A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I had planned a trip up to Yosemite in December for a few days. Both of us have great experiences with Uniqlo’s HEATTECH collection, and they recently even released an Extra Warm HEATTECH. Uniqlo is quite popular for their down jackets and vests among their other casual clothes. Their clothes are so universal that they even have clothing vending machines various locations!
The Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest was on sale and I eventually reasoned with myself to purchase one. The design is quite simple and practical – there are two hand warmer pockets in the front that can be zipped to prevent items from falling out. On the interior, there are additional vertical pockets behind the front pockets. A single zipper on the front. The vest doesn’t restrict my arms and it is very lightweight. I went with my standard size of a large at a 43 inch (109 cm) chest. I can roll it into a small cylinder shape the size of maybe two fists and place it into the pouch it additionally comes with. The vest worked great at Yosemite and was warm enough to even wear by itself only!
I never was a down outerwear kind of guy, but after my great experience with the Uniqlo one at Yosemite, I decided to look further into another one. I first learned of Crescent Down Works in 2012 visiting Standard & Strange in Oakland, CA. CDW is a small company that produces down outerwear in Seattle, Washington. Not much further away is also Freeman Seattle which makes great raincoats! Seattle (which includes Filson) is definitely prepared for the elements! CDW does a lot of collaborations with other brands such as Freeman, Lost & Found, Brooklyn Clothing, and recently, 3sixteen.
My girlfriend and I mutually decided to buy each other CDW vests as Christmas presents, agreeing on the specs beforehand. AFAIK, CDW makes garments that are unisex so the measurements are what matters most. For mine, I wanted a somewhat neutral color vest with a ribbed collar instead of the standard collar. It’s a nice extra touch that I think makes it stand out from the other down jackets out there.
Water-resistant 60/40 cotton-nylon shell.
100% nylon ribbed collar and streakfree liner.
5.5 oz. premium, 700-fill European goose down.
Front placket with two-way zipper and leather-backed snaps.
Down-filled front pockets.
Made in Seattle.
I ended up purchasing an older stock, unused previous year’s collaboration CDW x Freeman Quilted Down Vest off of eBay. The quilted pattern was used to streamline the bulkier Italian Vest down into a sleeker look. The main difference between the Classic Italian Vest and this Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest is the pattern and how much down is within each stitched area. The quilted design purposely has less fill. The collars are different in that mine has a ribbed collar long enough that folds upon itself once (some versions ribbed but no fold). I haven’t felt any significant difference in warmth regarding the collar types. The ribbed collar does feel cozier on the neck, however. After looking over several online measurements, especially the chest width of 23 inches, I went with my typical size which was a large.
My girlfriend had received her Italian Down Vest a few days earlier so I was able to compare the two vests. The amounccount for the size proportion difference (XS vs L), but the pockets on mine were very generous, measuring about 9 inches x 11 inches (23cm x 28cm). Both of our pockets were angled similarly, but another difference is that her pockets had more down on the exterior which I’d say would keep your hands warmer.
The quality and specs are definite on point. The front buttons are backed with a circular leather piece to prevent ripping through the material while unsnapping. The bottom of the jacket has a bit of ribbing to accomodate some generosity and retain snugness. I like that the vest has a buttoned front placket over the zipper that prevents any breeze from coming through. I typically wear the vest unzipped or completely buttoned and zipped if it’s chilly. There’s a two way zipper also which might be useful for when sitting down but I haven’t used it yet.
The length of the vest was longer than I expected. It’s my fault for overlooking the body length measurements for jackets, I typically look at just shoulders and chest (I think I have average proportions). I imagined a vest would be shorter to provide more mobility (such as a well-fitted waistcoat of a suit). The extra two to three inches on the body length exaggerates the classic straight fit. The outerwear, of course, is designed in mind for all weather use and not fashion.
CDW and other sites list the fit as “classic”, so I’d recommend sizing down one if you want a slimmer fit. Stay true to size if you’d like some flexibility to layer underneath.
If you haven’t tried on or own a down jacket, the material really works. I can wear the vest over a henley or flannel comfortably down to mid 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so. If I need extra warmth, I’ll throw on a jacket over everything so the vest acts as a midlayer. The exterior material (60/40 cotton/nylon) is a blend popularized in Mountain Parkas in the 1970s and is tightly woven, so the material is wind and bristle-resistant.
I managed to put my arms through my my girlfriend’s XS Classic Italian Vest unzipped, and I definitely felt the down capturing the warmth faster. Due to more down filling per jacket area in the Classic Italian Vest, the Classic Italian Vest > Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest in terms of warmth.
I’m loving the size of the handwarmer pockets – they fit a bunch of goods comfortably like my phone, keys, wallet even on one side.
Crescent Down Works’ outerwear is made by hand in Seattle factory, and the stitching, quality, and attention to detail was present. At about $295, the price isn’t chump change, but I think it’s justified. The Italian Down Vest is a staple piece on their website
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Ever since I have owned my first Alden pair of shoes in Color #8 Horween Shell Cordovan, I’ve noticed the color patina to a lighter shade over time. I’ve observed it happens most prominently with Alden’s Color #8 Shell Cordovan because the color starts very dark. I believe that Alden treats their Shell Cordovan (from Horween) with their own glaze that provides sheen and glossiness. On the other hand, their color 8 chromexcel brightens up much more quickly.
These are three Alden shoe pairs pictured and their dates purchased:
Alden x JCrew Color #8 Shell Cordovan Captoe Boot (10/06/2013)
Alden x The Bureau Belfast Color #8 Shell Cordovan Longwing Blucher (12/28/2015)
Alden x Epaulet NYC Color #8 Shell Cordovan Tanker Boot (11/30/2016)
My shoe care routine for these three pairs of Shell Cordovan have been the same:
1. Wipe down with damp microfiber cloth after every so number of wears 2. Brush with a Horsehair Shoe Brush
Every 6-12 months, apply some Venetian Shoe Cream to the cordovan sparingly, letting it dry, wipe down any excess cream, then back to brushing. For any scuffs, I apply a small drop of Venetian Shoe Cream in the area and then use a Polished Deer Bone to rub circularly with light pressure. I’ve tried the Deer Bone without any cream and noticed it doesn’t do much. You can also use the back of a metal spoon to achieve similar results.
I’ve yet to need to apply any wax based polish to the shoes.
Recently, I feel that Alden’s Color 8 batches have been much darker than I remember. The color looks almost black unless in direct sunlight. I believe much of the reason Alden re-dyes their Color 8 is to minimize any blemishes/scars the leather may have.
I’ve yet to determine what causes the lightening of color in the Color 8 Shell Cordovan. It might be pigments naturally degrading with age or even direct sunlight playing a role. Either way, we each have our own perceptions of what Color 8 Shell Cordovan should look like – whether a very dark burgundy or a deep, vibrant red, Color 8 will always be king.
I purchased the Railcar Fine Goods Chore Coat on November 25th, 2017, after seeing fit pics of Taylor (of Railcar) on her Instagram. After asking Aun for other chore coat recommendations, I chose this chore coat because of their petite (XS) size and “not so boyish” look. I was in between the Apolis Chore Coat (Aun’s review here), but decided that I could always borrow his coat. Railcar Fine Goods is an extremely local business to myself and Aun, which made this product even more appealing when deciding which item to purchase.
This unisex Duck Canvas chore coat is made from 12 oz. American canvas fabric, cut and sewn at Railcar Fine Good’s workshop in Monrovia, CA. According to Railcar Fine Goods, each button and rivet was hand sewn at their workshop. There are four pockets, two breast pockets and two hip pockets. The two hip pockets are great for holding your phone and loose change. My first grade students also like sticking rocks, bracelets, and notes into those pockets. The left breast pocket appeared, in photos, to be sewn to hold pencils and other small objects , similar to my Ginew Heritage Coat. The pocket is not divided into two compartments, giving you three full pockets and one buttoned flap pocket.
Railcar Fine Goods also has flight trousers made from the same duck canvas material, which Aun states is equally as breathable.
My intial worry was that the coat would be too manly and the color too “out there” for me. I thought of different tops I could pair this jacket with to reflect various vibes. Some days I want to show a women’s workwear vibe, while others I want to be cute and girly. I have paired this chore coat with dresses and with raw denim and tops ranging from dark collared flannels and off the shoulder ruffle blouses. This makes the coat incredibly versatile.
Duck canvas begins with stiff and rigid, but becomes softer with each wear. The jacket shrunk a bit upon doing a cold wash and hang dry. The 12 oz. fabric is very breathable and suitable as an all year jacket here in warm Southern California. Over time, the fabric will show signs of fading, as my jacket is showing signs of fading around the arms. Also, this jacket is well-made and durable. The seams are triple stitched.
The Railcar Fine Goods Chore Coat is a great, staple jacket for those of you looking for a year round jacket and a #buyitforlife item. For women, you can wear this jacket to complement any style you wish, it doesn’t only have to be a “workwear” jacket. The caramel color is a great spring and summer color, and the added pop of color needed for the darker fall and winter hues. Railcar makes this jacket on-site, which is an added bonus!
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. I’ll support this claim later with some pics.
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 color of the bridle leather stays the same regardless of canvas color. 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 in the menswear world. 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 and 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 are as true as I can make them as!
The Apolis Indigo Wool Chore Coat has been an iconic outerwear piece of this decade especially because of an awesome 3 year evolution pic. Although my own chore coat hasn’t come close to that level of fading, I still can provide insight for those considering to purchase one!
The chore coat is my favorite garment piece from Apolis, specifically the “OG” Indigo Wool version. More recently, Apolis has come out with a variety of colors for the chore coat including Olive, Charcoal, Black, Indigo Striped. Accessory-wise, I can’t help but say good things about their Market Bags (you can find my review on the bags here).
If you’re reading this review, chances are you already know about Filsonand/or perhaps heard of the small brand Vermilyea Pelle (pronounced ver-mil-yuh pel-lee) that also makes great bags, belts, and wallets. Perhaps you already own a couple of Filson bags or maybe you’re ready to purchase your first quality briefcase for work/school! Rest assured, I hope this post will be of help to you.
My first briefcase was purchased in mid 2015 towards the end of my first year of graduate school. It was a Filson 256 Original Briefcase in Brown purchased on sale from Gracious Home (it was so random that this site stocked Filson briefcases!). The price with shipping came out to $148.80 USD. It was more an impulsive buy because of the price; the brown color wasn’t my most ideal choice but that’s all they had at the sale price. My opinion of a Filson’s Brown is that it doesn’t have much of a contrast between the brown leather straps and the canvas. It’s pretty low-key and doesn’t screen Filson from far away. Navy and Brown are great colors for the briefcase if you want something that’s less flashy.
I didn’t need a briefcase as I was already using a Tanner Goods Wilderness Rucksack as my everyday school bag. Backpacks were so much easier on my back, especially when I was carrying a day’s worth of stuff – my gym clothes and sneakers, a laptop and charger, water bottle, camera, and sometimes a tripod. Also, about all of my classmates were also using backpacks (98% of 200 people)!
Less than 6 months later, my now ex-girlfriend purchased a Vermilyea Pelle Briefcase for my birthday. I was raving to her at least a month earlier how I wanted one. Read up on my other VP Weekender Duffle Bag Review to find more information on the construction of the bag (the quality of the weekender is exactly on par to the briefcase).
The Filson 258 Padded Computer Briefcase I bought used on eBay because it was from the “YKK zipper era”, had a single leather piece padded shoulder strap, and an absolute steal ($132.40 USD shipped). Head over to read my review on the Filson Zippered Tote to learn more about the my opinion on Filson’s change in quality over the years and why I recommend buying a used one. Again, another impulse purchase that I didn’t need!
Bookmark an eBay search for “Filson” in the category “Backpacks, Bags & Briefcases” and only show “Pre-owned” condition. I recommend sorting by “Time: newly listed”. Modify the title if you want a specific model like a 257, and you can also add email notifications.
During my final year in graduate school which is all clinical rotations (no more classroom lectures), it finally was appropriate to bring a briefcase over a backpack. At this point I owned 3 briefcase options – the Filson 256, the Filson 258, and the Vermilyea Pelle briefcase. The 256 could not fit my 15.6″ Acer laptop at all even without a case. The VP briefcase was able to fit the naked laptop but occasionally scratched the laptop it from the YKK zippers. The 258 had too much unnecessary padding which made it quite bulky in width and heavy.
Looking for something larger than the 256 and VP, but also less bulkier/heavier than the 258, I was certain the Filson 257 Computer Briefcase was perfect regarding size and bulk for my needs. After checking eBay for several nights, I eventually found a “YKK era” used one at $188.88 USD shipped.
Vermilyea Pelle Ranger Tan/Brown Chromexcel Briefcase
Price: $320-375 depending on leather/canvas makeup
Dustin Spencer of Vermilyea Pelle produces several makeups of the briefcase in varying leathers and briefcase material. At time of the purchase, I wanted the “standard” Ranger Tan / Brown CXL version which was the most popularly makeup posted on social media. The Ranger Tan waxed canvas is a dark tan color, is quite heavily waxed, and the texture of the canvas feels pebbly/bumpy (because of the canvas weave compared to unidirectional twill on Filson bags).
Waxed Canvas 18oz
The wax provides additional water and abrasion resistance for the canvas. Filson’s signature rugged twill is treated with some sort of water repellant which eventually wears off over time. If you want to keep your Filson bag pristine from rain and dirt, hit it up with a coating of Scotchgard spray every so often. Scotchgard is a synthetic water repellant spray used for furniture/fabric/carpet, and it does not change the original color.
Brown Chromexcel Leather from Horween
“9/11oz leather on the straps and 5/6oz on the bag”
The CXL on this bag was the thickest CXL I’ve ever handled. The CXL on my Alden footwear, Viberg footwear, and Tanner Goods wallets did not even come close!
I pulled out some digital calipers to test out the thickness of the CXL leather. Before measuring, I guessed that the exterior leather bottom and double stitched leather parallel to the zippers were thinner than the rest of the bag, and I was somewhat right.
The shoulder strap, shoulder pad, briefcase handles, parallel stitched leather were very similar in thickness 4.0mm +/- 0.2mm. For reference, 2 US quarter coins together are 3.5mm. Even the handle tabs holding the handles to the briefcase were just as thick. The leather bottom was thinner at 2.3mm +/- 0.2mm.
Leather lined bottom exterior
The bottom is also two layers (one leather, one canvas) just like Filson’s (two layers of 22oz twill canvas)
My bag’s bottom has superficial scuffs at the corners and a few nicks not too deep. I haven’t felt the need to condition the CXL bottom yet or other leather pieces. But when I do, I plan on using Lexol Leather Conditioner (I prefer it over Venetian Shoe Cream).
Copper rivets at stress points
The copper rivets are at the bottom of the bag to attach the handle straps to the bag, at the handle holders, and also at the shoulder strap attachments.
Because the CXL leather is very thick and packed with oils, the D ring leather attachments at the briefcase’s ends bend easily without any leather cracking. Filson briefcases have the tendency of their bridle leather to crack at this area.
Antique button snaps for each full length document pocket and also the hand grip
The snaps are most useful to keep the pockets close to the briefcase for a compact look. It also adds another layer of security in those pockets in case your bag ever completely flips over (lol). Filson document pockets sometimes tend to flare out both when empty and filled.
Another small detail that provides durability is that a circular leather piece was placed in between MALE parts of the stud to prevent the canvas from ripping through when using the snaps. The stud is the part that receives the most stress when unbuttoning with the Snap cap.
(outside of bag) Stud – waxed canvas – leather piece – Post (inside of bag)
Solid Brass YKK zippers with Rawhide Leather Pulls
The main zippers are Heavy duty YKK and have a great brass shine. I really like the rawhide leather pulls that Vermilyea Pelle includes on their zippers. They come with edges burnished, are well waxed, and likely come from the same quality supplier as the laces I use on my Viberg boots.
Absence of Vermilyea Pelle branding on the bag
All my VP bags came with a thick VP logo leather tag (removable) attached to a bag handle with rawhide laces. I’ve never been more impressed with a company’s tag! From the 3 tags I joyfully have now, the average width of a tag is 3.7mm (+/-0.4mm), basically the width of two US quarter coins! The leather of the tag looks like some kind of vegetable tanned leather.
Shoulder strap pad is a single, long piece of leather
VP’s shoulder pad length is about 12 inches while Filson’s shoulder pad length is about 8.5 inches.
The shoulder pad doesn’t need any breaking in from day one. It starts off soft (likely because it’s Chromexcel leather) and the underside surface has more grip than Filson’s. With Filson’s shoulder pad, I have to take sandpaper to the underside to create some grip or else it slips off my shoulder.
No end pockets
On the Filson Briefcases, the end pockets are available for use. The 256 end pockets are very small and practically unusable. The 257 and 258 briefcases have much larger end pockets, enough to fit in a large water bottle such as my 1L HydroFlask after being stretched. All of Filson’s briefcase end pockets start out stiff but do stretch a bit over time. If you have a new bag, I recommend wedging random objects in those pockets to stretch them out.
Because the Filson briefcases have end pockets, this also means that the leather which attaches the shoulder straps/D rings are actually connected to the pocket fabric instead of the fabric directly on the bag. While this difference seems minor, there was one occasion with my Filson x Apolis Philantropist Briefcase where the tailor had an easier time repairing it. The D ring leather piece was detaching from the frayed canvas. The tailor was able to place piece of leather behind it (in the pocket) and stitch them altogether using the same stitching holes.
I actually don’t think this is a con. Given the smaller dimensions of the VP briefcase, a “fair” matchup is comparing it to the Filson 256. As I mentioned earlier, the end pockets on the 256 are absolutely unusable anyways.
The design of the VP forgoing the end pockets actually increases the bag’s durability. Similar to how the Snap caps were placed in the document pockets, the leather piece that holds the D rings attaching the shoulder strap are held by a rivet. The rivet goes through the thick leather all the way into the interior where it again is complemented by a leather piece to prevent the waxed canvas from ripping/tearing through. When the shoulder strap is used, this leather piece helps distributes the stress (the bag’s weight) over a larger area.
Handle attachment obstructs easy access to document pockets
The VP briefcase handles attach to the document pockets which makes the pocket access obstructive because the handles have to be folded away from the bag.
On the other hand, this design allows the bag to display the beauty of the leather used on the bag (more leather is required). From what I can see, two very long leather pieces were used for the handles. The simplest way I can describe the design is two upside down “U” leather pieces as the handles, one on each side of the bag. The handles attach at the bottom of the bag by huge huge copper rivets (so 4 copper rivets total at the bottom).
Key clip on the bag’s interior is short/small
The length of the key clip is about 0.5 inches and located on the interior side of the bag (later models changed this).
Maximum shoulder strap length is short
The total length of the strap at its last hole is about 51 inches. I use the last hole even though I tend to like my shoulder straps short to keep the bag closer to my body. I’m sure if you request/contact Dustin regarding a longer strap, he’ll be able to accommodate that for you!
From what I see on the most recent briefcase models, Dustin has moved the key clip to attach at a seam above one of the three interior pockets and also lengthened it (great change!). Also, a small leather logo patch placed on one of the interior dividers.
I’ll first talk about the Filson “guaranteed for life” warranty. With Filson products including bags, garments, etc, they will either repair or replace the item free of charge. In some rare cases, such as those occurring not due to normal wear/tear, there may be a small charge. Such examples I can think of is if you spilled battery acid on your briefcase, your child decided to take a pair of scissors to your bag, or if your used your shoulder strap as a chew toy.
The most common reasons why Filson bags are repaired is because the twill canvas is fraying or the leather piece attaching the D rings are cracking or have completely torn through.
I’ve heard stories of hunters absolutely wearing the hell of of their Tin Chaps, getting them ripped and torn against brush or rough terrain, and then sending them back at the end of every season to get them repaired. That’s pretty cool! To me, that’s considered “normal” wear/tear.
This is the summarized information I received from customer service at Filson regarding the warranty process:
You send in your item to be evaluated by Filson’s return team for a possible repair (no guarantees that they can until they receive and evaluate it). The return team would determine whether they would be able to repair the bag. Most repairs are covered under the warranty, and would not incur any costs. Repairs take about 4-6 weeks to be completed, and they would only contact you if more information is needed.
If you decide you want to send it in to be evaluated, include your contact information on the package. You should include your full name, a returns address, daytime telephone number, and/or email address. And please explain the reason for the return and the outcome you desire.
Address your package to:
Attention Returns Department
3851 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134
Vermilyea Pelle Warranty:
Now regarding that warranty from a company that has been around for more than a century, let’s talk about Vermilyea Pelle’s. I’ve searched on VP’s website, social media, and the rest of the web for anything mentioning a warranty but couldn’t find anything.
The only thing that is most similar is the Repairs section in the FAQ of the website – let’s just call that the “warranty”. I’ll contact Dustin later to see what he says directly, but I think I have an idea of their company stands behind.
“Vermilyea Pelle is enthusiastic to keep all our products in good working order and stand behind our craftsmanship. Unfortunately, nothing is indestructible, but we will to do everything we can to keep our products is use. Contact us with a description of the problem and we will email shipping instructions. Charges will occur if it is determined that the repair is not needed due to faulty material. (We do not repair non Vermilyea Pelle product.)”
So the question that’s more important to ask is what’s covered and what’s not. To my understanding, normal wear and tear is NOT covered by the warranty such as the waxed canvas eventually fraying/wearing through because of abrasion, the stitching coming undone, or bottom leather getting deep cuts. (I’m not even sure how you’d even repair this other than replacing the whole bottom anyways).
These issues are easily repaired by taking it to your local tailor or leather repair shop. A tailor can stitch up the fraying prevent it from becoming worse, and a leatherworker can apply a bit of glue in the cut in the leather gash so it’s hardly visible.
What I believe IS covered by the warranty is any hardware failure or overlooked/missed stitching. Such as a snap cap popping off randomly and from either the document pocket or the hand grip or rivets coming undone. Holding the bag in front of me, I think those are the areas that the bag will actually “fail” first.
Vermilyea Pelle has been around producing briefcases for only a few years. A couple years may not provide enough wear to a bag to come to a conclusion about even having a warranty. In fact, Dustin posts his pics of prototype bags on Instagram quite often! Comparing VP to Filson who has been producing luggage since the 1980s wouldn’t be fair. Also Filson started off producing garments before luggage!
This is a review about the Railcar Fine Goods Flight Trousers in camel. The previous occasion that I owned a pair of tan duck canvas trousers was in 2012. The first pair of raw denim I purchased was a Naked & Famous Elephants in a Weird Guy Fit. I nailed the fit even though I purchased it online. A few months later, I purchased a secondhand N&F Duck Canvas Selvedge also in a WG fit from the Styleforum market.
Duck canvas fabric has its roots in workwear history with the fabric being a plain weave cotton fabric instead of the twill weave most prominent in denim jeans. While both are made of cotton, the plain weave creates a very durable fabric with a smooth surface. Duck canvas is used today in many garments ranging from sneakers to hammocks. The weight of the fabric varies significantly depending upon its intended use. Duck canvas is commonly dyed in dull colors such as tan, olive, or simply unbleached.
I sold my pair N&F Duck Canvas Pants a few months later because I outgrew them. For a couple years after as I was developing my style, I held off on purchasing another pair of duck canvas pants until quite recently. I still it difficult to pair the strong tan color pants with footwear and jackets.
Although my current style caters towards Americana, I initially felt tan duck canvas pants was too “workwearish” for me. However, I saw that many people on Instagram with similar styles to me (@doppki, @marvaments, @vinyl66) all had at least one pair of canvas pants rotated between their denim rotations.
I had a few brands in mind already. The requrements for me was that it is manufactured in a first world country and has a modern slim fit. These brands included Railcar Fine Goods, Epaulet NYC, Naked & Famous, and Unis NYC. The N&F pair I had already owned a few years prior and felt it was too similar to denim in its details (riveted pockets w/ a coin pouch, button-fly, low/mid rise). The pairs from Unis are not actually duck canvas fabric but a twill weave in a chino form. Between the last two, Epaulet and Railcar, the retail prices were about the same at ~$150, but the deciding factor was that Railcar offered free hems if you purchase directly from them.
I was pretty certain of my size before trying on a couple sizes in store at Railcar Fine Goods. Taylor was very helpful and accomodating in determining my Flight Trousers size. She pulled out a pair of size 32 in Camel that she still needed to “clean up” (a few loose threads) and the pockets weren’t sewn on yet. I noticed towards the corner of the store that the Sand and Brown colorways of the Flight Trousers were on sale at 30% off ($99). A few days before I visited Railcar, I was on edge between the Olive and Camel colors, but went with the classic Camel/Tan color. I browsed around in the store as she finished the pair.
Railcar Fine Goods Flight Trousers in Camel
Price 167$ after tax
12oz American duck canvas
Zippered fly and slanted trouser style pocketing
Fit: Slim Fit
Made in-house at The Railcar Workshop
The camel color is most similar to a caramel tan, and starts off fairly bold in color. With Steven’s 2.5 year pair with multiple washes, the color lightens up significantly. I initially wore my trousers unhemmed so that the knees could stretch the inseam and I could figure out where I’d like to get it hemmed.
The waist stretched about 0.5 to 1inch after wearing the pair a few times. Compared to the Japan Blue denim in 18oz that I was currently fading, the 12oz fabric is very breathable. These will probably be my go-to pair for spring/summer.
The slanted front pockets are easy to access and I can fit my phone in there comfortably. The zippered fly and top button rivet’s construction feels solid and an enjoyable relief from button fly’s. The fabric is double stitched throughout.
The colors that I found complimented them well were navy, black, white, and brown. I have so many navy/indigo tops/jackets so these pants help break up that Canadian tuxedo look. What I currently find that works well with these pants are white sneakers (Chuck Taylor 2s, Jack Purcells, Common Projects), brown rugged boots (Alden Indys, Viberg Waxed Flesh), and black boots (Viberg Waxed Flesh and Wolverine 1K Miles). Because of the “workwear” color, I don’t think they pair well with dressier boots or footwear such as Alden Longwings or shell cordovan makeups.
The fit of the trousers is quite slim (but not skinny) on the top block. At the knees down, the trousers essentially end with a straight leg opening. The cuff opening was perhaps one inch in circumference too large for my liking. In addition, I wanted to wear the pants cuffed twice with a small ~1 inch cuff. I brought them back to Railcar to get the pants tapered from the knees down. Taylor helped me figure out how much slimmer I wanted them while also noting that I haven’t washed them for the first time yet so additional shrinkage needs to be accounted for. The tapering service was 25% off the full price because I purchased them from Railcar and the hem free. I ended up paying about $42.50 for the tapering service. I was quoted 3 weeks for the service because Steven personally does all the tapering himself.
I received a phone call about a week and a half later, and I went to go pick them up. When I tried them on, my left calf felt tight below the knee. The right side felt OK, but I do know that my left calf is about 0.25in larger than my right. Looking in the mirror, the fit actually looked pretty good. I guess I’m just not used to having the pants so slim in the calf region! I do have Uniqlo Slim Fit Flat Front Chinos that hug my calves gently, but they have like 2% stretch so it doesn’t feel as constricted!
While I have yet to wash the Flight Trousers yet, the fabric has faded on its own a bit. I plan on cold washing them soon and line drying. As for stretching of the fabric, the thigh’s have marginally stretched, but I noticed the waistband opened up an additional inch. I’ve done a bunch of chores in these pants and the pair feels softer than it felt from day one. If you’re reading this and interested in a pair yourself, you most likely have to purchase it at the full price of $150. From my recent tour of the Railcar Workshop, the pants pretty much sell out as quickly as they are made. I highly recommend the tapering service also – it’s a pretty unique service offered by Railcar over other denim brand services.
I used to own a pair of Epaulet Rivet Chinos in Olive Ripstop. The fit is nearly the same (modern slim), both have zipper flys and slash pockets, however the Epaulet Rivets have a white cotton herringbone taping at the outseam (Epaulet’s signature detail) that is visible when cuffed.