Review - Harvey Messenger by Filson X Magnum

There's very little information online about this collaboration between Filson and Magnum with renowned photographers like Steve McCurry and David Alan Harvey working on the design process (Time Magazine article). The new NYC Filson store (40 Great Jones Street) opened last Thursday night and along with it came these new bags not offered anywhere else right now. There's a backpack, a shoulder bag, a tote and a messenger. Honestly I could happily own all 4 of them, as they're all beautiful and would fit specific needs. The one I felt I'd get the most daily use was the Harvey Messenger ($335). The bag holds a laptop up to 15" (although I've only put my 13" macbook pro which has plenty of added room) in a stitched in sleeve and then there's a padded insert that would hold one pro DSLR setup broken flat, or a couple of rangefinders (I removed the bottomed over lid). The insert fits loosely into the main compartment and seems like it will allow some additional accessories like a flash or just personal carry items next to it. The fabric is much lighter than most Filson cotton, because of this the bags is pretty lightweight when empty (1200g or 2.65 lbs). Their Original Briefcase is 3.6lbs, so the Harvey Messengeris a nice drop in weight.


The front two pockets are simple button down bellowed pockets, the left one has a key clip corded in. The leather buckle needs to be threaded like a belt every time to close the bag which will slow down a fast and secure closure. There are storm flaps that fold in under the top flap which must add some weather proofing.B2015761_140510

This back compartment is a bit of a mystery. The store clerk said the mesh was for ventilation, but that seems odd. It looks to me like a lightweight quick access pocket, almost like a map sleeve. Including the 2 pen slots, theres a buttoned over iPhone sized pocket that could be used for a number of things, that button looks like it might be annoying on a long day of wear.B2015762_140510

These side pockets are also a bit of a mystery, they could probably hold one of those tiny water bottles, or maybe a couple of small accessories that you need to get to. There's one on either side.B2015764_140510

Here's the only logo on the whole Harvey Messenger and fortunately it's stitched into the underside of the main flap.B2015765_140510My overall impression is a positive one, the bag meets the high standard that you'd expect from Filson. The simplicity of the design is paramount, there's a lack of too many pockets, zippers or hiding spots for those much needed 32GB 1000x cards that like to disappear. The bag won't stand out as a receptacle for expensive equipment which is important when you're trying to be covert. I'm going to use it primarily as my commuter bag, it replaces an amazing leather briefcase by billykirk called the Schoolboy Satchel that wouldn't hold any camera's other than a little point and shoot. On a daily basis, my new Filson Harvey Messenger will hold my 13" laptop, Leica M240 with a 50mm and 21mm lens and my small Nissin flash, but occasionally I'll run to an event with a broken down DSLR setup. It's comparable to a Billingham Hadley Pro or a  Think Tank Retrospective.

You can buy one here at B&H - Harvey Messenger Bag (Otter Green, Magnum Black) - $335

Or buy one from Amazon here - Filson 70193 Harvey Messenger Bag (Magnum Black) - $335

See more reviews on my "Carry Camera" review blog

Ben Hider - Event Photographer based in New York City and Westchester