Filson’s New Nylon Duffel Pack Is Perfect

A heritage label goes modern — and knocks it out of the park

By Michael Nolledo

Filson’s New Nylon Duffel Pack Is Perfect
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06 July 2017

There’s a quote from a 1914 Filson catalogue that belongs to founder Clint Filson, goes like this:

"The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them."

Sound logic, and one that neatly sizes up the Seattle outfitter’s much-storied legacy. And while said legacy also has to do with the densely woven waxed-cotton canvas (called Tin Cloth) and chunky bridle leather that has become standard for the century-old luggage maker, the brand can’t ride its well-earned coattails forever.

For a brand like Filson to survive, there must be new adventures.

Hence, the new Duffle Pack. It’s not exactly what you’d expect from the label’s iconic bag line. First, it’s made from nylon. It’s lighter. And naturally, it’s a little more youthful.

But where does it stack up in the Filson canon?

In short: I found my perfect travel bag.

I tested the pack last month, on a trip through the Black Hills in South Dakota. The bag was big enough for a five-day jaunt through the state, but fit easily in small spaces: the overhead bin, the backseat of a truck, that one treehouse cabin I stayed at that wasn’t really a treehouse. It’s size was so versatile that I also used it as a primary bag on a fly-fishing side trip with the fellas at Spearfish Creek Fly Shop.

Best way to put it: the Duffle Pack is a modern field bag. Gone is Filson’s iconic Tin Cloth, replaced with a 12-ounce 600D nylon that resists unsightly scuffing. No matter, you won't miss it. The bag is lighter and easier to manage than my Tin Cloth duffle, and its agile weight lays down the tracks for a multifunctional carry system: you can throw it over-the-shoulder, carry it like a duffle or wear it like a backpack (the latter performed best on the stream).

Despite all the newfangled adornments, the bag is not without its leather, which is used sparingly, and only in the right places. Bridle leather can be found on the handle and easy-to-grip pull tabs on the zipper. On a few occasions, the two side pockets — one with an inner zipper security pocket, the other basically a dry bag that extends into the main compartment to isolate wet gear — came in handy for stowing quick-grab items like documents, my passport and fly patterns.

Filson (3 images)

Conclusion: if the Duffle Pack and the rest of the nylon gear lineup (see: Day PackTravel Pack and Barrel Pack) is any indication, Filson’s new direction is a boon.

Not that we'll be tabling our Tin Cloth — at least any time this century.

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