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Filson 256 Classic Briefcase Review – Worn Out

Worn Out is our series of product reviews where we take an in-depth field test with many of the most sought after items. Whether it’s raw denim, shirting, footwear, outerwear, or accessories, we’re here to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly before you make your purchase.


If you’re into classic cars, you’ve probably wanted a Porsche 911. If watches are your thing, you know you’ve longed for a Rolex Submariner. If you love premium denim…OK, I think we can take the “if” out of this one…you’ve coveted some of Japan’s s slubbiest, rope dyed finery.

No matter what you’re passionate about, there are classics that have earned their iconic status because they are pure distillations of a perfect idea, absent any extraneous details to obscure the truth that a man made object can be more than an assembling of pieces; that an everyday thing can have a soul. The Filson 256 Classic Briefcase certainly fits that bill.

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First things first—I’ll be writing this new column on a regular basis, usually a fresh one once a month. The idea is that more than simply taking a quick test drive in denim, clothing and workwear/heritage brand accessories, they’ll have been Worn Out into the real world by yours truly, and used with wild abandon.

You’ve seen the way we cut high dollar boots in half around here, so you know we ain’t afraid to put items through their paces, and, when necessary, get downright medieval. (Taking a band saw to a pair of Iron Rangers? The horror. The horror!) The subjects of these reviews won’t always be tried and true classics like the 256, but every once in a while I’ll take something revered and make sure it deserves to be chiseled into the Mount Everest of the Rawr world.

The Materials

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My 256 is in Filson’s classic tan, just as God intended. She’s made from 22oz. rugged twill, as Filson puts it, “an extremely durable, water-repellent fabric that maintains its integrity even after heavy use in punishing conditions.” That is putting it mildly. This bag is one for the ages, as it’s showing barely a hint of use after three weeks of in the field (coffee shops, Central Park, and even the notoriously fearsome F subway line).

It resists abrasion like (insert your favorite Terminator reference here), and the bridle leather handles, trim and strap mock my attempt to impose evidence that it’s me that’s using them, and not the other way around. A good friend bought a Filson briefcase made entirely of this leather, and it came with a card that said (warned?) the user should expect a “break in” period of, wait for it, 10 years!

The Details

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Here are the features, right from the Filson’s mouth:

  • Zipper and storm flap closure
  • 16″ W x 12-1/2″ H x 4″ D
  • 4 stow pockets, 2 interior dividers, 1 interior slotted pocket, 2 interior utility pockets, 1 interior patch pocket
  • Abrasion- and water-resistant fabric
  • Removable, adjustable 46″-long Bridle Leather shoulder strap with pad
    • Large inner compartment with dividers
    • Meets standard airline carry-on size requirements
    • Heavy-duty brass zipper adds durability
    • Made with saddle-grade Bridle Leather sourced from North America and tanned in the USA
  • Available for $265 at Huckberry in TanBlack, and Navy

Now let’s break those down. The zipper is the heaviest of duty brass, with a twill storm flap that snaps (brass) to the body of the bag. The one peculiar thing about this is the tab comes up from the body of the bag to snap into the flap, rather than the tab being attached to the flap and have it snap down into the body of the bag.

Maybe it’s just me, but Filson’s design feels contrary to my fingers. This is a standard approach to flaps and tabs on a number of Filson bags, and I can only assume that with 118 years of doing business under their belt, Filson has done this for a reason. Is it just me? Filson owners, what don’t my fingers understand?

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The Utility

As far as storage goes, this bag has you covered, and long as what you choose to carry is flat. This is the perfect bag for a laptop, notebooks, magazines, journals and things that are generally those shapes and sizes. This is not the perfect bag for those things and a thermos of coffee, and extra shirt and your mitt and softball.

Of course, Filson has all manner of bags for all manner of needs, so ask and ye shall receive. But if you need a briefcase for more traditional briefcase contents, this is the bag that can keep you in order at your meeting while at the same time showing that you probably didn’t arrive in a new Lexus, but a vintage Land Cruiser.

Note-don’t ask me how I know, but should you ever have to pay an international super villain a ransom of a million dollars in $100 bills, you can skip the shiny silver briefcase and use this instead—the cash, unmarked bills of course, will fit with room to spare. Maybe a GPS tracking device!

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Fabric wise…I wish my body was made out of this stuff, as I’m positive I’d get more life out of it. That being said, if you’re dying for some quick distressing, the 256 is more about delayed than instant gratification. And at $265 from Huckberry, this isn’t a purchase–it’s an investment.

Without exaggeration, this is the only briefcase that you’ll ever need (and likely the only of whomever you leave it to in your will). The leather strap is comfortable, due in large part to the fact that Filson, in their infinite wisdom, avoids the mistake of most other makers by ensuring that the width of the strap is sufficient (with a pad, even!), so with a loaded bag you don’t feel like you’re slinging it over your shoulder on razor wire. All of the brass hardware is of the highest quality, even better than the Japanese stuff of wallet and key accessories that are all the rage these days.

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The Conclusion

This bag isn’t flashy. It doesn’t have a built in phone charger, titanium combination lock, hidden roller wheels or any of the kooky doo dads that plague so many bags these days. It doesn’t need it, just as we didn’t need Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. What was already there was enough, just like this classic 256 that will age gracefully, reveling in every crease and wrinkle, and looking all the better for it. (Yes, Harrison, I’m looking at you…and your plastic surgeon).

The “before” pics here are from Filson, and the “after” pics…well, it’s just too soon. There’s not even close to enough change to see any real wear. However, stay tuned, as I’ll continue to use this bag like I don’t love or respect it (even though I know it knows that I do), and we’ll see how she looks after she’s subtracted to the abuse usually only seen by a member of Charlie Sheen’s harem.

Please, if you’ve got one of these beauties with a few more miles on it, send us the pics and leave your thoughts in the comments section below. And if there are other classics that you’d like given the WORN OUT treatment, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. But if you’d avoid asking me to cut anything in half, I’d sure appreciate it. No matter what my ex-wife says, I’m not a monster.