- Buyer's Guide
Filson x Ducks Unlimited Capsule Review
Filson are synonymous with most types of outdoor adventure. Famed for creating the hardy, functional, and timeless apparel that is needed to thrive in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, they are also known for their use of unique materials that are supremely practical and uniquely re-craftable. Their tin cloth looks better with each rewaxing, their bridle leather from Pennsylvania becomes more supple with each pick up, and their Mackinaw wool is more comforting with each adventure. A favourite of many hunters and outdoorsmen, autumn and winter are the seasons that Filson products excel in. Crafting goods since the late 1800’s, they continue to be the epitome of frontier goods.
Ducks Unlimited are the biggest wetland conservation group in North America. Their mission statement and vision are simple: to promote “wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.” They’ve made phenomenal progress to this endeavour since their inception in 1937, by conserving 14,742,089 acres of wetland habitat across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They too are the leaders in their field (no pun intended) and strive for solutions that not only push forwards, but respect the ethos of the past.
It seems only natural, then, that these two historic companies would come together to create a wonderful limited edition capsule for the upcoming autumn and hunting season. “It was also appealing to align our brand with an iconic brand, like Filson, who has a distinct heritage – much like Ducks Unlimited. We felt our brands complemented each other well, had a lot of synergy…” confirms Jeremy Smith, Ducks Unlimited Director of Corporate Relations. At Carryology, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a selection of pieces from the Filson x Ducks Unlimited capsule, ready for the autumn season, both in the field and downtown.
A simple staple for any outdoorsman is a good hat. Staying warm is vital when ambling through woods, bog, and water. The Filson Watch Cap is 100% wool and coming in two autumnal colors, this piece is perfect for cold mornings. A healthy stretch knit means one size will fit most, and the cuff rolls down for more coverage in exceptionally brisk moments. Being wool, it also performs well in the damp. As with most of this collection, it works for walking to town also.
This cap has instantly become a favorite of mine. Not only are these caps good-looking (this limited colorway is perfect), they get better with time and are made from excellent materials. This DU version has hearty 14oz oil finish tin cloth on the bill and forehead, with a nice durable, soft-to-the-touch mesh on the sides and rear. The buckle is finished with a Filson staple: bridle leather and brass closure. Over my month of testing, it has already broken in nicely. Both the tin cloth and the leather closure developed a patina that makes this hat unique to its individual owner. The tin cloth is also waterproof, so naturally any water beads off the waxed bill with ease. This lets you focus on what’s in front of you rather than keeping moisture out of your eyes and face.
The centerpiece of the capsule, this version of arguably one of Filson’s most iconic jackets is a showstopper. The Cover Cloth Mile Marker is a very versatile piece. On its own, it is excellent lightweight weather protection; combined with a vest (this is zip-in compatible) it becomes a real warrior. Using this jacket has been a pleasure. It is supremely comfortable, has deep pockets (corduroy lined) that can hold all you need in either town or the field, and is really customizable. You can add a hood, the aforementioned vest for extra warmth, and adjust your fit at both waist (drawcord) and cuffs (snap-tab).
The rich rugged tan is a perfect color to blend into surroundings when out in the field, yet smart enough to fit with almost any item in your wardrobe. The beauty of the 8oz cover cloth is its robust, easy-to-clean nature. You could quite easily wear this straight from field to pub with just a brush down. It reminds me of hearty British Barbour jackets which are famed for both their toughness and their elegance. The Cover Cloth Mile Marker Coat is befitting of that reputation also.
When it comes to the luggage part of the Filson x Ducks Unlimited capsule, Filson has nailed the color choices. The Dry Grass palette looks classy, particularly in tandem with the limited edition patch. We reviewed the Dryden and found it a really useful bag. The story stays the same here, just in a more elegant aesthetic. I found the lighter color very useful when looking inside the bag. It’s quick and easy to find tools, in my case a camera setup for bird photography (and snacks of course). The brown bridle leather pull tabs really pop against the lighter colored 1000D ballistic nylon. And as with all Filson gear, it will take a beating and look great in 20 years’ time.
To complement the Dryden, there is also the 2-Wheel Carry-On in the same colorway. These two work seamlessly with one another, particularly when pairing the handle and luggage passthrough. You have everything you could need in one neat package. The carry-on itself is a smart design. By using 1000D ballistic nylon, this piece of luggage will take any beating with ease, whether in the bed of a truck, the footwell of a car, or even the overhead bin in a plane (hopefully soon!). The compression straps pair with hearty buckles that allow you to cinch down smaller loads. Nylon lines the internal compartment, which not only allows great organization, but makes the cleaning process significantly easier. You essentially end up with three compartments: one on either side of the suitcase and the floating gap between the two sections.
One side has a zip pocket on the separation flap which I found useful for EDC, an iPad, or book. On the front of the bag, there is a deep zip pocket, with no organization. It is perfect for gloves and a hat, but I wouldn’t put anything fragile and valuable there; it is in the perfect spot to take the brunt of any tumble or impact. For a carry-on, it’s medium-sized. At 36L you can fit a good amount, but you’d have to be a little selective if you’re taking some of the weightier hunting items. The partnership of the backpack and the carry-on comes to the fore here. In my case dirty items in the carry-on, more fragile valuable/essential items in the backpack.
When the bag first arrived, I was concerned the color would mark up too easily. However, thanks to the great Cordura, it is easy to keep clean, often not needing much more than a brush down. This carry-on surprised me, in the best of ways. Bridle leather pulls on the YKK zippers and a leather scuff patch near the wheels add some Filson heritage to the piece, along with another understated, simple Filson x Ducks Unlimited patch. I do wish the grab handles were bridle leather though, just like on the backpack.
This polo shirt epitomises Filson in almost every way. When the items arrived, it was honestly the item I looked at last. However, throughout testing, it became a staple that I turned to time and time again. It just works. It doesn’t claim to be fancy, it doesn’t have any unique sartorial features. This is simply a hearty polo shirt, made from excellent materials, that will last you for years to come.
I love the fact it doesn’t have in-your-face branding, just a small, subtle label at the hem. The color is a really wonderful rich autumnal green, named Salt Marsh, a nice tasteful nod to the premise behind this capsule. As with most of the collection, it’ll work getting the job done, or rewarding yourself afterwards. This is the type of polo you shout downstairs for in 15 years’ time: “Have you seen my polo? You know, the one I wore to x, y, and z?”
There are also a few further items in the Filson x Ducks Unlimited capsule that are sure to be just as useful as the ones we sampled. Two more bags, variations on their best-selling Rugged Twill line: a medium duffel and an original briefcase. The limited patch adorns these Otter Green favorites. There is also a Ridgeway Fleece in a limited edition colorway, and a selection of Outfitter tees that have limited edition graphics. Want something for home, or the back of your truck? They have you covered with a beautiful blanket crafted by the wool wizards at Pendleton.
After using these items, it seems to me that their biggest strength is in the simplicity of the capsule. Both Filson and Ducks Unlimited have decided to do what they do best, and rather than forcing a dramatic departure from their heritage to stand out, they’ve put together a tasteful collection of favorites that will speak to both the hunter and the casual wearer.
The exciting news for fans is that both Filson and Ducks Unlimited plan to continue this collaboration over the years, so you can expect to see more iconic products added to the line. As Smith states, “You need trustworthy products that hold up, no matter where you intend to wear them. The Filson branded products are great at being universal for many applications, whether you’re working at the camp, hunting in the field or enjoying a night on the town.” From my time with these products, I couldn’t agree more.