When I first bought my beloved Filson Original Briefcase, I was torn between getting that and the newer, Tablet Briefcase which Filson had on offer. (I shall now note, that the Tablet briefcase, as of right now, is no longer available from Filson. You can however find it from some third party retailers for great prices.) I ended up the with Original, because I wanted an original. When I saw these Tablet briefcases on steep discounts at the end of 2017, I picked one up as well.
The Original briefcase is huge (the padded laptop being even larger), and amazingly the Tablet briefcase is effectively the same footprint — but not as deep. Because of the reduced depth, the Tablet briefcase carries like a much smaller bag than the Original — in fact I didn’t notice it was the same footprint until measuring for this article (I assumed it was smaller all around).
Overall, I’ve found the Tablet briefcase to be a much more optimal size than the Original. Where the Original almost feels like something I could pack in at times, the Tablet more accurately reflects what I carry: which is very little. Even if you carry a laptop, the Tablet briefcase is going to be a better size for those who really don’t need much more than protection for the device and a few cords (assuming your laptop fits in it).
This will easily hold my normal kit for things like coffee shop adventures and trips to client offices. Generally I carry:
- iPad Pro 10.5” with Smart Keyboard Cover
- Pill Case
- Field Notes sized notebooks
- battery backup
- lightning cable
- business cards
It’s a small kit, but it all fits neatly in the bag, with room for any extras I might want (but no room to really carry a beverage of any sort).
Like the Original, the Tablet is primarily made with Filson’s rugged twill, and bridle leather accents. However, the Tablet departs from the Original with sections of waxed cotton/canvas, which adds a nice look to the bag.
Additionally, the shoulder strap is a canvas strap, instead of the more traditional bridle leather shoulder strap. The zippers are thankfully the same oversized brass zippers as on the other Filson bags. The Tablet also has padding, though thin, it is enough on the front/back/bottom of the bag. There is no padding between the pockets inside the bag, so beware if you need protection between your items in the bag.
The biggest issue I have with this bag is the shoulder strap mount points. Instead of being on the sides of the bag, or diagonal (one on the front, one on the back) they are both on the back of the bag. This can make the bag a little tougher and less comfortable to carry. The plus is that the canvas strap (while not as nice) is much easier to stow inside the bag.
The only other nitpick is that the zippers on the Original can scratch your hand if you don’t open them all the way, but when you do open them all the way it’s not an issue. On the smaller Tablet briefcase it’s hard to even get an iPad in and out without feeling like the zippers are scratching your device. Which is funny, given that this is what the bag is meant to carry.
One thing I often do, is to cram my Original into my GR1 when I travel for work. When I get where I am going, I pull it out and have a nice shoulder bag to use during that time. But, often it eats up so much room that it’s no practical to do this.
So the tablet briefcase was bought specifically to be used in these scenarios. It fits really well and takes up much less room. Allowing me to travel with only the GR1, but I can go about the city with a nice briefcase. That it is classic Filson, is a huge bonus for me personally.
It has also become my go to bag for short outings to coffee shops, or anywhere else where I might just need an iPad and a way to charge things.
There’s a ton to like about this bag. While I think the styling is better on the Original, it still looks sharp and the size overall is far better on the Tablet. My only issue with this bag is the price — it’s steep for how small it is, though it will last quite a long time.
Given that you can find them on clearance sales, you should be able to mitigate the price, and that makes this quite a good find.
Bespoke Post has them for about $233 right now (search “Filson” to find them).
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