Thank you to Frédérique for sending in this review of the Filofax Sketch bag.
I live in France, and had already purchased a few accessories for my Filofax through the French website. So, when they launched a - 70% sale on a large selections of bags a few weeks ago, I realized that I really needed a new laptop bag. After all, the one I had and used from time to time was an old leather purse which I couldn't close completely due to the bulkiness of my laptop, which barely fit in it, that I really wanted to try out a new Filofax product and, well, did I mention there was a big sale ? Couldn't hurt to browse, right ?
I hesitated a long time between the Sketch Zipped Briefcase and the Sketch Modern Briefcase, but even after intensive research, I couldn't find any real pictures, videos or anything from real users! I could only look at the different pictures on the Filofax website, and their ridiculous videos : instead of inserting paper-replicas of laptops, apples, or cellphones, they could have used real props, this would have looked much more professional, wouldn't it ? Therefore, I held back for almost two weeks...
Of course, there are only a few shops around where I live (Mulhouse, in France) with Filofaxes; most of the time, they only some binders, a few folders sometimes, but never the bags; so apart from driving insane distances, there aren't many possibilities to actually touch and look at the items before you buy.
I finally decided in favour of the Sketch Zipped Briefcase, partly because it looked more like a purse/week-end bag than strictly a business/laptop-carrying case, but mostly because the two clasps for the detachable shoulder strap of the Sketch Modern Briefcase were attached only on one side of the bag. I feared the tensions from the weight of the bag would eventually rip the fabric. I might be wrong, but I didn't want to take the chance. So, Sketch Zipped Briefcase it is ! Grey looked cool, but I really like red, most of my bags and accessories (wallet, filofax...) are red. So not much hesitation there.
And this is what came through the mail less than a week after my order : this huge package, filled with air-filled bags for protection !
To my surprise, the bag was wrapped in a black Filofax-branded protection bag ! I really like that, that gives the feel of a luxury item, like my Longchamp bag which also was wrapped neatly in its protective fabric bag, or like the leather Filofax binders that come in their sturdy black boxes, whereas my Slimline Metropol is sold with a simple and thin cardboard box/wrap.
And here is the "briefcase" itself, directly out of its bag : the French website mentioned the colour "Bordeaux Foncé", and the UK site "Maroon", but it's more like a rich "darker" red, which I really like and is a really great surprise for me, as you never know exactly what the real colour is. The "front" of the bag has a little rubber Filofax logo on the right bottom, elegant and discreet (discreet being key here, I really dislike huge prominent branding).
The fabric is "waterproof ribbed nylon" and seems to be very thick and water-resistant, but it hasn't rained so far, so I wasn't able to test it outside. Just like a "good" Filofax is supposed to remain flat once open, I like my bags to be able to stand erect, whether they are full or empty, and this one does !
The additional detail that told me I would really like this bag are the rubber feet : as it's not leather on the bottom, there's no fear in damaging it and it can be quickly and easily cleaned. The zip-handles are also rubber-covered metal, so you get a good grip when you open and close your briefcase.
Let's sum up so far : the outside is looking pretty, it seems very sturdy, but let's look at its entrails !
There's one big compartment, a laptop pocket on the back-side of the bag, and a full-length flat zipped pocket (that's quite deep too), along with functional pockets, on the front-side : two mesh pockets (one large, one small), three elasticized pen loops, five card-slots, and an ID-slot : as I said, really practical !
The laptop-pocket is separated from the main compartment by a thin padded cushion, so the laptop is protected from the content you have in the main compartment. There are two Velcro sewn on both the sides, in order to keep this pocket thin when not in use, and even when "closed", you can still add lots of documents (A4/letter size will fit perfectly). Please notice the fabric pieces on the sides of the bag : once open, the briefcase is not supposed to lay flat, there are triangular pieces of nylon that keep the content from falling out of the bag, which can be open really wide nonetheless.
Now, let's try it in real conditions. I put my laptop, battery, camera and camera-cable inside, and see how it fits : perfectly ! And there's still lots of room for documents, other computer-accessories, or anything you want/need to carry !
I tried it first for a couple of nights at the Boyfriend's, and I was able to add some clothes to the aforementioned content (granted, not two full sets of clothes, but at least an additional pants, a thin sweater and other little things) : here's the bag when full, isn't it nice ? I really like it !
99€ originally, and I purchased it for ~30€ on sale (+5€ shipping). I'm really happy for my purchase, have already tried it in real conditions; the proportions and the way it's organized is just what I needed. A great surprise, really, I didn't expect to be this enthusiast ! I doubt I would have bought it on a whim like this if it was full-price, or even 40% off. But at 70% off, that was a great bargain !
The only caveat I found is that the handles are a little bit too short for me, they don't allow me to carry this bag on my shoulder; this could be done in spring/summer/autumn with a light/very thin jacket, but with a thicker winter jacket, it's not really practical nor possible, I would say. That doesn't bother me much, as it's quite heavy once it's filled (did I mention that my laptop was more like a huge heavy brick than a state-of-the-art-super-lightweight-laptop ?). When they are full or heavy, I mostly hang my bags from the crook of my arm anyway.
Both the Zipped and the Modern Briefcases are back to their original prices on filofax.fr, but the UK website is currently having a -40% sale on these models, among others... (Enabler ? Who, me ?) !!