Filson 257 Briefcase Model Then and Now

New Filson 257 Briefcase next to an older one.

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:

  • Spacious
  • Heavy
  • 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.

Taken in direct sunlight to identify the different bridle leathers.

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.

Filson Shoulder Pad Sanded on the 258 Briefcase
Purposefully sanded shoulder pad for additional grip.

*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.


Filson Tin Cloth vs Rugged Twill

Filson luggage tag in Tin Cloth. The top one has at least a year of use while the bottom one is essentially brand new.


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 Tri Fold Wallet. When the tin cloth is brand new (or freshly waxed), it is very dark and looks “wet”.

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.

Filson Photographer’s Backpack (same outer design as the Journeyman Backpack) uses a combination of tin cloth and rugged twill.

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.

Tin cloth bound seams for extra durability.

Rugged Twill

  • 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

Tin Cloth

  • Lighter in weight (Filson typically uses about 15oz) than the rugged twill
  • Requires periodic rewaxing (Filson Original Oil Finish Wax recommended)
  • Provides less structure when the bag is empty
  • 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.

The tin cloth fabric both darkens and smooths out on areas of high abrasion (elbows, cuffs)
The tin cloth fabric both darkens and smooths out on areas of high abrasion (elbows, cuffs)

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.

Unlined tin cloth on the Filson x Levi's Trucker jacket. Notice the color difference between the waxed exterior and unwaxed interior!
Unlined tin cloth on the Filson x Levi’s Trucker jacket. Notice the color difference between the waxed exterior and unwaxed interior!


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).

Pockets on a Filson Sportsman Bag likely made of unwaxed tin cloth.
Pockets on a Filson Sportsman Bag likely made of unwaxed tin cloth.

Keep a close eye and be sure to rewax highly creased areas like this one.
Keep a close eye and be sure to rewax highly creased areas like this one.

Tin cloth backpack shoulder straps darkening.
Tin cloth backpack shoulder straps darkening.

Filson Otter Green vs Tan Aging and Patina

Should I get a Filson bag in Otter Green or Tan?

Both of these Filson bags are Otter Green. Yes, you read that correctly! The right one started the same color as the left.

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 Filson 230 Small Field Bag
Tan Filson 230 Small Field Bag

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.

Filson Otter Green Zippered Tote Bag 261 After Cleaning

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.

Vermilyea Pelle Day Bag Review

If you want a bag between a briefcase and a backpack in formality, a tote bag might just fit the bill for you. One of Vermilyea Pelle’s staple products in their catalog is the Day Bag. This will be my third review of a VP bag with previous two being the briefcase and the weekender bag. Their Day Bag is a bit of a hidden gem product in their catalog as most guys stumble upon VP because of their briefcases.

When I’m heading out to do some errands, a briefcase might be a bit much in formality especially if I’m not bringing my laptop. You might have seen women carrying their ubiquitous nylon tote bags in a multitude of colors. Likewise, I too want a casual bag that I can throw everything into.

The design of the day bag is quite simple – a one compartment tote shaped bag with a zippered opening. On the exterior is one small pocket. Even though the design is simple, the superb quality of materials and craftsmanship into the bag is what I’ll be focusing about.


  • Price: $275 USD
  • Dimensions: 12″ x 14″ x 6″
  • Materials: Snuff Mohawk Leather from C.F. Stead
    • 37oz Heavy Waxed Olive Canvas
    • Glove Tanned Deerhide Inner Bottom lining
  • Leather backed brass rivets at stress points
  • Heavy duty brass YKK zipper with a leather


I ordered this bag from Dustin in June 2016. At the time this specific makeup wasn’t listed on his site. He posted a picture of this bag on Instagram, and I asked him if he could also construct one with the same specs for me. It took around 2 months for the bag to be shipped which was a bit more than the typical few weeks lead time. 

The only other regularly stocked Day Bag makeups I had seen available were an unwaxed Duck Canvas/Chromexcel or Ranger Tan Waxed Canvas/Chromexcel.

Two months prior to ordering this bag, I purchased a Day Bag made for North and South Knives (the sold listing is surprisingly still up!). I contacted NSK and was told that the particular bag was a one-off made for them.

One connection I can make is that after I received my first VP bag, the briefcase, every next purchase from VP after had one material in common. In this example, the Day Bag from NSK also was made of Ranger Tan Waxed Canvas like my briefcase, but with a Mohawk Snuff Suede leather instead. 

I liked the style of the day bag, and when I found out an olive 37oz waxed canvas one was potentially available, I knew I had to get that one! (Olive is my favorite color). The Ranger Tan Day Bag eventually was given to my now ex-girlfriend.

  • The Ranger Tan Waxed Canvas/Snuff Mohawk Day Bag a few days after I received it.

For VP’s all leather bags, they offer rolled handles instead of the regular flat handles which is more comfortable (that’s why many women handbags have them!), but you lose the option of the added handgrip. The Day Bag is the only style that does not come with an attached handgrip even though it has flat handles, but I think it fits the design well. The handles are short and unlike female styled tote bags that can be carried over the shoulder, these ones are only long enough to be carried by hand.

The day bag is completely unstructured and tends to collapse if it is empty. The waxed 37oz canvas started off quite rigid but softened up quickly as the wax wore off. On VP’s brand new bags made in the 37oz Heavy Olive Waxed Canvas, you can see that the material is so thoroughly waxed that the canvas shows creasing. The wax on mine has definitely worn off to reveal a lighter olive color underneath!

The Snuff Mohawk leather is my first experience CF Stead’s Tannery which is based in England. CF Stead is known for their suede leather and is used today in well known shoe companies such as Clark’s Originals, Truman Boots, Allen Edmonds, and Wolverine. From other pics of their leather I’ve seen online, their suede isn’t a typical soft consistent suede. They embrace the hide’s marks, scratches, and scars, and they are definitely renowned for that. 

On my Day Bag, the Snuff Mohawk is used as the bottom exterior, the side pocket, the handles, and the strap. The Snuff Mohawk is definitely reminds me of roughout leather in terms of its durability and water resilience. It feels a bit waxy and thick. Unlike the VP briefcase whose zipper opening is supported by two parallel, robust leather strips, the day bag does not have that feature. Instead, the zipper is surrounded by just canvas. This tends to make the bag open flop it a bit.

The coolest and my favorite feature on the bag is at the ends of the zipper where there is a Snuff Mohawk leather pull tab reinforced by 4 brass rivets. You can grab onto this tab with your other hand to help stabilize the zipper movement with your other hand. I like this detail of the bag and wished the briefcase had longer pull tabs.

One one side of the bag, there is a midsized pocket leather pocket attached to the canvas. The corners are reinforced by brass rivets. I can’t seem to find much use for this pocket as it’s too small to put documents in and too unsecured to place my phone in. I either wish the pocket was both longer and deeper, had a zippered closure, and/or was on the interior instead.

The interior bottom is lined with soft deerhide leather. I’ve spilled so many forms of liquid in this bag such as water and coffee, and the only the deer lining is still going strong. You can see stains of the liquid but it is only cosmetic. I’ve once spilled nearly a whole liter of water, and none of it penetrated through to the exterior bottom Snuff Mohawk Leather. That shows how well the Snuff Mohawk leather handles water!

The strap attaches to the bag with a D ring on the opposite sides of the bag. What I noticed immediately is that the strap length is much longer than the briefcases’s even at its shortest hole length. I think the longer strap provides you the option of carrying it cross body.

Filson Zippered Tote 261 Otter Green Review

In 2012, the Filson Zippered Tote was the first Filson bag I purchased. I knew about the brand because on Reddit shared that the bags are warrantied for life. Looking through the options online, the zippered tote stood out to me because I wanted an everyday bag and not a briefcase at the time. Between the two Filson colors, I went with the tote in Otter Green instead of Tan because the color is more masculine for a guy carrying a tote. The shape of the bag – like a box also helps with that.
I was living in Cupertino, CA at the time and the closest retailer was Doms Outdoor Goods, one of the largest Filson approved stockists in the US, and it was located in Livermore, CA. The other closest stockist was all the way in San Francisco, Unionmade Goods, but they only stocked the tan color according to their website and my experience visiting the store in the past.
I called Doms beforehand to ask if they had a Filson 261 in OT in stock. The associate went to go physically check and he responded there was 1 left on the shelf! I decided to take a trip spontaneously that day to buy it. So after a 1 hour drive to Livermore, I ended up purchasing it for about $130.
A bit of history about the change of ownership that happened recently. Filson started producing luggage only in the ~1980s to early 90s and before that only clothing. The first zippers they used on their luggage were “Talon zippers”. Most of the Filson affectionados today desire bags with Talon zippers because they were really smooth, and the zipper teeth were no joke, very little, if any, of zipper failure. If you have a bag with Talon zippers, it for sure was manufactured in the 90s. Later in the 2000s filson switched over to YKK branded zippers. YKK zippers were also solid, they’re a well known zipper company based in Japan. They continued with these zippers to about 2010. Around that time Filson the company was sold to Bedrock Manufacturing, a company that also owns Fossil and Shinola Detroit. Since the 2010s Filson started using their own branded “Filson” zippers which likely were just YKK zippers. In my experience, they worked just as well.
However, the major changes in quality over the years was most prominent in the bridle leather used and not so much the zippers and twill canvas. If you had a Talon era bag and Filson era bag (today’s) and compared the leather, the Talon bag’s leather was significantly better in quality. The Talon leather aged to a lightened chestnut color, was thicker, and also felt robust in weight. The recent Filson “bridle leather” doesn’t feel like leather, cracks more easily, and the backside is typically unfinished and fuzzy. The current leather feels more like “foam” and not leather. The leather also wrinkles very easily in an unattractive manner and does not lighten with color over time.
All of this information I learned much later after I had owned a few more Filson bags. Filson bags are still ‘buy it for life’ bags because they still have a lifetime guarantee regardless of when/who you purchased it from. When you send the bag in for repair, they will either repair it or replace it with a brand new same bag if they deem it not worth the repairs (time/cost of repairing that bag outceeds the time/cost of producing a new bag). The only situation of a Filson garment/bag that is not under lifetime warranty is items purchased from a Filson outlet. These bags are indicated with a “X” on top of the Filson logo, and Filson will literally not touch these garments/bags, and will send it right back to you.
So back to my Filson 261 Otter Green tote, I’ll now talk about the design. There are 4 large outer pockets with 2 of them on the functioning as water bottle pockets. Each of them are large enough to fit my 32oz Hydro Flask. Other uses include an umbrella, sunglasses case. The two longer pockets are great for papers/documents, quick access things. In one of these pockets there’s a small key clip on the inside. I don’t find it useful because it’s too short.

Apolis Market Bag Review

Apolis is a company known for their equity which means they care as much about who is making the product as much as the people using them. The Apolis Market Bag is a product that symbolizes what Apolis is all about. Co-founder Raan Parton started with an idea to make a waterproof grocery bag to eventually become a line that has sold over 100,000 units. It has created jobs and security for mothers working in their factory in Bangladesh.

I first learned of the Apolis Market Bag after purchasing my first Apolis Wool CPO Shirt in 2012. Sophia Bush, actress and activist, helped publicize the bag by designing her own (Defend Tomorrow) which helped launch the Defend Tomorrow Initiative. I loved the simplicity of the bag design. It wasn’t until I moved down to Los Angeles in 2014 that I was able to get one of the bags.

What I like about Apolis is that every Market Bag is collaborated with a smaller brand or a boutique local to the location or motto printed on the bag. By purchasing one of their bags, you become part of the Apolis Bangladesh Project, helping support fair wages to female artisans.

I attended one of their sample sales (held annually) located in a warehouse in the Arts District of Los Angeles. There were tables with bags piled upon each with several boxes of more underneath. Not only were there market bags, but also wine totes, and smaller lunch bags. Each bag was priced at $35 USD, but if you purchased 3 bags, the price was discounted to $90 USD. I rummaged through the stacks and noticed there were not any bags from the more popular cities (NYC, LA, SF), but there were various bags from lesser populated cities. I picked up 3 of the bags I liked the most.


Apolis Market Bag (Price: $58 USD)

  • Dimensions: 13″ wide, 18″ high, 8″ deep, with a 6″ x 7″ interior pocket
  • Natural Material: 100% natural golden jute fiber harvested in Bangladesh
  • Waterproof Lining: 100% polyurethane
  • Strong: Can hold at least 135 pounds
  • Leather Straps: Reinforced by antique nickel rivets

Manufactured in Saidpur, Bangladesh


The Apolis Market Bags are by far my most complimented item. In California, there’s a plastic bag ban, so you must bring your own bag or pay to purchase a paper bag. The cashiers usually compliment my Apolis Market Bag being a really sturdy bag. Accessorizing with your grocery bag adds a little personality to your necessary grocery shopping.

The design of the bag is very simple. The exterior is made out of durable jute fibers, and the interior is fully lined with polyurethane that is water resistant. The texture reminds me of tarp used in tents. The handles are made of two short leather pieces riveted to the bag and are only long enough to carry by the handles. The natural leather handles darken quickly from your hands and water, and they also soften up.More recently, Apolis came out with bags with longer straps intended to also be capable of carrying over your shoulder like a traditional tote. Carrying the bag over your shoulder does free up your hands, but I feel there’s less chance of injury if you carry it by the handles and not over the shoulder.

Also on the interior, there’s a small flat pouch at the top just likely to stuff receipts.

One side of the exterior has a stamped of the bag’s item code/style, the latitude and longitude of their factory, and also the origin. If you look up the coordinates (23.7099,90.4071) on a map, it really does point to a busy street in Bangladesh! This printed side reminds me of standards and specifications listed for the military. On the other side is usually the city of where the other collaboratoring brand is located.

I like to fold my bags in half lengthwise to make it easier to carry and store.

Some of my heaviest hauls included several wines and 6-packs of beers. Apolis lists that you can carry at least 135lbs in the bag! By comparison, a 5 gallon water jug is about 40-50 lbs and I don’t think I’ve come close in weight.

The jute fibers are quite heavy duty and the most wear I’ve seen is at the corners of the bottom of the bag exterior. In terms of the waterproof liner, I feel that it isn’t 100% effective. Over time, the area likely to “fail” first is the liner flaking into pieces on the inside. One of my bags was stained significantly and I tried to hand wash/spot clean it. It worked pretty well. I wouldn’t recommend submerging the whole bag in water. You can use a lower heat and iron the exterior of the bag for the wrinkles.

The natural leather handles darken quickly from your hands and water, and they also soften up. Many of the leather handles on bags at the sample sale had varying thicknesses. It’s a hit or miss whether you get thicker straps or thinner straps that wrinkle more easily.


I love the Apolis Market bags and use them almost daily. You don’t only have to use them for groceries/food, I’ve used them as temporary gym bags (haha) or just to transport items. It’s a great bag you can carry to your local farmer’s market.

More recently, Apolis expanded the colors available to the market bag – now adding Charcoal and Black. I’ve picked up a couple more Black Market Bags at later sample sales, and I like the black bags more than the natural. Although the natural seems more in tune with a “market bag”, the darker color fits my style more. They tend to hide stains on the jute and the leather handles are dark to match.

In addition, Apolis offers more affordable Simple Market Bags ($38 USD) in which the handles are some kind of woven cotton instead of leather. Also an adjustable strap Market Carrier Tote ($78 USD) to change lengths of the handles. For an additional $10 from the regular tote, I like the option of being able to carry by the handles and also over the shoulder. However, with the straps being relatively thin, heavier loads might dig into your shoulder!

Vermilyea Pelle 20″ Weekender Duffle Bag Review

Vermilyea Pelle 20″ Weekender Duffle Bag

I’ve been very fond of Dustin’s work since I heard of his company in 2014 on Styleforum and Instagram. Back in 2015, my girlfriend at the time ordered a briefcase from Vermilyea Pelle for my birthday. I let her know beforehand that I wanted the typical Brown CXL and Ranger Tan Waxed Canvas makeup. She exchanged emails with him a few times, and on my birthday I became a new owner of a VP Briefcase!

Now, onto the product we’ll talk about. I will state that there are only so many designs of bags that are practical. The VP 20″ Weekender Duffle seems to encompass many elements of the retired Filson Traveler’s Bag. I, myself, currently own both the Medium and Large sized Filson Travel Bags, so my review on the VP Duffle bag will be based primarily upon my comparison with those.

I purchased the VP Weekender Duffle bag in person at Railcar Fine Goods on 11/26/2017 at a price of $282.31 after tax. Because I knew of the canvas and leather beforehand from my VP briefcase, I knew the quality of the bag was to match. It fact, back in 2015, Railcar was the only local stockist that carried VP! The reason I purchased the bag was that it was discounted – I can’t remember off the top of my head what the % discount was on the tag, but to my knowledge, it was the first time I’ve seen a VP included in a sale.


  • Dimensions: 20″L x 10″ W x 12″
  • Tumbled Solid brass Hardware (patinas much nicer than Lacquer coated brass)
  • Hand hammered Solid Copper Rivets
  • Hand Antiqued USA Made Snaps
  • 18oz Heavy Wax Duck Canvas
  • 5/6oz leather on Bag, Double Thick 5/6oz Leather strap work from Horween Tannery in Chicago
  • #10 Solid Brass YKK zipper


(+) This is a simple, well-designed bag with quality materials. The copper rivets and stitching on the bag are very well done. I can’t imagine the bag failing at all anytime soon. VP utilizes the best Horween Chromexcel Leather, and Ican see that supported by the leather on the bag being very thick and displaying no signs of loose grain creasing (seen prominently in boots). Compared to Filson’s Bridle Leather, the CXL leather on the straps is nearly twice as thick (5.3mm vs 2.7mm). The main compartment is accessed by two YKK zippers with burnished, waxed leather pulls. The quality of these rawhide leather pulls feel a lot more substantial than Filson’s and I think they are very similar to the laces I use on some of my Vibergs.

The thickness of the waxed Ranger Tan canvas is essentially the same as Filson’s 22oz Rugged Twill, 3.35mm to 3.30mm. However, the canvas is very well waxed for additional abrasion resistance. Filson’s twill comes with an applied treatment (not “waxed”) and still holds up to rain well fresh out of the factory. In my experience of rainy days with both bags, the waxed canvas sheds water much better.

The interior is a large one compartment with a keychain clip on one side. The simplicity of this bag’s design allows you to throw whatever you want into it, or to use your own pouches to seperate goods. I like duffle bags for this reason as I tend to just throw everything in the same compartment and just shuffle through it when I need something!

What’s cool about VP’s bags is that they use copper rivets at all places of stress. I learned a couple years ago that rivets are able to handle stress from any direction where as bar tack stitching handles stresses from the directions perpendicular to them. Take a look at your pair of raw denim – Belt loops are typically attached to the pant with bar tack stitches while your front pockets and coin pocket will have rivets.

Another feature that VP added was a leather bottom exterior. The primary reason for this is to prevent the bottom of the bag getting wet when setting it down on a rainy day. Also the leather bottom will be more durable than cotton/canvas. I don’t baby where I place my bags, and as you can see, I can’t even find any scratches or nicks on the CXL leather bottom yet!

The inner seams are bounded by what feels like another lighter weight waxed canvas for added durability.

(-) The interior keychain clip is really tiny compared to the rest of the bag. I might have preferred it to be on the interior of one of the outside pockets like Filson has for their Tote bags.

The pull tabs at each end of the zipper are too short to be usable. When you open a zippered bag, one hand pulls the zipper while the other holds the tab to allow you to unzip. I get around this by just grabbing a lateral part of the bag with my other hand while zipping and unzipping. No biggie!

The shoulder strap is actually quite short compared to Filson’s. But it’s actually beneficial to carry the bag higher up on your back/side for ergonomic reasons. The minor issue I have with the single piece leather shoulder pad is that the pad’s leather ends tend to fold in. You can basically fix this by not looping the strap through the exterior slits on the pad so that the shoulder pad sits flush on your shoulder.


The VP 20″ Weekender Duffle basically is an upgraded version of Filson’s bags. Compared to the MSRP of Filson’s bags, the price of the VP bag is well worth the $385. The improvements include a leather bottom, copper rivets, “better” materials (both canvas and leather), added snap buttons on the two exterior pockets to prevent the pockets from flaring out. Oh yeah, I only thing that’s missing from this bag is the two “water bottle” pockets at each end. But with the bag loaded, the shoulder straps should essentially prevent any items from fitting at each end. I just toss my water bottle into the main compartment.

Bleu de Chauffe Postman Eclair Bag Review


The last bag in my collection is the Bleu de Chauffe Eclair M in a “navy blue/pain brûlé” colorway. I’ve seen a handful of these Bleu de Chauffe bags from my fellow friends on Instagram, and they look absolutely gorgeous! Bleu de Chauffe uses full vegetable tanned leather instead of chrome tanned. Some of the primary differences between the two types of leather is that veg tan will acquire a distinct patina, is not water resistant, and may crack to prolonged exposure to heat or dryness. Chrome tanned leather remains fairly uniform in color, is softer and suppler, and do not show as much fiber variation due to the tannage. Bleu de Chauffe takes its inspiration from late 19th and early 20th century design.


Brand: Bleu de Chauffe
Style: Postman Bag Eclair M
Color: Navy Blue/Pain Brûlé
Price: $449.17 USD

Besides the plastic wrap, the bag included the previous mentioned cards and also a cotton material Dust Bag that was folded in the interior of the bag.

Here are the specs taken from the offical website:

-Shoulder strap bag made of vegetable tanned leather.
-Very convenient thanks to its quick openning system, the Eclair bag can be either hand or shoulder carried.
-The leather strap can be removed if needed.
-Three outside pockets including. Integrated felt sleeve for 13 inches laptops.
-The Bleu de Chauffe label, signed and dated by the artisan, is sewn on an inside zipped pocket.
-Handmade in France.


Today, more than 90% of leathers in the world are tanned by chrome tanning and heavy chemical components. Bleu de Chauffe’s approach is different. Our leathers are vegetable tanned which ensure a better quality and sustainability of the leather, a soft natural touch, and a patina which gets nicer years over years.

– Full grained leather. Vegetable tanned and water resistant.
– Natural and soft touch finish.  Handmade patina.
– Backside leather  with ‘velvet’ finishing.
– Removable leather strap and comfortable leather shoulder pad lined with natural felt.
– Leather handle for comfortable hand carriage.
– Inside removable zipped cotton pockegnature.


– Size: 38 cm x 28 cm x 10 cm (15 in x 11 in x 4 in)
– Suitable for 13 inches laptop.

Initial Impression:

When I received the shipping notification, the bag took 10 business days via USPS from France to arrive. Upon opening the box, the bag was fit almost perfectly into the dimensions of the box and was wrapped with a clear plastic. There was a small flip booklet attached to the handle by string. The booklet described the history of the company, its values, and the construction details.

Upon opening the bag, the leather didn’t smell like Chromexcel or other leather I’ve handled before. It took me a couple days to figure out that the smell reminded me of a rubber handball or rubber kitchen gloves. It’s neither a repulsive nor attractive smell, but is quite interesting.

The bag’s construction is stitched so essentially all the seams are on the inside of the bag, providing a clean look.

I haven’t had a full leather bag since I sold my Saddleback Leather Dark Coffee Brown Large Briefcase because it was too heavy. The Eclair’s material is completely vegetable tanned leather except for two places – the removable zippered canvas-like pouch and the center compartment’s felt sleeve. I suppose then it isn’t truly a full leather bag!

This bag is flawless in construction. I searched everywhere on the bag to find any missed stitches or extra thread dangling, but found none! It’s a remarkably constructed bag, and I’m amazed at how reasonably priced the bag is. The pain brule leather used on the straps and closure is very thick and exhibits pull-up leather properties. The navy blue leather has a scotch grain appearance and the other side of the leather exhibits a smooth navy suede.

My 15 inch Dell laptop does not fit in any of the compartments including the felted laptop sleeve. The laptop felt is so soft and is slightly thicker than the laptop sleeve in my Tanner Goods Wilderness Rucksack. On the top of the laptop sleeve is a snap leather closure to secure your laptop. This leather piece has two punched holes which is like the front closures but only is cosmetic to the design.

The bag has a total of 3 separate compartments (not including the laptop compartment), 1 laptop compartment in the middle, and one removable zippered pouch that is located in the innermost compartment to store smaller items. Although the description mentions 3 outer pockets, the only two outer pockets are the two quite narrow water bottle pockets. On one of these water bottle pockets is a brass cap that has the company’s logo – a small, neat addition! The last pocket is actually the outermost underneath the flap. Therefore, the bag’s flap essentially must be opened to access any interior items.

I like the bag’s closure because I can close and open the flaps with one hand. The leather closure has three potential lengths to cinch or loosen up the closure as needed. This design reminds me of Billingham camera bags which also have a one stud closure with an adjustable length closure. One issue that I have is that the flap leather closures hide behind the buckle straps so I have to make sure I’m grabbing the leather closure below to close the bag.

The Postman Eclair bag falls within the “Messenger bag” category of the brand’s website. The colorway I selected is called “navy blue/pain brûlé” in a size Medium. The other 4 colorways available were Indigo, Pain Brûlé (Tan leather with Brown closures), Peat (Dark Brown), and Black. All of these other colorways have a monochrome leather for the whole bag. The colorway I chose was the only one that provided a significant color contrast between the bag’s leather and the closure leather.

I initially wanted the Postman Eclair bag in a size Large because that bag additionally can be worn as a backpack with the additional straps. However, I was told that the Large design was soon changing. Additionally, the larger bag design compromises a traditional messenger bag because it most similarly resembles a square bag (34cm H x 36cm L). However, the size L bag description mentions it can store a 15 in laptop.

On each side of the bag, there is an adjustable leather strap that has two holes. One is to tighten the width for a smaller load and the other hole is for a larger load. Personally, even with the bag stuffed full, the “width” typically isn’t the limiting factor, but just the volume space.

The shoulder strap is removable and comes with some sort of wool felted shoulder pad. The maximum strap length is fairly short compared to a Filson bag. The length likely suggests that the bag is to be carried primarily on one shoulder side rather than cross body.

There is also a removable zippered cotton pouch in the innermost compartment that is held to the bag by two button snaps. The pouch can be removed and snapped to the front compartment where there are also snaps. The pouch is quite small at about 9 inches x 6 inches. Looks like a great spot for your keys. Also sewn to this pouch is the company’s only written logo (besides the logo cap snap on the exterior). The tag also has a handwritten date manufactured and also the artisan’s name. My bag was manufactured on 02-08-2018 and by “Charazad” (?).


The Postman Eclair bag design is a combination of minimalism and authenticity. The quality of this bag is second to none, and as much as I would love to describe it, I think pictures do the bag more justice. I’m looking forward to how the bag will age and soften with time. The leather straps are already softening! While I wish the bag could fit my 15 inch laptop, I prefer the proportions of the Medium size to the Large. This is a bag that is timeless and exudes a refined look in contrast to my rugged Filson and Vermilyea Pelle bags!


Filson Small Duffle Bag 70220 Review

Filson Small Duffle Bag next to a Vermilyea Pelle 20″ Weekender Bag

Here are some pictures of my Filson Small Duffle Bag 220 (or 70220 with Filson’s new numbering system) in Otter Green and a brief review of it. After purchasing my Filson Zippered Tote, I wanted another Filson bag that I could use on short trips and also as a gym bag. 

Most carry on requirements limit your total linear inches to no more than 45 inches. After some research, these were the Filson options that fit the requirements at the time:

-Sportsman Bag 266

-Small Duffle Bag 220

-Medium Travel Bag 246

-Large Travel Bag 248

At that time in 2014, Filson had already discontinued the 246/248 which in my opinion were really well designed bags. The Travel Bags had 4 outer pockets (2 lengthwise and 2 widthwise) and one large empty compartment.

Between the Sportsman and Small Duffle, I decided on the Duffle because of the simpler design and lesser price. I was able to get the bag on sale.

I’ve had the small Duffle since 2014, and have used it primarily as a gym bag for about 2 of those years since 2014. Therefore, the bag has roughed up on the floor quite often! The color started out as a dark forest green and lightened up to a a grey likely from sunlight and rain.

The bag was very stiff and rigid to start with. Early on, I took the empty bag, essentially crumpled it up into a ball, and repeated multiple times. I also applied Obenauf’s Leather Oil to the bridle leather. The oil was not needed for conditioning purposes, but in hopes that it would soften the leather, and it did!

One of the reasons it’s an attractive bag is that it meets carry on restrictions, and of course it looks nice. It is large enough to hold about a weekend’s worth of clothes.

18″ x 11″ x 10″ = 39 total linear inches, meets most carry on restrictions which is typically less than or equal to 45 inches.

The duffle is shaped like a trapezoid, tapering slightly as you go up. I think the duffle bag looks great when filled up, but not so great when near empty. The major gripe I have with this bag is the single layer twill cotton bottom. All of my other Filson bags including the briefcases, totes, field bags, sportsman have a two layer bottom. 

Filson Small Duffle Bag next to Vermilyea Pelle’s Weekender Duffle Bag. Slight curvature in the VP bag opening makes it easier to access.

The duffle design has no exterior pockets.

Storm flap to prevent the elements from getting your stuff wet!

A snag on the side that was sewn up by my Mom. This repair is similar to how bags come back repaired from Filson’s Restoration Department.

The storm flap is the only part of the bag that is two layers of twill thick.

The bag flipped upside down.

Filson’s double bridle leather stitched in parallel to the zipper.

Bag turned inside out. One of the interior end pockets in Tin Cloth and the manufacturing date label. Also, the interior seams are bound with tin cloth for extra protection against the elements.

This particular bag was manufactured January 2013, and I purchased it in 2014.

The other interior end pocket in Tin Cloth when the bag is turned inside out. I don’t use these pockets because they’re too far in when the bag is filled.

The bottom bridle leather has held up well to scuffs. The twill, however, needed some more sewing repairs. I spot waxed the particular areas with Filson’s Original Wax for more durability.

The bag when empty essentially lacks any structure. It is due to both the cotton twill softening and also that the bag is only one layer throughout (except for the storm flap).

The bridle leather zipper pull that comes with the bag makes it very easy to blindlessly grab.

The Filson Small Duffle packed about 3/4th full carried on the shoulder strap.

A reference for the bag’s size. I am 5’10” and holding the duffle by its handles. It’s neither overly big or small.

Filson uses bar tacks at stress points such as the edges of this storm flap.

How the D rings are attached to the bag.

Indigo rub off from your denim is likely the first sign of patina you’ll see!