Pop quiz, hot shot, how do you carry around face masks, hand sanitizer, pens, and anything else you might need for a COVID-19 day out?
You carry this bag. And I want another, here’s why.
(To see the real reason for why I bought this bag, please read this post.)
I love Filson, as a brand, as a company, and the stuff they make. They remind me in a lot of ways of my grandfather. Everything they make is classic, over built to almost a comical level, and pretty fucking straightforward. Funnily, my grandfather never wore/used Filson stuff, which is almost in itself perfect.
I have and use the Filson Original Briefcase to go to the office. I love it, and it’s perfect for my office life. I have and love the Filson 48hr Duffle, it’s perfect for how I travel. And while I love GORUCK backpacks, they just aren’t the right thing — none of those bags were — to use as a daily bag when I am not going to work, or packing clothes. Kids and life throw a lot at you, and a good bag makes life easier.
For as much as I needed something to help carry things with me, I also needed something to carry the stuff I find along the way. That’s where the Filson Medium Field Bag comes into play.
What is shown here is a Filson Medium Field Bag, but a special edition (no longer sold) made in collaboration with Brooks Brothers (no relation). The only difference is the tartan felt on the flap (which has the rugged twill under it), and while that slightly effects the performance of the bag it is negligible, so all thoughts which are non-aesthetic should apply.
Let’s get to it.
This is roughly a 13L shoulder bag, that measures 15” wide, 5” deep, and 11” tall. That can be a bit decieving though, because the front pockets are made to expand, and so I would peg this as 13-15L bag depending on how much you stuff those front pockets. And those front pockets can hold a ton.
Going even further though, the actual useable size is a little tricky because the opening at the top of the bag is not the full 15” by 5” that you might expect from the measurements, and with the bottom rounded the space is a little more oddly shaped. Basically this means that you really can only fit a 12.9” iPad Pro into this at max, with a little bit of an angled entry. Don’t expect to look at this and think “my laptop is a little smaller that those dimension, it will fit!” Because it probably won’t fit.
And that’s fine, this is a shitty bag for laptops anyways.
Back to the size, as I was able to take this on a flight before the pandemic set in, I found that it is the perfect height for under seat in front of you. As it will sit upright under the seat, meaning that you have space for your feet next to it. That’s a little bit of heaven right there.
I debated heavily with myself over getting the small, or medium sized bag. The small looks better and generally smaller is better. However, I knew that with a smaller bag, once you put a water bottle in it, you have room for maybe one jacket and that would be that. I wanted to be able to carry a jacket for me and my wife, or the kids if needed. Any parent knows how much you end up carrying your kids jackets.
Overall, the medium size is perfect. I was worried it would be too large, but it’s not. It is comfortable to carry, sits well, and stays out of the way, all while having loads of space. It almost feels like it carries more than my 15L Bullet Ruck.
First, we need to talk about the hallmark material: Filson’s Rugged Twill. This is a heavy cotton canvas that is not only super durable, but also has a nice and soft hand feel and wears magically over time. Rugged Twill is simply amazing, and so much better than nylon for a bag like this that it is hard to quantify. Tin Cloth, like on the 48hr Duffle is lighter, but it is coated and a different beast all together. Rugged Twill is just comforting.
Next: Filson’s bridle leather is the leather by which I measure all other bag leather. And no other bag has met the standard. The bridle leather is supremely good, on all Filson bags, but this one too. It is strong, durable, and has great hand feel. Perfectly overbuilt to give you confidence.
Lastly, and unique to this edition of the bag is the flannel at the top of the bag. It’s soft, with a bit of scratchiness to it, not my favorite, but certainly adds another texture to the entire bag. No complaints, but no love letter to it either.
When I am out with the kids, or when (if?) I travel. From the field to the city. I wanted something that looks unassuming to carry the stuff I need and this bag excels at it. This isn’t for gadgets or cameras, this is a bag for experiencing the world.
Like all Filson bags, this bag requires a little break in with the strap. As the Bridle leather does form well out of the box, the pad on these straps molds to your body over time and use, the more you use it, the more comfortable it is all around. That’s certainly the case here. Additionally, the straps for the buckles take a bit of break in so that they are easier to operate too.
The only really fiddly thing about this bag is the buckles. They are real brass buckles and they are actual means of securing the bag closed. Thus they take intention to operate. They are not bad, they just need to be broken in and gotten used to. You can, after use and familiarity somewhat operate them one handed, but it will never be fast.
That brings me to the other oddness about the bag. Typically on a modern shoulder bag, the strap attaches at either end of the bag so that your are more or less carrying the bag evenly. This bag however attaches at the back of the bag. Meaning that if the flap is not secured, then when you wear the bag, the bag will being pulled open to an extent. This is where those buckles really come into play.
You almost have to buckle the bag to wear it comfortably and have it not look silly. But thankfully the other feature of the bag comes in here: the restricted opening of the bag. Because there is an oval opening to the bag, instead of it being wide open, this keeps the bag from fully falling open and maintains some structure when the bag isn’t buckled. It also keeps items from spilling out if the bag is tossed around.
The best part of the bag when in use, are the two front pockets. They are caverns and can hold almost all the kit I carry with me so well that it keeps the main compartment open for the more transient items in the bag. This is an unexpected trait of the bag, but my favorite.
In using the bag on my trips, and here back at home, I have fallen in love with it. The quirks no longer feel like quirks, and instead feel like intention.
I bought this variant because the sale price was unreal, but I’ll be getting another one of these bags in Tan at some point — simply because the bag is that good and I need another one. That said, this one is fantastic, so maybe I don’t need another.
Right now I own three GORUCK GR1s in different colors because I feel so strongly that they are that good. I can tell you right now, I will be owning multiple of these in different colors because they are that good. See how I just convinced myself?
At $350 (price went up since publishing, by a lot.), this is not cheap, but worth every penny.