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Filson and Leupold, Two Great American Outdoor Firms

Time for a quick Thank You to two great outdoor products firms, Filson and Leupold.

Filson has been around since the 1890s Alaskan Gold Rush, providing rugged clothing to rugged men and women.

They use the best virgin wools, waxed cotton and canvas, brass fittings, bridle leather…this is super quality clothing that will never, ever wear out. Virgin wool is the washed wool right off the sheep, with super long fibers that hold warmth like a sheep would want, and it also wears like iron.

I have had the pleasure of owning many Filson sweaters, vests, socks, jackets, and canvas coats. They are made in America and of unsurpassed quality, especially in contrast to today’s mass produced Chinese junk.

Yes, they are more expensive than most clothing, but as soon as you wear them, you will agree they are worth every cent. Ten years later, when your garment has begun to show a bit of wear, you will be utterly amazed. In a world of built-in obsolescence, Filson’s is throwback, old-timey bomb-proof.

Just yesterday morning I was retrieving a live coyote I had trapped on a grapple (a drag that gets caught in brush). He had managed to go through a massive wall of brush made of multiflora rose, Japanese honeysuckle, Russian olive, Asian bittersweet vines, raspberry brambles, and other assorted sharp, pointy, and painful trash brush that is impossible for humans to get through.

At first I used a chainsaw to cut my way in close to the growling, barking, gnawing alpha male. Then, I went back to the truck and put on an old Filson “Tin Cloth” hunting jacket, turned my back to the brush, and began bulldozing my way backwards through it. The various sharp things just bounced off the coat and in seconds I was standing in front of the nest raider (I trap predators to save ground nesting birds and for no other purpose).

There isn’t a Carhartt or Dickey’s anywhere that can do that, nor a Barbour, either. The downside to Tin Cloth is that when it goes on cold, you feel like a medieval knight putting on his steel armor. It is pretty stiff. But as you move and it warms up from your body heat, it flexes easily, and is indestructible. The way around this is to put it near a stove, heating vent, or in a warm vehicle before putting in on.

Anyhow, Thank You to Filson’s for their incredible garments. Nothing else comes close.

Leupold is the other firm I have had such good fortune with.

Leupold has made scopes and binoculars in Washington State since the early 1900s, and to most hunters their scopes are a household name.

What is amazing about their firm is not just the high quality products, but the incredible customer service.

To wit, this past November I fell while bear hunting in Northcentral Pennsylvania. Falling flat on my face in the thick mountain laurel, my chest crashed into a bunch of laurel trunks. They stick up like pungi sticks. A pair of Leupold Mojave binoculars was harnessed to my chest, and they took the brunt of the fall.

The diopter setting control popped off, and although I was able to find it and more or less get it back on, it did not work.

So I sent it to Leupold and asked them to fix it.

Instead, Leupold sent me a brand new pair of their latest model, the Pro Guide HD. Shrink-wrapped in the box and all.

This new binocular is really just the culmination of a series of slight improvements and modifications to the now discontinued Cascades, Mojaves, and other mountain-name-themed models I cannot recall now. But think about that, a company takes something you broke and gives you a new one.

Buddy, THAT is customer service!

Yesterday while flintlock hunting in the afternoon at French Creek State Park with my friend George, we met another hunter who joined us. We ended up doing three-man deer drives through the western end of the park. This new fellow, Gary Yoder, had around his neck a nice pair of Leupold binoculars.

When I told him my story about the brand new Leupolds on my chest harness, he told me the same story! He, too, had broken his previous pair, sent them in for repair, and instead had received this upgraded new pair, new in the box.

Needless to say, we were both very impressed by Leupold’s dedication to their customers.

A note about the new Pro Guide HD 8x42s: These have high quality glass, excellent, really. Looking through Swarovski, Zeiss, Leica, I do not see much of an improvement over this Leupold glass. When you look at the price difference, there is no comparison at all, because the German glass is two to four times the price of the Leupold and only slightly, marginally better in terms of clarity and crispness.

As good as the clarity is, all Leupold binoculars come with the worst and strangest eyepiece covers of all binoculars. While hunting in Scotland last October, I did a belly crawl up a hill to take a shot at a distant red stag. On my chest harness was that prior pair of Leupold binoculars. Behind me lay a trail of Leupold eyepiece covers, all of which came off and lay in different places in the bog. There has to be a way for Leupold to improve this one odd, inconsistent anomaly. Otherwise, their products are quite perfect and their customer service is even better than that.