The Filson Meridian Duffle

Meridian 1

I have a weakness for bags, duffles in particular. I’ve wanted a Filson bag for some time, and finally after some cajoling from a good friend I ordered the Meridian Duffle. I searched far and wide for a review of this bag, and only found one, so I’m posting this in case it might be of interest to others thinking about picking up the same bag.

So far the Meridian and I have made just one trip together, a two-night, two-day visit to San Francisco. I typically use a wheeled two-suiter for business travel, but was eager to try out the new bag for business to see how easy it was to carry and how well it could hold dress shirts without wrinkling them. The bag was a delight to use, practical and stylish, and it handled my shirts and other gear without problem. (Note that when packing a duffle I fold my dress shirts like this. To even better prevent wrinkles, place a folded undershirt in the dress shirt before making the first upward fold – step 6 in the linked how-to – and the added bulk will help keep horizontal creases from forming.)

In terms of getting around, the Filson tin cloth is a bit lighter than their traditional canvas, and the bag is light given that it’s canvas, brass, and leather. It’s easy to carry in the hand, with the shoulder strap (either over the shoulder or like a messenger bag), or by putting the handles directly over the shoulder. Soft-sided as it is it molds to your body a bit, and it fit easily in the overhead compartment sliding straight in. In a pinch, you could get it under the seat in front of you on most airlines. It also has brass feet, which eases your mind when you’re dropping it on the pavement.

Meridian 3  Meridian 4  Meridian 5

Filson quality is legend, so I won’t go into the details of make, fit, and finish other than to say the quality was as I expected (excellent) and the bag is beautiful. There are some shots of the details above for the curious. The bag has a zipper exterior pocket that’s eight or nine inches deep and nearly square. It’s plenty big for a cellphone, small notebook, kindle, travel billfold, or airline tickets (folded). On the inside of the bag there are two open pockets (one on each end) which make stowing a dopp kit, umbrella, hat, etc. easy.

The bag holds a lot given its size, likely as much as my 22-inch roll-aboard for most trips. For this trip on the return leg I packed:

  • Dress shoes and belt
  • No-drop workout shoes (minimalist)
  • Three pair socks and two pair briefs
  • Two tee shirts
  • Workout shorts and workout shirt
  • A suit (pants and jacket)
  • A knee-length top coat
  • Two folded dress shirts
  • Dopp kit
  • 1 quart liquids bag
  • A small umbrella

… and still had room to spare.

Meridian 2

One thing to note about this bag is that if you get the tan finish as I did, you can expect it to pick up marks and stains. That patina makes it even more beautiful, but if you’re like me you may have to unlearn any instinct you have to keep it pristine. There is one exception I’ll warn others to look out for (and that other tan Filson owners probably know about): the bag will very quickly pick up indigo dye from any denim against which it repeatedly rubs. In my case one walk through the airport in dark jeans with the bag slung as a messenger bag was enough to do the trick (as you can slightly see in the above shot), and it was more blue than I wanted to chalk up to patina. Some light rubbing with a damp white cloth took off most of the dye without spreading it, but next time I’ll carry the bag over my arm via the handles or in my hand when I’m wearing dark jeans. User error on my part, lesson learned, and the bag now looks even more cool.

Bottom line: a great bag and one that I hope is an heirloom for the kids. I can’t wait to travel with it again next week.

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