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Best of the Vests

September-October 2012
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Most of us have a favorite upland vest, one that’s well worn enough to be as comfortable as an old friend, even if it’s not in the best shape. But what do we do when it’s time to retire “Old Reliable”? Sometimes you have to go through a few models to find the same perfect fit and the features you’re looking for. If you’re shopping for a vest, there are plenty of options on the market, with some new names like Under Armour stepping into the market and stalwarts like L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer offering modern versions of classic designs. Recently, I got my hands on eight of the latest offerings. Maybe one of them will have your back this fall. Filson Pro Guide Strap Vest It seems that whenever I run into a grizzled old bird hunter in the field, he’s carrying a nondescript but well-made shotgun and wearing a Filson strap vest. While the shotgun may be well cared for, both the hunter and vest usually show years of hard use—yet often appear to have many good years left. That’s the nature of Filson gear: It wears well, getting a bit dirty and a bit crinkled but remaining functional. I don’t know how long the Strap Vest has been in Filson’s line of great gear, but the Pro Guide model has updated looks, with hunter-orange panels on the pocket flaps and game bag and new elastic-top transmitter pockets on the front. It’s made from Filson’s legendary tan Tin Cloth, an oil-finished, 100-percent-cotton canvas that’s both waterproof and super tough. The orange patches are of durable acrylic Ten Mile Cloth sewn over the Tin Cloth shell. Large shell pockets (with six shell loops each) are fronted by bellows pockets to stash smaller necessities, and there is a zippered interior security pocket. A padded, weight-bearing belt secures via a two-inch web strap and quick-release buckles, while a sternum strap secures the front of the vest. The only thing keeping the Pro Guide Vest from hitting on all cylinders is the absence of any kind of shoulder-strap adjustment. Price: $185.

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