Review: Filson Game Bag (Modified for Camera Bag Use)

A while ago, Filson teamed up with two photographers to create their own line of camera bags–but if you’ve ever spotted the Filson Game Bag, you’ll realize that it’s more than good enough for most uses that a photographer would need. Those bags are low profile, durable, American made, and designed to really not look like camera bags. Indeed, they’re much different in both construction and looks. While the Filson Game Bag was never really designed for use with photography gear, it does a great job at being a more affordable version of the Filson camera bags.

To preface this review, you should note that I’ve been in the hunt for what I want to call the perfect camera bag for a while. The more I purchase and learn, the more I figure out and the more I realize that it’s truly tough to get the perfect bag. Peak Design, ONA, Tenba, ZKin, and WANDRD all make some of the best stuff around. But honestly, so does Filson.

Additionally, what I’ve also discovered is that some of the best stuff is in Army/Navy stores. You just need to find exactly what you need.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the Adorama listing

Material
22-oz. Rugged Twill and 11-oz. oil finish Shelter Cloth
Dimensions (W x H x D)
18 x 11 x 7.5″ / 457.2 x 279.4 x 190.5mm

Ergonomics

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The Filson Game Bag isn’t like a whole lot of other camera bags in that it really wasn’t designed to be one. But it’s still got a lot of features that would work well for photographers. For example, check out the front strap: it doesn’t have quick access, but the bag allows you to have quick enough access. Additionally, there are pockets on the front with button clasps.

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When you undo the buttons, you realize that you can slip small things in there; passports, card wallets, phones, flasks, etc. These are all very well built.

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The top flap opens up to reveal a giant area in the middle. It can accommodate up to a 15 inch laptop. The insert isn’t Filson’s own, it’s Tenba’s. With ease, you can stuff a mirroless camera in there with a massive lens and a DSLR with an equally large lens.

Towards the back of the interior, you can find another buttoned section of the bag where you can store a laptop.

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The back of the bag’s exterior has a mesh pocket. You may want to store a magazine, passport, documents, an iPad, etc here. there is also a smaller pocket specifically for those smaller pieces.

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On the side, you’ll find two pockets. They’re small, and can’t really accommodate a water bottle but they’re good for something like film cases.

Oddly enough, what I ended up doing was putting my water bottle inside of my bag. Photographers would never typically do this, but when I was testing this bag I had weather sealed gear on me.

Build Quality

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The bag overall is built very well and Filson did a fantastic job. But it doesn’t feel as well built as some of the newer stuff from Tenba, ONA, etc. Part of this could be the fact that the camera bag doesn’t have a waxed exterior when you purchase it. However, you can go ahead and take care of that yourself if you’d like.

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Something that photographers often talk about and want is a bag that’s American made. You truly don’t get any more American than what Filson is capable of producing here. Perhaps it doesn’t feel as sturdy because the bag has some areas that are a bit loose and it’s designed to look sloppy. But if you’re alright with that, then that’s totally fine. That’s part of the appeal.

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When the bag is completely closed, you can sometimes see the sides of the top flap lifted up a bit. This is rare though. What some photographers also fear is rain getting into the camera bag–but in the case the bag has a flap that is just large enough to lock out any sort of precipitation that will try to enter.

Ease of Use

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The bag is overall very simple to use in real life applications. I’ve toted it around as a camera bag, an every day bag, etc. You don’t have the super quick access that you may crave, but if you’re a photographer that genuinely doesn’t need that, then you’re all fine. My work doesn’t typically require it, and the only ones that would are wedding photographers and photojournalists. Portrait photographers, landscape photographers, and hobbyist street photographers don’t genuinely have a big need for quick access. So for the most part, the bag is more than good enough. The fact that it has as many pockets as it does also lends itself to being more organized for a photographer overall.

What you’ll also note is that this bag doesn’t have a shoulder pad, and honestly that’s a big giveaway that you’ve possibly got a camera in your bag. For that reason, this is awesome for mirrorless camera users.

Conclusions

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The Filson Game Bag is kind of tough to get your hands on as I believe it’s been discontinued. It’s a beautiful bag that can truly have the moniker of being American made and designed. It will look sloppy, and sometimes the absolute best thing about having a bag is that you have a camera bag that doesn’t look like there is camera gear inside.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

If you want a Filson Game bag, try to modify it with inserts. We give it four out of five stars.