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Heritage and the Hunt: Filson’s Hunting Line in the Field

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For more than 120 years, Filson has made rugged gear for rugged humans. But with its newer venture into heritage camo, will this gear stand the test of time?

Well, it certainly should.

The majority of the Filson x Mossy Oak line boasts Filson’s signature tin cloth, a waxed canvas that is not only water resistant but tough, tough, tough. Filson’s history of outfitting mountain types in tin cloth goes back over a century. And its longevity in the wet and demanding conditions of the Pacific Northwest speaks for itself.

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I tried a few of the signature pieces of the Filson x Mossy Oak line, among a few other hunting pieces, for a few days of waterfowl and upland hunting in Washington. Although the Mossy Oak apparel is specifically for men, I am, in fact, a woman. But with blood that runs cold and a determination to stay in the blind till closing light, I was able to get a strong pulse on what this line is capable of and my own take on hunting in tin cloth.

Filson Hunting Line

Filson x Mossy Oak Camo Shelter Cloth Waterfowl/Upland Coat: $395

Shelter Cloth Waterfowl/Upland Coat

Even in a size small, this jacket allowed for ample room for me to easily maneuver and shoulder my gun. The generous pockets provided many spaces for me to stash shells, extra gloves, handwarmers, and birds when the opportunity arose. The game pocket for this coat is on the front of the jacket, so you’d have to pick and choose a bit where you want to keep gear while on the move in upland country.

I liked the moleskin collar a lot for an extra wind break, and I opted for the Camo Shelter Cloth Hood for a more extensive option, because, repeat, I run cold. It was nice option for moments that ran windy. The one thing I learned about tin cloth in the blind is that your insulating layers should be ample on cold days, as the cloth is durable and water resistant, but it certainly holds onto the temperature you’re sitting in. So add down, microfleece, or merino to your layers beneath, and you’ll be good to go.

Filson coats do run a bit big, allowing extra room for both movement and insulating layers. And this is a feature I much prefer to the often more fitted styles of women’s-specific clothing in the broader world of hunting gear.

Women’s 3-Layer Field Jacket: $395

Women's 3-Layer Field Jacket

Although not available in the Mossy Oak patterns, I did wear the 3-Layer Field Jacket and I’ve worn it on other hunts prior to my time in the field with this piece. I really, really like this coat. Again, it runs big, but I went with my typical size (large), and I’m glad I did.

This piece is windproof, rainproof, and nearly bombproof thanks to Filson’s proprietary waterproof-breathable nylon membrane. The game bags in this coat are on the back, allowing a bit more flexibility for your front pockets. I’m a giant fan of the movement towards microfleeced handwarming pockets, and this jacket delivers on that front. The armpit vents are necessary when moving through chukar territory as we were, and the breathable nature of the coat proved itself over hill and dale.

Double Hunting Bibs with Zipper: $350

Hunting Bibs

These are, without a doubt, my favorite thing in this group. I wore them for three days straight. And after learning my lesson about insulating layers beneath tin cloth, I was reminded of my OshKosh B’gosh days of running around in corduroy overalls and the denim bibs I loved so much throughout my childhood.

There’s something comforting about wearing a full set of bibs in the blind. And the double-walled nature of the bibs is fully protective when walking through brush and tall grass. The pockets high on the chest are great for stashing shells, and the top pocket is just the right size for holding your smartphone at the ready for any quick snapshots while on the move. I might have gotten a sideways glance from one of my hunting companions when I mentioned that, but hey, I’m a millennial. Sometimes, you gotta do it for the ‘gram.

I will say that these babies are stiff to start. By the end of three days of wear and one 5-mile day in the field, the bibs began to give a bit. But the 5 miles in new tin cloth were not necessarily my favorite 5 miles I’ve walked. A friend in my group suggested throwing the tin cloth in the dryer on cool (lest you melt hot wax all over your dryer) with a knotted towel or a bunch of tennis balls for a few hours. It beats some flexibility into new garments. And I’m definitely on board for that.

Filson x Mossy Oak Camo Insulated Tin Cloth Hat: $65

Insulated Tin Cloth HatThis hat provides coverage when waterfowl hunting while also holding the tuckaway wool ear flaps that can be so necessary for brisk wind or just from simply sitting in wait. For me, this hat fits perfectly with the ear flaps tucked in. But once I pull the flaps down, the bill tends to come forward over my eyes, which was a problem when getting ready to shoot. I tucked my hood from my merino base layer underneath it, and that helped a lot.

This hat has become my go-to for quick trips out in inclement weather here in the temperamental winter of Montana. The waxed tin cloth and brim beats a beanie, and the insulated nature of the hat keeps my noggin toasty. Plus, this hat is a more affordable way to add some Filson to your hunting collection.

Another accessory I’ve come to love is the brand’s fingerless wool gloves. I like to feel the trigger when I shoot, and these gloves still kept my hands plenty warm with a few handwarmers for my fingertips when necessary. At $35, this is another great, affordable Filson piece to add to your collection.

Women’s Moleskin Shirt: $195

filson upland hunting moleskin

This shirt was my favorite insulating layer for both the blind and upland hunting. The soft, windproof nature of the moleskin is like no other buttondown I’ve worn.

The fit is flattering, and the shirt is long enough through the torso and arms. The darted back allows for movement while shooting and walking, and it just feels durable enough for whatever it is you might face while hunting or otherwise. It’s a dry-clean-only piece, however, which is to be noted for those of us who accidentally wash dry-clean pieces on the regular. (Hint: me.)

Filson x Mossy Oak Tin Cloth Excursion Bag: $425

Tin Cloth Excursion Bag

This bag is burly. And with bridle leather accessories, it also manages to be classy. That’s a feat I wasn’t sure was possible when it came to camouflaged items, but Filson manages to pull it all together in this piece. The nylon-coated expandable side pocket is probably my favorite feature on the Excursion, providing ample space for me to shove my dirt-encrusted boots alongside my cleaner gear without worrying about the repercussions of mud and the lingering scent of miles walked.

There’s plenty of room for shells, extra layers, and water bottles. And the mesh side pocket is great for grabbing and stashing items on the go. I’d think this could be a great bag for dog handlers in the field, with its medium size and thoughtful build. The bag itself does weigh almost 4 pounds though, so it’s not the lightest carry out there. But it’s perfect for the blind, the rig, or a carry-on for a weekend trip to upland territory.

Filson’s Legacy in My Closet and Beyond

So, is tin cloth worth the grand expense? For me, time will tell. But the quality and durability of this gear are evident, even in the stiffer, breaking-in stages.

If you’re like me, you’re constantly poking holes in your nearly equally expensive and more “technical” coats by venturing into places that are too tough on nylon. That’s the literal rub for me when it comes to modern outdoor gear: I’m always ripping holes or trying to avoid stains. And if you could see my gear collection, you’d know I’m an utter failure at this. Filson seems clutzproof in that respect.

I do have one piece that’s stood the test of time, and that’s my father’s nearly 30-year-old buffalo plaid Mackinaw Wool Cruiser Jacket. Long after my dad left this planet, this beautiful jacket holds its shape, holds its own, and holds memories of snowy Ohio days, dad jokes, and sledding down the neighborhood hill. My brother-in-law wears it now, and it looks as if the coat just left the showroom. When I think of heritage that lives in our apparel, I think of my father, this coat, and its second life within our family.

That’s a legacy that I hope stays within my own closet and gets passed down through the ranks of my family. There’s a historic and ongoing beauty in a centenarian company that sticks to its roots. And I’m looking forward to putting memories into the kind of tough and durable gear that can hold onto it for the long haul.

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