Workwear is so hot right now, with mainstays like Carhartt seeing widespread love beyond the blue-collar demographic and outdoor brands like Patagonia, Topo Designs, 5.11 Tactical, and Duluth Trading Company getting into the space. This month Filson debuted its own workwear line, called C.C.F., which it says is built for the “forest, factory, and field.”
The line is named after C.C. Filson, the company’s founder, who was a homesteader and railroad conductor in the second half of the 19th century. He owned his own mill and used mostly mackinaw wool to make durable clothing that would stand up to the harsh conditions prospectors endured in the Klondike. Today the company C.C. Filson started is a highly regarded American heritage brand, known for high-end bibs and jackets that are, frankly, too expensive for a lot of people who legitimately need durable clothing for their jobs. The new C.C.F. line is Filson’s first foray back into more affordable workwear since its early days building clothes for miners and loggers.
Over several weeks testing the new line, I chainsawed stumps, split wood, dug new lines in my backyard pump track, built shelves for the garage, moved rocks, and shoveled mulch (the household to-do list has never been shorter). What I discovered is that Filson’s new workwear line is tougher than I am.
Though Filson was aiming for affordability, the clothes are still expensive, more so than a workwear standard like Carhartt (the C.C.F. Utility Canvas Pant is $85, while the similar Carhartt Washed Duck Work Pant is $45). But its triple-stitched seams and reinforced high-wear areas also offer unmatched quality and durability. Spend $85 on those Filson pants and you might not have to buy another pair for several years. Still, despite its burliness, the line manages to be so comfortable I found myself wearing certain pieces even if I didn’t have plans to knock out any manual chores.
Here are my favorites.
C.C.F. Work Vest ($125)
I’m a puffy-vest hardliner who’s spent many nights arguing for the importance of the sleeveless layer, so I was predisposed to like this piece. Filson combines tough duck canvas with just the right amount of insulation and a quilted polyester interior to provide warmth without bulk. As with all of the pieces in the line, those triple-stitched seams add durability, and the canvas held up to everything from screwdrivers to rusty nails. The drop-tail might look a little strange at first, but I like the extra coverage it provides when I’m squatting and bending over. Of course, there’s really one key reason why you wear a vest: temps aren’t cold enough to justify a full jacket but you want the extra pockets. This vest has ’em. You get two Velcro interior pockets each big enough for a massive phone, external hand-warmer pockets that can fit a beer can (just saying), and two open chest pockets, which are perfect for stashing small tools or nails and screws that you want to keep handy.
C.C.F. Utility Jacket ($150)
I initially tested the bomber-esque Quilted Utility Jacket, and it was my favorite until I got my hands on this burlier version, which adds a hood and a duck-canvas exterior. Tapered nylon cuffs kept the sleeves out of my way while working but are loose enough to pull over gloves. You get the same suite of pockets as on the vest, plus a skinny pencil pocket on the sleeve, which might be the handiest and most overlooked of them all. Writing utensil, small knife, mini flashlight, Twizzlers—there are so many things you can stow in that sleeve pocket. Six-ounce synthetic insulation keeps you seriously warm, while that same duck canvas fights off wind and light rain. This will be my go-to layer this winter when I’m doing trail work in undesirable conditions.
C.C.F. Utility Bibs ($150)
I think I was a toddler the last time I wore a pair of bibs, but now I wonder why I ever switched to regular pants. The chest pocket is perfect for a phone or small tools, and there’s no belt constricting your waist.
Filson’s version is without a doubt my favorite piece in the line. I’ve tested workwear that felt like 40-grit sandpaper and was tolerable only after several wears and washes. In contrast, Filson’s bibs are surprisingly soft and flexible, even before the first washing, and they only get better with use. There’s no stretch in the material, but the slightly baggy cut means you have plenty of room for movement—no binding at the knees or waist when you crouch down. They are the sort of bibs you never think about after you put them on. I found myself making excuses to wear them regularly, even if all I was doing was pulling the trash cans to the curb. Despite that, they’re still tough enough for whatever you throw at them thanks to the reinforced knees, which have multiple layers of fabric to resist wear.
With C.C.F., Filson has built a line of hardworking garments that manage to be both durable and comfortable, with smart details that people on the job will appreciate. Maybe even more important, Filson branches out from its usual top-end price points without sacrificing the quality it is known for, so working people can actually justify splurging on the pieces they need.