugged enough to have used on my recent trip to Italy. And it’s class enough I can carry it into church, work, or the library and not look out of place.

Filson makes this briefcase in several colors. I chose to get the Olive Green so it would be a bit more subdued and subtle. The briefcase disappears well when worn over the shoulder, not screaming, “TOURIST WITH CAMERA!” It just blends in.

I purchased mine from Hilton Tent City at a nice discount. It came out to about $265 with their July sale. They shipped it from Boston and I had it in Lancaster, Pa, two days later (free shipping).

Within a few weeks or months I plan on doing a second review to share how it has worn from daily usage.

Now, I’m going to go walk around the house with it over my shoulder. Ok. Not really. Well, maybe.

UPDATE: 6 Months Later…

What can I say? This bag rocks. I am still using this as my primary daily carry bag. I’ve now taken it on several trips, including on a 10-day trip to Israel. While on that trip, I carried not only my Moleskine, English and Greek bibles, but also iPad, my X-E2 mirrorless camera (which is another essential for trips), and other miscellaneous travel notes. It handled all that pretty easily, and the weight was distributed well over the shoulder strap or the handhold straps. Aside from a few minor wear scuffs and dirt, this thing is in great shape for being used almost every day for half a year.



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Hi. I'm Scott Sullivan, a slave of Christ and husband to my awesome wife Angie. I'm an artist and writer, living in the beautiful countryside of Lancaster, Pa.

I geek out by spending my spare time drinking coffee, studying Greek and spreading the Gospel of Christ.