I replaced my red Filson briefcase, and I’m going to tell you why.

The 72 Hour Briefcase in olive tin cloth, a waxed cotton fabric similar to a Barbour jacket.

The 72 Hour Briefcase in olive tin cloth, a waxed cotton fabric similar to a Barbour jacket.

It wasn’t easy replacing my beloved red Filson 257 briefcase with one of their new 72 Hour Briefcases in olive tin cloth, but I had to do it. The 257′s pocket configuration wasn’t working for me. For years Filson has offered two basic briefcase styles, the svelte original 256 and the wider 257. (For an in-depth comparison of the two, go to Filson Fan.) The 72 Hour Briefcase is basically the thinner 256 with large zippered pockets on the front. For me, it’s the best of both worlds.

Inside, the 257 looks like this:


The large inner compartment is subdivided extensively, which eats up a lot of the usable space. Since I didn’t use the interior pockets as designed, carrying the 257 resulted in an unfavorable ratio of content to bulk. While the 72 Hour Briefcase features the 256′s smaller internal compartment (and steals some of that for a padded laptop compartment), the amount of usable space is the same.

The real selling point: the external pockets. I had a waxed cotton bag with similar pockets (the Tommy Work Bag, photographed for Flickr summers ago) and really loved being able to reach for pens and paper without having to undo any flaps. Those pockets weren’t large enough for my purposes, though. The 72 Hour Briefcase’s are perfect. Plus, I love the look of the tin cloth.

Here are some photos along with a few observations about the 72 Hour Briefcase’s features:

Although leather briefcases are my first love, the rugged Filson bags fill a useful niche. They’re tough, they carry a lot, and in a casual environment they don’t stand out as much as a traditional leather briefcase would. Not to mention, they develop a lovely patina with use––not the same character as leather, but interesting in its own right. Laurie has already commandeered the red 257, so it’s gone to a good home.

33 responses

  1. Alan says:

    But you hate built in laptop padding.

    • jmarkbertrand jmarkbertrand says:

      I really do. If I were a bit handier I would cut the panel out, but I’m not, so I’ll live with it.

  2. Matt M says:

    The 72 hour is nice…I debated getting it at the time…part of the issue was price. I love the size of the original for my commute on my Bianchi Pista.

  3. Chris Eby says:

    Hi Mark – I thought you only dug fine leather briefcases (from your other pics). But tin cloth, given its history of use in outdoor clothing, might be a nice addition to my own collection of fine leather briefcases (bridle and “non-bridle”). Have you seen the new “All Weather” briefcase at J. Panther Luggage Co.? It looks fabulous and has the same function as their Horween leather models. If you look at this latter bag tell us what you think!

    • jmarkbertrand jmarkbertrand says:

      I don’t like the aesthetic as much, and since you can have the full leather for not-much-more money, I don’t see why you wouldn’t go that way with JPLC.

      • Chris Eby says:

        Yes you’re right – the full leather would be nicer. I just wanted your opinion on the cloth model. For myself tin cloth or waxed cotton is a great alternative to leather for those days I have heavy books, etc. to carry. When do you tend to use cloth over leather bags? I’m getting more interested in purchasing a Filson 72 hour bag – it looks both light and practical.

        • jmarkbertrand jmarkbertrand says:

          I don’t really ask, “cloth or leather today?” It’s more a question of what I need to carry and where. The Filsons (both the 257 and 72 Hour Bag) are great when I’m hauling a LOT and want to keep things nice and organized.

  4. jana says:

    My company recently built a testimonial video for Westbrook Restorations, because we recognized the Filson vest he wore and started a conversation that led to a really great discussion on quality. Filson posted it on their website :-) : http://www.filson.com/filson-life/2014/02/daniel-master-carpenter-testimony/

    Great company.

    • jmarkbertrand jmarkbertrand says:

      “… our friends at Belief Agency,” no less. If you need to do a novelist-at-work video, you know where to find me, Jana.

      • jana says:

        I was actually thinking the same thing! Let me know if you’re heading out to Seattle anytime soon, and if the team’s available we’d love to shoot one with you.

  5. M.S says:

    Nice write up and the red Filson bag is absolutely gorgeous! I have the original briefcase in tan myself and I love the bag. Any ideas where I could still find one of those red label bags?

    And if you ever decide to sell it please let me know! :D

  6. Ridzwan I. says:

    Hi there! I came across your website while trying to find a review for the Filson 72-Hour Tin Briefcase and I must say now you’ve got me convinced that I should get one. One question though, do you think it would fit a 15″ laptop?

  7. Tyler says:

    Hi Mark, do you think an Eagle Creek packing cube (medium or large) would fit in the 72Hr with a laptop in as well?


    • jmarkbertrand jmarkbertrand says:

      Never tried it, but I’m guessing the answer is yes, at least with the medium. It will easily accommodate three inches of width.

    • Mike says:

      I know this is a very late response but maybe it will help those that come after. I travel for business quite a bit. My “ONE NIGHT” overnight business bag is my Filson 72 hour tin briefcase. I nicely fold a dress shirt, pair of pants, socks and underwear in an Eagle Creek packing cube -( not sure what size it is – maybe 9 x 12 or something) along with my laptop, notebook, etc.

      I try to remove any extra paperwork because it gets a LITTLE tight in there, but it’s great. Best part is getting off the plane with NOTHING in your hands.

      Love the 72 hour Filson…


  8. jjs says:

    hi mark!. thx for your good review. I wonder …

    the fabric of 72 hour is same with 257′s? I heard 72 hour is lighter than 256 or 257..

    And its fabric looks thinner than 257? how is it?

  9. alvin says:

    I was reading the specs of the 72 hour briefcase n realised that it doesnt mention the word leather. Apart from the lighter fabric nylon, is that one of the contributing reasons for the lighter weight?

  10. andy says:

    so, as compared to the 257, is there a substantial difference in terms of the available space for the main compartment in the 72 hour bag? i read the review of the 256 vs 257 over at Filson Fan and based on the description, it sounds like i could use the extra internal space of the 257. that being said, i like the idea of outer pockets. thoughts? thanks kindly in advance.

    • jmarkbertrand jmarkbertrand says:

      Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, Andy. I don’t have the two bags in front of me to make a direct comparison, but no, I don’t think there’s a major difference in terms of interior space between the 257 and the 72-Hour Bag. I haven’t done the math, but the 257 actually feels bigger to me. The 72 Hour Bag is a less rigid affair, which might be why it feels that way. For the the exterior pockets and the overall bag configuration made the difference. I wasn’t looking for more room, just better room.

  11. Andy says:


    Thanks for the review. I’m really interested in the bag but I’m a bit confused about the two version (24 Hour & 72 Hour). Are they actually the same bag in terms of size and volume? Seems like some websites call it 24 Hour and some 72 Hour Bag.

    Thanks a lot


    • jmarkbertrand jmarkbertrand says:

      I don’t know this for a fact, but I assume they simply renamed the bag. 72 hours always seemed like a stretch to me.

  12. George says:

    It’s very confusing. The 72 has been indeed renamed the 24 hour (just called them), since they launched the larger 48 hour. I’d like to know if anyone has the nylon version and whether they would recommend it?

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