Friday, April 13, 2012

"Made in the USA" Gear Review: Filson Mackinaw Cruiser Jacket & Field Pants- Classic Bushcrafting Chic for the 21st Century

Filson has a cult following that I just didn't understand initially. Even used Filson clothes are a hot item on eBay, eliciting bidding wars that often end up with prices quite a bit higher than most other used clothing. I just didn't get it. Now that Dave and I have spent time field testing these up in the mountains, you can add us to that cult too!

Warm, comfortable, durable, breathable, fire resistant, you name it. When I'm wearing these, I feel like a cross between Jeremiah Johnson, a WWI Soldier, and a forest ranger, or sometimes just a very hip-looking bushcrafter! 

Below we will be taking a look at Filson's Mackinaw Cruiser Jacket and Mackinaw Field Pants.

Mackinaw Cruiser Jacket
(The mitts shown in the photo are US made Wintergreen Plunge Mitts)

According to Filson, the Mackinaw Cruiser was "originally designed to protect timber cruisers during long days in the woods." How often do you find clothing with that kind of history?

I especially like this description because I once interned with a US Forest Service timber cruiser while studying Outdoor Recreation and Forestry in college. The job of a timber cruiser involves lots of hiking in rugged, steep terrain, often under bad weather conditions, so your choice of clothing while doing this job is important.

Granted, this jacket was designed back in 1914, and back then, wool was still high tech. Even though better, lighter materials have been developed since then, wool still offers certain advantages for bushcrafters like fire resistance, breathability and toughness.


The Cruiser is constructed of 100% Virgin Wool. There are a total of four pockets on the front for stashing goodies like fire-making tools, paracord, pocket knives, etc.

The Cruiser also has a large map pocket on the back, something I've never seen before, but it does come in handy.

Mackinaw Field Pants

The Mackinaw Field pants are essentially the same construction as the Cruiser jacket. Aside from the four standard pockets that most pants have on the front and back, they also feature a pocket on each leg as shown below.

The pants also have suspender buttons sewn into them (suspenders sold separately by Filson). These can dig into the beltline a little with certain backpack waist straps, but it wasn't enough to be a major problem for me while field testing them.

Mackinaw Cruiser and Field Pants Test

To test the pants and jacket, we wore them during cold weather field tests of all the gear in our upcoming "Made in the USA" article. The conditions ranged from extremely windy snow-driven days with temps down to the single digits, to calm sunny weather in the 40s. The results? We loved them! They fit like an old glove, breathe well and have an indestructible feel to them. They're especially nice to have on when getting close to a campfire since wool is naturally fire resistant (no burn holes like you get with synthetic clothes).

Regarding the Mackinaw Cruiser, I don't consider it a pure winter coat on its own. It is an excellent jacket for Spring and Fall or for milder winter days. It works better for winter if a good base layer like the Ibex Indie Zip T and Filson's Fleece Zip Neck Top Mid-layer are worn underneath along with an outer shell like the Wintergreen Anorak. A better choice for a pure winter wool coat is Filson's Double Mackinaw Jacket.

The Field pants, on the other hand, kept our legs very warm even on the coldest days.

I'm sure some are curious to know- "How's the wind protection?" To be perfectly honest-- decent, but it won't replace a windbreaker or technical shell, then again, wool never does. Carry a lightweight breathable rain jacket or something like Wintergreen's Anorak shell to throw over it if it's cold and windy.


Chic and stylish in a "Jeremiah Johnson" sort-of-way and nearly indestructable, Filson's wool Mackinaw clothes have made fans out of us. I've even read stories on the internet by outdoorsmen in their 70s who still wear the same Mackinaw Cruiser and Field pants they bought when they were in their 20s. Where can you buy clothing today with durability like that?!

The Mackinaw Cruiser is also versatile because when combined with a pair of kaki pants or faded jeans, it looks good enough to wear out on the town after a day of bushcrafting in the mountains.

Negatives? Yes, wool is heavy. It's not something you'll want to wear while backpacking long distances unless you're the Incredible Hulk. It's also not the greatest windbreaker, so you'll need to carry a shell or anorak to throw over it when the cold wind starts blowing.

For traditional bushcrafting though, especially where you hike shorter distances carrying traditional tools, it's perfect. No worries about easily ripping these clothes in heavy brush or setting them on fire if you get too cozy with a campfire. We loved the Filson Mackinaws, and if you try them, we think you will too. Highly recommended.

For more information or to purchase the Mackinaw Cruiser Jacket directly from Filson, visit:

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About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ (without spaces)


  1. nothing beats good wool clothing. I've wondered what all the fuss was about too with these but have been reluctant to spend the money on them. I might have to do some saving now...

    Thanks again guys for the great review


    1. Thanks Outdoor. Filson clothes have long been popular in the bushcraft community so I'm sure if you get a chance to buy one you'll like it. Cheers, J

  2. Great review on a wonderful company and quality product.

  3. Thanks Outdoor. Filson clothes have long been popular in the bushcraft community so I'm sure if you get a chance to buy one you'll like it.

  4. Most cruisers have a particular design; the handlebars are long and high while the seat is right at the back .

    Filson Clothing