Now that I’ve spent time with both of the popular Filson briefcase models — the question that sticks in my head is which is better, and which should you pick? The outright answer to this is that the 24hr Briefcase is the better briefcase. If I could only have one, it would be that one.
However, I don’t think the answer will be as cut and dry for everyone out there. So here’s my comparison between the two popular bags.
While both are briefcases, they both look drastically different from each other. The Original Briefcase in Rugged Twill is a rather stiff and classic looking canvas style briefcase. It will patina slowly, and nicely over many years. The overall look will do a good job of dressing up casual attire, and dressing down a suit. But it works with both easily, without being too out of place with either.
The 24hr Tin Cloth Briefcase is a waxed cotton bag, which has a slight sheen and a very smooth texture. It’s also very floppy, giving it a lived in, or perhaps, rugged look. It’s more Americana workwear in vibe. It will do a good job matching with casual clothing, or dressing way down a suit. It’s the type of bag you grab to wear with a suit, if you don’t think people should have to wear a suit. The type of briefcase someone who prefers work boots and blue jeans to chinos and loafers.
The Tin Cloth bag will also patina a lot more, and a lot quicker than the Rugged Twill. Especially in lighter colors.
I like the look of both of these bags, and I would be hard pressed to say one looks better than the other — but they do give different vibes despite their similarities in doesn’t language.
There’s a night and day difference for capacity of these two bags. The best way to think about them is that the main section has the same capacity for both bags, but the 24hr then adds two large pockets to the front.
But those pockets are useable, so practically speaking, the 24hr feels like it has somewhere around 30-40% more capacity than the Original Briefcase. That’s a big deal for most people, especially when you consider that they both feel about the same size when you carry them.
The 24hr also has more organization built into the bag. As Filson has removed the small organizer section in the Original Briefcase on the current models, that bag is now design to carry slim/flat items really well. Add anything round/cylindrical and the bag starts to carry not as good.
The 24hr slightly improves on this with the two front pockets. They are rather amorphous and can accommodate a lot more gear than you think. They offer a few pen slots, and one zippered pocket inside for valuables. But, for the most part, they are two large subsections which allows for quick access to gear.
Ease of Use
There’s two parts to any bag when it comes to using them: how easy they are to pack, and how easy they are to get access to your gear. For both, there’s a little nuance, but generally the 24hr does it better.
Packing the Original Briefcase requires thought. Both in how you place items in the bag, but also how you organize the items within the bag. You need a pouch or two which hold things flat, but also still fit in the bag. You need to mostly pack items that maximize the very rectangular shape. The only way to access any of these is through the top, which means that you open the entire bag to get at anything. That’s good, and that’s bad. If you are going point A to point B and not needing gear in between, getting at your gear is a non-issue here.
The 24hr, requires similar thought for the main compartment, but little to no thought for the two front pockets. It can swallow up gear in those large front pockets, while providing you with two areas of easy access when you are moving between two points. Those two front pockets are easy to unzip in a manner where everything doesn’t spill out, and easy enough to organize such that you can quickly get what you need. There’s an additional two pockets behind the front pockets, which make for a good place to slip your wallet or phone in if security checkpoints are a regular item in your day.
The 24hr also has a trolley strap if you are the type to prefer a rolling suitcase. Where the Original Briefcase makes less use of the back of the bag, matching it with the front, and giving you two full length and nearly full height open top pockets. These pockets can carry more than you expect as well. (The 24hr retains this full width pocket behind the trolley strap.)
The Original Briefcase is more finicky to use day to day when compared the 24hr Briefcase, but it is not a large margin.
These are both shoulder bags, so the carry experience is less than ideal from the start. However, there is enough difference between the two that it is worth considering:
- Strap: The Original Briefcase comes with Filson’s excellent bridle leather shoulder strap. This has brass hardware, and an adjustable ‘pad’ which is less about padding and more about widening the pressure point on your shoulder. Note that the part of the pad which touches your body will feel a little more ‘grainy’ compared to the rest of the leather, this is intentional to give a little extra grip. This strap is fantastic.
The 24hr Briefcase comes with a wide canvas webbing strap with leather accents and brass clips. This strap grips well to your shoulder and has all the benefits of anything canvas. However it is overall less comfortable, while also being much more prone to looking dirty and worn quickly. Here, the Original Briefcase has a clear edge, and I would recommend buying the leather strap for the 24hr briefcase (I’ve done this) to improve the carry of the 24hr.
- Against Body: one thing to note is that when laying against your body, both bags have two unique things to keep in mind. The rugged twill variant will ‘stick’ a little more and not easily slide against most non-nylon clothing. The Tin Cloth is oil-waxed and thus there is a chance that some of the wax might transfer to your clothing, I’ve not seen this yet, but I have seen some marks on leather seats here and there (on nearly new bags, not well used). Both materials will develop color transfer on to the bags from things like denim — especially so in lighter shades (tan). So if you wear mostly suits, the Original Briefcase will be easier on your suits long term.
- No Laptop/iPad carry: when carrying the Original Briefcase without a laptop or iPad, the feeling against your body is about the same. However when not carrying such a device in the 24hr, the bag changes quite a bit, as it tends to curl around your hip, and sag a little. Neither is good or bad, it’s just a thing.
The real difference is with the strap, but luckily you can upgrade the 24hr’s strap, at a cost. Beyond that, if you are worried about wax transfer, it may be something you want to take care with on a new 24hr Briefcase.
A few notes on different uses of the bags:
- Travel: both of these work well for travel. The 24hr gives you an easier/better area to dump the contents of your pockets during metal scanners. Otherwise they both work well, but note that as with all waxed canvas, when you set the 24hr on something like the floor of a plane, it will ‘pick up’ lint/crumbs which will need to be brushed off. But alternatively, Rugged Twill tends to soak up water/spills much more rapidly than the waxed Tin Cloth.
- Office/Work: It’s a wash between the two, and really comes down to which fits your gear/style better. Both are at home in an office, or for work use.
- City Exploration: I’ve seen/read many accounts of people using these bags to carry around the city for non-laptop/document carry. I personally don’t think either work great, but the 24hr would be the one I pick between the two for this use. Simply because it gets a little more floppy and thus might look less like a briefcase. It’s a weird use case, but I could see someone who travels for work wanting to use it for this, and in that case the 24hr would be my suggestion.
I prefer the structure and looks of the Original Briefcase and the Rugged Twill, but the utility and soft hand feel of the 24hr Tin Cloth when I am actually using the bag. The ideal (for me) would be a 24hr Briefcase with a Rugged Twill body, and the two Waxed Tin Cloth front pockets. Best of both worlds with that setup and I would buy that immediately.
Short of that, my preference is the 24hr Briefcase, as it works better to get your gear in and out of the bag. The Original Briefcase has been relegated to only niche use at this point for me. Both are good, hard to go wrong with either — but if you just want one, I advise you go 24hr Briefcase.