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Filson – Rugged Quality for 120 Years

As a Professional Geologist, I have been using the Unfailing Goods at Filson since the beginning of his career. Since 1897, Filson has held the “gold standard” for tough, warm, and comfortable clothing for the outdoor adventurer, hunter, engineers, and explorers.

History of the Filson Brand

Photo courtesy of Filson.

Photo courtesy of Filson.

C.C. Filson was born in 1850 with a pioneer spirit and a love for the outdoors. After roaming the country as a railroad conductor, he moved to Seattle, Washington in the 1890s. This was great timing, because by 1897 the Great Klondike Gold Rush was on and thousands of hunters were passing through Seattle, heading north. This is how Filson made his brand. He wanted to dress and equip the hunters with high quality clothes and gear. His statement in his 1914 catalog said it all: “To our customers: if a man is going North, he should come to us for his outfit, because we have obtained our ideas of what is best to wear in that country from experience of the man from the North – not merely one – but hundreds of them. Our materials are the very best obtainable, for we know that the best is none too good and that quality is of vital importance. You can depend absolutely upon our goods both as to material and workmanship.” The clothing he made was the best around at the time, and is very influential in today’s clothing. The hardiness of Filson Mackinaw Coats and Wool Field Pants made them unrivaled for keeping comfortable and staying alive in the frigid wilderness up north. First made for gold prospectors, Filson evolved to make clothing for hunters, anglers, engineers, and explorers.

The Gold Rush Years: 1897-1899

During these times of the gold rush, Filson opened his manufacturing business – C.C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers. He specialized in goods to outfit those rushing up north to frigid conditions. Given the severity of the conditions of which people were going to, Filson knew his clothes had to be high-quality and very effective.

 

Klondike Gold Rush - Brooks Range, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Filson.

Klondike Gold Rush – Brooks Range, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Filson.

Tough, Comfortable Outdoor Clothing for Hunters and Anglers, Engineers and Explorers, Mariners and Miners. 

Even though the Gold Rush is obviously a thing of the past, Filson continued to create clothing from the best materials available, and guaranteed every single piece of merchandise. If there was something a customer wanted that he didn’t have in stock, he would custom make it. Customers still flocked to Filson to get their outdoor merchandise. Filson transitioned to making clothing for the timber industry, where he created the Filson Cruiser, a garment that still influences Filson’s best selling items.

Filson Signature Materials

Part of what makes Filson so unique, is the consistent use of the best materials available. These materials have made truly revolutionary clothing over the years because they are so unique and distinct. Below we are some of the signature materials that have made such an impact today.

Tin Cloth

For every person who struck gold in the Klondike, thousands more fled back to Seattle with pennies or debt. Broke and desperate, many of these once gold searchers turned to the timber industry. It soon became a booming industry. This was not only great for the workers who were desperate for employment, but it was also a huge pivotal moment for Filson. He knew exactly what clothing and gear loggers needed and he had the materials to make it. This pivotal moment is when he designed and made the first Filson Cruiser. It received a U.S. Patent. It had trademarked pockets to accommodate surveyor tools and the Cruiser quickly became the standard piece for the forests. More than a century later, the 1914 Filson Cruiser is almost identical to today’s version. All clothes with a tin cloth finish are abrasion-resistant and rain repellent. This fabric has been proven to work for over 100 years. You can get almost any outdoor apparel with a tin cloth finish, like a baseball cap, chaps, a backpack, and much more.

Mackinaw Wool

 

As early as the 1920s, and continuing to this day, Filson products became accepted by workers as de facto Forest Service uniform wear. From the 1950s through the 1990s, Filson was contracted to produce official uniforms for Forest Service personnel. Photo courtesy of Filson.

As early as the 1920s, and continuing to this day, Filson products became accepted by workers as de facto Forest Service uniform wear. From the 1950s through the 1990s, Filson was contracted to produce official uniforms for Forest Service personnel. Photo courtesy of Filson.

Filson began making clothing out of wool to keep those traveling up north warm while they dig for gold. Filson believes in making the best products they can because sometimes their customers’ lives, quite literally, rely on it. If Filson gear is not warm enough, then people may fall victim to exposure. To this day, Filson wool is highly trusted and used by outdoor professionals including loggers, guides, backcountry packers, and the U.S. Forest Service. Filson uses virgin wool rather than recycled wool. Recycled wool is made from tearing up previously-woven garments and re-spinning the shredded fibers into yarns, making a scratchy, harsh and weak article of clothing. When using virgin wool you use sturdy wool fibers that have no nylon added. This makes it so that 100% of the fabric has the warmth and moisture-wicking abilities. In addition to only using virgin wool, Filson searches for the best mills available.

Mackinaw Wool was used to create the 1914 Mackinaw Wool Cruiser that to this day, is almost unchanged. When something is perfect, why change it? The Cruiser was designed for timber cruisers and is the perfect example of a purpose-built jacket. The wool was made from fleece directly from a sheep that was meticulously sorted through to find the most study fibers that are the most suited for fighting cold temperatures. It is extremely tightly woven till which provides warmth, wind-resistance, and durability without excess bulk. This thought is woven into all of Filson’s wool products to create the perfect outdoor gear.

Rugged Twill

The toughness of Filson’s Rugged Twill Bags is legendary. Photo courtesy of Filson.

The toughness of Filson’s Rugged Twill Bags is legendary. Photo courtesy of Filson.

Just like Filson’s other materials, the Rugged Twill is made to provide outdoor workmen or adventurers the warmth they need to fight some seriously foul weather. The Rugged Twill is used to build luggage and bags to transport adventurers’ gear back and forth, study enough to hold heavy weight and be protective enough to keep your gear safe and dry.

The Rugged Twill is 100% cotton fabric made from 2-ply and 3-ply yarns woven in a 2×2 twill pattern. This ensures that the horizontal yarns alternate crossing over and under two vertical yarns. This creates a very dense material, capable of holding heavy weights. The duality of the material allows for it to be used as a field bag, carrying your gear for adventures, or for it to be used as a briefcase, to bring your laptop to school or work.

 Responsibly Sourced Down

Filson only uses goose down supplied by Allied Feather & Down , the industry leader in quality, responsibly-sourced down. Down Cruiser – SKU: 20069543. Photo courtesy of Filson.

Filson only uses goose down supplied by Allied Feather & Down, the industry leader in quality, responsibly-sourced down. Down Cruiser – SKU: 20069543. Photo courtesy of Filson.

Filson uses goose down for their warmest coats. Down is the soft under-plumage that lies under the tough exterior feathers of birds, providing them with insulation from icy weather. Goose down, has long been regarded as being the longest. Filson combines the goose down with an original water-resistant oil finish cover in their down products. This creates a warm, insulated, and water-resistant coat that weighs next to nothing.

 Filson believes in sourcing this responsibly, meaning the down comes from geese that have been raised for the food supply, meaning the down is going to be disposed of. All the companies and sources that Filson is affiliated with in getting the down are concerned with sustainability and responsibility. This is important to Filson because unfortunately, there are goose farms on the market that are known to treat their animals horribly. Filson believes that to have a great product, it has to come from a great place. You have to respect where you get your materials from.

Filson works with organizations to create products that promote this idea of sustainability. Filson paired up with Ducks Unlimited to make some awesome tee-shirts whose profits go towards preserving wetlands and waterfowl.

Conservation

Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept combines firefighting equipment with rugged materials crafted by Filson. Photo courtesy of Ford.

Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept combines firefighting equipment with rugged materials crafted by Filson. Photo courtesy of Ford.

Since Filson’s heritage is rooted in the outdoors and the entire point of Filson products is to enjoy being outside and be respectful, it makes sense that they are a company of sustainable responsibility. They are committed to supporting outdoor organizations with missions to protect and sustain outdoor recreation. Instead of focusing on bigger corporations, Filson believes that grassroots are where change happens, and so in turn is happy to support them.

One notable partner of Filson’s is the National Forest Foundation. Filson supports the National Forest Foundation’s 50-million Trees for Our Forests campaign because all of Filson’s customers work, play, or relax in the forests. Without the forests, these recreational activities would cease to exist.

In October 2020, the Ford Bronco® brand and Filson joined forces to celebrate wildland firefighters and support the National Forest Foundation, unveiling the Bronco + Filson Wildland Fire Rig concept and limited-edition outdoor gear to help fund reforestation and forest preservation. Unveiled amidst one of the most devastating wildland fire seasons in history, Filson and Ford Bronco hope to remind every American to educate themselves about fire prevention and responsible recreation. We’ve joined forces to help support the NFF’s ’50 Million for Our Forests’ initiative with a goal of planting 50 million trees. This effort will help restore National Forests impacted by severe wildfire, pests, and disease.

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