Filson's Mackinaw Cruiser Will Last You a Lifetime
Not quite a century. Not quite. Filson's Mackinaw Cruiser has been on the market in an official capacity for 99 years, the first patent for it being filed in 1914. Back then, it was called the Wool Cruising Shirt. It was offered as a pullover as well as a button front, and it was a massive hit. Hunters loved it—the now-iconic red-and-black plaid was one of the first hi-vis offerings out there—as did pretty much everyone else who spent time outdoors when the weather wasn't exactly accommodating. It even became a part of the U.S. Forest Service uniform, about as ringing an endorsement as a piece of rugged outerwear could ever hope for.
There's more, of course, but I won't get into all that right now. The point is: The Mackinaw has some real history behind it. And seeing as it's still going strong to this day, knowing a bit about its long legacy may help you understand its staying power. But even if you're not in the mood to delve into the past, this jacket still deserves your careful consideration—and a place in your closet. Here's why.
Let's talk wool...
I keep calling it the Mackinaw Cruiser, but according to the garment-namers at Filson, this item is actually called the "Mackinaw Wool Cruiser Jacket." And there's a very good reason "wool" is right there in the official moniker—it's the very heart and soul of the Mackinaw. Unlined and untreated, yet remarkably warm and wind- and water-resistant, the jacket is made from a sturdy wool provided by the good folks at another Oregon institution: Pendleton Woolen Mills. In solid colors, the wool is 24 ounces per yard. In plaid, it's 26 ounces. That might not be as heavy as something like a military-issue peacoat, but it's still as hefty as most of us will ever need. And it's not just about the weight. This particular wool is woven so tightly that it blocks all but the most vicious gusts of wind while remaining breathable. Add to that the fact that it can absorb up to 30 percent of its weight in water without feeling wet, and you've got a very effective element-blocker. I wore mine on a blustery overpass in the winter rain with nothing but a T-shirt underneath just to get an idea of how well it holds up. I returned home dry, toasty, and deeply impressed.
Oh, and a word on scratchiness, because this always comes up when wool is the topic of discussion: I won't tell you this feels like cashmere, because it doesn't. There's a bit of bite to it. But even with just a tee underneath, I was pleasantly surprised by how it felt on my (admittedly quite sensitive) skin. I could feel it, for sure, but itch and irritation? No way.
SHOP $495 filson.com
You can't talk about the Mackinaw Cruiser without talking about pockets. There are eight of them—you could call it 11, if you want to count each of the three pen slots on the left chest as a separate pocket—and they are incredibly handy. To break it down: You've got a basic four-pocket configuration on the front, but built into that are handwarmers, flap pockets, and the aforementioned pen slots. Unless you're lugging larger tech around, you could easily fit all your daily essentials in this jacket, leave the bag at home, and still have space to keep your fingers warm when the wind blows. Beyond that, you've got an internal pocket—great for a phone or a wallet—plus the giant "map" pocket that runs the width of the back of the jacket. As much as I love a sleek, tech-y shell, there's no beating the Mackinaw when it comes to the sheer utility offered by all that storage space. I even abstained from a plastic bag on my last few bodega runs because I could stash everything I picked up at the store in my jacket. Like I said: Handy.
SHOP $495 filson.com
It looks damn good—and it's made to last.
All of the warmth and utility the Mackinaw Cruiser offers wouldn't mean much if the jacket didn't look great. After all, you can spend less on a jacket that's chock full of pockets and bloated with synthetic insulation and get something that approaches the functionality of Filson's classic. But you won't get the good looks, nor will you be able to boast of a hardy, made-in-the-USA construction that's sure to last for years—decades, even—to come. Like so many things that have stood the test of time, the Mackinaw offers and aesthetic that is, for lack of a better way of putting it, entirely of itself. No matter how many brands imitate it, no one can top it. (If you're looking for an analogue, think of something like a Levi's trucker or a standard-issue field jacket. There's simply no beating the original.) And as for how it's made? The stitching is tight and even. The finishing, while workmanlike on elements like buttonholes, is consistent and clean. And, not to harp on the wool again, but the fabric itself is so tough it might just outlast you. The whole jacket could, in fact. So if you haven't already, it might be a good idea to pick out the person you pass this down to when the time comes, many—many—years from now.
Photography by Timothy Mulcare. Prop styling by John Olson for Halley Resources.
From: Esquire US