Filson Dryden Backpack Review
The Filson Dryden Backpack combines heritage styling with modern materials for a comfortable carry, though smaller users may find its size overwhelming.
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- Exterior materials are durable and water resistant
- Sleek leather accents are sturdy
- Shoulder straps curved and padded for comfort
- Back panel lacks aeration or mesh and gets warm
- Difficult to use leather attachment loops on shoulder straps
- Zipper pulls sometimes tangle together
Like the Look
Polled on Instagram
3 lb (1.4 kg)
18 in x 12.25 in x 7 in (45.7 x 31.1 x 17.8 cm)
CORDURA® Nylon, Polyester, Nylon, Leather, Woojin Hardware, YKK Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
When most folks think of Filson, they think of waterproof packs that can handle the most rugged adventures, from fly fishing trips across the High Sierra Nevada Mountain Range or canoeing down the Salmon River in Idaho. However, the Filson Dryden Backpack feels like a step in a new direction. The pack is just as rugged as we’re used to, but the zippers aren’t waterproof, and, overall, it has a more heritage feel. We dig the look, but how will it operate as a travel pack? Let’s dive in and find out!
The primary pack material is 1000D CORDURA® nylon. If you’ve dealt with CORDURA® before, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat! This is one of the best pack materials; it’s durable and not terribly heavy.
Some of our highest-ever rated packs (to date) utilized CORDURA® nylon, like the Aer Travel Pack 3 and Day Sling 3. However, the Filson has a look all its own compared to packs from Aer and other brands. While it doesn’t look like CORDURA®, it has the durability and water resistance of the material, which we dig.
There’s a Filson logo on the bottom right of the pack’s front. It’s so heritage-looking that you may not have to read the date on the patch to know that they’ve been making bags since 1897. Seriously, this thing blends in nicely and is a worthwhile addition, even for fans of strict minimalism.
The heavy-duty zippers are from YKK. They don’t feel too large for the task at hand; however, we’re curious to see how well we like them long-term, considering their size. Durability-wise, they feel on par with an expensive daypack or travel backpack.
The zipper pulls are long, made of leather, and knotted at the end. They’re super easy to find, hold onto, and open, but they can sometimes be a little much. The cords can also bunch together if the main and secondary compartment zipper heads are on the same side of the pack at once. In the end, we dig the look.
The plastic hardware is from Woojin and works as you’d expect it to. It’s durable, easy to manipulate, and stays put once in place.
The top handle is also leather, so there isn’t any padding or aeration, but it looks pretty rad, so it has that going for it. Jokes aside, the leather is comfortable to hold onto, but it will start to dig in after a few minutes of use, especially if the pack is fully loaded.
The left and right sides have water bottle pockets. They’re large enough to stow a 32 oz Nalgene bottle inside, but smaller bottles may fall out if the going gets rough because the CORDURA® material doesn’t secure around the bottle. Larger bottles do fine, but smaller ones move around.
There’s a luggage pass-through on the back panel, which is helpful at the airport. It’s pretty tall, enabling it to tightly secure your pack onto your rolling luggage. It also adds padding to the back panel, which we’ll get to shortly.
The shoulder straps are firm but have a fair amount of padding. Their design has a slight curvature, making them comfortable to wear. However, they’re pretty broad, so those with smaller frames may feel them on their neck or shoulder. There’s mesh on the backside, which helps keep things cool. Leather attachment loops on either shoulder strap look neat but are harder to use than traditional attachment points.
The back panel has ample padding, especially on the lower portion where the luggage pass-through is. There’s no aeration or mesh; things can get warm back here, especially on hot sunny days. It tends to be worse on the lower back, where there’s extra material from the trolley sleeve. It giveth comfort, and it taketh away… non-sweaty days…or something like that! You know what we’re trying to say.
There’s no sternum strap or hip belt, which feels odd for a pack over 25 liters. However, it doesn’t feel naked without them, even amid long days walking with the backpack. However, the bag is a bit large for its capacity, which those with smaller frames will feel.
Inside The Pack
The front quick-access compartment is pretty large and has three smaller pockets for pens, a large liner pocket, and a key leash. The organization is thoughtful; however, the leftover space can be hard to utilize. The zipper track runs three-fourths of the way around the compartment, but there’s only one head, so loading gear into the top of the pocket is hard without it falling out.
A few inches above that, there’s another zippered compartment. This one doesn’t have any organization, but given the design of the pocket, we dig that. It covers the entire front face of the pack, so there’s a lot of room to work with here. It’s an excellent spot to stow gear you want quick access to but won’t be grabbing all the time. Think packable jackets, extra bags for the market, or snack storage.
The laptop compartment zipper runs three-fourths of the way around the pack, which is odd because a gusset stops it from opening very wide. Perhaps this was a design choice, but it’s relatively puzzling. Inside, there’s a padded sleeve to stow your laptop, another liner pocket without as much padding, and a central area to store extra gear. Theoretically, you could fit multiple computers here, though it’s better suited for a laptop, notebook, tablet, folder, and book.
The main compartment is large and lacks much organization. A single mesh pocket on the back side has zippered top access. This is a solid spot to lock down the gear you don’t want floating around the main compartment, like a passport or other travel documents. Considering that most of the 25.5 liters this pack contains come from this area, we recommend using packing cubes and other organizers to put this space to the best use.
Although we haven’t packed this specific backpack on camera (yet), Pack Hacker Pro Members get exclusive “How We Pack It” videos for each Packing List we make. These are helpful for packing any bag, including this one!
Overall, we dig the look of the Dryden. It feels like a modern pack with a heritage twist only Filson could properly pull off. Sure, a few organizational choices feel a little off, but they’re nothing to will stop you from enjoying this pack from empty to its fullest.
- CORDURA® nylon is durable and offers a heritage look
- The zipper pulls are durable but large and may get in the way
- Leather accents add a nice contrast to the pack’s exterior
- Materials have held up well, from the CORDURA® to the leather accents
- No issues with comfort on larger frames; smaller folks may feel overwhelmed by the pack’s size, though
- We dig how this pack looks—from top to bottom
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