Originally Posted by rkny
Today I took delivery of the new tin cloth briefcase in black.
Tin cloth, at least the tin cloth used in this briefcase, is considerably thinner, lighter, and more pliable than the standard twill material. This has advantages and disadvantages.
On the plus side, vs the normal Original Briefcase, the tin cloth version feels lighter and less bulky, making it a lighter carry, and meaning it hugs your body somewhat when carried cross body. The downside of this is it also feels considerably less structured.
The bag is something like a Barbour Beaufort coat with leather handles, and even oilier. That is to say, constructed from an obviously tough but not very rigid fabric. It does stand up on its own when empty, but as even Filson's product page photo shows, it's quite a slouchy stance.
The worst side effect of this slouchiness IMO is seen on the inside of the bag, and on the outer pockets. Because the "frame" of the bag is not very rigid like the Original twill, the inside pockets feel very floppy. The accessory pockets and pen slots flap around inside the bag, unsupported by the outer walls. Putting things into and taking them out of these pockets is like trying to put shoes into pockets sewn onto a pillowcase, hanging from a clothesline.
In the few hours I've had the bag, I've found myself wishing the accessory pockets were sewn flat against the front or back wall of the bag, like so many other bag makers have discovered works so well. Overall, when interacting with the bag's interior, I've felt I was ruffling through a bunch of fabric sheets.
The outer pockets suffer from similar sagginess. Unlike the twill version's relatively thick and taut flat pockets, the tin cloth pockets tend to flop open, again like a loose pillowcase. I could easily see the front outer pocket becoming a rain catcher in a downpour.
A few nitpicky complaints... The leather pieces found inside the side pockets, which reinforce the strap rings, are brown on my example, and only finished on one side. All the other leather on the bag is black through and through. It's as if they had a hopper of spare cuts of this particular piece of leather in brown, as it's used on the twill bags, and just used them instead of cutting a black pair.
Also, one of the 2 pieces of leather that attaches the clips to the strap was also unfinished on the inside. If they were both raw leather inside, I could understand, but one was finished black inside, the other raw. This speaks of a rushed process. This was also evident in the dozen or so loose, untrimmed threads I found throughout the bag.
Purists may sniff at the nylon webbing shoulder strap. It's very thin as wide shoulder straps go. It feels very flimsy as compared to my leather Jack Spade bag or my Brady Gelderburn. It felt so cheap in my hand that upon receiving the bag and opening the box, I immediately called Filson and ordered a proper leather strap (which they DO make in black now, just for people like me who order the tin cloth bag but want a leather strap)
But after filling the bag with stuff and tossing it on my shoulder, I must say the nylon strap feels rather nice and looks pretty cool. I may end up returning the leather one when it arrives.
All in all, this bag is going to take some getting used to. Compared to my impeccably finished Brady bag, which is arguably equally built to last, and retails for less, the Filson tin cloth briefcase is a bit rough around the edges. It's also a bit fussy to work with. I wish the outer pockets were thicker and snapped/zipped shut. I wish the interior didn't feel like 2 rows of floppy handkerchiefs. I wish the accessory pockets didn't feel like an afterthought and were more structured.
I also don't get the side pockets. They're hardly pockets...more like long tubes. What can you possibly put inside them? An umbrella? Too narrow. A knife? Sure, if you want to put a 4 inch folded knife into a 10 inch sheath of fabric, and spend 5 minutes fishing it out every time you want to use it. Coins? Forget it. About the only thing I can think of putting in them is sawed off broom handles.
Yet, despite its quirks and shortcomings, the bag looks and feels great. Is it $300 great? Hmm...maybe not, in the face of the price of the twill Original, or similarly priced/quality offerings from Brady, Ernest Alexander, or even Property Of. But it is a sweet piece of classic kit, and little edgier than its twill sibling. A great city bag for sure.
For anyone considering this bag, I'd highly recommend trying to see one first before buying. It may be your dream bag, or it may be a letdown. For me it's a mix of both. On the bright side, I saved 30%* on the retail price, putting it below the cost of the base twill version , so I know I won't take too big a hit if I decide to sell it.
*Revolve clothing has a few in stock and if you're a new customer, email them with your order number and they will immediately refund you 30%. Shhh...don't tell Filson.