Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Report: Vintage Filson Cruiser Jacket

From the archives: Filson Forestry Cloth Cruiser

Filson fabric options in 1914

Mid century price hike

The modern Filson Mac

Editor's note: A month ago, Chris Adamiak, Damn-Yak Dry Goods proprietor, emailed me about a vintage Filson cruiser he spotted on Etsy. He asked for my help in identifying the fabric which is lighter weight than the 24 oz. melton wool used for current model Filson cruisers. I forwarded along some Filson catalog scans speculating that the fabric in question was a discontinued worsted wool serge. Chris purchased the Cruiser and, at my request, wrote up a review for Archival.

The Filson Cruiser in question

In Canada, Filson doesn't have the availability as it does in the States. The distributors are few and far, and when we order online we face massive shipping, duty, and custom fees (due to the weight of Filson's heavy fabric). It makes me so upset reading tales in forums of people finding Tin Cloth Cruisers in Thrift stores for $5. Finding Filson anything, in any store here is a miracle and being 6'5" makes the search even harder for vintage items.

I have spent countless hours scouring Etsy, Ebay, and many other vintage clothing shops online for decently priced Filson that I can actually wear. Two weeks ago I stumbled upon this late 50's to mid 60's green wool cruiser for $50. The measurements seem to match my Pointer brand chore coat I wear daily. So without hesitation I scooped it up. After my purchase I contacted Lesli, in regard to its fabric, because in the picture on the listing it seemed very light. With a quick reply she sent me a link to a old catalog page (see below) suggesting that it might be worsted serge. However, on that same catalog picture there is no mention of a green worsted serge, only grey, brown, or beige. Then I saw the display tag from AC's Flickr page for a early forestry cloth cruiser. It states that forestry cloth is a green Worsted serge. This made me even more excited. Could it be a rarer piece in my size?

Last week the Etsy Cruiser arrived and taking it out of the package, I was amazed at how "new" it was. It looked like it was only worn maybe one season. I was also surprised at the weight of the jacket. It was not light and flimsy but quite heavy and tough. The tight, diagonal wool twill does not stretch, and has no problem blocking all the light when held up to a bulb. The fit is true Filson. I wear a 44 suit and this is bang on. Although looking at the label there is no size tag, so I cannot be sure of its exact size. The green color is still very pure, with only tiny specks of fading. Also this past week here in Toronto it has been about 9*C (48*F) in the morning and I was surprised at how warm this cruiser is. Along with being very warm , the cruiser still provides plenty of movement and doesn't catch and stay up on my back when reaching above my head. I have never worn a Filson Mackinaw, but I have heard that they are quite heavy and extremely warm. I have a early Woolrich Buffalo plaid mackinaw and you can forget being indoors for any length of time with a coat like that on! That's where the Cruiser coat fits in perfectly. The fabric is thin enough to move from outdoors to indoors, tough enough to trek through thickets and brush, tight enough to ward off light showers and snow, and roomy enough for layering options underneath.

I am not exactly sure if it the jacket is made in forestry cloth or whipcord, as I have never held or seen either up close. But what I do know is that this cruiser is not a standard issue item. Why Filson eliminated this fabric as a standard cruiser option baffles me -- they still make shirts out of serge and pants out of whipcord. From what I have been told, they will still make whipcord cruisers in their custom shop for a greater price. Its a great seasonal transition coat, from Summer to Fall and Winter to Spring. This coat will definitely be a new daily driver for me from city to forest. And as much as I really like this coat, the search for these kind of pieces never ever really ends!

Evidence of worsted serge in the 1980s/90s


Anonymous said...

Rokit is offering a Forestry Cloth cruiser, size 44. I've had my eye on it for a while, but even though I typically wear size L/44, this is cut very full and would fit me like a potato sack. At the current exchange rate, it looks like about $40 US plus shipping, a steal.

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Anonymous said...

hotlink fixed:

Army Green ‘Filson’ Jacket

Anonymous said...

The fabric is usually called 'whipcord.' Filson still sells pants in this fabric.

Lesli Larson said...


The jacket is wool serge, not whipcord, which has more of a ribbed, hard diagonal surface. I own both worsted and whipcord garments from Filson. And yes, Filson still offers several garments for sale in whipcord.

Anonymous said...

The jacket pictures to me does not appear whipcord but more than likely Forestry Cloth (style 16) aka the Alaskan Tuxedo. The fabric is a bit heavier than the worsted wools they primarily made trousers out of in the 70's and 80's. There are a couple iterations of Forestry Cloth with some having a more melton like feel. (Most jackets of this type have a circular stamp on the inside in yellow.) They are great jackets... I have a few and a few of the whipcord which are also nice but I prefer the Forestry Cloth iterations and many of the whipcord version have no button closures (style 175 I think). They are easy however to let the sleeves out due to this. (I am taller also and have made a couple into extra longs in the sleeve). Lastly, the combo of snaps and tagging to me suggest a late 50's to late 60's date as you have noted.

Matthew Hranek said...