The bag, the man bag, the briefcase, the messenger bag-Whatever you want to call it, the bag a man carries walks the finest of lines. It HAS to be masculine, it HAS to have character and by all means it NEEDS to define the man carrying it. If not, it can fall into “murse” (man purse) status and nobody wants or needs that. Unless you do, which is completely fine.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a well dressed, well put together guy carrying the run of the mill nylon mesh computer bag w an ugly corporate logo pasted on the front. Sure, that’s fine, hell-it was probably free (which is always nice) but damn, every piece matters. To me at least…
All this being said, every bag has it’s intended purpose, and some are more formal than others, some are designed to be used outside and some are to made to be shuttled neatly in your grip from the office to your home. Some luckily have a bit of both.
For years my Father used the definition of the standard attaché briefcase. Through the years he had a few of them. Deep Red, Brown, Black. Mostly the same… Rectangle. Boxed out. Leather. The tiny little scrolling numbers to lock the importance inside.
My Father is a brick of a man; impeccable classic Texan style and that briefcase defined him to the T. Over the years he ventured out into other styles, and in the later 90s settled for a few years on a Filson Field Bag.
The Filson Medium Field Bag is 14”W x 11” H x 5” D. It is constructed of 22 oz. twill with leather straps and a reinforced base. It has a leather shoulder strap, a leather grab handle and two leather closures. All the leather is bridle and very heavily weighed. It boasts a storm flap style closure with two front stow pockets (snap closure) and one back stow pocket (open top). This one has a zippered top closure under the storm flap; the new ones sold today do not. At the end of both leather closures is the Filson stamp and a rolling buckle secures each of the closures. The field bag comes in three classic colors, tan, navy and otter green.
Every time leather meets the twill, the stitching is thick. Hearty. The brass buckles, clasps and clips are solid, and overtime holds the brass tones and simply looks better with age. They loose whatever shine they had and blend into the tan twill like salt in the ocean. The deep dark leather remains stiff for years to come after new, but softens and takes a life and character of its own. The deep rich color of the twill softens and fades some and like everything else, takes on a tense that is so much better than new.
About 3 years into my Father carrying this bag with him, most of the time used to transport a stack of full legal pads, a laptop computer and a mountain of contracts and other paperwork, I asked him if I could have it. He looked at me and said, “I like this bag, No.” I said, “I’ll trade you”, looking down at a North Face backpack like a real moron. He responded no. A couple weeks later I packed up my things to go back up to college in Lubbock for the spring semester and he had left early that morning on no doubt was a long day of supporting our family. I walked downstairs and looked over at the kitchen table and saw the empty Filson bag on the table with a note-
This one should last you a good while.
It was his bag. I never asked him why he gave it to me. I guess I already knew. It was the same answer that would apply to any facet of why that man does anything, because he loves me. My mom. My sister. My wife. My daughter. If you are lucky to have the kind of father that tirelessly knows no end to providing or loving or caring, then you know, its easy to give up something like a bag, he wanted me to have it. That was 13 years ago. I still carry it today.
See, we carry it with us. Those memories, those work victories, those raises, those good days, and the bad ones. Carried that bag out with me in 2008 when I got laid off. Ended up being the best thing that could’ve ever happened. I remember that, I intentionally keep it with me. Driving me. Forcing me to create a need. Create a purpose. We carry these times with us and every nick, and scar and mar on that bag is one more time we ran through the airport and rubbed the bag across the side of the wall in a race to make the flight to get home to our girl.
Every piece of worn leather than got that way from the gentle rubbing across my shoulder while walking for miles on a pheasant hunt and being with our friends.
Every jingle of the buckle as I tighten it up and walk into a business meeting, nervous as hell.
My Father has been very successful and has seen more along his years in business and people interaction than I could ever dream of seeing. He gave me that bag because I wanted it. He could’ve said no. But he said, it’s yours. He nor did I didn’t know at the time that that bag gave me confidence, it gave me a sense that he is with me when I push myself to the next level, the next challenge, the next time I sit down in a board room, the next time I point my gun to the sky. He is with me. By giving me that bag he did more for me than he will ever know.
And as I sit here writing this I am reminded that he was one of the people that showed me dedication to doing the right thing. Trying. Pushing. Never settling. The same thing comes through in the construction of this bag. It is about 18 years old and its just now finally starting to show its age. And I’m just fine with that, because I am too. And so is my Father. And some things just get better with age.
I write about things that have earned a place in my life. I write about things that have a right to be with me everyday. Not only is life to short to drink shitty bourbon, its too short to have to look at something that will fall apart or something that doesn’t have all the memories attached to it. New things are great, and nice, but things that are strong and last for years, I’ll take over new everyday.
The twill fabric over time will wear down and in areas that rub, will actually gain a slight sheen, and become very smooth. The leather wrinkles on the surface and becomes pliable like an old leather watchband, made to wrap around you. The thick zipper gets easier to open and close every year. The leather edge binding on the storm flap becomes a piece of the overall goal, no longer sticking out, simply just fitting in.
Poor Filson, I doubt they get much repeat business on bags like this; very few people would ever need a replacement.
One day my Father won’t be on this earth. It’s things like this bag that I will get to hold with me after he is gone, to remind me of the values he instilled in me, the work ethic, and the diligence to strive to do something right.
I urge you, find something that you can hold on to like this bag, or a watch, or a belt, or a knife. Whatever it is, you’ll be glad you did years later.
I give the Filson Field Bag a 98 out of 100.