Gear Review: Filson Foul Weather Fly Fishing Vest
A Little on C.C. Filson Co.:
When someone is asked if they know Filson, one will usually get two answers:
“Oh, the Expensive-outdoorsy apparel with the pricing of Ralph Lauren?”
“Phil’s son? No, I don’t know who Phil’s son is”
The latter answer usually reverts to the first answer after they google it on
their phones mid-conversation.
C.C. Filson was originally founded in 1897 as a pioneer outfitter for those crazy enough to try their luck at the Klondike Gold Rush. After more than a century, the company has swapped ownership a few times, but remains true to it’s original mission of making products of superb quality and craftsmanship – which is backed by their famed lifetime warranty.
I won’t go into their history too much, as I assume that you’ll go and give it a little read for yourself.So, for the first piece of our Gear Review section, I present to you the Filson Foul Weather Fly Fishing Vest.
Filson Foul Weather Fly Fishing Vest
“This water-repellent vest withstands weather and wear. It’s cut high for deep-water wading and has an attached rear rucksack for gear or your catch. A removable sheepskin shearling fly patch and rod-holding loop add functionality. Made with lightweight, water-repellent Cover Cloth and durable hardware, it’s built to be used year after year.” – Filson.com
Manufacturer: C.C. Filson Co.
Manufacturer Location: Seattle, WA
Product Number: 11016002
Colors Available: Otter Green
Sizes: Regular & Super
- Snap-front closure
- 6 bellows pockets, 1 rear rucksack, 2 zipper pockets
- D-ring on back
- Made with water-repellent, abrasion-resistant fabric
- Attached rear rucksack and front pockets for tackle
- Adjustable shoulder straps for custom fit
- Removable sheepskin shearling pad for flies
- Cover Cloth: Front pockets & rucksack
- Leather: Zipper pulls
- Brass: Buttons & web harness
- Cotton – Web harness
- Shearling Sheepskin – Fly patch
- Performance & Durability
- Fit & Sizing
- Pricing & Affordability
Scoring will be out of 5 for each section and then calculated as a percentage out of 100% for ease of comparison.
The overall craftsmanship of the vest is quite good, lending itself to the use of hearty materials seldom found on “new-age” sporting equipment. The cover cloth used is light in weight, repels water right out of the box, and feels great to the touch. As cover cloth is a treated woven cotton poplin, it does not have such an oily feel to it as it’s tin & shelter cloth siblings offered by Filson.The seams and stitching are neat and hug the edges of the cover cloth tightly, bringing about a well crafted look.
The brass buttons and YKK zippers that accompany the cover cloth are solid and proportioned well to the vest itself – not too big and not too small. One can find the brass buttons by feel easily without even looking down. The leather zipper pulls are a nice touch, however, I deemed them slightly unnecessary as the zippers themselves were easy enough to pull. To be honest – I was more worried about them falling off then actually helping me zip up the pockets. The web harness is also well put together, however, could use more reinforcement at the connection points. Overall, the craftsmanship of the vest is what an outdoorsman would expect of a Filson product, however, I do wish that the stitching was slightly heavier as the seams can feel inadequate at times when holding heavier items.
Performance & Durability
The first words that came out of my mouth when I picked up this vest was; “Holy crap, that’s heavy.” I quickly regretted those words once I hit the trails and the water with close to 10 pounds in my vest. I had stuff the rucksack with pretty much everything I could find back at camp – just to test out how well it held weight.
My Canon camera, lenses, fly rod, fly fishing gear, boots, cellphone…you get the idea. The web harness and underarm straps adjusted well enough to keep the weight close to my body and the gear from swinging around. One could easily pack food, water, and their essentials for a day and be able to hike around comfortably without too much worry about the vest weighing you down – literally. The two main pockets are extremely spacious and have interior pockets to help with organization of your tippets, leaders, and fly boxes.
On the water, the vest was where it was supposed to be and performed as it should when I needed it too. The pockets were well within reach and the rucksack was easy enough to take off without being cumbersome while wading. The water repellent cover cloth worked marvelously and was able to quickly rid itself of the water beads with a quick slap on the pockets.
Walking from hole to hole, the vest held it’s own against brush and briars alike. Although the cover cloth got snagged a couple of times, the vest stayed intact and proved quite impervious to punctures.
Fit & Sizing
The fit of the Filson vest is cut high for wading in deep waters. It hugs the body very well, due to the adjustable web harness and the underarm straps that keep the vest from swinging around too much. These underarm straps function very much like a bino-harness would.I’m a pretty small guy and it fit way down to my size, but re-adjusted quickly on the water when I handed it over to my buddy, who is much bigger then I am. The rucksack falls just above the waist line when packed, therefore it does not rub or sag onto your tailbone – which I hate. The vest is small enough to pack down into a field bag or a trunk without taking up too much space. I found that it can be crammed into pretty much any nook or cranny in between my gear.
The one thing I would complain about and this is a seemingly larger item than most, is the tendency for the vest to be front heavy. This causes the vest to sag a bit in the front of the vest if it is not balanced well in weight. So if you were wading around in with an empty ruck (in hopes of having room for a fish) the vest would always have that “falling off your shoulders” feel. This can be easily remedied by adding some gear in the back to balance the weight on the vest.
Pricing & Affordability
I am a firm believer in the saying ” You get what you pay for.” This Filson vest is no different. Although the price is seemingly steep, the craftsmanship, superb materials, and great warranty makes this vest a worthy purchase that will prove itself for decades to come. Now, I know there are some that are still in sticker shock and I can definitely feel for those who simply cannot justify spending $230 on this vest, but would rather get a more “tech-y” vest offered by the likes of SIMMS or Redington for a lot cheaper. This is where the pricing somewhat kills itself in the competition, as the dollar amount may be a deal breaker when it comes to choosing time between a more advanced fly fishing vest or chest pack and this one.
With everything said and done, I love this vest. Yes, it may have some things that don’t quite go your way (such as the larger hole in your pocket) or it won’t be the most space-aged fly fishing vest, but it gets the job done. Along with getting the job done, I know it will do so for many years to come and that the vest will hold up to many uses on the water.
17/20 or 85/100