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.
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.
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.
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.