Bourjaily: Not Your Father’s Filson

Several years ago, ammo maker Winchester and clothier C.C. Filson invited a bunch of writers on a flooded timber duck hunt in Mississippi. The idea was the writers would shoot vintage guns with Winchester/bismuth ammo and dress in classic wool and waxed cotton Filson wear. It would be a throwback hunt to showcase the effectiveness of old-school guns and clothes. I was not in attendance. Those who were, froze. A cold snap blew in, and only a couple of smart writers who had smuggled in modern polypro, thinsulate and fleece layering garments in the bottom of their duffle bags didn't suffer.

The point is, technology has marched on since Filson was founded in 1897. Wool and waxed cotton are no longer cutting edge. We've got stuff today our fathers and grandfathers would have killed to wear. The folks at Filson know this. They also know that the people who buy their clothes stay loyal to the brand because of its Gold Rush heritage and traditional materials. So Filson is taking a chance this year by introducing the waterproof Wingshooting Jacket and Pant, made of three-layer nylon twill with sealed seams. This is not your father's waxed cotton Tin Cloth, that's for sure. And unlike the waxed cotton and wool clothing which is still sewn in Seattle, it's made offshore. Like all Filson stuff, it is very well-made, judging by the samples I saw at SHOT, and, again like all Filson stuff, it's not cheap: the jacket sells for $295; the pants for $175.

I'm guessing there are a few die-hard Filson fans among the Gun Nuts, as well as some who wonder what all the fuss is about obsolete, overpriced outerwear. Me, I'm in the middle. A Filson belt, a heavy waterfowl sweater, various shirts (including the left-handed shooting shirt I'm wearing in the drawing at the top of this page), wool wader socks and a crushable ballcap are among my favorite pieces of outdoor clothing. But I layer them between UnderArmour and a modern insulated, waterproof shell if I want to stay warm. Your thoughts on Filson in general and these new pants and jackets would be appreciated.

Think of this as a Gun Nut focus group.