Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest


Utilitarian daily-wear vest

My Filson Mackinaw Vest is the single most utilitarian piece of clothing I own. And during the fall, winter, and early spring I wear it nearly every day. We’ve reviewed Filson in the past. They have a legendary reputation among hunters and outdoorsman for wool clothing that stays warm when wet, and holds up over time. This holds true for this vest, but I love it because it’s just as functional at home or in an office as it is in the field.

When I originally picked one up, I was wary that it might be unflattering given its fairly utilitarian design, and I figured I would mostly wear it while foraging. However, I have been pleasantly surprised over the past few months with how well it works paired with a nice shirt and tie (which, in my case, has secured a number of compliments), or a heavy sweater. I’m not here to defend the vest’s fashion statement, but rather pointing out that because it looks good I’m more likely to wear it on a daily basis. Mine is light gray, and looks good with almost every color combo. As far as sizing, Filson is better than most outfits in that these are sold according to jacket size, and can be ordered extra long for us tall guys.

Two things stand out about the Mackinaw vest. The first is that it has, by far, the best range of pockets on any piece of clothing I’ve ever owned. It has two hand warming pockets, which are great on a cold day because it means I don’t have to throw on a heavier jacket just to keep my hands warm when I head outside. It also means I have somewhere other than my back pocket to store my wallet (thus reducing the potential for back pain). It also features two chest pockets; the right easily fits a notepad, while the left is designed for holding writing instruments, or other tools (I keep a Maratac AAA flashlight, and a few pens and pencils).

The other major benefit of the Mackinaw vest is that I can wear it everyday without worrying about wear. I wear vests a lot, in part because I like that it doesn’t limit my arms, and because it’s a flexible piece of clothing.nWhat I have found is that most vests are NOT built for daily wear. Stitching comes undone, fabric begins to tear or pill, and in general they become limp and lifeless after just a few months. The beauty of the Filson is that its heavyweight felted wool and heavy-duty stitching make it near bulletproof. It doesn’t shed, pill, or wrinkle, and it looks good day in and day out. And because it’s a vest made of thick felted wool it can be worn over three seasons and across a really wide temperature range.

-- Oliver Hulland 03/26/13