Filson Ultra Light Vest | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

Filson Ultra Light Vest | Review

A very useful PrimaLoft insulated gilet that will see off any rough stuff

Why We Chose The Filson Ultra-Light: Super tough, great PrimaLoft fill, a brand with heritage.

There have been a lot of brands jumping on the heritage-look bandwagon in the last couple of years with canvas collections and faux retro logos popping up everywhere.

Try as they might though, not many out there can boast the genuine heritage that Filson have. Look at it this way: while others are chasing trendiness Filson have kicked back and let trendiness come to them.

Filson’s origins in fact go all the way back to the Gold Rush of 1897 when a clever local man called Clinton Filson saw a golden opportunity to make a buck out of the thousands arriving in Seattle’s port by selling kit that could see them through the harsh Yukon weather they had ahead of them.

Ever since those days, the brand have been making kit that’s designed to be right at home out in the backcountry with rugged and long-lasting materials, earth tones, and traditional designs.

‘PrimaLoft Gold insulation is a specially developed synthetic fibre that is so, so similar to down, feeling light, lofty and snug.”

We’re big fans of Filson here at OutdoorsMagic. Last year, two of their products made it into our annual Outdoor 100 product guide, this year we’ve gone for a trio.

The key ingredient here is the PrimaLoft Gold insulation which is a specially developed synthetic fibre that is so, so similar to down, feeling light, lofty and snug, and providing efficient warmth at a low weight. Granted it’s not quite as warm as down, but on the plus side, it’s longer lasting and it will only lose a tiny percentage of insulating capacity if it gets wet. That’s a very useful asset to have during long days out in the elements.

These PrimaLoft fibres are all housed within stitched-through latitudinal baffles, which brings us onto the shell fabric which is a Cordura ripstop nylon Cordura. Most people know Cordura as a super tough, tightly woven material used for things like motorcycle clothing. Here, however, it’s actually a super lightweight variation of it, so don’t go thinking it’s hard as nails, but still, we’d say it’s tougher than the typical shell fabrics you see on down or synthetic jackets.

The outer fabric is made from Cordura ripstop nylon. Photo: Chris Johnson
Soft cotton moleskin lines the collar. Photo: Chris Johnson
The two zipped handwarmer pockets are neatly cotton lined. Photo: Chris Johnson

Long story short, it’s ‘bomber’ as people born in the 80s might still say; the kind of fabric that you can storm through a coniferous forest in and come through unscathed.

Other things to note include a lovely and soft cotton moleskin lining on the collar and in the handwarmer pockets, which, we should add, are zipped; there are two deep pockets on the inside (useful for stowing gloves that need drying); and there’s also small zipped pocket on the inside to keep your valuables.

This is the kind of item that will be of use all year-round. In winter, it’s that extra layer that will fit easily and comfortably underneath a jacket or two. In spring and autumn, it’s something to layer over a thick shirt and in summer it’s the option you keep in your bag for extra warmth on a windy summit. Hey, it’s a great thing for the pub as well.

One thing though: size down! Filson are one of those brands that make their stuff with well-fed people in mind.

PrimaLoft Gold is hidden within each stitched-through baffle. Photo: Chris Johnson

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, Outdoors Magic Editor

“Gilets get a bad rap, and unfairly so if you ask me. Because they’re such a useful extra layer when it’s cold and then they’re also particularly handy on those milder days in the mountains when it’s warm but not t-shirt weather warm.

“I’m a big, big fan of PrimaLoft, in fact, I wear more PrimaLoft jackets than down filled ones these days. It lasts longer, it’s easier to wash and it has that wet weather performance. There’s a generous helping of it stuffed in here, which is a big plus point for me.

“A small detail, but the faux moleskin on the collar and in the handwarmer pockets feels lovely.”

Filson Ultra Light Vest

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