Filson Workshop Messenger Bag

My new dad bag, day and travel bag. It’s really quite good for simple reasons.

Filson sneakily released a limited run of 50 numbered messenger bags in a design they’ve not previously done. I snagged one when I saw it, if nothing else it might be neat to have. And then I started using it, and well I kept using it, and it’s replaced the Medium Field bag and Small Carryon 240 for me. It’s a very nice bag, so even though you can’t buy a new one, I thought it worth taking about should Filson re-release this later, or you find one for sale secondhand.

Here’s the original product page for as long as they keep it around.

Size and Materials

The stated measurements are: 13-1/2″L x 5-1/2″W x 11-1/2″H. The bag is Rugged Twill, with a cotton webbing strap, and Tin Cloth seam binding. This is made at the Seattle Filson location. The zippers and snaps are brass. There’s a leather patch with the individual bag number stamped into the leather.

The main omission on this bag (compared to most Filson bags) is the lack of leather and lack of any waxed cloth. Which means the upkeep on this bag is much easier.

In Use

Filson noted that they took elements from many bags to create this one. I have no idea what each of those bags are, but the main element is see is the snaps for the top flap are the ‘one hand closure’ type — and these really are a gem of Filson bags. They allow you to slide a finger behind the male portion of the snap, so you can press them together — they work really well.

Beyond that, this bag is a bit like a stripped down Filson Carryon 240 bag: remove the leather buckles for a closure, and the front snap pockets, and you essentially have this bag. There’s nothing more here than what you see, which is both good and bad with this bag.

I’ve been using this bag back and forth from the office, as well as on a trip as my personal item. It is surprisingly very good for how simple it is. It holds enough for me to get buy, while keeping it all nicely contained in a smaller package.

For office use, this bag is going to be limited. I found it on the edge of capacity for me, when all I did was transfer what I normally carry in my 24hr Briefcase. There’s no laptop sleeve/pocket/protection on the bag, so office use will depend on your comfort tossing gear into a bag, or using a sleeve, without any padding from the bag.

The bag is a main compartment with dual zippers, a thin maybe A5 paper sized open top front pocket, all of which are covered with a large flap, secured by two snaps. The back of the bag has a large horizontal zipper, with a single pull, and isn’t full height of the bag. The strap is directly attached and not removable, which means there’s no metal rattling going on, but you are stuck with it on the bag. There’s a very nice cotton webbing grab handle centered on the back. No trolley strap.

Let’s talk about the biggest downsides of this bag:

  1. The pocket on the back has an exposed brass zipper. This zipper rides against your clothing and it’s a rough feeling brass zipper. I wouldn’t put this against a fine wool suit — ever. But, I never had a single issue with it on the clothing I wore the bag with, and only once did I notice it felt rough on my clothes. This will absolutely bother some people, but I found it to be “odd this is like this, non-issue for me.”
  2. The front pocket really would be great if it had a flap or zipper to secure it. Ideally, take the zipper off the back pocket, and place it on the front one.
  3. This bag is begging for some sort of internal pocket with a zipper for smaller items. They get lost in this bag for sure, and there’s no good spot to stash an AirTag.

That’s my entire complaint list. This isn’t designed for tech, but it can carry tech, and I have yet to have an issue ever carrying my iPads in a bag without padding. Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I have been doing that for seven years now.

Ok, so what’s good about this:

  1. The sizing is fantastic for keeping it at your feet on a plane. It fits standing up under the seat in front of you, and easily moves in and out.
  2. The secured flap, and zipper setup, mean that when you are moving you can secure the bag nicely. But when you are sitting still you can leave it unzipped with the flap secured for much faster access.
  3. Not having leather buckles for the flap, but snaps, make this a real gem of a bag in use.
  4. I love the cotton strap on this, it feels great, grips well, and has no chance of marking my clothing. It is also silent with no metal jingles, or heavy thuds of the metal attachment buckles hitting a table/floor when I set the bag down.
  5. Even though the bag is compact, it is decently deep (5.5” with some flex), so it carries things like a camera, or water bottles really well. Typically bags will be shallow when trying to be made smaller, so it’s a neat trick with this being a touch deeper than most in this type of format.

As an office bag, this was ok for me. It was about 1-2L too small for what I wanted to carry most days, and lacked organization so I had to use a lot more pouches. More pouches is fun, but makes packing less efficient at using all space available, and exacerbates the size issues I had.

As a dad sling, this bag is nearly ideal. I grabbed this in hopes it would replace my Medium Field Bag for dad work, as well as travel, and it absolutely will. It is all around a great bag when I need something a step up in size from the H Small Messenger I love to use.

Having zippers for secure closure is perfect when tossing a bag in and out of cars and planes and security. Having an easy to use flap so you can forgo zippers is perfection and leaps and bounds better than the slower buckles on the Medium Field Bag.


This bag was only sold in this ‘Root’ color, which I anticipated being brown. In person it is what I would call ‘dark olive’ as it can pull green, gray, or brown depending on the lighting and what is next to it. It’s a lovely color.

My primary issue is with the aesthetics, as they are rather bland on this bag. Most Filson bags have more depth to the materials, such that there are not large smooth areas of the bags. This bag has no such detailing and that’s good and bad. It doesn’t look as, let’s call it, ‘snazzy’ as the Twill + Bridle Leather offerings. But it also flies more under the radar, and doesn’t scream expensive bag either. That makes it great for travel, but not ideal for those looking for something on the style forward end. Because of the larger size, I don’t mind this bag flying more under the radar, so I’m a fan.

I know you can’t buy this, but I write this hoping Filson makes tweaks and starts selling a production variant of this bag. There is a lot to like here.

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