Filson Skagit Rain Shell Jacket | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Waterproof Jackets

Filson Skagit Rain Shell Jacket | Review

Rugged and protective, this burly rain shell sums up what we love most about Filson. And despite being designed as a specialist fly fishing piece, it also works well as an all-purpose workhorse for field and outdoor use

Why We Chose The Filson Skagit Rain Shell: Tough, protective and built to last, with plenty of useful features

Given how tough we are on our gear here at Outdoors Magic, we’ve always got time for a reassuringly robust bit of kit. Featherweight shells and ultralight jackets are all well and good, but many adventures in the great outdoors really call for something a bit burlier. Enter the Filson Skagit jacket, one of the toughest and most protective waterproof shells we’ve tested in recent memory, and a jacket that pretty much muscled its way into this year’s Outdoor 100 all by itself.

Photo: Chris Johnson

Who Is The Filson Skagit Rain Shell For?

It’s really been designed for all-weather anglers; specifically, fly fishermen in search of steelhead trout way up there in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska – or indeed anywhere where it gets very cold, wet and windy. Which actually also makes this a jacket well-suited to places like the Scottish Highlands, North Wales and the Lake District. So, if you’re fishing mountain lakes for big brownies or heading for Scottish waters during prime salmon season, this is an excellent choice.

However, even if you’re not a committed fly fisherman, but just someone who is hard on their kit, the Skagit is well worth a closer look. It’s burlier than most waterproofs, which makes it not only ideal for pushing through tangled undergrowth on riverbanks, but also for adventures that would quickly shred a lighter rain shell. We’re talking extended canoe trips, long moorland yomps, deep dark forest walks and pretty much anywhere else you might encounter tree branches, gorse, bracken and other rough stuff. 

Materials

Unlike Filson rain jackets from previous seasons, which have typically made use of Polartec Neoshell, the Skagit employs Filson’s proprietary Rain Cloth waterproof fabric. This is a three-layer construction consisting of a soft tricot inner, a PU-based membrane and a tough, tightly-woven nylon shell – in this case, a very robust 5.3-oz. weight (about 180gsm, by our calculations). That makes it extremely resistant to punctures and tears, protecting the waterproof membrane from thorns and brush.

“One of the toughest and most protective waterproof shells we’ve tested.”

Neoshell was always highly acclaimed for its breathability, but less so for its durability and long-term performance. Which we suspect is why Filson have instead developed their own Rain Cloth fabric, to extend both the life and the weatherproofing of their jackets. This seems a sound decision given the intended use of the Skagit, which is built to fend off the worst weather during largely static pursuits, like fly fishing. This isn’t a jacket to wear if you’re going fast and light – instead, it’s one for those who need to stay dry and comfortable in wet and wild conditions for hours at a time.

Like almost all PU membranes, it seems to work best if you’re building up plenty of heat inside the jacket, but where the outside air temperatures are very cold or even freezing. In those conditions, it’s a top-class performer.

Features

The Skagit feels like a jacket that has been designed with genuine input from fly fishermen and other outdoorsy types. Take the cuffs, for example, which are made from neoprene panels with a large, easy-grab Velcro cinch. This ensures that when lifting a rod and casting in the rain, water won’t run down your arms.

Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson
Photo: Chris Johnson

The front of the jacket also has a profusion of pockets, sized to accommodate large fly boxes. They’re easy to access, even if you’re thigh high in a river. The microfleece-lined handwarmer pockets are located up under the armpits, presumably for similar reasons. Webbing loops on the chest allow you to attach zingers for nippers and other accessories, so you won’t need to fumble in a pocket when trying to tie a new fly to your leader. You could also use them to attach a landing net, preventing it from floating away downstream.

“It ought to last for years.”

The less fishing-orientated features are also well thought out, and work well for everyday use: you get a stand-up collar to ward off chills, a two-way, drawcord-adjustable hood and a water-resistant YKK AquaGuard front zipper, which is backed by a storm flap. This also has a chin guard to stop your rugged, outdoorsman beard from getting snagged in the zip. Lastly, there’s an interior zipped security pocket: a good place to stash the keys to your Land Rover or perhaps your wallet, so you haven’t got any excuse not to tip your ghillie.

Conclusion

This is a premium jacket with Filson’s trademark build quality and toughness, plus plenty of useful features. That’s all reflected in the slightly scary £445 price tag. But fly fishing has always been a gentleman’s sport, and anyone with the money to spend on a weekend ticket salmon fishing on the Dee, the Tay or the Spey will hardly bat an eyelid. For the rest of us, the Skagit will be a much more considered purchase. However, given its rugged nature, it ought to last for years, and therefore would certainly earn its keep. And while the jacket works supremely well for its specialist angling niche, it’s also surprisingly versatile, thanks to a functional set of features and a robust exterior fabric that is built for hard use in heavy weather.

Tester’s Verdict

Matt Jones, OM contributor and gear tester:

“Like almost all Filson clothing, this jacket has a generous fit. It will accommodate plenty of layers, but even so you might want to consider dropping a size. At 6ft 4 and with a 41” chest, I usually take a large, but the medium proved a perfect fit.”

Photo: Chris Johnson

“As an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to fly fishing, I’ve been out with the Skagit on the banks of my local river, the Afon Dwyryd, on multiple occasions, fishing for brown trout. On every occasion it has kept me dry and comfortable all day long, and the multiple pockets have meant there’s no need to wear a fishing vest over the top either. It’s certainly proved a massive upgrade on my old fishing gear – though admittedly, that consisted of an ancient Barbour waxed jacket that smelled distinctly trout-y, subsequently replaced by an ex-Austrian Army Sympatex-lined field jacket that I got for about 30 quid from a surplus store.

 “It feels tailor-made for wet and windy days up here in Snowdonia.”

“But I’ve actually found myself reaching for the Filson jacket even when I’m not going fishing. It’s so tough and protective that it feels tailor-made for wet and windy days up here in Snowdonia. It also manages to feel very rugged without being too stiff or crinkly either, unlike a Gore-Tex Pro shell. As such, it’s now my go-to option as general field and outdoor wear, particularly when I’m out with the dog on some of the less-trodden forest footpaths in this part of the world, where I’ve often snagged the sleeves of other jackets on thorns and branches. In fact, I wear this all the time, which is a testament not only to its comfort but also its functionality.”

OM tester Ian assessing the Skagit's limits in Snowdonia. Photo: Chris Johnson

Filson Skagit Shell

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