Since I last reviewed this pair, I have not worn them much – about once a month on average. Because both heels are nearly worn through, it felt long overdue due to send them in.
I bought this pair of Alden Indy 403 boots in Brown Chromexcel in 2012 from Alden of SF for $507.78 USD after tax. Right now, the cost of an Alden Restoration is $199 USD. This price includes postage both ways, a complete resole and refinishing, replacement shoe laces, a pair of shoe trees, dust bags, and box. If you were to buy a pair brand new today, it would be $655 USD before any applicable tax.
I requested a restoration kit through Alden’s website. After one week, a small envelope arrived in the mail which contents included a self-adhesive mailer bag, a payment envelope, and a prepaid Fedex return sticker. For reference, the mailer bag is hardly enough to fit the length of an Alden shoe box as shown.
The boots were delivered back to me safely! The whole process took 12 weeks from dropping it off to receiving it back without any communication (no notification of Alden receiving or shipping back the restoration). What stood out the most was the brightness of the new natural welt. Over the years the welt had darkened to a brown from conditioning and wear.
My Tanner Goods Wilderness Rucksack has been my most used bag after my Filson Zippered Tote. The model I have is made with Horween Chromexcel leather and in the “Sage” colorway. The bag was an unwaxed version, and I used it as such for most of the time until the last year when I decided to wax the canvas myself. These are some of my thoughts after 4 years plus of hauling a laptop, water bottle, chargers, camera gear, and often some gym clothes.
What I like:
Beautiful Horween Chromexcel leather.
The leather doesn’t show signs that it’ll give anytime soon. Horween Chromexcel is filled with fats and oils, and I have never needed to condition it yet. The variation of brown shades is beautiful.
Simple, but timeless rucksack design.
The rucksack is iconic enough for someone to recognize the brand/design, but doesn’t stand out as flashy.
Large handle loop at the top for easy carry.
I appreciate the wide the handle loop because the rich leather just feels great in my hand. The oils from my hand helps nourish the leather.
Leather is riveted at points of stress for durability.
I prefer rivets over bar tack stitching because it handles stress well multi-directionally. The brass is also gives a great contrast against the leather.
Wool felted shoulder pads are comfortable.
The wool pads are each sewn to a Chromexcel piece, but the whole piece together is removable by a button stud.
Includes interior wool felted laptop compartment.
On the inside is a full length felt compartment that is stitched to the rucksack’s side that hugs the back. I believe it could fit up to a 17” laptop comfortably.
Tanner Goods’ button stud closure will not fail.
There are three button studs with a loop – two for the top bag opening and one for the outer front pocket. Technically there is another two studs that hold the shoulder pads in place, but these ones don’t have a loop to secure them.
What could be improved (maybe):
No quick adjust shoulder straps.
The nice leather rucksack straps come at a compromise of being unable to adjust them quickly (like a cinch). But once you’re tactile enough, you can adjust each side to the appropriate length even while wearing the rucksack. The good news is the length stays put!
Single canvas layer throughout even at rucksack’s bottom.
The bottom canvas takes the most wear, and heavy/sharp objects will leave nicks/holes in the canvas. A waxed version of the canvas might help for this.
Wool wears thin over time.
With the wool felt pads rubbing against your shoulders, the fibers eventually wear away to a thin layer, even nearly causing the Chromexcel leather on the other side to be visible.
Limited strap holes included at top closure and shoulder straps.
This is more of a problem with the shoulder straps when the bag is nearly empty. The rucksack doesn’t hug my body close enough, but it was simple fix with a belt hole puncher.
Chromexcel stretches easily at handle carry loop.
Not so much a flaw, but a property of the leather. I don’t find it to be significant enough to change the length, but the leather does look slightly warped.
This Filson 257 in navy was as a gift from my mother for my Christmas 2018. She didn’t know I already had the same model (I’ve been told I’m a person hard to find gifts for!). I didn’t feel the need to tell her as I was quite astonished she managed to score a deal that I hadn’t seen! I really, really eventually wanted to have a navy Filson bag for myself – the only previous navy bag was a 261 zippered tote that I purchased as a gift to my former girlfriend. I myself am a stickler for the original Filson colors (tan and otter green!).
I gladly handed it over to my girlfriend to use as her work bag. She is a teacher at an elementary school, so nothing out of the normal is expected to happen to the bag. After several months primarily as her shotgun seat companion, I decided to re-examine the briefcase. I asked her opinion on the bag, and these were her comments:
Navy color is nice
Complimented by others
Outside pockets useful
Too large for [her] size
This newer 257 briefcase in Navy was manufactured September 2017 (according to the tag) compared to my tan briefcase in February 2002 – so a 15 year difference.
I can’t say for sure that these changes are applied for the 258 Padded Computer Briefcase. Although the 257 Computer Briefcase is discontinued, I thought I’d point on some things.
The most outstanding change is the bridle leather, a much darker brown (dark chocolate burgundy) versus the older leather that is well known to patina/fade to a chestnut brown. The underside of the leather is overall smoother, but does still show piling.
The zippers now are “Filson” logo’d instead of “YKK”, but are still robust and smooth to slide. From my understanding they are just rebranded version of YKK zippers.
The shoulder pad is now made of two separate leather pieces (one thin and one thick) stitched together with a foam insert in between. The older model shoulder pad is one single piece of leather. I’ve had my experience with both types of shoulder pads, and I do prefer the single piece one.
The new pad starts off really stiff and doesn’t contour well to your shoulder initially in my experience. The pad often “slips”, leaving the thin strap digging into your shoulder. The two pieces of leather do eventually break in/soften up, but I don’t think the foam insert does as much. Although the dimensions of both new and old shoulder pads are the same, the necessary stitching to hold the two pieces together reduces the foam area coverage. So there’s essentially a few cm border around the whole pad that doesn’t have foam. One purpose of a shoulder pad is to spread the bag’s weight evenly over the pad area.
But at the end of the day, the new pad is by no means bad, and there are methods to quickly break in the pad. The first is to fill the briefcase up with heavy items such as textbooks, attach the strap, and leave the shoulder pad hanging on a doorknob for a few days to form a good curvature. Because the new pads bottom side tend to be smooth, the second method is to take some fine grit sandpaper and lightly sand the bottom of the pad. Avoid the stitching on the outside. A rougher texture allows the pad to “grip” your shoulder more easily.
*The changes below have already been applied to the 258 Padded Computer Briefcase for many years already. I have a 258 model manufactured in 2002 which had these new modifications even though it was made in the same year as my 257. Just extra information for the enthusiasts or if you’re considering purchasing a vintage 257 from eBay!*
A short, green cotton webbing with a brass clip is permanently affixed to the inside of one outer pocket. The intended use is to attach and find your keys easily instead of loosely throwing it the whole pocket (which I do on my tan one). A welcome and practical addition if you ask me!
The material for the pockets on the inside are now a lighter weight canvas compared to the previous (likely?) identical twill used on the whole bag. The canvas material seems to be the same as the canvas used to bind the inner seams of the bag. The outer two dividers are still made of twill. In addition, the bottom of the three pockets have a closed bottom. I like both of these changes. The open bottom pockets prevented me from confidently placing smaller items inside.
For the longest time since I forayed into clothing and style, I’ve purposely stayed away from wearing hats. The casual vibe distracted me from the outfit as a whole. However, my opinion on hats have much changed over the years as I got older, understanding that dressing better was not the same as dressing up.
I’m referring about baseball caps. You know, the hats Americans are known for sporting their favorite team logos at games, on vacations, and anywhere else really. I love an adjustable strap, well-worn cap with a slightly curved brim.
My first baseball cap purchase, ever, was several years ago online in 2014. It was this Ebbets Field Flannels navy wool ballcap from Independence Chicago. The hat was a nice, neutral navy color with a green satin underbrim and made of a soft wool flannel. A subtle, cream colored “I” for Independence Chicago felt stitched to the front of the brim, an adjustable leather strap at the back, and most gladly made here by Ebbets Field Flannels in Seattle, WA.
There have been several iterations of this makeup from Independence over the years. Some of them with a different font, a Horween shell cordovan strap, a different color button top, or even another material.
What I love about Ebbets Field Flannels is that the company pays homage to vintage teams and reproduce their attire. They have a variety of ready-made hats to choose from. Some of the popular hats include the SF Seals, the NY Knickerbockers, the LA Angels, and many more. Also, they have done several custom group made-to-orders with Reddit, Superfuture, Styleforum, and menswear retailers. The hats are reasonably priced at around 49 USD from the webstore or a few dollars more from places with their own makeup. From the several Ebbets caps I own, these caps are made with consistent and outstanding quality.
The leather strap included on the adjustable caps, however, does vary much in quality depending on the leather used. The more recent Ebbets caps I’ve purchased have a plastic looking finish and are thinner compared to the ones of Ebbets x Independence Chicago and Ebbets x Viberg (Horween Shell Cordovan strap). It’s quite a hit or miss, and you can identify the leather qualities of a specific cap run from its stock pictures. Regardless, a leather strap is a cool upgrade from the plastic or velcro straps on other cap brands.
Here are a couple reasons why I purchased this specific pair:
Copper Rough & Tough has been my favorite leather from Red Wing/SB Tannery for quite a while. I’ve seen pictures of the leather patina and it’s quite amazing! The leather has a pullup quality similar to Chromexcel. The leather starts as a reddish tan that darkens over time. I like things that get better with age.
The price was discounted about $100 dollars off retail (subtly disclosed in person) because the store was trying to make space on their shelves for upcoming Truman Boots. I’ve noticed online that Red Wings go on sale very often, and even Red Wing seconds only have defects that I consider minor/cosmetic.
The Iron Ranger boot is a style I’ve wanted and it has speed hooks for easy on/easy off. The only previous pair of Red Wings I owned was a pair of Red Wing 9011 Black Cherry Featherstone Beckman sometime in 2012. I’ve never had a break in period that tough with any other boot ever since. The Beckmans scraped my heels and made my ankles bleed the first couple of times. On the numerous occasions I went to San Francisco, I saw a total of at least a dozen Iron Rangers on people’s feet. The reason I sold the Beckmans not too long after I started purchasing Aldens and Vibergs.
I felt the Iron Ranger design was most suited for my current aesthetic. It is a captoe boot with speed hooks in a lighter tan colored leather. I think that the Red Wing moc toe’s ventured too far into work wear than I’d like to be. I tend to like sleeker boots. I’ve experienced that Alden’s speed hooks are much harder to lace. Alden boots typically have 4 narrow speed hooks bunched together. It’s common that I miss a hook lacing up. The Iron Rangers have three speed hooks spaced decently spaced apart.
Red Wing shifted their typical soles on the Iron Ranger from a nitrile cork sole to a mini vibram lug sole which provides additional traction. I don’t live at all in an area where I need that grip, but I’d like the flexibility, and I’ve heard many people slipping on snow/ice with the cork sole.
Red Wing is the American heritage boot company. I very well respect what quality footwear Red Wing can offer at such a reasonable price. I consider them the best bang for the buck footwear you can get. You can wear only Red Wings for the rest of your life and you’d be content. Once you move up into higher priced footwear, you’re paying premium mostly for the style rather than the construction/quality.
The quality of the boot is solid. No missed stitches or extra threads hanging around. Red Wing is one of the best companies in quality control.
The Red Wing 8085 Iron Rangers took about a half dozen wears to break in comfortably. I sized them the same as I did with the Beckmans – a 9D. The part of the shoe that was most constricting initially was the width. I sped this process up by stuffing shoe trees wrapped with thick wool socks into boots every night.
The Copper Rough & Tough leather developed character very quickly. I wore them during my day-to-day tasks which primarily consisted of walking.
It was about a week and a half until I took the first pictures of them (maybe 9-10 wears) and I decided to compare them to my girlfriend’s growing collection of Red Wings and also my Viberg x 3sixteen Olive Chromepak unstructured service boots on the 2030 last. As far as I know, Viberg currently is not producing boots with an unstructured toe, so this comparison won’t be too practical. You can see the other toe structure comparisons in my other post along with my sizing.
Red Wing 8085 Iron Ranger: Size 9D
Viberg Olive Chromepak Service Boot on 2030 last: Size 9
Alden Trubalance Last: Size 9D
Alden Barrie Last: Size 9D
Wolverine 1K Mile: Size 9D
Crockett & Jones 365 Last: Size 8.5UK
Horween Waxed Flesh, Roughout, and Reverse Chamois
The three Horween leathers with such resilience that they will accompany you to even the world’s end: waxed flesh, roughout, and reverse chamois. These leathers won’t need any conditioning for a long time. The wax makes the roughout very resilient to rain, scuffs, and other elements.
I did, however, decide to apply 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil to my pair of Aldens in Reverse Hunting Green Chamois. Neatsfoot oil is a yellowish oil made from the shin bones of cows and is typically used to soften leather such as breaking in a baseball glove. The color of the boots out of the box seemed a bit too light for my liking. Neatsfoot is known to darken leather and it definitely darkened it to a deep forest green. The reverse chamois leather feels “damp” and cold to the touch, and surprisingly, it’s really, really supple compared to a roughout leather.
The brown and black waxed flesh arrived with their nap completely waxed (brand new black waxed flesh pic below). Waxed flesh when new feels both smooth and rough. You can see in pictures now that some parts of the boots still remain smooth.
What happens over time is that the wax comes off with wear, kicking objects, or even computer chairs rubbing against the heels. The brown pair (which started off a very dark brown) has areas lightened up to a medium brown with the nap/texture revealing itself. The black waxed flesh has revealed shades of grey underneath.
To test out the water resistance of every pair, I poured water on all of them. I wasn’t too thorough in scientifically testing them because in hindsight I would have weighed each boot before and after pouring an equal amount of water on them. That way, I’d be able to figure out which boot absorbed the most and which repelled the most.
From observation, the reverse chamois had the greatest water resistance. But it was likely because that boot was recently oiled. If all the boots were brand new, I’d say the order would go from Waxed Flesh > Reverse Chamois > Roughout in water resistance. Of course, all these leathers innately have high water resilience so the difference is negligible.
I wouldn’t hesitate to bring any of these pairs in rain, snow, or slush. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly afterwards!
In the past few years, Filson has expanded their use of their more than 100-year-old “Tin Cloth” to their bags (which originally used rugged twill). Tin cloth is a waxed canvas nicknamed “tin” by the forest workers. They they felt the garments were like armor protecting them from the harsh rain, wind, and brushes during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Filson’s original line of luggage used 22oz rugged twill as the primary exterior material. And while many bags from that line still utilize the twill, Filson has released newly designed bags that have integrated their renowned Tin Cloth into their construction. Some bags use a combination of both materials such as my Photographer’s Backpack, while other bags use solely Tin Cloth.
I really like the designs of the newer bags such as the 24 hour briefcase and the 48 hour duffle bag. Another change I’ve noticed with these bags is that they use a Nylon Webbed Shoulder Strap instead of the Bridle Leather Shoulder Strap. The nylon strap seems lighter in weight and appears to distribute the weight over a larger area. I haven’t tried out the nylon strap, but I prefer the look of the bridle leather strap!
If you are in the market for one of Filsons Tin Cloth bags, it would be beneficial for you to know some of the key differences between the Tin Cloth and Rugged Twill.
If you already have one of Filson’s rugged twill bags, the interior seams should be bound with Tin Cloth for durability. You will likely see that the tin cloth seams have darkened/patina faster than the twill around it.
Comes with a water repellant finish that will wear off over time
Material is quite stiff and takes a long time to soften up
The first areas to fray are typically the edges of bags where they receive the most rubbing
Twill’s diagonal weave (the weave used on denim) makes it more resilient than canvas to clean tears
Lighter in weight (Filson typically uses about 15oz) than the rugged twill
Repels water better than the rugged twill because of the coating and tightness of the weave
Consequently, this tight weave and wax makes the material not very breathable
Attracts dirt/debris more quickly than the twill
Has a cold, clammy feel especially when newly rewaxed
Seems prone to “tearing” especially at areas that are creased
Shrinks a bit more than the twill especially on outerwear that is repeatedly wet and then dry
Tin cloth seems to darken (or patina) easily. I speculate that the waxed finish helps attract dirt to its surface. The change in color on Tan tin cloth is more distinct than on the Otter Green tin cloth. In addition, rewaxing tin cloth with Filson’s Original’s Wax Finish darkens the material even more. The color will lighten up slightly again when the wax wears off. Tin Cloth is most well-known in the Filsons’s Tan color, while Otter Green comes as a second. Occasionally, black or navy tin cloth is used on bags/outerwear, and I suspect these colors won’t show dirt as easily.
Here’s are some older pics of my Levi’s x Filson Oil Finish Tin Cloth Trucker that was a limited release in 2011/2012.
Filson recommends a stiff bristled brush to clean the material and spot cleaning. Tin Cloth should not be put in the washer. Personally, I take a damp rag and wipe the areas down.
The Tin Cloth that Filson uses is 15oz compared to Barbour’s waxed cotton jackets which is 6oz or less. Between the two, Barbour’s jackets are soft, while Filson’s Tin Cloth jackets remain quite stiff throughout its lifetime.
While Tin Cloth repels water better than the rugged twill, the fabric is very unbreathable because it is tightly woven. If you’re wearing an unlined jacket with this material, expect to be soaked with your own sweat! Barbour’s outerwear typically comes with a cotton lining to help with this.
Tin cloth is an older formula than Filson’s rugged twill because it was used on their garments first. The extra water resilience that the fabric has requires periodic rewaxing to maintain it.
Most of the newer bags that have tin cloth come with a Nylon Webbing Shoulder Strap instead of a Bridle Leather Shoulder Strap (priced at $85 on their website!)
I suppose if you want the best of both worlds, you can take Filson’s Oil Finish Original Wax and apply it on a rugged twill bag. You’ll likely need more than one tin worth to cover the whole bag. In doing so, you get the water repellancy from the original wax and also the thickness of the twill. To prevent fraying or reduce additional fraying on my older Filson twill bags, I have taken a dab of the wax and apply it on the areas that receive the most wear (typically the bottom edges of the bag).
Filson’s first original colors were Otter Green and Tan. If you search for pics of some of the oldest, most worn, tattered Filson bags on Google, they were likely originally Otter Green and not Tan. Take a look at the picture above.
The associates who work at a Filson retail store will typically estimate they sell twice as many Tan bags as they do Otter Green bags. And sure enough, there are quite a number of convincing reasons why they do!
Tan is the classic Filson color and is likely how people recognize a Filson bag. The contrasting brown bridle leather against the tan canvas really makes a bag “pop”. Also note that the bridle leather is always brown regardless of the canvas color bag you choose (black is an exception – it uses black bridle leather). The contrast of Tan and the rich brown bridle leather is what makes a Filson bag iconic!
As of now I’m at about a dozen plus Filson bags (I’m a bagoholic!). I guesstimate the distribution of colors is about 6 Otter Green, 5 Tan, 1 Black, and 1 Brown. I’m biased towards olive because it is also my favorite color for menswear. For further pics, check out my review on the Filson Zippered Tote.
The way that Tan patinas is that it picks up dirt, indigo dye, and easily darkens. Especially if the bag is carried by your side rubbing against a pair of raw denim. I think Tan is a solid color that won’t go wrong. In the long run, Tan gets darker in most areas of abrasion.
In contrast, the aging of Otter is an unusual phenomenon. Otter Green tends to hide stains very well such as dirt, spilled coffee, or indigo dye. I’ve noticed that the color lightens up over the years to a grayish color. The fading doesn’t happen uniformly on the bag – areas exposed to the sun tend to fade faster. Personally, I love how Otter Green fades over the years.
These are some of my Filson Otter Green bags over the years compared to a Filson Tan Zippered Tote Bag. The colors of the bags are quite accurate to how they are in person.
This is my review and thoughts on Loyal Stricklin’s Edison Wallet, a Field Notes sized wallet, in the Honey colorway.
Loyal Stricklin is a American made small company that started with its owner Michael Stricklin. Loyal Stricklin’s most iconic product is their Aviator Mug, a leather sleeve with a handle made to fit perfectly over a mason jar. The Aviator Mug is available in many different leathers including Horween Chromexcel, Dublin, and various bridle leathers. It acts as coozie for taking your beverage on the go including hot coffee, iced coffee, or tea. The Aviator Mug was my first purchase from the company back in 2014. While my sleeve has taken on several water stains, it has many more years of life even if the mason jar were to fall and break.
Let’s move onto the Edison Wallet, which I would also say is one of their better known products. The Edison Wallet is a Field Notes style sized wallet designed to carry a pen, a notebook, cards, and a handful of cash. It also has enough room to stuff receipts in its pockets. The item listing also includes a Loyal Stricklin branded twist pen and one blank Field Notes book to get you started. The Edison Wallet fits notebooks sized 3.5in x 5.5in (9cm x 14cm).
I wanted to switch things up from a typical pull-up type leather such as Horween Chromexcel/Dublin, so I went with the honey color after scouring the web for some pictures of how the leather would age. The honey leather is a harness leather that starts off as a bright chestnut-like color. The leather is really smooth and consistently keeps a sheen without any conditioning so far. The wallet’s edges are burnished very well, and the stitching is altogether great without any missed holes.
During my first outing with the Edison wallet placed in my rear pocket, I noticed the leather near the bottom spine creasing in an undesired manner. I figured it was because the length of the pen I slotted didn’t reach near the full length of the wallet. I attempted to purposely push the pen down before closing the wallet, but that didn’t help much. It’s not something that bothers me anymore because the creasing worsen much after that.
There are two notable differences from my One Star Leather Park Sloper Senior Wallet (my review), a similar sized Field Notes style wallet designed to carry similar items (pen, cards, cash, receipts).
The first difference is that Loyal Stricklin’s pen slot is stitched on the inside to sit the pen at the wallet’s spine when closed. In terms of volume, this does make the wallet a few centimeters narrower in width at a cost of making the spine area bulge when equipped with a pen. This can be a positive if One Star Leather’s Park Sloper Senior is too wide to fit in a desired pocket such as the rear. My Park Sloper Senior does snugly fit in some of my rear pant pockets and not at all in others – it depends on the brand of the pant. However, One Star Leather does make a “no pen slot” version if width is an issue.
The second difference is that the Edison Wallet’s card sleeve slots are vertically slotted in a set of three. The slots stack upon each other. Three slots is great especially if you place the frequently used cards at the front. However, if you have too many cards, they will stack upon each other and make the Edison Wallet very bulky.
Within the first year of use after I purchased my Filson Otter Green Zippered Tote in back 2013, I noticed a stain on the bottom exterior panels of the bag. The stain was brown/tan-like in color and had a distinct outline of its edges. I initially thought it was a coffee or beverage stain spilling on the inside, but then noticed it appeared only on the outside panels of the bag – no stains were present on the interior.
Here’s a gallery of the before images of the Otter Green Tote over several years (I tried to color balance the images to look somewhat consistent). The “stain” is towards at the bottom of the bag
I felt it was due time to really try and get the stain out or at least reduced. I used a mixture of water and a few drops of laundry detergent and then vigorously scrubbed whole bag in the bathtub using a soft plastic bristle brush. The brownish water that constantly came out after each wringing deceived me into thinking that the bag was still dirty. It was actually dye coming out from the bridle leather handle straps.
I let the bag dry inside out in my patio for a few days. The primary change I noticed after it dried was that the canvas portions of the bag lightened a few shades. The bridle leather also started to crack on one strap, but it was only on the surface. I applied a few coats of Obenauf’s Leather Oil to all leather areas which was much needed. The oil didn’t noticably darken the color as the straps were dark to begin with.
After all was said and done, I think the stain appears less noticable. Looking back, I would have somehow covered the leather straps or at least let the bag hang on on something while I scrubbed just the canvas. Getting the leather completely soaked with water was a bad idea.
Here are the after images of the Otter Green zippered tote by itself and also compared with a Tan zippered tote.