Why Filson Wool?


In fact, Filson's original name in 1897 was Seattle Woolen Manufacturing Company, Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers. They got our start making woolen goods to outfit the adventurous prospectors heading north seeking fortunes in the Alaskan Gold Rush. Clothing and food, tents and stoves, picks and shovels—all of the supplies required to survive a year in the frigid Klondike region—were hauled up and over the treacherous Chilkoot Pass trail. Until trams were built in late 1897 and early 1898, men carried everything on their backs or used horses. Their feet carved steps into the snow and ice, creating what was called the “Golden Staircase”. Some fell victim to avalanches and exposure, and some turned back for lack of preparedness. For these brave men and women, clothing was not simply a matter of choice, but one of survival.

Filson has always made the best possible wool goods because sometimes, very literally, thier customers’ lives depend on the quality of our fabrics and manufacturing. That same mindset has guided our decision-making for over a century, which is why outdoor professionals including loggers, guides, backcountry packers and the U.S. Forest Service place their trust in Filson wool for daily use in unforgiving conditions.


Unlike recycled wool, which comes from tearing apart previously-woven garments and re-spinning the shredded fibers into yarns, virgin wool fabric is made from fleece taken directly from the sheep and spun into very strong yarns. While recycling wool may sound like a great idea, the resulting yarn is rough, harsh and weak. When Filson make 100% virgin wool goods on which you can stake your life, they’re made with yarns spun from the sturdiest wool fibers with no nylon added, so that 100% of the fabric has wool’s warmth and moisture-management abilities.


Only the best mills are chosen to produce wool that meets Filson’s exacting specifications. While it may seem more expensive to invest in the best wool available, when a jacket or pants prevent hypothermia or worse, that price will suddenly appear as a real bargain. And when you can depend on it season after season, rather than having to repeatedly replace worn-out, cheaper products, that is the very definition of long-term value.

Filson wool products are purpose-built. Each decision, including selection of the wool fibers and spinning of the yarn, type and tightness of the weave, as well as the fit and pocket configuration, is determined by the needs of the customer. Regardless if the end-use is hunting elk at high altitude in the snowy Pintler Mountains, rebuilding a trail in the Sawtooth National Forest after spring runoff, or shooting photos at first light on a frosty December morning, Filson wool goods deliver versatile protection from cold, wet and windy weather.


The Mackinaw Wool Cruiser, designed for timber cruisers and patented in 1914, is the perfect example of a purpose-built jacket. To make the wool, fleece from hardy sheep is sorted for sturdy fibers that are relatively large in diameter and ideally suited for hard use and foul weather. The fabric is an extremely tightly-woven twill which provides warmth, wind-resistance and durability without excess bulk. The full-width rear map pocket, combined with the four front pockets, provides two layers of wool protecting most of the torso with ample storage for tools and implements. It’s cut with room for layering and freedom of motion.

The end result is a jacket that is so universally functional, it rapidly became popular with sportsmen and hunters as well as foresters, and is one of our best-selling products more than a century later. The same thoughtful and exacting design considerations are invested into all Filson wool products.

When comparing a Filson Wool Cruiser to a coat that may appear similar, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Is it made with 100% virgin wool? The Filson is. Is it surprisingly heavy, because so much tightly-spun yarn is packed into the weave? The Filson is. Is the weave tight so that it blocks wind and resists water? Again, the Filson is.