123 Years of Innovation: Filson Adds Modern Materials to Legendary Weatherproof Designs

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When fishing guide Lael Johnson had to row his drift boat an extra eight miles through Olympic National Park in sheeting rain, Filson’s Neoshell Reliance Jacket “saved his bacon.” But the extra distance and drenching downpour didn’t ruffle Johnson. He knew his Filson gear was warm, dry, and dependable and would see him through the deluge.

Filson has been the go-to brand for pioneers and tradesmen since it was founded in 1897 as Clinton C. Filson’s Seattle Woolen Manufacturing Company. Before prospectors hitched their teams and loaded their wagons to pan for Alaskan gold, they’d outfit themselves in Filson’s clothing. Loggers knew Filson gear would protect them from brush and brambles, as well as cold and rain. In those days, clothes didn’t just make the man, they saved the man. In the harsh wilds of Alaska or the deep woods of Washington’s Cascade mountains, a man’s clothes would often determine whether he perished or survived.

Pure Virgin Wool

Clinton Filson understood that pure virgin wool is nature’s most perfect performance fabric. When you shrug your shoulders into a Filson Mackinaw Wool Cruiser, a jacket Filson patented in 1914 and is still making today, you’ll feel it.

Mackinaw Wool Cruiser.
Mackinaw Wool Cruiser

The thick weave of the long-staple sheep fleece makes Filson wool warm, practically waterproof, moisture-wicking and so durable that one day you’ll pass this jacket down to your grandson.

Filson Tin Cloth

Filson’s oil finish Tin Cloth was another early Filson fabrication. Its tightly woven canvas duck is pressure-infused with paraffin and oil. Filson developed it to protect loggers and sportsmen from thorny underbrush and adverse weather. A hundred-plus years later, it’s as lauded for its tear, water, and wind resistance as it is for its ruggedly handsome good looks.

Johnson says he always has his Tin Cloth Packer Hat with him. “It’s big, it keeps rain and sun off my head, and it’s going to last forever,” said Johnson. “With that hat on, I can fish my butt off regardless of the weather.”

Filson Incorporates Modern Materials

Though virgin wool and Tin Cloth are the foundations of Filson’s line, the brand has been an outfitter and problem solver for 123 years. That’s why they’re incorporating modern materials with the same confidence-inspiring performance as their heritage favorites, including Polartec’s waterproof-breathable Neoshell.

Neoshell Reliance Jacket
Neoshell Reliance Jacket Courtesy of Filson

In Filson’s Neoshell Reliance Jacket, the Neoshell is incredibly effective at both blocking moisture from the outside and releasing dampness from the inside. Neoprene, which Filson incorporated into the cuffs of the Skagit Rain Jacket, keeps water out of your sleeves when you’re casting or releasing a catch. Johnson, who guides 200 days a year and fishes another 65 to 100 days for his own pleasure, said, “When I am wearing the Neoshell Reliance, I never have to run to my boat to put on a rain jacket because I’m already wearing the most comfortable jacket I can imagine, and it’s waterproof.”

Responsible Materials, Innovative Designs

As a heritage outfitter, Filson treads lightly and holds itself to the highest ethical standards. Their most rugged pieces use conscientious raw materials, like certified responsibly-sourced down. They also build gear like their Down Cruiser jacket to endure unforgiving conditions for the life of the buyer and beyond.

Down Cruiser Jacket
Down Cruiser Jacket Courtesy of Filson

Filson’s fabrics and construction are synonymous with survival, durability, and timeless class. But it’s the details that make jackets like the new Skagit and the historic Mackinaw Wool Cruiser, which continues to be a best-seller, must-haves for outdoorsmen of all stripes. The Skagit’s high and low hand pockets are sized to stash a fly box, leaders, line, and a mask and hand sanitizer. While the bottom pockets might get wet wading, the chest pockets stay bone dry. The Cruiser’s four front-of-the-jacket pockets and the full-width rear map pocket add an extra layer of warmth throughout the torso and hold your key gear.

Designed to Withstand the Elements

Filson was founded to protect people who work outdoors in every landscape and occupation, regardless of the weather. They have never strayed from this goal. Today, men and women who earn their keep and enjoy their time outdoors, from hunters to anglers, adventurers, and explorers still outfit themselves in Filson, as do people who appreciate Filson’s quality and attention to detail, whether or not they’re headed into battle with Mother Nature.

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123 years of innovation and dependability. Filson

“You can’t create a heritage brand,” said Johnson. “It has to stand the test of time.”

Filson has, and the brand stays relevant with classic and modern materials, construction that won’t fail, and an unwavering commitment to getting its customers through the woods, weeds, and wilds––and back home––warm and dry.


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