Filson Dryden Briefcase

This is a really nice, and easy to own briefcase from Filson.

A while back, Filson launched the Dryden line of bags. These bags are primarily nylon, with touches of leather, brass, and other ‘standard’ Filson materials. They are less expensive then their twill and tin cloth counterparts, but still far from being inexpensive themselves. I’ve taken a look at the Dryden Backpack already, today I take a look at the much more compelling, Dryden Briefcase.

Specs & Materials

Coming in at 14L, this is what I would describe as a fairly standard sized briefcase. It’s small, but has plenty of capacity for what most would want to carry in it — including a ‘15” laptop sleeve’, which seems as though it would hold a 16” MacBook Pro fine.

The bag itself is listed as 16″L x 3¾”W x 12″H, though I would note that as packed out, my bag generally is about 5-6” in depth. I am not sure where/how Filson is getting that 3.75” measurement. That said, I really like the size of this bag. It is tall enough to handle a lot, and expands out nicely as you fill it up and swallows up gear.

This bag, like the backpack, is 1000D nylon Cordura. It has Bridle leather handles, bridle leather zipper pulls, brass hardware, and a tough feeling nylon strap. The interior of the bag is lined with a very nice feeling nylon/polyester type fabric which is smooth and helps stuff slide in and out better than it would if unlined.

All in all, this is a really nicely made and nice feeling briefcase. (All images here are for the Otter Green color way.)

In Use

I’ve been using this back and forth from the office, and I’ve found it basically fine. There’s this weird line for me with bags, so maybe I should explain my ‘basically fine’ rating a bit more. Bags fall into one of three categories for me when I use them for the office:

  1. Can’t wait to stop using it: seems self explanatory, but unless I am reviewing the bag, I will stop using it because something about it bothers me too much.
  2. Basically fine: if you took it away from me, I would switch to something else, whatever. Likewise, if I keep using it, that’s cool too.
  3. Love: even if I need to test another bag, I go through a lot of effort to keep rotating this bag in because I love it.

So ‘basically fine’ is pretty good when you consider this bag is going up against $400+ bags. In fact, everything about this bag is pretty damned good, without really doing anything for me which compels me to evangelize the bag in anyway. Is it good? Yeah. Why is it good? Because there’s nothing really bad about it.

For instance, the laptop compartment is super solid, but nothing special. The velcro strap to hold your items in place is a nice touch, but not novel. The added interior org in the main compartment is nice to have, but unused by me. The two front pockets are generously sized, easy to access, and work well — they are pockets. The strap and handles are great too.

In fact, the only complaint I can register about this bag is the back panel on the outside. There’s a nice trolley strap on the back, and then a zipper which runs the full width of the bag. This is a handy pocket, and one that Filson equips on many/most of their briefcases — but the zipper is the issue. Since the zipper here is not reversed on the installation, the coil of the zipper rubs against your clothing/body when carrying, and the zipper pull is large and bulky as well (most of the other bags leave this open top). I doubt there’s any issue with this zipper touching your clothing, but it’s not comfortable and visually doesn’t look good. I’d prefer if it had no pocket at all here over the one it has.

But, that’s a pretty minor complaint, right?

What I really like about this briefcase are two attributes:

  1. It is really durable, with little downside. When you make a backpack out of 1000D, it’s heavy and rubs against your body all day. But when you make a briefcase out of it, all you get is higher levels of durability. That comes through here, as this briefcase feels like something you don’t ever need to give a second thought to — it’ll be just fine.
  2. At the same time though, the Bridle Leather handles provide an excellent tactile experience when you are hand carrying the bag. They look nice, feel nice, and perform really well. They are long, but that length means they are easy to grab so you can get going.

Filson did a good job on this bag keeping the right details, and moving to nylon for the rest. I’m a fan.

Compared to 24hr Tin Cloth Briefcase

Visually, this bag looks very similar to the tin cloth 24hr Briefcase. Both have a very similar style, with very different materials and price points. They both hold more or less the same amount of gear, with the 24hr perhaps holding a touch more.

If I were to summarize the difference between these two bags, I would say that the 24hr Briefcase is a more refined product in every single way, over the the Dryden. And by that, I mean that the 24hr is the better briefcase. That’s comparing two very good briefcases though, and had I bought the Dryden first, I may have never bothered to try a 24hr Briefcase.

The reason to pick the Dryden over the 24hr, is because you want something with no fuss. The only upkeep you need to do to the Dryden, is to wipe any dirt off (if you want) and maybe toss some conditioner on the two leather handles once a year. The 24hr requires upkeep, and essentially cannot be cleaned in any normal sense of the word, while also being less durable overall.

You pick, but I’ll pick the 24hr each time.


Back to the Dryden though, because this is quite good. While I wasn’t a big fan of the Dryden Backpack, I am a big fan of this Dryden Briefcase. This is exactly the type of bag you can hand to anyone and it’s likely to suit their style. It’s rather agnostic, pulling both heritage and modern vibes to the style and design of it.

It’s easy to use, and easy to own. One of those bags which makes for a perfect gift, or a perfect briefcase for someone who wants something nice, but that’s where their thought on the topic stopped.

It’s quite nice.

Buy here, $195.

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